Porcelain Post: Fitness Marketing 101
Huh, I guess that was more specific than I thought.
Fitness Marketing 101
The fitness industry is growing fast.
I was l listening to an episode of The Fitcast with Kevin Larrabee and guest Lou Schuler recently and Lou brought up an eye-popping stat saying something to the effect that within the past 3-5 years there’s been a steady rise of people graduating with a degree in Health Science.
I’m having a brain fart on the actual stat, but I wanna say it’s in the 200,000 to kajillion-billion range per year. It’s definitely closer to the former, but suffice it to say: there’s a lot of people entering the fitness industry.
And lets be honest: there’s not really much one can do with a “health science” degree.
Sure, some will enter collegiate strength & conditioning, maybe gravitate towards academia, or, I don’t know, join a ninja gang. The vast majority of people, however, will likely root themselves getting a job as a personal trainer at a local commercial gym.
And this is when the shit show happens.
Most fitness professionals have a firm grasp on the intricacies of concurrent vs. undulated periodization, the nuances of breaking down squat mechanics, or hell, maybe they’re an uber nerd and can articulate every step of gluconeogenesis.
Many can write a program or assess scapular upward rotation with their eyes closed.
Yet, when it comes to marketing their services – and “wooing” new clients – they’re as lost as a White Walker in Westeros.
There’s intense pressure on trainers – especially in bigger box commercial gyms – to “recruit” more patrons into personal training each month and to hit quotas.
And this is where I feel most trainers have it backwards.
I believe time would be better spent – not to mentions it’s waaaay more cost effective – doing everything one can to foster an environment where client retention is the goal.
What’s more lucrative?
1. A trainer spending an inordinate amount of his or her’s time scratching and clawing to maybe entice two new people to sign up for one (maybe two) months of training, never to be seen again?
2. A trainer who has a healthy roster of ten clients who are continually re-upping their packages?
SPOILER ALERT: the latter.
Some Stuff to Consider
None of this is to insinuate that the burden should be solely on the trainer’s back 100% of the time; I do believe commercial gyms can (and should) play a more proactive role in supporting their staff.
Offering (free) continuing education opportunities would be a nice start.
I.e., invest in their trainers.
That said, here are a few quick-n-dirty suggestions for trainers:
1. It’s quoted often and may induce a hefty amount of eye rolls, but Mike Boyle’s “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care” line is never more germane than here.
- Be punctual.
- Be professional.
- Never underestimate the power of a hand written note.
All are more apt to maintain a client’s business more so than your proclivity to break down synergistic dominance or name every articulation of the body in alphabetical order.1
2. Try not to be a fitness industry T-1000.
Maybe you think it’s cool you haven’t missed a workout in four years, post shirtless pics of yourself eating a kale salad, and haven’t eaten gluten since 2009, but your clients could likely give two shits.
They want to be able to build a connection with you.
This is NOT to say you shouldn’t practice what you preach and be proud of it. This is also not to say you’re #1 goal and priority in keeping clients is to elicit results.
It IS to say, however, it wouldn’t hurt to be a bit more relatable and not give the impression you eat, drink, and breath fitness at all times.
Remember that one time you ate an Oreo after 9 PM?
Or, what about that time you lived life dangerously and didn’t spend your Friday night watching YouTube training videos and instead watched Eyes Wide Shut?
Or, I don’t know, maybe not.2
Either People prefer to know they hired a human to interact with and are more inclined to stay with someone they can relate to.3
3. When I was at Cressey Sports Performance the most valuable way we “marketed” our services was to be present and attend our athlete’s games whenever we could.
First of all, our athletes loooooooooved it; and what better way to build long-term rapport than that?
Second, it was a free advertising and it wasn’t uncommon for other parents to approach us and inquire about our services.
Third, it’s not lost on me that many of you reading don’t work with athletes and that it would be awkward to just randomly show up at your client’s open mic poetry slam reading or their powerpoint presentation at work on “How the 2018 Tax Laws Affect Free Market Sales of Industrial Strength Penis Enlargers.”
That said, maybe you started working with someone who’s going to compete in their first powerlifting meet or figure competition or kite flying contest.
Be a voice and beacon of support for them.
They’ll love it and will undoubtedly be loyal to you as a client for the foreseeable future.
I Guess What I’m Trying to Say Is
Be unapologetic with regards to making your CURRENT clients happy and fostering those relationships. It’s a slight reframe from what we’re programmed to do and think, but one I feel will pay huge dividends.