The following is an excerpt from Ignite the Fire: The Secrets to Building a Successful Personal Training Career (revised, updated, and expanded) out now.
Most of us have a tendency in both life and business to try to please everyone, and personal trainers are no exception.
We market ourselves as the expert in fat loss, sports performance, rehab, bodybuilding, and powerlifting, reaching out to athletes, seniors, and couch potatoes alike. It takes a lot of time and money to market to so many diverse groups, and it often doesn’t work.
It might seem counterintuitive, but marketing to fewer people can get you more clients. This narrowed focus works because it allows you to connect with people through your shared passion. You can focus your resources on this one group, allowing you to market more effectively.
The final benefit is that, if you are a great trainer and provide great results, you can become known as the trainer for the niche, which will have a multiplier effect for more clients in the niche, as well as those in other niches who will seek you out thinking, “Well, if she’s that good with sports performance, she must be good with fat loss.”
What niche should you target? That’s going to depend on two things:
- The quality of the niche
- How well you fit with the niche
Consider the following four questions with regard to the quality of the niche you’re contemplating:
- How big is it?
- What’s the competition?
- Do the clients you want to attract have time and money?
- Do they care about what you can do for them?
The ideal niche is big; not well served by the competition; the people in it have time and disposable income; and they feel a real need for your service.
That’s the ideal. More often, a niche will be strong in two or three of those points, and weak with one or two, which is very desirable. If, however, a niche has only one or none of those things going for it, then you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle. It may still be profitable for you eventually, but it will likely be a difficult path.
When assessing how you fit with the niche, consider a different set of questions:
- Are you knowledgeable about the niche?
- Are you experienced in it?
- Are you well connected to the niche?
- Are you passionate about it?
Use the same filter to assess great, good, and poor niches for you. Here are a couple of examples to make sure this is clear.
For the first example, consider a young male trainer contemplating pre- and post-pregnancy as a niche.
The niche quality itself looks pretty good: It’s very large; there is competition, but nobody owns it; many of these women have money, although time may be an issue; and they want to get their pre-pregnancy bodies back. The niche scores well.
But does the trainer fit the niche? He’s obviously never been pregnant, and he doesn’t have kids. None of his friends have kids either, and he’s never trained a pregnant client.
He has done some reading on it, but that’s not enough. He’s just not a great fit for that niche. That’s not to say he can’t become a good fit, but it will take time and focused effort to get the education, experience, and connections he needs. The better strategy is to focus marketing resources on a niche that’s a good fit now.
What if that same trainer looked at waiters and bartenders as a niche?
The niche quality is excellent: It’s big; nobody owns it; the potential clients have disposable income and time (in fact, many restaurant employees have daytime availability, which is great for trainers); and they have a need to look great and stay strong.
Our young male trainer is also a good fit for this niche. He was a part-time bouncer in college, so he understands the industry and is well-connected. And because he has a passion for bodybuilding, which shows in his physique, he’s a walking billboard for the type of training he offers. Bar staff and food servers would be a great niche to focus on.
Once you’ve identified the right niche for you, you’ll want to plan your marketing approach. Consider questions like the following:
- How will you reach them?
- Where are they?
- Who influences them?
- What is their pain?
- What is your message?
- What is your goal?
- Does your approach reflect your goal?
As you answer these questions, you should start to get ideas about how to get more personal training clients from this niche.
The last step in developing your clientele based on niche marketing is to keep score. Maintain records of time and money spent on various marketing initiatives, and keep track of how many leads and clients you get, and the value of each. Over time, this will guide future initiatives.
From keeping track of my initiatives, I know my social networks are responsible for 36 percent of Custom Strength‘s revenue; my efforts to market to health professionals are responsible for 32 percent; clients’ referrals make up 28 percent; events like health fairs bring in 3 percent; and the final 1 percent comes from giveaways, like donating training for charity auctions. These numbers tell me where I should and shouldn’t invest future marketing resources.
Your numbers will look different from mine, but the goal is the same: to make good decisions about where to focus your efforts.