Whats up gang – Kaiser here.
Whenever I drive around, I’m in the habit of checking out how other retail businesses advertise and market themselves, and for the most part, it’s sad.
Even in 2012, with a still shitty economy and so much information (like this blog) out there and up for grabs, people are still doing it like it was 1975.
It’s all so generic. The yoga places just have the word YOGA written on them, massage places just have the word MASSAGE written on them, and a lot of personal training studios I see have nothing more than the words PERSONAL TRAINING written on them. Where’s the specialization? Where’s the differentiation? Nowhere to be found.
Differentiation is the key. Everything we do, the copyrighting, the strategic planning, tactical planning, and even follow-up, all of it has to do with differentiating your business. Paying attention to differentiation is what has gotten me to where I am so quickly, with total cash sales between my both bootcamps in excess of 50K per month, and contracts at over 65K, and climbing (this month we may do over 100K in total contracts between both bootcamps – will keep you posted on that). I can’t think of another pair of fitness studios that got as big, as fast, without using Daily Deal sites, Facebook, or “the Google”. I’m starting to get my game dialed in in those three areas now too, but up to now, it’s all been differentiation.
Sam obviously understands the value of something this critical, and that’s why he talks about it all the time. I study his marketing, and all of it is built with the purpose of differentiation. Plus, he’s a big follower like I am of Al Reese and Jack Trout, the two masters of this subject. One thing I learned from those guys is that being the best or trying to be better than everyone else isn’t enough. You have to differentiate.
In the past in my training career, I spent all my time just trying to get better. Being better and having an outstanding product is great, but what I understand now is differentiation is the key. In Al Reese and Jack Trout’s book, Differentiate or Die, they point out how businesses built only on the premise of excellence or service (or being the cheapest for that matter) eventually have financial problems or go extinct. Why? Because none of that raises your immediate benefit in the customer’s mind.
You have to be different, and the customer has to know why you’re different; why they need to work with you and only you, not your competitor. Who cares if your competitor has better service or is better; if you’re the specific answer to the problem, and are in the customer’s awareness when it’s time to take action, you’re the one they’re going to go with.
Right now I’m going to go into several of the areas of differentiation that I execute in my business and that you should be paying attention to in yours. It’s a checklist on how to stand out, attract and keep customers, take them away from other fitness businesses, and eventually charge the highest rates possible for your business.
Having a Brand:
As direct response marketers we’re not really into branding, in the sense of advertising to get your name into the public’s head. We don’t have the money or time for that, and are strictly in the business of making offers and getting a response. What I mean by branding is having a differentiating idea and image to your business that your customers relate to, find appealing, and understand as different than everything else out there. You’re going to start to stand out and have a differentiating idea that people can relate to. As Al Ries points out in his book THE 22 IMMUTABLE LAWS OF BRANDING:
Selling, as a profession and as a function, is slowly sinking like the Titanic. Today, most products and services are bought, not sold. And branding greatly facilitates this process. Branding “pre-sells” the product or service to the user. Branding is simply a more efficient way to sell things.
Most people today are bored out of their minds. Their home life is boring, work is boring, their friends are boring, their hobbies are boring, and they have pretty much given up on their dreams. It’s our job to bring the energy and passion back into their lives, if only for an hour at a time. Your boot camp has to have energy. It needs to be larger than life, and needs to pump personality, life, and vigor back into your members’ lives, even if they don’t want it. They’ll eventually come around – trust me.
Although I’ve debated with people on this subject in the past (how you doin Rocco?), having a good, central location is a way I differentiate. Other boot camps hold themselves all over the place or are hidden away somewhere. I’m out front in a credible locations, am easy to find, and very convenient for my members to use and for them to refer other people to.
How you market is another major area of differentiation. While most other people in the fitness business today are playing with rubber bands and sling shots, you have to be playing with shotguns. That’s what I try to do. I’m about no holds barred marketing all the time – differentiating, getting into people’s faces, communicating, and creating a positive brand image and awareness.
The only way that you can stand out from the crowd is to make offers that compel people to take action and give your business a try. The fitness industry, in my opinion, is broken today. Most people are jaded or fed up. They may have been duped by a crooked personal trainer, had their money stolen or their credit ruined by a chain gyms, or spent hundreds on monthly memberships without ever going. You have to overcome this skepticism by having very compelling offers. Give away the farm if you have to, just to get them in and wow them with your product. After that, you can charge whatever you want.
Although service alone isn’t a way to differentiate, it can be a major part of the total puzzle. At my bootcamp we have towels service, free apples, exquisite bathrooms, are extremely clean and smell great, and do a hundred other little things to create a five-star experience. Although none of this would matter if our training sucked or we didn’t specialize, combined with everything else, it makes us hard to beat.
I’ve put a lot of thought into the appearance of my boot camps, and I think it pays off. Your fitness business has to be an appealing place that makes an immediate positive first impression, that immediately tells the customer that this is different than anything else they’ve tried, and it has to be a place they I want to be associated with. For example, when you walk into a really good restaurant, there’s almost something visceral you feel from just the appearance that lets you know everything is going to be okay and the food and service will be great. You can sense it, from ambiance alone. I try to make this same immediate impression with my bootcamp. I also pay the same attention to my appearance whenever I’m representing the business, and make sure my staff does as well.
Like I talked about before, the world today is totally impersonal. When you go to a gym, they sign you up and chuck the contract over their shoulder the second you’re out of their face. There’s hardly anywhere you can go these days where they still know your name. There’s no local deli. It’s been replaced by the Subway. There’s no local convenience store. Now it’s a 7-11. Your fitness business needs to be different. You have to know everyone by name from the very first day and find out their innermost desires and dreams and reasons for wanting to get in shape. Once you do I promise you they’ll be a member for life.
Brand yourself as a celebrity:
Even though your business has a brand, it’s still a lot about YOU. People want to do business with other people. And the people we want to do business with are high value, high status people that are “better” than us. This kind of image for yourself needs to come across through your marketing. Through a million little things I do every day, I try to make it clear that I’m not your average trainer. My customer’s view me as one of the top people in this business period. I’m an area of differentiation in the business no one can steal.
Have a Big Idea:
And most importantly in my opinion, you have to have a big idea. Call it a USP, a specialty, a niche, or whatever, but you have to have something that you stand for that sets you apart from everything else, and let’s customers know you’re the answer to their specific problems. For example, I’m the extreme fat loss boot camp. I’m Better Body Boot Camp. When people want to get ready for summer, lost fat, get ready for a wedding, lose fat fast, get in shape, fix their problems areas, or anything related to immediate, visual results, I’m the one they think of. My name and specialty says it all. It’s not called Kaiser’s Boot Camp. It’s Better Body Boot Camp and everyone knows it. We’re the extreme fat loss specialists. What’s funny is people come in a lot of times as if we were a clinic. They tell us exactly how much fat they want to lose, in exactly how much time, and want to know how to get started. When I get people like this, I know I’m doing my marketing job right. We’re problem solvers and the public knows what problem that we specialize in solving. We’re not a place to get training. We’re a place to get results. I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into getting that across and that differentiating idea has allowed me to succeed to this point.
While a lot of other people I see are focused on tactical ways to grow their business, I spend most of my time thinking up stream. I think about the entire concept of the business, and how the customers view the need it serves. In my opinion if you do that right, you can suck at the tactical stuff (like I currently do, although Sam is helping me on that), and still get results.