Fitness Marketing – Conversation with Eric Cressey Part 2

Posted on 24. Jan, 2010 by in Marketing Fitness


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Eric Cressey: Exactly. I mean – and don’t get me wrong. We meet with every one of our clients and our athletes one on one first doing evaluations, get a feel for their health history, any kind of injuries that we need to work with [0:00:15] [Indiscernible] and I think we’re a little bit different from most of the facilities that are kind of doing it with a business model similar to us is that we program for everybody individually.

So Tony and Brian, we spend a lot of time writing programs. The difference is between us and another facility that might do this is that we don’t just write one workout up on the board that everyone is going to follow. Instead, you walk in here and you see at times 15 people, each with their own clipboard, each with an individualized program and they’re accountable. And really we’re just here to give cues and give coaching, just subtle modifications to exercise technique and hey, I have someone basically [0:00:54] [Indiscernible] cracked their ankle the day before. We need to know how to – if we make modifications in that program on the fly.

Kaiser Serajuddin: All right. That’s real good to hear. Now one thing about Cressey Performance is – I mean obviously you’ve branded it after yourself, which is what we hear all the big marketing people talk about nowadays and in every field. Now what’s involved in that – what kind of responsibilities is put on you being …

Eric Cressey: Having my name on the facility?

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes, yes, having your name on the door.

Eric Cressey: Well, let’s put it this way. One of our kids a few weeks ago forgot his backpack at our facility after training after school. It just so happened to be during midterms. I get a call from his father at 11:45 at night saying that he needed X, Y, Z paper from his backpack in order to study for his exam the next day.

So you’re the one that gets called when something goes wrong. So I mean there’s a lot of glamour and all of that meaning that when something goes wrong for Cressey Performance, Eric Cressey is the first one to get called but it also is responsibility in the sense that a lot of kids still haven’t grasped the concept of calling the office phone to schedule their sessions. Instead I get text messages and calls.

And generally speaking when people start here, they always want to work with me and one of the things that’s really important is that as we get athletes and regular clients involved, I need to make a special point of integrating them with our other coaches and they’re basically guys who I’ve trained and groomed for this day to be an extension of me.

So the hard part is yes, I mean you put your name on a facility and inherently, they are going to come to you first. There are personal drawbacks to it. So for me, it was a good move simply because personally I had a lot of brand equity in this area so that when I made the move, there was a little bit more of an association with my last name and good baseball training. So if I had just given a random name, there might not have been that connection. It might not have been as easy to do. So it worked out very well.

Kaiser Serajuddin: OK.

Eric Cressey: But there are definitely some drawbacks that I have to deal with.

Kaiser Serajuddin: All right. Yes, that sounds real good. Now …

Eric Cressey: I wouldn’t do it differently, put it that way.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes. No, it looks like in your case, it turned out to be the right move. I mean not just …

Eric Cressey: Oh, absolutely.

Kaiser Serajuddin: … from a working perspective but also just good for the [0:03:02] [Indiscernible] of the business.

Eric Cressey: Exactly.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes. Now, one thing that I noticed when I was looking up your background is that you have a strong, athletic record on yourself and we’ve all built that into the training that you give. I think that’s one of the great things about personal training, how we can take our own workout habits and interest and turn them into our career. I mean kind of it doesn’t even really qualify as work anymore when you do it like that.

Can you explain how your own exercise history, how that plays into what you do over at Cressey?

Eric Cressey: Honestly, I think it’s a frame of reference. When you have a perspective to deal with athletes to basically be on their level in terms of competitive mindset and all that, it makes a difference. I mean one of the things I kind of take pride is that I’m able to kind of get right in there and run, jump, lift, do whatever I need to do alongside our athletes. I mean …

[Crosstalk]

Kaiser Serajuddin: That’s good now while you’re 26. Try that in a few years, man.

Eric Cressey: Exactly. I’m rapidly deteriorating and I’m starting to get away from piling things a little bit more and doing a little bit more sprint work and all that. So it’s a little bit easier on the joints but yes, it would be interesting to see where it takes me in a few years but for now, I’m out in the track with eight or nine guys, running with them and I hold my own. So I mean I’m still a 650 dead lifter and a 32-inch vertical jump so I can certainly hold my own. But yes, it’s going to be interesting in a few years to see how that deterioration of my body affects my business model.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes.

Eric Cressey: No, I mean we’re very enthusiastic about what it is we do. All of our employees, from our business guy to the trainers ourselves, we’re active lifters ourselves so I think that’s really important in terms of not just modeling appropriate behavior but in terms of improving longevity and training. You got to take care of your body.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes, absolutely. I think there are way too many trainers that think that they can preach it but not practice it [0:04:53] [Indiscernible] and it’s a big mistake.

Now one thing that you mentioned in the beginning when we first started talking is some of the passive streams of income you have, the publications, the consulting and yes, you’re known for that. You’re pretty big in this whole – what they call the information marketing and information-driven business. Now I think when a lot of people see a young guy like you making a passive income, they get a little deluded into thinking that they can do the same thing like real quickly. What’s your take on that? What kind of background do you need before you can start charging for information?

Eric Cressey: No, I mean the thing for me that was really valuable was before I ever do this, I went out and I spoke, giving presentations and stuff like that. Now, I wouldn’t be comfortable putting information out there if I didn’t feel like information I was presenting in seminars was well-received. But I think that yes, you basically kind of hit the tip of the iceberg when you said that there’s a little bit of a problem with people who jump into that information product realm a little bit too soon. I think one of the bigger things that a lot of people are doing now is they’re – sometimes they’re packaging other people’s information as a product that they create as a compilation and selling that.

For some people that’s a good, I guess, intro into the business aspect of it in terms of just getting their name out there and gradually progresses that to a point where it’s their expertise rather than somebody else’s that they’re selling. So you see that with like a product from Nate Green or from Jimmy Smith and I have mixed feelings about that but needless to say, that’s the nature of the beast.

My feeling is if you’re not good at what you do, don’t put out products and we know that historically, less than 25 [0:06:32] [Phonetic] percent of personal trainers are financially independent. I don’t think that’s because there isn’t enough of a market to support the personal trainers in this country. I mean the weight loss industry was like a $100 billion industry in 2006.

Yes, that’s independent of basically reduction surgeries and liposuctions and things like that. I think that the problem is that trainers really aren’t good enough to effectively service a very, very large market. So in that capacity, no, I don’t think that a lot of people are qualified to be putting information out there and when they do, it becomes a little bit scary.

I remember going to speak at a seminar down in Atlanta. I had to go last year and noticed by a show of hands. I asked how many people had heard of Stuart McGill, the world’s premier spine bio-mechanic. Out of about 130 people in the audience, I think four raised their hands. The four people who raised their hands were my self and the three other presenters that day.

When you haven’t read the stuff from the guy who’s basically the forefront of research for a condition that’s going to affect 80 percent of your clients at some point during their life, I would say that maybe you need to bury your nose in a book before you start to try to put out more information or try to promote yourself as an expert.

So in a way, I’m not saying that I’m the end-all, be-all and the greatest guy in the world but no, I definitely think it’s an issue that does need to be addressed and I’m not sure that I have an answer. So I’ve never been one to criticize without offering a solution but I guess that’s what I’m doing in this situation.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Oh, yes. That’s a really good point. I think coming from you, that carries a lot of weight. Yes, Eric. I know you’re real busy over there and you got to run. So just thanks for coming on with me today and …

Eric Cressey: No problem.

Kaiser Serajuddin: Yes, you dropped a few real gems here on some real valuable information from someone that’s at the top, the cutting-edge of this business. Yes. So thanks again, man.

Eric Cressey: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

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