The holiday season’s here, and for Personal Trainers Christmas comes a little later than for everyone else. It’s on January 1st that Santa gives his present to all the trainers and trainettes that have been good all year – in the form of a flood of new business!
You know what I’m talking about – New Year’s resolution time! It’s when everyone resolves to change their life-long habits and start anew. Does anyone really ever keep the weight off? Not really (see accompanying picture), but who cares? Someone’s gotta be there to help – I know I’m going to step up and you should to! Here’s how –
For Personal Trainers this time of year is marketing on steroids –anything you do, if done right, will get a response x 10. So certain techniques that may not have really been worth it or unnecessary other times of the year will get you a very good reaction around now.
Before you do anything else, the first part is understanding the mind-set of the public around this time of year. It’s a real important time for them which we as fitness enthusiasts often take for granted. The public views the turning of the calendar as a time to get their lives back on track and gain control of their bodies and lives in general.
The reason I think high-level fitness enthusiasts sometimes have such a hard time doing well in Personal Training is because they can’t think like their clients. I know that’s what held me back for a long time. You think fitness comes easy to you, so why would anyone else need or want to pay for this service? This is the critical factor – knowing what they want, how they think, and what they’re looking for. I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t how many certifications you have. Don’t assume everyone is like you and fitness comes easy to them – IT DOESN’T! We provide a valuable and essential service. It’s the trainers that get this that do the best (and that’s why a lot of times they’re not even the ones in the best shape.)
Back to my point, this all comes to a head this time of year. Someone’s going to get the business – LET THAT BE YOU.
If you’re looking to build a practice or just going solo for the first time, you can pretty much get going, 0 to 60, right now from scratch.
If you’re already going strong, now’s the time to try something new – a bootcamp, semi-private – whatever – if you do it right it’ll hit, and if you take care of the people that are in it, it’ll stick.
Or if you’re willing to work more hours now and hoard the money so you can lighten up on your schedule later in the year if client’s drop off, that’s fine. Let’s go into a checklist of the things we need to do as independent trainers for the New Year.
Get Your Bird-Dogs Ready
Your bird-dogs need to know that this is a big-time of year for you. These are the people that you depend on for leads, like private gym staff and receptionists, and the other professionals you’ve teamed with. Visit them or send them an email so they’re conscious of it. And take care of (bribe) them in advance with their Christmas gift or a staff lunch just so they’re prepped and ready to go to bat for you. And keep them stocked with business cards and brochures. Yeah this might all cost about fifty to a hundred bucks, but that’s less than one session. If they’re a solid resource that’s paid off for you before, they WILL bring you more leads around this time.
Get Your Answering Machine Ready
If you’re busy you probably miss most of your calls like me. My usual message is really basic: “Hi this is Kaiser – leave a message”, and that’s it. I know, really unprofessional, but I’m usually not looking for the extra work. But remember your answering machine is the first interaction that most clients have with you so you want to make sure it’s a positive one. Have a detailed message letting the client know who they’ve reached and that you’ll be getting right back to them.
And make sure you do follow up quickly. You know how people are with this type of thing – they’ll call a bunch of trainers and make their judgment based who gets back to them first. You want to be that person. And once you get them on the phone, don’t just look to close the sale as fast as possible. If you’re too slick, you might get the bounce back of buyer’s remorse. Look to give service and value. Look for little ways to help them out with their eating right now, and coach them over the phone with their training. Point them to a few good online resources they need to look at, and start the training relationship. Be giving with your knowledge now, and it’ll pay off by you converting almost every new inquiry you get.
Customize Your Marketing and Make a Strong Offer
On their websites just as in person, a lot of people have a fear of asking for the sale. When people finally wander onto your website, however it is, make sure the site seals the deal. Make a strong offer on your website. Let it known that you offer a New Year’s package for new clients – an 8 week body makeover or something like that. Everyone else is till going to have the same generic text on their sites – be different. Yours will be customized to take advantage of the exact mindset of the new client visiting it.
Also make sure you’re direct and to the point with what you want to communicate. There was a book written on this recently called In Search of the Obvious: The Antidote for Today’s Marketing Mess by Jack Trout. It’s point was that with marketing, sending a direct message is best. If you want to say something like you’re the best trainer around and they’d have to be crazy not to train with you, just say it instead of beating around the bush or trying to be coy.
The internet marketers have known this for a long time. You of course are familiar with their hypey marketing text. Well if you do it right, it works. I’ve gotten many highly educated, high-level clients from hypey marketing writing on my website. To tell you the truth, I have the feeling it performed better than my current site, which is more straight-forward and generally hype-free. I haven’t tested the conversions on this, but that’s my solid opinion. Others have tested these metrics on this type of approach and it’s clear that a strong offer and a measure of hype converts. There’s something about promising the world and offering a guarantee that gets people to say “heck, why not”. Admit it, you know you’ve bought some crap on the internet because of it! And the fat-loss product marketing people have been doing this forever and it never fails. The difference is that as Top-Level Trainers, we back up the hype with real value.
And the research also shows that long-copy sells. On first glance our common sense warns us that if we have too much information, no one’s going to bother to read it all. That’s true to some degree – the only people that read it are serious buyers! So make sure you give a lot of information on yourself and your services on your site. You’ll be able to out-punch a much more experienced and qualified trainer if you describe in detail all of the specific ways your mix of skills and experience can benefit the client.
Advertising With Google Adwords
I’m normally against paying for advertising but now’s a good time to do it. Like I said it’ll bring you 10x it’s usual effect. Google Adwords, those paid ads that show up in searches at the top and to the right, are easy to implement if you haven’t tried already. Those Google geniuses have made the process idiot proof, giving in-depth tutorials on every part of the process. They want you to succeed, because the better you do, the more advertising you’ll buy.
And playing around with Adwords now is a good learning experience for you. If you do new things in the industry or grow your existing business, Adwords is going to probably be a part of that. It’s expensive, but depending on what you’re doing it might be worth it. Just type in “personal training, your area“ into Google and see who’s already paying for ads, and take a look at how you stack up. If you feel like your site can compete, or you have a service offering like bootcamps or something that lends itself well to mass advertising, then give it a shot.
Advertising With Craigslist
Craigslist isn’t what it used to be – it used to be an absolute goldmine. That’s before every part-time $20 an hour trainer starting using it, the spammers took control of it, and people stared getting robbed and killed because of it. The Craigslist people has been fighting very hard to take back control of the site and it can still be a decent place to get strong leads. I used it as recently as this past Summer with VERY GOOD results, and will be using it again now.
Just be ready to get a lot of price shoppers and your inbox full of spam. Whatever you do, don’t send any money to Nigeria!!!
Now’s a good time for Print Advertising too. It’s expensive, but new leads for us are very valuable so it’s worth it. Check out your local publications and advertising vehicles, and give them a call (you might have already missed the boat on this or will have to move fast to make their deadline).
When buying advertising, be sure to negotiate. Negotiating is the single highest income task a business person can engage in. That’s because in about 15 minutes of negotiating you can save more than $1000, which if you do the math converts to a $4000 an hour rate.
When negotiating with an advertising salesperson, which as a rule are the shadiest salespeople around, first allow them to negotiate against themselves. Show disgust and physical illness for any price they show you until they’ve gone down as far they are willing to go. This is now considered the starting point! After that, suggest a price that’s half of what they just told you was their lowest price possible. This takes balls to do so man up to it. Now it’s time for them to look disgusted. If you’re good, the two of you will end up splitting the difference. If it doesn’t happen, walk away. But make sure they have your phone number or your card, because you WILL get a phone call saying they suddenly got “permission from their manager” (bullshit). Never buy their sob story of how their manager won’t let them or their overhead is too high -these guys are worse than car salesmen. And if you don’t like the rep you’re speaking to right now, then switch to another one within the same publication.
Early in my career I used to pay too much for advertising. Naturally the reps loved me, but I’d rather not get screwed!
With your advertising, your offer is also critical. Rather than go into this subject for another ten paragraphs, here’s a short video from the fitness marketing expert Bedros Keuilian on designing ads that’s very much on point – here’s the video.
Get Your Website Handled
I’ve been telling you about the importance of this all along, but now’s not too late to start. This time of year your website’s REALLY important because the web is one of the first places people turn to find a trainer.
Yeah it’s true everyone has one, but in general most trainers are clueless so most of their websites suck. Here are a few simple rules to upgrade your site.
- Put tons of testimonials on there. Your testimonials will sell your services. You could pretty much have a site that consists of only testimonials and it’ll do really well. Take the time to get a testimonial from every single satisfied client, and video testimonials work the best. There’s a rule in consulting, that the income from any individual client is meaningless; their real value comes from their ability to GROW your practice. This value comes from their good word – their testimonial.
- Have a call to action. Have a good reason for them to call you – maybe it’s a special offer or program that’s expiring soon, or a low introductory price program that they need to take advantage. In most cases, you do not want to quote your full prices on your site. No matter what they are, if your client sees your full prices before they’ve had the chance to try out and experience your services, they’ll get sticker shock.
- Use your name and put pictures of yourself on there. Remember, the product is YOU. Sure a logo and business name builds credibility, but don’t hide behind them. Put yourself front and center on your site, have a lot of information about yourself, a blog, and maybe even a short video introducing yourself and describing your specialty and what you can do for them. If the client feels comfortable, you are MUCH more likely to be the trainer that wins the sale.
I can’t emphasize enough how important having some good marketing behind you is. Your image and marketing materials are what gets your affiliates, your clients, and most importantly YOU serious about what you do and how you do it.
If your clients are anything like mine, they’re used to best of everything. They expect excellence in everything they spend money on, from the places they eat to the services they consume.
For a Personal Trainer, creating an attractive, high-end image is easy. All you need is a clean site and a pretty card to keep them happy, not a million dollar gym and huge marketing budget. I’m sorry to have pulled the plug on the services I was offering on this site, but they were taking too long for me to work on. But getting your marketing handled is something you can do on your own. Talk to some people and do a little homework, and if you need any help hit me up.
That’s what Top-Level Training is about. In the quality of your lifestyle and your net income, you end up blowing out the gym and studio owners, even though they think they’re so cool because they have all of this responsibility. But they’re chained to their gyms for years on end with tons of headaches and overhead.
Last year my inbox was flooded with new leads around New Year’s time, but I didn’t accept any of them. I was already booked, partying almost every night, and it was around the time I started Super-Trainer. I’m glad to say I’ve chilled out a little with the partying since then, and I’m now getting ready to launch a group training program to take advantage of the New Years crush. I know Rivak is going call me a “sell out”, but after all the bragging I’ve been doing on here about how smart I am, it’s time to demonstrate some of this knowledge. I’ll fill you in on all the details once I’ve thoroughly field-tested every part of it (no mental shadow-boxing on this site).
In the meantime if you’re looking to cash in you’ll find tons of FREE information about bootcamps and everything else on the web. Bootcamps are fascinating, especially if you’ve paid your dues as a real trainer and learned how to sell yourself for high rates, learned what customers consider value, and all the rules on how to reach them. And I recently talked to John Spencer Ellis, the creator of the Adventure Bootcamp business model, and got him to spill a lot of good info I’ll be sharing in my next post.
This was just a quick list of things you can do right now to get ready. I hope each point gets you thinking and you do a little homework in each area yourself. And don’t be afraid to make some mistakes. Even with the best information, you’ll still blow it a few times and lose money every now and then. Look at the bright side – there’s always next year! HAHA!
The blog is just the beginning –
Wait ’til you read what’s NOT being said on the web!
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Hey Kaiser Buddy!
You could not have timed this superb post any better! I believe a lot of trainers out there are “gnawing at the bit” and wondering if the future client well is drying up? Trainers are also wondering if the downward spiraling economy will disrupt the usual flow of the “New Years Resolution Crowd”…. Present company included.
But, but, but, after reading your post, I now feel as if I was jolted with cardiac resucitation paddles!!!! Thank you….
Your logic and systematic approach to electronic marketing is slicker than slick. Especially your Google Adwords push, which I have been doing for years, so I know it is a good ROI. Just this week we acquired 2 new clients which is unusual for this time of year. We are pumping 2K per month into outsourced SEO for Somagenesis.com which has really boost our organic ranking.
Kaiser, you are not sell out, only a winner in my book…
BTW Somagenesis has just launched our new anti-recession business model “SomaKids” last week. To date, we have acquired 210 new clients in our kids group ! $41,790 in 1 week. ( we will give 10% back to CA school systems- this is how we dangled the carrot in front of the horses mouth) Clever huh?
Thanks again, for your undying efforts, to make the PT industry all it can be!
I think I get smarter just hanging out with you guys on here – haha – Yall are some evil geniuses.
It’s all about preparation-you can’t wait till the last minute and hope it will be a successful new year-you have to plan ahead and make it happen! Lot of good tips in this post-this is also a good time to let your current clients know how much you appreciate their business, and in turn they will send referrals your way. I send out holiday gift certificates to every client, which they can use for a free session or regift to a friend. It generates goodwill and some great new clients!
Haha Rivak! You’ve crossed over to the dark-side now too, huh?!?! Seriously, you’ve got to explore different business models if you want to take the next step – a bootcamp is one of the easiest, and that’s a very strong market you picked – and those figures are amazing – I hope everyone’s paying attention – I definitely am –
Yeah Doug and Manny, these are the little things I want to get across on here – and I love learning from the more experienced folks –
And VERY good point Doug, of remembering your existing clients – they are ALWAYS your strongest source of quality new clients –
HOLY SHIT KAISER! I missed a couple of weeks on your blog and these are some of your all time most killer posts! Where do you get this stuff? Really cool! Keel it up!
I got to say you totally opened my eyes on how to be a REAL trainer. You’ve got to be a hustler too I see – and I mean that in a totally good way. You can’t wait for things to come to you – you’ve got to go out and get them!
I’ve got to thank you for waking me up and giving me tons of motivation – and I’ll make sure I don’t miss any more posts!
Great Post. I agree! This is the time of year to really cash in with a lot of different marketing techniques. To miss this opportunity is like leaving money on the table for others to grab!
Very good post, great ideas !! we gear up by sending holiday cards to all of our current and past clients, inviting then BACK for the new year !!!
also, continue with the “limited openings” creating the personal/private/exclusive touch.
Sounds like everyone here is proactive about getting in front of people and getting the additional business –
Yeah Candace, not only is it money on the table, but if we as trainers miss the boat on this vital time of year, the eager public’s motivation will naturally wane as time goes on – they’ll end up in their usual life routine and put working out off until next year – business wise and in terms of our responsibility to the public, that’s a tragedy –
I feel like you took a look at what’s been on the forefront of my mind and wrote a mega-post answering ALL of my questions. Thank you for sharing the wealth of knowledge! Geez :)
I hope everyone caught how Manny’s comment was in my name! That’s what happens when you tell your boys to leave comments on your computer and you tell them what to say!!! haha!
Good talking to you again Jemi – glad to hear you’re still going real hard with this training thing!
I just came upon your blog from Chris Mccombs site. This post is great, very, very informative.
I think a lot of trainers would be better off if the only advertising they did was Google and Yahoo PPC. With some good copy it’s tough to fail on the local level with PPC.
Keep up the good posts man, Ill prolly be shootin ya an email soon!
I just hope I get certified by the 1st…gotta get CPR done still and the online ACE test.
Again- great post bro, really good info on the site. I got to your site from Chris McCombs site, and just wanted to say keep at it. From the looks, your creating a good ripple effect not only for the trainers that your influencing (myself) but for the prospective clients that we can all be helping to lose weight and get healthy.
Keep at it
Thanks for the positive feedback fellas – yeah I got a lot of new visitors from Chris site – we’ve got a different angle here and I hope you like it – and yeah Justin you’re right – I’m always telling trainers your site is the flagship of your training business – if you run it properly and advertise it properly on the web, all your marketing needs is basically handled right there –
You just inspired me to launch my first AdWords campaign. Seems ridiculous not to do it! Thanx, Kaiser! We’ll see what happens! :)