Haha – that title will getcha reading, won’t it? It’s undeniable that there’s a certain panache to the term Celebrity Trainer … but what does it mean exactly?
People tend to think that it means you train celebrities, but not in my opinion. What it means is that you the trainer are the celebrity. For that, you need the help of the media.
When I was a kid and watched the news, TV shows, and things in print, I’d be in awe, thinking that type of media coverage was impossible. Now that I’m all grown up and have learned about it, I realize getting into the news isn’t as big a deal as it looks. The truth is that the media has a very hard time finding compelling content to fill their broadcasts. Every day it’s a fight for them to fill the daily newspapers and 4+ daily local news broadcasts with fresh and interesting content. That’s why if you’ve got something to say, getting on the news is, dare we say, easy.
Since television is the crowning achievement in self-promotion, I recently talked to 3 trainers that have all been on the news recently to find out how they did it. You know them all well because they’ve made appearances here on Super-Trainer before: Doug Murphy, Dave Parise, and Scott White.
While all three have successfully recruited the media, they’ve all got completely different business models and different set-ups to their training practices. Looking at them will give you some good insight into how the media can play a role in your training practice, and the way to go about getting them on board.
First off with Dave Parise we’ve got an old-school trainer that’s taken the role of fitness leader and educator to the public. That being said, he’s also a relentless and remorseless self-promoter that uses the media to it’s fullest! He’s regularly on the news in his part of Connecticut, dispelling fitness myths and providing helpful corrective exercises to viewers. All the while, he’s reinforcing his expertise and the dominance of his business. This is important when you’ve got a major training facility and the job of recruiting clients for more than a dozen other trainers.
Dave’s learned to work the media – his news is informational, but there’s also a sensational aspect to his news stories to give them the edge the stations are looking for. You can’t just come with a general boring topic when trying to get the attention of a news station. They depend on ratings, so your story has got to be something compelling that’ll stop people from changing the channel.
His TV appearances also allow Dave to position himself in his market. He’s looking to position himself as the answer to all the amateur “gym buddy” trainers out there – here’s how he put it:
Once you start to see that all (training) looks the same no matter where you go, then you will know it’s time to educate those who are willing to learn, and pay your professional fee. I always said those who charge by price know what their product is worth. When everyone around me plays pricing wars, I raise my fees. Get out and promote yourself – go to your local news stations…introduce yourself…send the staff lunch…answer questions….donate your time to help one of the news directors with their lower back pain. There are many ways but you must be different and understand who you are and why you chose this industry. Go to the largest broadcasting station, walk in and let them know you are always willing to do live question and answers at any time. Break away from hanging with your “buds” eating out of Tupperware, and flexing forearms while drinking from a gallon water container. Be uncommon, and be a class act. HAVE PASSION! BUILD DOORS TO KNOCK ON! BELIEVE!
Here’s one of his feature clips:
[youtube r34tyqjQU3s&feature=related nolink]
Different from Dave is how Doug Murphy uses the media – while using it to establish credibility, Doug’s needs are different. He’s an independent trainer that only needs only to fill his own schedule with the type of clients he’s looking for. For that reason, Doug’s media coverage gives him tremendous leverage: it guarantees him the ability to draw from a large pool of clients, and the credibility to charge higher rates.
This situation is one that probably applies best to you as a Top-Level Trainer. I got a question from a Super-Trainer reader last week about how to differentiate yourself in a major city and build a strong, high-paying practice. Doug’s approach is the answer. Here’s how he put it:
As for approaching a media source, it’s all about professionalism. I’ve started up a training business 3 times now in 3 different cities. I’ve had business in Chicago, Miami, and now DC. Although the markets are different, a lot of the same things work well.
When starting up in a new market, I always approached a city paper or magazine with a proposal about a story idea. I would train one of their reporters several times a week for free(for a set period of time), in return for them writing articles about their training experience. I first did this in Chicago, so in Miami and DC I was able to show the editor examples of what I was talking about. It was a win-win situation. I got some great media exposure ( a series of articles, along with pictures of me training the client), and the reporter got free training. I went from being an unkown in town to a well-known trainer. I started the process by emailing the editor, and following up later with a phone call. I would read the paper for several weeks, so I could suggest a definite reporter (someone who wrote about lifestyle, or health and fitness, or even a humorous column). Preparation is key – know everything you can about your prospect and show them you are a reader of their paper or magazine. I followed up with advertising in their publication, and within my first 3 months in DC I was fully booked! Once people experienced what I had to offer, word of mouth referrals took off. I haven’t advertised in 3-4 years, and hope to keep it that way!!
The impact lasted a long time. For several years when people inquired about training, they would mention the articles. I couldn’t tell you the exact impact in numbers, but it got me where I am today!
It didn’t take long to set this up-impress the editor and you’re good to go. Within weeks, we had started the project.
I’ve also learned when opportunity knocks-answer the damn door!! No matter how busy or tired you may be, the bitch doesn’t knock twice!
Make the time and do it-even if you’re not sure of yourself or maybe even a little uncomfortable doing something you’ve never done before. I was nervous as hell for my first TV appearance, but once you’ve done it, it gives you the confidence to tackle other things you’ve never tried or been afraid to try. Anytime a reporter contacts me for an interview or quote, I’m more than happy to help. And when people discover you’re easy to work with and helpful, they’ll come back to you or refer others to you-just like your clients do. The editor of that DC paper referred reporters to me for fitness articles and even a newspaper in another city when they needed a trainer for some quotes.
Sometimes these things just happen by sheer luck or being in the right place at the right time. My first TV appearance happened because I was the only trainer in the gym without tatoos and piercings, and that’s what the TV station wanted (I think even the little old ladies in Chicago are inked-I swear I was the only person in the city without a tatoo!)
Any media has value. Anytime I do any type of media, it immediately gets slapped up on my website. It helps lend credibility, along with your testimonials. So I have to agree with what other trainers have said about me: Yes, I am a media whore.
Yeah, even though Doug’s a media whore, he knows what he’s doing. Once you’ve got this kind of credibility, getting your 10-15 clients to establish a thriving training practice is easy. First off, since most trainers don’t go through these steps in recruiting the media, it sets you apart. Secondly, the credibility boost pays off for years, because you can always have the link to your clip on your website. When potential clients visit your site on web searches, you’ll stand head and shoulders above all the trainers that haven’t taken these steps to establish their credibility.
The last trainer I talked to about how he gets on the news was Scott White. Scott’s situation is a little different from Doug and Dave. His use of the media is not so much to just promote his training services, but prove his marketing and promotions prowess. Through Personal Trainnig, Scott made THE JUMP in to the world of marketing and promotions. He uses the media as a demonstration of his promotion ability – how’s that for really stringing the media out? Here’s what Scott told me:
Though sending out press releases is a great way to get in front of their eyes, get their emails, do call ins to radio shows – you really got to get your name and business out there.. Do things that are news worthy and they
will jump on the line to call you and put you on their show.
You want to make sure your always out there in their eyes, like helping out with a charity and then call the news station to get them involved, doing crazy stuff like that, and then by sending news releases... Jack Lalane was a pro at this, and so was Arnold… Be larger than life in your community and get the media involved by calling, emailing, and sending out a press release… So they know what your doing and will publicize you on their show, radio, magazine, or newspaper…
What you have here are three different trainers that have used the media for three different purposes. As they’ve talked about, this is very much an active process, and one that you have to stay on top of. This reminds me of Cynthia Conde who I spoke to very recently on the blog. Through her persistence she was able to secure a reality show – it doesn’t get much bigger than that!
I also want to make another small point …
Getting back to the idea of you being the celebrity, I want to mention that I mean that literally. To be a successful trainer, you’ve got to have this kind of belief in yourself. It’s essential, because as the trainer, YOU are the product. When I started to think of myself this way – as a high-end trainer and stopped being afraid to put myself out there, that’s precisely the time things started to change for me. You read about this a little in The Whistleblower, but it’s just a whole ‘nother topic that I’ll probably get into in the secret newsletter or something …
Once you’ve made that distinction in your mind, just get your newsworthy story out there any way you can – yup, it’s as simple as that. And never forget – YOU ARE THE CELEBRITY!
What can I say, but another excellent post. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for and just as promised Kaiser you delivered. Never thought it could be so easy. Im actually still working on my website and company name but this REALLY helps me out. This gives me great ideas as I have been around and trained some amateur grapplers and MMA guys for stength and conditioning for a few years. Looks like I can use that as well. I would like to thank Kaiser and all of the other trainers for sharing their stories and techniques. This helps a great deal and I wish everyone great success.
My pleasure Gaby – and yeah, thanks to the other guys for their candor on this thing ….
Your work with the grapplers and MMA guys could be your angle – I don’t know of many trainers, especially females, that incorporate this into their training of the general population. And MMA has exactly that edginess that we’re talking about to make a good news story –
A book I read recently on this subject is “Get Slightly Famous” by Steven Van Yoder, a book you can find easily on Amazon – a perfect book for us as trainers to marketing your services –
Just want to point out that although this type of media exposure is a huge plus to any future plans for a trainer, it’s not a must to establishing a Top-Level practice – you don’t need to be on the news to get a dozen high-paying clients – like I mentioned in the post, I’d call this part of THE JUMP, where you’re transitioning into something beyond hourly training and your exclusive client roster –
And Gaby, about marketing your training in the city, I just spoke to a trainer I know there, Ray Salomone aka “the Push-Up Warrior” who’s getting major attention in the city and charging top rates – we’re going to do a live interview and I’ll get that on the blog for you asap –
Thanks for another fantastic post-I’m especially impressed that you put in my comments unfiltered and uncut! ; )
Some great info from the other guys in this article that I can definitely use. No matter how long you’ve been at this business, there’s always more to learn, and other’s knowledge you can benefit from. Thanks again!
Sounds good. I already have a good amount of client but want to change my environment and do ONLY in home training. Looking forward to upcoming posts. Oh and I might have misinterpreted your post but I am not female. Haha. You might have been thrown off by my name dude. Its cool either way.
HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!!!! My bad dude!
Its all good. Anyway I would be a pretty ugly woman at 6’0 210 lbs. Not that there is anything wrong with that, not to offend anyone. Haha. Keep the great posts coming..
Great post Kaiser. These are excellent marketing tips for sure. I especially like Doug Murphy’s idea of contacting a city paper and offering to train a reporter for free in exchange for free articles about the reporter’s progress. That is absolutely genius. Thanks Doug for your thorough marketing ideas. As a part time independent PT, looking to go full time-these are great ideas.
Kaiser-your posts are always so positive, motivating and really keep me focused to go full time with my PT business. I just launched my business last month, and have 2 clients I am currently training. I am hoping to get my 10-15 steady client base so I can go full time for sure. Keep the posts coming Kaiser, I really look forward to reading each one.
Ray just emailed me his input on this:
“Perseverance and the absolute refusal to accept failure. Over the years I have sent tens of thousands of pitches to media outlets all over the world, only to be ignored or rejected. Having overcome a debilitating birth defect instilled in me a relentless pursuit of excellence and I have used that in every aspect of growing my business. Look for every opportunity to promote yourself, talk to everyone you can and follow up on every lead. The New York Post exposure has been an absolute breakthrough for me.”
Here’s the link to the Post feature:
My website: http://www.GrecoRomanWellness.com – To be released in April 2009 THE GRECO ROMAN ROAD WELLNESS,co-written with Dr. Katina Ioannidis, the only wellness book you will ever need. To be published by Sterling and Ross.
good read, interesting approach to the same vehicle, once again Kaiser providing some sound advise for trainers reaching for the next level.
I like this post. I have to do a bit more research about those that write about fitness and health. I’ve just been sending press releases randomly.