“ALL MARKETERS SHOULD KILL THEMSELVES!!!” The late, great Bill Hicks and I deliver our take on Information Marketing for Personal Trainers (gratuitous eye-candy included)!

Posted on 17. Sep, 2008 by in Marketing Fitness, Personal Trainer Sales Systems


“Yes, you too can be the next ten million dollar fitness entrepreneur!”

In part, Super-Trainer started as an answer to the shameless marketing that’s taken over the fitness industry over the past few years. It was a call to get back to basics – get good at training first and take advantage of what this field has to offer. But if you noticed, it’s not just in fitness that this information marketing craze has taken over. If you browse the web, you’ll see it in almost every field imaginable.

With my original feelings on the subject, it’s kind of ironic that I too am now selling stuff online; in my case, it’s the new web and branding services I’m offering to help trainers get their practices pumping hard. And beyond that, maintaining a popular blog and looking to reach lots of people with it (after all, I’m not talking to myself) has forced me to learn a lot about marketing. In that way you could even call me a marketer. But before you throw me in with all the other snake oil peddlers, let me give you my take on this field and my stance on it and in it.

Internet Marketing is a dynamic field that’s a science unto itself. One of the most popular info marketers in the fitness industry Ryan Lee happens to be hosting his third marketing bootcamp for trainers this weekend. Here and at the many other marketing events held around the world you hear amazing stories of the potential to earn millions of dollars in your underwear, and live and work from anywhere in the world. These are incidentally the same promises you hear in the 3 AM info-mercials, but with a twist. You can actually meet people that have apparently achieved these kinds of results – guys like Craig Ballantyne who’s e-book Turbulence Training took the internet by storm with thousands of affiliates selling it across the web, raking up millions is gross sales.

Although by now your bullshit radar probably goes blaring when you hear about things like this, there’s still a part of all of us that can’t help but get caught up in the appeal of this kind of talk. Dreams of sipping cocktails on Ocean Drive with Anna Kournikova come to mind. So do racing Bugatti’s on the highways of Monaco with Alex Rodriguez, as does lounging on a boat off the coast of St Barth’s with Jay-Z and Beyonce. That voice inside of us asks “why not me?”

I’ll be the first to say that you have the right to set any goals you want for yourself, and shun anyone that wants to tell you otherwise. But with those goals comes action, years of hard work, and brutal self honesty. The truth is many people do earn a lot of money in marketing. But what you need to realize is that marketing is a totally different field that you’ll have to learn, practice, and master just like any other. Making a fortune isn’t something you do as a side project – it’s a career change you undertake, one that you’ll have to devote yourself to full time until you achieve the success these marketing gurus talk about. What a lot of them fail to understand (it’s not really their fault) is that the fitness industry doesn’t suck for everyone to the point that they’re dying to get out – some people actually like it. And just how we as trainers find it hard to understand people that don’t like to stay in shape, it’s hard for the marketers to understand people that don’t want to be like them.

By definition, marketing is “market” driven – finding a group of people that you can sell a bunch of stuff too. That’s opposed to being product driven, ie being good at something, and then deciding to sell it. If that makes marketing sound a little seedy, that’s because it is. It means you basically find a bunch of people dumb enough to buy your crap. The best summary of the negatives of marketing I’ve ever heard is in this clip by the brilliant comic Bill Hicks who passed away some years ago. Here it is:

[youtube gDW_Hj2K0wo nolink]

Pretty funny huh?

But to be totally fair, the marketing industry isn’t all bad. While I’m not behind what a lot of these marketers preach, their work is an exercise in understanding how to reach and serve lots of people with different forms of products. This can be really eye-opening for trainers, who as a whole are close-minded on how to sell themselves and reach high-paying customers. Why else would you see so many slaving at major health clubs and getting totally exploited? They have a lack of belief when it comes to reaching new people, or if they master this step, they then lack the belief to move on to new challenges. This ironically creates the void that allows unqualified marketers to step in and fill.

For that reason I give guys like Ryan Lee a lot of credit. I went to his first conference three years ago. On the one hand I was appalled by a lot of what I saw – there was the stench of scam in the air. Nearly every presenter looked totally out of shape and just plain sloppy, even though they all claimed to be raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ryan himself and his co-presenter Jim Labadie look like they haven’t touched a weight or seen the inside of a gym in years. I’m born and raised in New York, and we’re taught to read people on non-verbal cues like this from an early age.

Another thing a lot of these presenters had in common were ugly websites. These were sites they couldn’t bother to spend five minutes to take a picture for or proofread. Although subconsciously this should all register as a red flag, we again can get over-ridden by that dream of becoming a multi-millionaire overnight. The reality is that just like any field, earning even a hundred thousand dollars at marketing is a very difficult task that any marketer, even Ryan Lee, will tell you took them years to achieve. That’s why I always preach that if you’re already committed to fitness as a career you’ll find it a much better use of this time in becoming a Top-Level Trainer. It’s here that you have complete control over the product (yourself), only need to reach a local and not a global market, and only need to sell a few dozen customers, not thousands, to make very good money. It’s at this point that you’ll have the mastery, cash-flow, and basic skills to take the next big step, whatever that might be for you.

From the trainer’s perspective, the underlying message behind the marketing community is a positive one. That you need think outside of the box and believe in what you have to offer. In that way I think the work of these marketers is very worthwhile to check out and can prove to be very inspirational. That’s also why some of the biggest names in the training industry swear by Ryan; guys like Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey, and Steve Cotter. He’s helped them take their already overwhelming knowledge and skill and share it with more people, and make more money in the process. For many more trainers, he’s instilled the business and success oriented mindset that allowed them to bring effective systems to what they do, work hard on selling themselves, and achieve major success at a very fast rate. Some of these trainers used information marketing as a stepping stone into more “legitimate” forms of publishing. Whether it’s the chicken or egg that comes first, it’s clear that selling yourself is something that you’re going to need to master to grow in this and any career.

Ryan and Jim are the ambassadors of information marketing to the fitness community, but in fact this field has been around even way before the Internet. Jeffrey Lant was on of the early pioneers who taught how to sell books, seminars, tapes, and all of that stuff to niche markets. Back then it was through classified ads and mailing lists. The Internet just made things much easier and cheaper, and the industry totally exploded to the level you see it at now (and continues to grow).

There’s a certain nerdiness and anti-social element to a lot of the marketing world which is the reason why I say it isn’t for everyone. You’ll notice that the most well known trainers in the mainstream media have skipped this step of niche and affiliate marketing; people like my friend Cynthia Conde, fellow NYC trainer Juris Kupris, and personalities like Jackie Warner from the show Workout. I doubt any of them have ever been to an info marketing seminar or created an e-book, but are all extremely shrewd at promoting themselves, creating passive streams of income, and moving forward in the fitness industry.

I don’t mean for this to put off any emerging trainers that have been inspired by the marketing movement to look beyond hourly rates. I see a lot of very good trainers making moves into information sales, which is only to their benefit. People like my buddy John Izzo and kettlebell instructor Lauren Brooks, both of whom have expanded into the information industries and are making good passive income from it. This outside of the box thinking can only lead to bigger and better things for them in the future.

In my case, I’m not quite as slick as these guys so all of my information products and things like that have been free until now (haha, one of these days I’ll get the hang of it!). And with my web and design services, I’ve chosen to sell something a little more old school. Rather than information, it’s a labor intensive project designed to deliver tremendous value and actual tangible results, for an unbelievably low price. Call me old fashioned, but in my mind that’s still the formula to make something sell and achieve a type of success you can build on.

No matter where you decide to take this fitness thing, I highly recommend you master the step of being a trainer first. That’s the only fault I ever really have with these marketers – convincing total novices that have never made a dime selling their fitness services think they’ll be mutimillionaires overnight. That part is wrong. But inspiring trainers to do more and better? There’s nothing wrong with that, and that happens to be my mission as well. So if you want to call me a sleezy marketer that’s alright – I can sleep at night, and I won’t be killing myself anytime soon!

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9 Comments

gaby

18. Sep, 2008

Hello Kaiser,

Funny you bring up Ryan Lee. I started running across his name on the internet a few weeks back and checked out his websites and some free marketing material. I was shocked at how ALL of these top marketing guys looked. Just as you described, out of shape and like they have no place being a trainer or anythingclose to fitness.

However, as i continued further reading they have some very good information that I will use to help my TRAINING business and expand out from there. Very nice analysis Kaiser. It seems that you are always on point with the posts and perspective on how things ought to be.

Hello Kaiser,
I totally agree with you. Stage 1 of becoming a personal trainer is do do your job perfectly, please your customers, and gain a reputation in the industry. I do concur having a decent web site is integral to your business marketing strategy, but selling widgets, how to build a boot camp PDF files, and other pumped up e-books is absurd.

Trainers should strive for greatness great and express their thoughts an
knowledge in an awesome blog that spread the word freely to fellow fitness trainers. I believe what goes around comes around.

I believe the extent of the personal trainer’s information marketing plan should be only for the purpose of getting page rank organically on Google ( You want your web site to appear on page 1 ). SEM or search engine marketing is something you can and should learn inside out. Learn this and you will discover your true NERD.
Yes, Kaiser, you are the last of the QueensNY Tyrannosaurus Rex’s. This is good. You are becoming an online celebrity as well as a good Samaritan in many peoples eyes. Don’t change.
BTW when I get a Jim Labadie, Ryan Lee or Beadros Kulian e-mail you can be sure I instantly delete their crap from my e-mail When I get my SuperTrainer newsletter I open it instantly, as I did tonight.

Your friend, Rivak

Doug Murphy

20. Sep, 2008

Hey Kaiser,

I got a good laugh out of this post. Over the years, I’ve purchased a few of these products out of curiosity, and found that some had useable info. With others, the best info I got was looking at their packaging and finding out what companies they use to affordably mass produce and distribute their books and videos! Marketing is fine if you’re delivering a product that has real value, but there’s sure a lot of crap out there! That’s what has made me a loyal reader of your blog-no BS, just the real deal and nothing promising me I’ll make millions instantly. I’ve also seen Ryan Lee at a conference, and I gotta say: dude, those 4 minute workouts aren’t working!

bill moore

22. Sep, 2008

Funny how the comments are the same – Ryan isn’t bullshitting this group. His persistent, constant emails are full of non-sense, plus he NEVER responds to my emails which of course call “him out” !!
I have always prescribed to “walking the walk” I have already trained myself or tried numerous exercises before my clients do!! so Ryan’s 4 minute, non-weight training routine isn’t working !!

Kaiser

23. Sep, 2008

To Ryan’s credit, he’s recently announced he’s getting out of the fitness industry for good – he’s moved on to giving strictly marketing advice which is probably where he belongs so more power to him –

Like I mentioned in the post, I now dabble in marketing and the message you hear there is a sound one – the top coaches in that industry recommend getting face to face with your customers, one-on-one for coaching sessions (does that sound a little bit like Personal Training?) – although this doesn’t sound like a sexy multi-million dollar plan at first, it’s how you determine what the REAL needs and concerns of your customers are, and it’s only then that you can look to solve them on a large scale and avoid getting out of touch, which is evident from some of the embarrassing products we see out there –

Mike Behnken

24. Sep, 2008

Great post (as usual) Kaiser,

This reminds me of the feeling I often get while talking to my clients. Sometimes I wish I was walking downtown in a business suit going to meetings and sitting in front of a computer rather than wearing sweats and barking out instructions.

Every time I ask my clients about this, they say I’m crazy, that they’d rather be a personal trainer rather than a desk jockey lawyer, director, etc.

The keyword when talking about marketing is passive income. Putting in hours is one thing, and passive income is really the holy grail of income.

There is something about being a personal trainer where the more money you get paid means more and more you work which can draw you to marketing.

I agree, be a trainer first then try some marketing. With the internet, marketing has never been more easy and lucrative. Being a personal trainer versus an internet marketer can be summed up with one question…

Would you rather get $1,500 each from 20 people working 40 hours a week or 25 cents each from 200,000 people working 5 hours a week?

If you answered that instantly, maybe you have a future in internet marketing.

Harry

27. Sep, 2008

Yeah I agree with you Kaiser – I love fitness and hate computers – I’ll pay someone else to do all of that stuff for me!

Sarah Rippel

12. Nov, 2008

AMEN!

I have always believe that those who “have it,” have it…and those who are in this business for the wrong reasons will do whatever they can to make up for a lack thereof.

I am constantly looking at other fitness professionals’ blogs, and i’m glad to have found your’s! I also frequent Izzo’s blog as well. There are few that I choose to spend my time reading. Yesterday, in fact, I was googling and whatnot, and came across some typical master-info-product-marketer’s blog…can’t remember his name BUT he had a pic from the latest Ryan Lee trip to Vegas or something…a group of the top “gurus” standing in the casino. Now, I didn’t want to pass judgment, but my immediate thought was “these guys look like they have never worked out!” Reading your post made me feel better about this, lol. If I sit and think about this kinda thing too much, it gets me a bit riled-up. I guess just as in any industry, there are gonna be the guys who hide behind a facade in order to take advantage of others. It seems to be a plague for us. Ugh. Funny how they are all tied together, promoting eachother. Nothing wrong with that…I just feel it’s OBVIOUS what’s going on, and I would never want to be associated with that kinda thing. END OF RANT! :) Thanks for not being a sellout!

Kaiser

17. Nov, 2008

Yeah Sarah we’re on the same page with this – there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing – there’s just that thin *clank* of the counterfeit through all of it that tells you something’s not right –

but –

I think most trainers waste their time badmouthing these guys and some of the pathetic stuff they put out – spend your time instead on learning and putting out some REAL, high quality information, products, service options, and programs that people can benefit from – if we all do this, the fakers will have no chance and the public will benefit greatly!

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