“Yes, you too can be the next ten million dollar fitness entrepreneur!”
In part, Super-Trainer started as an answer to the shameless marketing that’s taken over the fitness industry over the past few years. It was a call to get back to basics – get good at training first and take advantage of what this field has to offer. But if you noticed, it’s not just in fitness that this information marketing craze has taken over. If you browse the web, you’ll see it in almost every field imaginable.
With my original feelings on the subject, it’s kind of ironic that I too am now selling stuff online; in my case, it’s the new web and branding services I’m offering to help trainers get their practices pumping hard. And beyond that, maintaining a popular blog and looking to reach lots of people with it (after all, I’m not talking to myself) has forced me to learn a lot about marketing. In that way you could even call me a marketer. But before you throw me in with all the other snake oil peddlers, let me give you my take on this field and my stance on it and in it.
Internet Marketing is a dynamic field that’s a science unto itself. One of the most popular info marketers in the fitness industry Ryan Lee happens to be hosting his third marketing bootcamp for trainers this weekend. Here and at the many other marketing events held around the world you hear amazing stories of the potential to earn millions of dollars in your underwear, and live and work from anywhere in the world. These are incidentally the same promises you hear in the 3 AM info-mercials, but with a twist. You can actually meet people that have apparently achieved these kinds of results – guys like Craig Ballantyne who’s e-book Turbulence Training took the internet by storm with thousands of affiliates selling it across the web, raking up millions is gross sales.
Although by now your bullshit radar probably goes blaring when you hear about things like this, there’s still a part of all of us that can’t help but get caught up in the appeal of this kind of talk. Dreams of sipping cocktails on Ocean Drive with Anna Kournikova come to mind. So do racing Bugatti’s on the highways of Monaco with Alex Rodriguez, as does lounging on a boat off the coast of St Barth’s with Jay-Z and Beyonce. That voice inside of us asks “why not me?”
I’ll be the first to say that you have the right to set any goals you want for yourself, and shun anyone that wants to tell you otherwise. But with those goals comes action, years of hard work, and brutal self honesty. The truth is many people do earn a lot of money in marketing. But what you need to realize is that marketing is a totally different field that you’ll have to learn, practice, and master just like any other. Making a fortune isn’t something you do as a side project – it’s a career change you undertake, one that you’ll have to devote yourself to full time until you achieve the success these marketing gurus talk about. What a lot of them fail to understand (it’s not really their fault) is that the fitness industry doesn’t suck for everyone to the point that they’re dying to get out – some people actually like it. And just how we as trainers find it hard to understand people that don’t like to stay in shape, it’s hard for the marketers to understand people that don’t want to be like them.
By definition, marketing is “market” driven – finding a group of people that you can sell a bunch of stuff too. That’s opposed to being product driven, ie being good at something, and then deciding to sell it. If that makes marketing sound a little seedy, that’s because it is. It means you basically find a bunch of people dumb enough to buy your crap. The best summary of the negatives of marketing I’ve ever heard is in this clip by the brilliant comic Bill Hicks who passed away some years ago. Here it is:
[youtube gDW_Hj2K0wo nolink]
Pretty funny huh?
But to be totally fair, the marketing industry isn’t all bad. While I’m not behind what a lot of these marketers preach, their work is an exercise in understanding how to reach and serve lots of people with different forms of products. This can be really eye-opening for trainers, who as a whole are close-minded on how to sell themselves and reach high-paying customers. Why else would you see so many slaving at major health clubs and getting totally exploited? They have a lack of belief when it comes to reaching new people, or if they master this step, they then lack the belief to move on to new challenges. This ironically creates the void that allows unqualified marketers to step in and fill.
For that reason I give guys like Ryan Lee a lot of credit. I went to his first conference three years ago. On the one hand I was appalled by a lot of what I saw – there was the stench of scam in the air. Nearly every presenter looked totally out of shape and just plain sloppy, even though they all claimed to be raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ryan himself and his co-presenter Jim Labadie look like they haven’t touched a weight or seen the inside of a gym in years. I’m born and raised in New York, and we’re taught to read people on non-verbal cues like this from an early age.
Another thing a lot of these presenters had in common were ugly websites. These were sites they couldn’t bother to spend five minutes to take a picture for or proofread. Although subconsciously this should all register as a red flag, we again can get over-ridden by that dream of becoming a multi-millionaire overnight. The reality is that just like any field, earning even a hundred thousand dollars at marketing is a very difficult task that any marketer, even Ryan Lee, will tell you took them years to achieve. That’s why I always preach that if you’re already committed to fitness as a career you’ll find it a much better use of this time in becoming a Top-Level Trainer. It’s here that you have complete control over the product (yourself), only need to reach a local and not a global market, and only need to sell a few dozen customers, not thousands, to make very good money. It’s at this point that you’ll have the mastery, cash-flow, and basic skills to take the next big step, whatever that might be for you.
From the trainer’s perspective, the underlying message behind the marketing community is a positive one. That you need think outside of the box and believe in what you have to offer. In that way I think the work of these marketers is very worthwhile to check out and can prove to be very inspirational. That’s also why some of the biggest names in the training industry swear by Ryan; guys like Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey, and Steve Cotter. He’s helped them take their already overwhelming knowledge and skill and share it with more people, and make more money in the process. For many more trainers, he’s instilled the business and success oriented mindset that allowed them to bring effective systems to what they do, work hard on selling themselves, and achieve major success at a very fast rate. Some of these trainers used information marketing as a stepping stone into more “legitimate” forms of publishing. Whether it’s the chicken or egg that comes first, it’s clear that selling yourself is something that you’re going to need to master to grow in this and any career.
Ryan and Jim are the ambassadors of information marketing to the fitness community, but in fact this field has been around even way before the Internet. Jeffrey Lant was on of the early pioneers who taught how to sell books, seminars, tapes, and all of that stuff to niche markets. Back then it was through classified ads and mailing lists. The Internet just made things much easier and cheaper, and the industry totally exploded to the level you see it at now (and continues to grow).
There’s a certain nerdiness and anti-social element to a lot of the marketing world which is the reason why I say it isn’t for everyone. You’ll notice that the most well known trainers in the mainstream media have skipped this step of niche and affiliate marketing; people like my friend Cynthia Conde, fellow NYC trainer Juris Kupris, and personalities like Jackie Warner from the show Workout. I doubt any of them have ever been to an info marketing seminar or created an e-book, but are all extremely shrewd at promoting themselves, creating passive streams of income, and moving forward in the fitness industry.
I don’t mean for this to put off any emerging trainers that have been inspired by the marketing movement to look beyond hourly rates. I see a lot of very good trainers making moves into information sales, which is only to their benefit. People like my buddy John Izzo and kettlebell instructor Lauren Brooks, both of whom have expanded into the information industries and are making good passive income from it. This outside of the box thinking can only lead to bigger and better things for them in the future.
In my case, I’m not quite as slick as these guys so all of my information products and things like that have been free until now (haha, one of these days I’ll get the hang of it!). And with my web and design services, I’ve chosen to sell something a little more old school. Rather than information, it’s a labor intensive project designed to deliver tremendous value and actual tangible results, for an unbelievably low price. Call me old fashioned, but in my mind that’s still the formula to make something sell and achieve a type of success you can build on.
No matter where you decide to take this fitness thing, I highly recommend you master the step of being a trainer first. That’s the only fault I ever really have with these marketers – convincing total novices that have never made a dime selling their fitness services think they’ll be mutimillionaires overnight. That part is wrong. But inspiring trainers to do more and better? There’s nothing wrong with that, and that happens to be my mission as well. So if you want to call me a sleezy marketer that’s alright – I can sleep at night, and I won’t be killing myself anytime soon!
If you liked this post, wait ’til you read what’s NOT being said on the web:
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