I’m pissed off.
Too much personal trainer marketing sucks. I don’t care if you bought the “secret personal training ninja marketing bundle” or you’re following the “seven-step blueprint for personal training marketing success.” Because none of that crap works. This is tough love. I’m here to challenge you to get better, not baby you with an article about listening skills, or tell you for the 1000th time to learn how to close.
I see your Facebook posts, look at your flyers, and overhear you speak about helping your clients. You nod your head and smile and tell them you can help them lose five pounds. You scribble it down on a piece of paper to show you’re both authoritative and attentive. You paraphrase it because you read an article once that said it makes it look like you care.
And you do care.
That’s what pisses me off the most. You love your clients and want them to succeed. You know you can help them, if they only give you the chance. But because your personal trainer marketing sucks, they don’t give you the chance. And when they do sit down with you, you can’t make the sale. You resort to offering them a free session to “try it out.”
Stop it! Stop offering a free session right now. It’s killing your business.
You’re missing one concept, an idea so powerful it’ll turn your business around, and so simple you’ll slap yourself for not figuring it out on your own.
Personal training benefits vs. features
Features speak to the head. Benefits speak to the heart.
Most personal trainer marketing speaks to logic, even though emotion outsells logic 10 to one. Emotion dictates purchase decisions. Logic justifies them. Why do you think the schlockiest ads get us to buy so much crap no one actually needs? They use emotion to get people to buy before they have a chance to think it through.
Now consider these two descriptions of a program:
Today we’re going to do squats. Squats work the body’s largest muscles. By training large muscles, your body will burn more fuel during the workout. And here’s the best part. After the workout, your metabolic rate will be elevated for as much as 72 hours. Pretty cool, huh? Okay, let’s start training.
We’re going to have some fun today. When we’re done, you’ll be one step closer to ripped abs because of all of the fat you’ll burn from working such large muscles. I know your vacation is coming up in two months, and you’re going to look good in that swimsuit if we keep training like this.
Trainer 1 and Trainer 2 said the same thing. Squats work big muscles. Big muscles burn more fuel. Burning more fuel gives you a leaner body.
Trainer 1 spoke about it analytically, focusing on the process. Trainer 2 spoke to the client’s emotions, focusing on the benefits—in this case, becoming more attractive. Jeffrey Lant, in his book on writing and publishing, lists these as the most marketable benefits you can offer your customers:
- Financial stability
- Community and peer recognition
- Sexual fulfillment
- Beauty/desirability/personal attractiveness
You already help your clients achieve the seven benefits I put in bold, and you could make an argument that improved fitness and a more athletic appearance might also help someone achieve financial success and/or independence. (I think it’s safe to say salvation is beyond our scope of practice.)
I hope you memorize this list, or at least take a screen shot and leave it someplace where you see it every day. The next time you write an ad, instead of promising the same things every other trainer offers (more muscle, less fat, better performance …), why not switch things up?
Imagine if your ad says “I will help you get laid.” Maybe that’s too crude for the audience you’re targeting. But you can’t deny the appeal of that promise.
Now imagine an ad that tells a deeper, more emotional story:
“Mary was terrified of having dinner with her in-laws. If they want to a restaurant, she knew they scrutinized her from the moment she sat down. Did she have a piece of bread? If she did, did she put butter on it? What did she order? How much of it did she eat?
If dinner was at their house, she was afraid to eat because they watched every bite she took. There was always a dessert, but she was the only one at the table who was expected to pass, even when it was her own birthday cake.
It didn’t matter if she ordered the lightest meal on the menu, or nibbled like a rabbit on whatever they served at their home. She was still on edge because she knew it was just a matter of time before someone made a comment about her weight.
Mary started working with me four months ago. So far she’s lost 20 pounds and three dress sizes. But the most important thing she’s lost is her fear of eating with her husband’s family. Not only have the comments stopped, they’re now afraid of her judging them. That’s why her father-in-law called me to start his own fitness program.
To be honest, we don’t care about how much weight you lose at Jon’s Totally Sweet and Awesome Ninja Gym. Our goal is to give our clients their confidence back. If you want to be free from snide remarks at the dinner table, or whatever else you dread because of your shape or fitness level, we want to help.
For the next two days, half the price of your initial package will be donated to the charity of your choice. So sign up now, donate to charity, and get your life back.”
Perception is more powerful than reality
Perceived social support is more powerful than actual support. Your job is to convince your clients you can give them the benefits they want from a fitness program, including the ones they might be too embarrassed to mention.
Think of what happens when you work out. The confidence you get from training means you walk into the room with your shoulders back and head up. You look people in the eye.
Now find a way to offer that feeling to your prospective clients. That’s how you market personal training.