I just submitted my monthly column to PFP Magazine a couple of days ago …
Like I’ve mentioned before, I sugar coat those articles a bit – they’re different from my normal writing style, which you get to enjoy over here :-)
This month, I had to sugar coat it a lot …
It was in response to someone blasting the idea of getting clients off of the web on one of the forums (the one where a good number of the posters would make the Geico caveman look like a freaking rocket scientist).
The guy was talking about how he’d been trying to post ads on Craigslist for months and not getting any results, so he definitively concluded that getting clients online was impossible and that anyone that suggested it was was an idiot.
You see what I’m talking about now right? Yes, caveman.
This type of thinking, where if it doesn’t work for you then it must not work at all, is probably one of the most negative out there. But truth be told, we are all probably guilty of it in at least one area in our lives.
But when it comes to getting clients, I hope mine and the other blogs out there have made it clear what’s possible through the free classifieds and online in general. When I was a heavy poster in Manhattan, I got more high quality clients than I could count – a Harvard lawyer, a hand full of doctors, and many more people I loved to train that were paying me extremely high rates.
Sure I have my own little system of getting and keeping the clients, and I had to sift through a lot of toads in order to find the princes and princesses, but the ROI was still tremendous and I’d recommend it to everyone.
Here’s the pretty basic article I wrote up for PFP – it should give you some of the key ideas on how to make Craigslist really work for you:
How to Get Clients with Craigslist
By Kaiser Serajuddin
For an independent trainer, especially one just starting out, using the web is one of the best ways to find new training clients. The people that need training the most are usually the ones that spend most of their day behind a computer screen, so that’s usually the place they’ll go first when looking for a trainer.
When it comes to the web, one of the major places people turn to is Craigslist. It is such a highly trafficked site that it turns out to be one of the best places to get training clients, but only if you do it right. Despite its potential, the fact is that most trainers still get their posts all wrong, which is evident from a question I was asked recently by a trainer:
“Hey Kaiser – I’ve been posting ads religiously on Craigslist since last October, with terrible results. I have one of the highest level certifications and a nutritional certification, and charge half of what everyone else charges, and all I’ve got in all of these months is just one client. I’m ready to give up – what am I doing wrong?”
This question shows a lot of things that can go wrong with posting ads on Craigslist. To help, here are my three posting tips that will start getting you more clients than you can handle and will give you an unfair advantage over all of your competition:
1. Don’t compete strictly on price. The first thing to know is that even though people on Craigslist tend to be price shoppers, you can’t compete solely on price. There hasn’t been a business, except maybe Walmart, that has been able to succeed only by being the cheapest.
What you really need is an offer. This is the reason why someone should contact you and why they should do it now. A sample offer could be a three-session introductory package, where you give your clients a chance try out your sessions at a competitive price. If you were advertising a boot camp, you could offer a two-week trial for only one dollar. Throwing in a guarantee and an expiration date are two more things that can make your offer even more compelling.
2. Have a good website to send your visitors to. There’s only so much information you can put into an ad, but if you put the link to your website in there, you can form a much deeper bond. Your website can have video, testimonials and tons of information that will give your visitor a hundred reasons to take the first step and contact you.
3. Post frequently and in multiple categories. It’s almost impossible to be successful on Craigslist by following their terms of service to the letter. You’ll have to bend the rules a bit to get the best results. The first trick is posting more than one ad per day. You’ll have to be creative and open multiple accounts so you can post several times per day, depending on the volume of ads in your area. In New York City, it had to post 10 times a day, and I have a friend that, with all of the different sections on Craigslist considered, posts 30 ads per day regularly! Just make sure your ads are unique and appropriate to each category so you don’t get flagged, and you should be set.
One more bonus tip is to find someone to do all of your posting for you. Just give them the ads, and they’ll do all of the work. There are firms overseas that specialize specifically with posting ads on Craigslist. For that, you can go to someplace like www.elance.com, post the project and give it the best bidder.
Using these techniques should turn Craigslist into a goldmine of new clients and new business for you. This is one of the best places to get clients on the web, so enjoy it while it lasts!
I hope that guy from the forum is a reader of my blog. Then maybe he’ll get a clue and start making some money.
And for a couple of more excellent articles on getting loads of clients and making serious money check out this post from Steve Hochman’s Bootcamp Marketing blog, and this guest post by Zach Hunt on Chris McCombs’s blog about how to get clients for free.
Did you get any ideas out of this? Got something to add of your own? Leave your comments below:
Hey Kaiser. That post is right on the money! Once I started applying the things that you mentioned to me about Craigslist, I started getting qualified leads. I’ve gotten about 10 high-paying clients, and all from Craigslist. My next move is to have someone do the postings for me, so I can keep working on growing my business! Thanks, Kaiser!
Glad things are moving so quickly for you Dan. How do you like being solo? What’s the money like compared to being in Bally’s? What’s the lifestyle and freedom like?
Yup, surprisingly enough, competitions on CL in many areas is still very weak, so it’s easy pickens – the trainers in the know are building their entire businesses off of it, but you’ve still got to do it right for the best results.
Kaiser, I’m an old dog trying to learn a new trick with almost anything online but, even an old trainer like I have gotten clients from Craigslist.
I hired someone much younger than I to post my ads and then benefit from another source of getting clients. I still do a lot of face-to-face networking too, and that’s my comfort zone. But to discount online marketing is just plain silly.
From my perspective it doesn’t matter nearly as much how many client you get, but rather how many you keep for the long haul.
My goal is to individually generate a six-figure revenue stream with every client. I can easily count more than 40 of those “six-figure” clients, off the top of my head, that my business is fortunate to serve.
No matter how you get them, just remember…the important thing is to KEEP them with outstanding customer service.
Hey Kaiser, how you getting on?
I had success by just putting into Google “Personal Training – Location” and seeing which classifed ads featured. I sent submitted just the one ad. The next day I had gained two page 1 Google rankings for that term. What’s key I think, on hindsight, is driving them to an optin DR page rather than going straight for the PT sale or homepage visit.
Cool Greg – glad to see you’re getting a lot out of it, and trying new things – yes, face to face and personal service still trumps all – I’m trying to make that clear through some of the post, but feel free to throw in some reminders every now and then.
Hey Noel – I don’t know where everyone stands on this, but I think going for an inquiry rather than an opt-in is a better move. At the very least, you still have the email address of the inquiry to add to your email list. I’ve never tested it, and don’t know of anyone else that has when it comes to PT, so it’s still a judgment call.
Someone said there is a $100 fine for multiple posting or spaming on CL.
Is this true? If so, how did you post multiple times during the day and not get fined legally by CL?
This was news to me Raj, but I just looked into it and you’re right –
The only things that I can think of are that if you’re ads are being posted by someone oversees, then they technically aren’t posted by you. Sure, CL could track you down through your contact info as the advertiser, but I don’t think they could fine you in that case, because people would just post ads of their competitors in order to get them fined.
Another option is mixing up your ads – not posting the same one twice – CL already can “read” your ads and doesn’t allow this –
I’ll have to look into this more, but I still no several people that are still doing very well with it –
After reading this article I posted this on CL and didn’t get a single reply. Now can you guys read this and tell me where I went wrong.
“I have a 4 yr degree called “Health Fitness Specialist”. To offer you 2 day trial for in home and enviro training I will charge $15. If you like my sessions then we will talk about my specials.
NO Contracts “
Also, can you include some of your material you used to post which worked for you so we can get an idea. Thanks a lot for it bossman.
Wow – that ad was so bad I just don’t know where to really start – really use the info in this post and the other blogs I pointed you to – also read this article here:
Give it another shot and we’ll keep working on it –