You learn many lessons when you’ve been in business for over 20 years. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is this: MARKETING IS EVERYTHING. To succeed in the fitness industry, you must – first and foremost – become a Master of Marketing. You can know everything there is to know about nutrition, stretching, weight loss strategies, medical conditions, and calorie burn, but your business is poised to fail if you’re not familiar with social media, blogging, pay per click, referral programs and email marketing. You should be using what you’ve learned in marketing in every single conversation you have, whether you’re consoling a friend or persuading a client. IT’S ALL MARKETING. Every day, you’re marketing ideas; you’re marketing emotion; you’re marketing yourself.
Let’s take a look at the basic marketing skills that every fitness professional must have.
1. Perception Matters.
Our marketing stories are chameleons: they change, depending on our audience. You wouldn’t explain nutrition the same way to a group of Marathon Runners as you would to a group of Seniors with Diabetes. While the principles of nutrition may be the same for everyone, the message has to be tailored to your target’s perception.
Think of it this way: if you spent a wild weekend in Vegas, would you tell the same version of the story to your grandmother as you would a friend? What details would you extract to tell one of your clients? Every story is complex, but breaking it down into manageable pieces can create the perception of the subject you want your audience to have.
2. Put Your Story Into A Frame.
Journalists are taught that there is no such thing as a truly objective story. Each tale is put into a “frame,” depending on which details are included, what is left out, who is quoted and which words are chosen. The same is true of events in the fitness world. Good and bad will happen in your business, but how you frame it is what matters. You always want to project positivity – whether you missed your sales target for the month or your workout wasn’t the best today. Knowing how to see the good in every situation is important when you are dealing with client complaints or trying to win back an old customer. If you can frame your business in the right way, you will smooth over the situation like peanut butter and earn the customer’s loyalty every time.
3. Tell A Story Worth Hearing.
The best storytellers are some of the most successful people I know. They understand how to captivate the attention of others and make a memorable impression. If you think about it, I’m sure you can remember the characters and plots of countless stories you read as a child. These snippets made a life-long impression on you. Wouldn’t you like to do the same for your personal training clients?
Packaging your key communication messages into a story is highly memorable. Often times, when I’m asked to do a public speaking event at a fitness seminar, I’ll begin with an anecdote – a short, but intriguing story that illustrates a point. You can think of anecdotes as fairytales rooted in reality because they are brief, but contain a valuable lesson in the end. Sharing a story that is humorous, interesting or relatable is a great way to connect with your audience and instantly hang onto their attention.
4. Focus On Providing More Value.
Do you ever feel like you’re always asking for something? Maybe you’re asking your staff members to stay later, asking them to brainstorm ideas for promotions, asking them to learn a new routine, asking them to do more social networking, asking them to extend more contracts, or asking them to shoulder more responsibility. No one wants to sound like a nag! There’s no problem with asking others to do for us, but you must focus on giving to others if you want to get results.
Now let’s translate this idea into the fitness marketing world. Perhaps you were told “Every web page, every marketing message MUST have a call-to-action.” Or does it? The most successful fitness franchises ask very little from the customer. I’m always giving away free e-books, webinars, newsletters, videos, nutrition seminars and even lunches to my clients. Why? — Because this breeds loyalty. Every day you should be asking yourself, “How can I give more?”
5. Grow, Learn and Evolve.
The reason you’re a fitness business owner and not a personal trainer working for a Big Box Gym is that you wanted to grow in your career. You wanted to evolve. Now that you’re Top Dog, are you going to stop there and sit back on your laurels? You’d be surprised how many people do. Then they come to me and say, “My business is stagnating. I’m working too many hours. I’m not happy or living the lifestyle I imagined.” My answer to these people is always the same: focus on developing your business skills. Learn something new that will help you in your business each and every day. Read a new book each week. Attend millionaire masterminds with the best brains in the industry. Keep this idea in mind when you are thinking about your clients’ needs too. They also want to be growing, learning and evolving. How can your programs help them?
6. Content Is King.
The most-uttered maxim in online fitness marketing is this: CONTENT IS KING. Staring at your computer screen can really be a mind-freak. There are so many vehicles for self-promotion, where do you even begin?? Focus on content creation and you will never go wrong. Think about it: your target market is coming online in search of information and/or entertainment. Developing quality content is the best way to connect with their needs. You can create blogs, articles, videos, social media posts, newsletters, inspirational posters, or comics: it’s all content that adds value to your brand. Get a team of professionals you can count on to be creating content for you around-the-clock. This will free up time for you to focus on core business development, while ensuring that you are always paying homage to “The King.”
7. Be Constructive With Criticism.
What if you have a staff member or a client who is really grinding your gears because they are always pitching the most asinine ideas? You may be seeing red initially and blinded by your anger. “This person is wasting my time with useless chatter,” you may be thinking. Yet, it’s important to detach from these negative emotions. If you come down too hard like a hammer, you may end up stifling creativity – not just from that particular staff member, but from your group as a whole. That trainer might go to another trainer and say, “Sam was a total jerk today! Would you believe what he said to me? I was just trying to help!” Now that trainer doesn’t want to go out on a limb for you – and the rumor starts to spread that you’re an ungrateful tyrant. You see where this is going? Instead, you want to focus on a gentle approach to feedback and avoid outright rejecting an idea. Look for ways to build or improve upon the idea and take it in a new direction.
8. Lend An Ear And Be A Good Listener.
No one likes a Blowhard Blovaitor. Many fitness marketers get so jazzed up about their messages that they spend all their time talking – only, no one is listening. In Sales 101, you learn that the most successful sales professionals are the ones who spend at least 60 percent of their time with a prospect simply listening. They find out where the prospect is coming from, what his needs are, and brainstorm which solutions would benefit that particular individual most. Instead of trying to dominate every conversation, ask questions that will give your clients or trainers a chance to do the talking. You’ll be amazed by how much you learn!
9. Help Others Find Meaning.
Never forget that you are a Life-Changer. The services and products you offer are every bit as valuable as what a Physician does. You are helping people lead a healthier, happier lifestyle. They are looking for ways to make fitness an easier habit. Yet, they want to move past the physical realm. They want mental stimulation, emotional motivation and spiritual growth. I focus a lot of my time and effort on creating a fitness program that is more than just a grunt work-out. We have created a social club that clients could not find anywhere else. My trainers have become supportive friends. When you come to my fitness club, you feel the weight of the world lifted from your shoulders. There are only smiles and positive vibes allowed. All my marketing communications reinforce this enlightening attitude – and yours should too.