By Pete Mccall
Why did you start your career in the fitness industry? Was it because you want to use your passion for fitness to improve others’ lives? Did you experience a significant weight loss and want to help others do the same? Are you a former athlete who wants to develop performance enhancement exercise programs for professional athletes? It certainly wasn’t because you wanted to become a marketing expert, yet that is precisely what you must become to attract new clients. You earned your NASM Personal Trainer Certification, but to truly be a personal trainer, you will need clients.
It’s that simple.
To get more personal training clients, you will need to do the following:
- Define Your Specific Service
- Know your Product Completely
- Determine Your Perfect Client
- Showcase Your Value as a Personal Trainer
- Create Your Personal Training Brand and Stay True to It
- Decide the Right Marketing Channels to Reach New Clients
- Turn Clients into Brand Advocates
Let’s explore each of these with some real-life examples to provide additional context to getting you more personal training clients – sooner rather than later.
1) DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL TRAINING SERVICE
Identify a specific type of service you want to offer. A personal trainer once left a door hanger on my house that advertised himself as an expert in “bodybuilding, marathon training, weight loss, older adults, powerlifting, kettlebell training, and HIIT conditioning.”
There is too much variety in those choices; have you ever been to a Cheesecake Factory? Their menu is like a telephone book. It takes too long to decide what to eat.
2) KNOW YOUR PRODUCT COMPLETELY
In contrast, the fast-food restaurant In-n-Out (with locations in only two states, CA and NV, it’s understandable if you’re not familiar with it) has a menu that consists of a hamburger, cheeseburger, and double-double.
That’s it, basic and to the point. Yes, there is a secret menu, but you have to be a pure devotee of the restaurant to know it. One reason for In-in-Out’s long-term success is that they know their best product: hamburgers; they have not added chicken tenders, fish sandwiches, or salads.
As Blake Robinson, a personal trainer based out of Salt Lake City, UT once told me, he wants to be an “inch wide and a mile deep,” meaning that he wants to be considered an expert on strength training.
This allows him to keep his marketing straightforward and simple to attract clients who can benefit strength training programs.
3) DETERMINE YOUR PERFECT CLIENT
Once you’ve identified the services, you will offer, who is your ideal client? Determine a target demographic or a specific population that could benefit from your services. Examples include:
- if you are a woman who has had kids, then you may want to focus on helping pregnant women both manage their fitness during the pregnancy and reaching their fitness goals after.
- And if you live in a location where there is a large population of older adults, then you may want to develop a plan for communicating with those specific audiences.
Likewise, a trainer in an urban location where a number of the health club members are working professionals, should identify the times of day that potential clients are available to train and develop a plan to market their services to schedule those open time slots.
The desire to work with a specific audience may require additional education like the Women’s Fitness Specialization or Senior Fitness Specialist; once you’ve earned the credential, you know to focus on a specific audience who could benefit from your services.
4) SHOWCASE YOUR VALUE AS A CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER
What’s the investment required to achieve and maintain optimal health? Working with a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer who knows the Optimum Performance Training Model® (NASM OPT Model™) to develop an exercise program that addresses cardiorespiratory exercise, flexibility, and strength training in order help a client achieve his or her fitness goals.
Exercising with a NASM Certified Personal Trainer can reduce the risk of developing health issues such as heart disease, type II (onset) diabetes, and obesity. If an individual develops one of these chronic health conditions, the lifetime cost for treatment could become very expensive.
Following this logic, one recession-proof marketing strategy is to position your services as a staple requirement for a long healthy, happy life. Promote that working with a personal trainer saves money in the long run, the choices are: pay the costs to manage a long-term disease, or pay you to stay healthy, either way; optimal health IS a staple expense.
5) CREATE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND AND STAY TRUE TO IT
Marketing a service like personal training is about delivering results to create satisfied customers; one way to do that is by establishing the expectations of what customers will experience from your services.
This is where developing a personal brand becomes necessary. A brand can communicate what a service provides, which can be the most effective way to engage potential customers. A brand creates an identity that establishes an instantly recognizable value for the product or service you sell.
Think of staying at a hotel; yes, a Ritz Carlton is much more expensive than other hotels, but they base their entire brand on providing “5-Star Service.” The quality of service is so high, and the experience of the stay so luxurious that you feel that you got an excellent value for the price.
You should build your personal training business on providing a service and delivering a specific experience. By its definition, personal training is about having a personal experience, so once you establish the expectation, you will need to live up to it.
If you take the time to develop a specific brand for your service, it will help prepare the client for what to experience during their time. Kira Stokes, an NASM-Certified Personal Trainer in Larchmont, NY, took advantage of her last name to create her STOKED Method.
This unique branding has led to success in promoting both her live classes and virtual app, STOKED ANYWHERE, to an international audience.
6) DECIDE THE RIGHT MARKETING CHANNELS TO REACH NEW CLIENTS
Once you have identified the service and target demographic, and you have established a brand, the next step is to determine how you will attract new clients. Will you use old methods like door hangers or ads and coupons in local print publications, or will you focus on digital methods such as social media, blogs, and e-mail lists.
There is no right answer: your brand and target demographic will determine the best techniques. Mailing seems old fashioned, but if you live in an area with a lot of retirees, it’s essential to realize that many don’t have smartphones or social media accounts.
On the other hand, if you live in an urban location, digital could be the best way to go. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to push ads to target audiences.
You will need a budget for expenses like photographers, designers (to create a logo or slick-looking mail pieces), and social media advertising campaigns, which is an essential factor that may determine the best method for your financial resources.
Eric and Christy Giroux, both NASM-Certified Personal Trainers and co-owners of PrimeFitness in Gaithersburg, MD, have found that Facebook and e-mail campaigns have worked well to build the community they want at their facility.
7) TURN CLIENTS INTO BRAND ADVOCATES VIA REFERRALS
Referrals. Ask your existing clients if they have any friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors, teammates, club members, or other associates who could benefit from your services. How often have you gone on Facebook and asked your community for assistance to recommend a product or service?
As Cecily Guest, a yoga instructor in San Francisco, CA, stated, “Referrals may seem old fashioned, but they can be the most effective way to build a business of committed clients.”
Whether on a virtual platform or in real life, a personal trainer should identify a target audience then develop a marketing strategy to communicate how that audience could benefit from personal training services.
The purpose of marketing is to promote the features, advantages, and benefits of a product or service to potential clients. When it comes to marketing a service such as personal training, the goal is to tell a story about how YOUR services can enhance people’s lives.
You must show how working with an NASM Certified Personal Trainer can help potential clients achieve their fitness goals and maintain optimal health for the rest of their lives.
BONUS STEPS TO GETTING PERSONAL TRAINING CLIENTS
This video by the founder of Net Profit Explosion, Sean Greeley, offers supplementary steps to this overall post.
Within you will find tips on:
- Giving a free seminar.
- The importance of running regular challenges for your clients.
- Hosting speaking events.
- And more!
Be sure to check it out and tell us what you think!
IMPORTANT TAKEAWAY #1: PERSONAL TRAINING IS A SERVICE
As a personal trainer, we sell services, specifically our knowledge and skill in designing exercise programs to help clients achieve their goals. A consumer staple is a good or service that is necessary, such as housing, food, transportation, or getting a haircut; these are goods or services required to support daily living.
A discretionary item is purchased entirely at the consumer’s choice, such as a $3 cup of coffee, going to a movie, or taking a vacation. Even though exercise can promote optimal health and extend the human life span, some perceive personal training as a discretionary expense.
However, when it comes to marketing your services, it’s necessary to communicate the benefits of fitness as a staple. This service is NEEDED to help potential clients enhance their quality of life.
IMPORTANT TAKEAWAY #2: BUYING DECISIONS ARE EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN
Buying decisions are emotionally driven. There may be additional emotions when it comes to investing in a personal trainer because many potential clients could be dealing with issues such as body image, poor health, or recovering from an injury.
Think of it this way: a personal trainer is a professional who offers preventative health care services.
Regular exercise, along with lifestyle choices like smart nutrition or good sleep hygiene, promotes optimal health and could reduce the risk of developing a chronic health condition, ultimately saving money throughout the aging process.
In my years in the industry I’ve seen many individuals enter the fitness industry with the misperception that all they need to do to attract new clients is to show off their body in the gym and post some videos on social media.
Yes, platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, or Tik Tok make it easier to promote yourself and your fitness content to a broad audience.
However, in most cases you won’t become a social media star. It will be necessary to develop a marketing strategy to communicate the benefit of your services to a specific audience.
One of the best things about a career as a personal trainer is that you can be creative about how you establish and grow your business. It will take some trial and error to find the strategy that works for you and you WILL make some mistakes along the way, but you can and will succeed!