After coaching fitness entrepreneurs for close to 6 years now, I haven’t found a shortage of business owners that put out a great product. Most of the ones I’ve come across know their stuff and care about their members. This, unfortunately, does not equate to success as a business owner. The number one thing I find myself on the phone helping struggling gym owners with is marketing. Here are some the mistakes they’re making along with quick fixes for each one. If you yourself are making some of these mistakes, do not worry. I’ve made them all too!
Mistake #1: If I am good at what I do, people will find us.
This is probably the worst one I hear, but I still hear it often. Many trainers turned gym owners believe that their next growth is going to come from continuing education in the field of fitness or strength and conditioning. There is no bigger junkie for this info than myself. I have every certification possible and in my 16-year career I’ve been to hundreds of seminars. All of them were great, but none of them directly helped my business grow from a financial standpoint. There are tons of great trainers out there that are simply scraping by financially. Because of this, many great fit pros are being driven to quit this great field simply because they’re burnt out from working too many hours and not making enough money to support their family. To me, this is very upsetting. Imagine how many people would be healthier and how much better our industry would be overall if these trainers that have been driven out of it just had a little marketing savvy.
The Fix: Start to attend business and marketing seminars in addition to those that further your education. I had a guy attend my fitness business mentorship a few weeks ago who had been floundering in this business for 4 years, yet had never been to any kind of business building seminar. The result: tears streaming from his eyes when the event ended. I think that, seeing a resolution and a way out of his struggles, he was overcome by emotion. It made him realize that there is more to this than just knowing how to train people.
Start reading one marketing book a month. When you made the decision to own a business, you also made a decision to be a business person. It’s going to be very hard to run a successful business that will give you the life you want without understanding marketing.
Mistake #2: Trying to copy Big Business Marketing
No small personal training gym has the money to do true branding. When I refer to branding, I mean putting an add in your newspaper with your logo, a picture, your phone number and hoping clients call. The problem is that we are conditioned to think this is truly how marketing is done. We grew up seeing Coke and McDonalds do stuff like this, and it’s simply not possible. Small training gyms do not, and never will, have the same budget to do so. Some very expensive mistakes can be made by using this strategy.
The Fix: Direct Response Marketing. This is where your marketing is designed to evoke an immediate response and get potential new members to take specific action. This could be an opt-in, a response to an email, a cue to call or even making a purchase directly. The key is having a specific offer that clearly states what they need to do. Our best success with direct response at GFP and with our consulting clients has been running Facebook ads with a specific offer regarding a 30-day trial membership. We briefly describe the offer, put in an image or short video that represents who the ad is for and then make it simple for them to respond by asking them to click the “apply” button, then put their name and email in a opt-in form. This starts the sales process and our sales team takes it from there.
Mistake #3: Not deciding who your MAIN Target Market truly is
I made this mistake very early on in business and it resulted in an identity crisis. We started as a middle school training facility, then we began training high school athletes, then we progressed to bringing in more adults. Having multiple target markets is not actually a bad thing, but you need to stand for one of them. Only one of them can take the majority of your focus. Otherwise, being in-between them, people will be confused and you will never put enough resources into what is most important. Think of the best steak house in your area. Most likely, they are not known for their chicken. They are known for their steak. Yet, they still sell baked potatoes, seafood and brussel sprouts cooked in bacon, but still, they are known for their steak. They focus on making the steak the best thing they do.
The Fix: Make the call: are you an adult training facility(ages 35-55), a sports performance facility, a CrossFit box that caters to people in their 20s? You need to decide and then subsequently put your marketing effort into that specific market. Make a commitment for that part of your business to be the biggest and the most financially successful. Your facility needs to be equipped for your main target market. If your main focus is adults ages 35-55 and your facility looks and feels like a high school football weight room, it’s not going to work very well. NOTE: If you train both adults and athletes like I know many reading this do, you need to start treating them as entirely separate businesses. Different websites, different social media, etc.
Mistake #4: Not knowing everything about your MAIN target market
Once you actually make the call on who you want to serve, you need to know everything possible about that person. You need to understand them as much as you understand yourself. You need to know what they want, what they fear, what they don’t know, where they spend their time, what keeps them up at night, what they love, etc.
The Fix: Create an avatar and give it a name. We call our guy Frustrated Frank. Frank is a married man in his late 40’s that is overweight, has a high stress job, 3 kids, has some type of physical pain, usually lower back or shoulder, lives in a high-income area 10 minutes from our gym, makes over 250K per year and has let his health take a back seat. He wants more energy to play with his kids, to lose weight so he can fit into his clothes, get his libido back and be a role model of health for his family. He needs a program that is simple and easy yet yields results. Now, when you’re marketing to the people in your community, you can speak to Frank. Here is a list of questions to help you unpack the person you are looking to serve.
- What keeps them awake at night?
- What are they afraid of?
- What are they angry at?
- What are their top 3 daily frustrations?
- What trends are occurring or will occur in their lives?
- What do they secretly desire most?
- Who is selling something similar to their product and how?
- Who else has tried selling them something similar and how has that effort failed?
I hope you enjoyed this and found some insight into getting your marketing back on track.
I help fitness professionals turn into successful business owners.
If you need my help to grow your business, I’d be honored.
Send me an email at email@example.com and lets get on the phone so I can help you implement some of these strategies.