Every day I come across dozens of local fitness club ads that are carbon copies of one another. Every gym has a “money-back guarantee” and is supposedly “the #1 fitness club” in the area. Everyone is going to “bust my belly fat,” “help me drop 2-4 dress sizes,” and give me a “total body transformation.” At the end of the day, what we can conclude is that no one has the slightest clue about their Unique Selling Proposition.
In any business, a Unique Selling Proposition is the reason that people should choose one’s product or service over a competitor’s similar offerings. In the fitness business, it can be defined by what makes your personal training, your fitness club, or your boot camp better than others.
First of all, you need to know that you’re good enough to justify $100 an hour fees or a six-figure salary. Before I could get anywhere in my career, I needed to invest in my education and develop the confidence in my skills to know that I’m worth it. That’s the first problem many trainers face. You need to sell yourself on your business before you can expect anyone else to buy into it.
Realistically speaking, there are very few true innovators out there. We can’t all be an Apple, PayPal, Groupon, Facebook or Microsoft, after all. Most of us aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel: we’re just doing our best and offering a service to fulfill local market demand. Yet, you need to find some point of differentiation to create really successful, compelling advertisements – otherwise, you’ll look like one of these clowns:
Pinpointing your Unique Selling Proposition requires creativity and soul-searching. What are your core values? For instance, Wal-Mart sells bargains; Neiman Marcus sells luxury; Revlon sells hope, not makeup; Subway sells freshness. Marketers typically look at four pillars to base their USP on:
What is it about your product – be it your training packages or your facility – that attracts people? Think about attributes like quality, features, options, services, warranty and brand name. Every business is a combination of aesthetics, function and support that comprises the complete package your customer buys. Knowing your target market – what they want and need – is essential to emphasizing your product features in a Unique Selling Proposition. Are they buying just on results… or is peer pressure, hype, atmosphere, location, and price just as important to them? Conduct surveys among your clients to get at the heart of why they buy your training service, what they value most and what can be improved. You’ll be surprised how brutally honest can be!
Price is another important area to include in your marketing materials. Price yourself too low and you might look low-quality or “cheap” and be unable to sustain a profit. Price yourself too high and you might deter potential clients. You will need to price yourself fairly and think strategically here. Most people try to charge what the competition charges, but that does not create a USP. For this reason, most of us are always running promotions and deals to entice people to take a chance on us. If you’re in a swanky location or you’ve built a prestigious name for yourself, you can get away with charging based on perceived value and exclusivity. If I’m running a small independently-run studio, I know I can’t charge $10 a month and still churn a profit like Bally’s or World Gym, but I also know that price is not everything for my market. People come here because I’m not Bally’s or World Gym. They come here for the atmosphere, the service, and the perceived value. If you can communicate that THEM vs. US mentality in your marketing materials like Thomas Furious did here, then you’ve got a great USP going.
Placement refers to your distribution channels. Are you a big enough animal that you can distribute sales via Groupon? Or will you farm yourself out via several different clubs where you divide your time? Maybe you want to keep your distribution relegated to one club and one demographic. Perhaps you will focus your business on getting business solely through referrals – and that will be what differentiates you from other trainers who run big bucks campaigns across every channel to solicit business.
Promotion also dictates the success of your marketing and your differentiation. Some trainers focus all their resources online, while others boost their credibility by appearing on billboards, in magazines and on television. You can also find prospects by partnering with community events like 5-K runs, doing local speaking seminars, and cross-promoting with another business that goes after the same demographic but is not a direct competitor. Sometimes your location will be a Unique Selling Proposition if, say, you offer the only indoor boot camp in your market.
Other Factors To Consider
Have you looked to see what your competition is doing? If you haven’t, then you’d better set aside a day to browse area gym websites to see what they’re doing that you’re not… and to determine what you’re doing that they’re not. The trick is to not only analyze their products and services, but to analyze what they say they sell. Drop by your competitors’ club and take a free trial to see what they’re all about. Ask a few people who work out there what they do or don’t like about the place.
Have you thought about how your clients view the world? Sure, they come to you to get fit… but is there more to it than that? Are they here to listen to your jokes, to absorb facts from the educational materials you give them, and for you to ask them how their day is going? For instance, at our boot camp, we know that it’s not just about getting a good workout, but about forging friendships and indulging in this new healthy lifestyle. That’s why we host grocery store tours, attend seminars as a group, and go out to check out the local Mexican restaurant’s new “fit fare” menu together. Ultimately, you want to answer the question: What sort of EXPERIENCE does my boot camp / personal training / fitness club create that no one else can top?