Transformation contests aren’t just great for getting results with your clients, they are also great for producing incredible results for your business. Many trainers aren’t running them effectively and get incredibly frustrated with the results - and not just with their clients’ results, but also with the effects on their business.
Make no mistake, running a great contest or challenge is hard work. It takes planning, systems and structure, but when you do it right, you’ll reap the rewards.
- Identify the key reasons transformation contests can work for any business.
- Implement the 3 keys to success for marketing a transformation contest.
- Identify the accountability system that will work best for your business.
Before I sold my fitness business, I built it from the ground up on transformation contests. We went from around 30-40 clients to over 400 in a matter of a couple years by becoming known as transformation specialists. In fact, in one contest we had over 125 new clients sign up!
Why Transformation Contests Work
Contests work because it’s a low barrier to entry offer the speaks directly to your potential clients. Don’t mistake low barrier to entry for cheap though!
The best contests are between 3-8 weeks long and typically will require an investment of approximately 75% of your regular training costs.
For example, if your regular monthly rates are $199 and you run a 3 week contest you would charge $149 ($199 x .75). If you’re running an 8 week contest it would be $299 ($199 x 2 x .75).
Those price points seem to be a good starting point but are not set in stone. You may have to test out the best price point for your business.
The other low barrier to entry factor in a contest is that there is a defined start and end point. Your new clients know they are only committing to a few weeks of training for a very specific result.
And don’t overlook that last part...
Having a very specific and defined result that you are promising speaks directly to your clients and inspires them to commit to joining the program.
3 Keys to Set Up for Success
1. Taking Registrations
This can be a tough one for some fitness pros depending on their ability to set up sales pages and how familiar they are with online marketing. Don’t think that if you can’t set up an online sales page then you can’t run a big contest though! I ran my first ever 100+ person contest without a sales page and taking all registrations via phone or email. It’s more work, but it can be done.
It’s easier than ever to outsource the technology side of the setup, so don’t let it hold you up. If you want to do it yourself, websites like Leadpages or OptimizePress make it easy to build pages yourself. I can tell you that, if I could do it all over again, I would have just found someone to build out my pages for me and saved myself hours of frustration.
The best and most efficient way to take registrations is to build out a sales page that links to your payment processing system. This is hands down the best way to take registrations, but it isn’t the only way. This is most effective because you are getting people to commit immediately. However, if you can’t collect money online (Paypal makes this easy!) then you can simply ask for a name and email and perform a manual follow up to collect payment from the individual.
Don’t make this too complicated, the important part is being able to get the message out to as many people as possible and let those that are interested raise their hand to say they want into your contest.
Once you start collecting registrations, make sure to keep good records of payments collected and the logistics of how you will make sure to provide services to all the people signing up. It is much easier to do this as they register than it is after they register because you won’t have dozens of people to coordinate collecting payments from simultaneously.
There were more than a few times where I allowed too many people to register and we couldn’t fit them into the time slots that they chose, which led to us giving out refunds. It’s a good problem to have but, had I been more prepared, I could have addressed the issues sooner and found a solution.
2. Program Offerings
Keep this simple! Too many options for joining your transformation contest can lead to poor registration numbers. Start with your new client offerings and ask yourself this question:
- What program would I put someone in to get them the best results?
That’s the program you start with!
When setting up transformation contest programs, have 3 offerings that cover a range of price points. Any more than that and it can get a bit confusing and too tough to manage. During our contest, the first offering was our lowest price for basic members. Usually something like group training for 2-3 days per week. The second offering was a mid-range offer for personal training 2-3 days per week. Finally, a combination offering of personal training and group training was our highest priced offering for 4-5 days per week.
Your offers depend on the services you provide, but for best results, place the one you want most people to do in the middle of the range. There’s also no harm in only offering two options.
3. Determining Prizes
A great transformation prize = CASH
When you are setting up your contests it is always fun to offer prizes, but how in the world do you know what to offer?
First, let’s address the fact that people are getting amazing results, or at least they should be, which is the ultimate prize. Anything else is a bonus. Prizes aren’t required to run a transformation challenge, but it can help make it really successful.
Examples of prizes include:
- Joint Venture Offerings
The most effective prize is cash. Everyone loves it and they can use it as they see fit!
It can be a bit of a guessing game with your first few contests to decide how much cash to offer, but after you get them down, you can easily determine the right amount for you.
First start with your registration fees. Take your average registration fee and multiply that by the number of contestants you think you will get. For instance, if your average registration fee was $149 and you were aiming to get 35 people signed up that leaves you with:
- $149 x 35 = $5215 in registration fees
You could be comfortable giving away $2500 of those registration fees as prize money.
Why? That still leaves you with $2500+ to pay for expenses of staff and marketing as well as the bonus of any new client conversions that come out of the contest.
If a new client is worth $199/mo to you and they stick around for 12 months that’s $2388 per new client to your business. If you convert just 30% of those 35 contestants to new clients, you will get 10-11 new clients which are worth at least $23,880 to your business in the next year.
Would you pay $2500 to get $23,880 in return?
If you are worried about paying out that much money in your first contests, then keep it small. $500 is a great starting point and will still motivate people to sign up. Cash isn’t the only prize you can make available, but it’s the most effective from my experience.
You can also offer trips by working with a travel agency that provides discounted rates if you buy in bulk, you can pay for a getaway to a local resort, you can work with joint ventures and have them donate prizes or you can buy bigger prizes to give away.
Finally, make sure you have an offer for your clients to join your transformation programs. Typically, anywhere from $49 to $99 for current client registration is a good price point. It all depends on if you are giving them anything extra for registering such as bonus days of training.
Your Marketing Plan
It’s time to start organizing your marketing plan. This is where things can get tricky for some trainers.
First, let me start off by telling you that you should play to your strengths. We don’t have the time to go into sales copy, networking and Facebook ads in this article. If you are good with people and have a strong network, leverage it! If you are good with Facebook ads and email marketing, leverage it!
It is okay to try new things and, in my experience, attacking this from multiple angles works best and it isn’t tough to learn new tricks or get someone to set them up for you.
I would start with the following:
- Your email list of non-clients
- Your clients for referrals
- Your business connections and joint ventures
- Press releases and media contacts
- Facebook marketing via ads and promoted posts
You only need several weeks of planning if you are working with joint ventures or other offline marketing strategies. If you are working online then a week, maybe two, is all you need to get people registered.
Short 4 to 7-day promos work well when dealing with email marketing or Facebook ads. If you are working with joint ventures, you need to connect with them well in advance to make sure they have time to promote the contests for you.
One of the best marketing tools that you can use is the social proof from previous contests. Leverage your before and after pictures as well as testimonials from previous transformation contestants.
If you don’t have any from previous contests or this is your first contest it is okay to use testimonials or pictures proving you can get great results. Even if they don’t come from a contests, but make sure you aren’t pretending that they did!
No matter what marketing plan you choose to go with make sure you are putting your best foot forward and making the most of it. Once you start getting results with your transformation programs it will be much easier to market them with the help of social media, the results tend to go viral. Don’t overlook your current clients as a possible referral sources. Encourage them to sign up for your transformation contests and bring their friends!
Creating Your Accountability Structure
Most trainers running transformation contests promote accountability as a big benefit for signing up for their contests. The problem is they don’t really hold anyone accountable. There is no system or structure for it, they use it as bait to get people to sign up.
Unfortunately, most people don’t really want to be held accountable for their actions, but they need it. Your accountability program during a transformation contest can be set up easily. And, let’s face it, there will be some people that don’t respond to anything you do; however, it is your job to give them the opportunity to ask for help and to make it easy. There are two main ways that I have structured accountability systems into a transformation contest:
- Automated Check-ins
- Accountability Teams
They both work well if monitored and implemented. You can use Google Forms or Survey Monkey to organize automated check-ins for your transformation contestants. Simply set up a quick Google form with a few questions on it and have it set to go out in an autoresponder message each Monday.
All that is required of you and your team is to check for any red flags and follow up as needed.
The red flags come from dissatisfaction with results, lack of results or obstacles listed. You can follow up with a ‘great progress’ email if needed or make a quick call to check on a client that is having trouble.
Set up a form for each week of the contest and track those that fill them out. If someone misses more than 1 week in a row, follow up with them to check in. This system works well if you are willing to set aside the time to review the answers and follow up. It is incredibly easy to implement.
The accountability team setup works well if you have a staff of trainers working for you. Using this system, we would assign trainers to a team of individuals to check in on weekly via phone calls and emails. If there was an issue they would handle it themselves or come to you with questions. While this system is more personal, it takes a lot more time and energy. You also need to ensure that all trainers are actually doing the follow up and are prepared to answer the questions they may get.
Documentation of calls and emails should be turned in by each coach weekly.
You can use either of these systems along with set weigh in periods during a contest to monitor client progress and results. This is especially critical when you are giving clients habits or guidelines rather than meal plans.
With a little planning and prep work, you can create a scalable system that will allow you to grow your business by doing what you do best - getting clients great results.
Transformations contests can be applied to nearly any niche of client and the template can be used to grow any training business that deals with change including weight loss, fitness, performance, movement or confidence. While the details may be slightly different, the principles all hold true.