Building your clientele is something that every trainer has to work on. If you are good at a handful of these methods, you’ll never find yourself worried about filling out your schedule.
What Kind of Clients Do You Want?
Before we market to anyone, figure out who you’re trying to get.
Some trainers just want to work with very healthy, athletic individuals who are training for a specific sport. These are pretty low-risk situations because athletes can take a beating and generally have some knowledge of exercises and proper form.
Other trainers target the “soccer mom” population. Moms are amazing people and it is really fun helping someone who just helps their family the other 23 hours of the day.
And then there are trainers who will take anyone. This has always been me. Kids, grandparents, businessman, lawyers, construction workers and everything in between.
If you could breathe I would sign you up.
Market to That Specific Demographic
If your market was training children, you would target their parents.
Let’s say that you like to work with businessmen, lawyers, top doctors and generally anyone who makes over $100,000 per year.
How are you going to market to them?
Think of it like having a message to send to someone. You could send it on an airplane, by boat, by horse, by car, pay a little boy to run it over to them, you could call them…
All of these are different mediums or channels that this message could be put on.
Your message is that “I am a qualified trainer and I am ready to help you achieve your fitness goals.”
NOW, we can explore the different channels that can carry that message.
Word of Mouth
I am starting with this one because it is the most important. It is the thing you should spend most of your time on.
For starters, when you get someone looking good and winning, they become a walking, talking advertisement for your product. You have helped them and they are walking around telling everyone that you are a saint (this really does happen).
If you’ve done your job right, you won’t be able to stop them from bragging about you.
Another method is to reach out to everyone you know. Talk to your family members and see who they know. Talk up friends and see if they want to sign on. See if they have wives or husbands or significant others that would be interested.
I’ve even been at a random bar and picked up two new clients because I opened my mouth about what I did for a living. They became very steady clients of mine and from their word-of-mouth advertisement, I got several more. It’s really not a good thing to get a reputation for hanging out at bars or anything, but hey, it worked. And it was word of mouth.
Go door to door in your neighborhood or near your gym. Talk to people. Have a flier made that has all information and an offer of a free session or whatever it is you are offering to get them in the door. This is actually a cool way to get in touch with your community. You’re offering them something free and getting to know your area.
This is digital word of mouth.
You can set up a Google Business Profile in twenty minutes. It is better if you link it to a website, a physical location, and then get tons of reviews.
I’ve made major purchases based on what kind of reviews a person has and how they respond to them – both the good and bad reviews. If you’re buying from someone, look for their responses to the bad reviews. If it was “There was a fly in the waiting area” then you want to see a response of “Hello John, I personally went in with a flyswatter and killed two of them. I then sprayed the area with insecticide. Then I thoroughly cleaned it. The fly deterrents I installed were ____ and ____, so that should never happen again.” You better buy whatever that guy is selling.
So when you get hateful reviews, respond to them in the most responsible way possible. Look at the broader scene and see what it was that you could have done to prevent the situation. Then explain how you did that so that future situations won’t pop up like this.
Hint: You’re really writing to your future customers and not that person who complained.
You should have a website. These things can get valuable.
Having a stable place on the internet where people can find you is a valuable thing. You’re able to fill a void of information about yourself in whatever manner you choose.
Your fliers and cards can refer people to your website for more information. You can post success stories of your clients, before and after photos as well as a full bio for people to see what you’ve done, where you’ve been, what your certifications and specialties are and more.
Put up a contact form for those interested in working with you. Answer all inquiries within the hour. Don’t be weird. Just be a helpful person. If you’re a fitness trainer, you are here to help people anyway and this should be easy.
It may take a bit of learning to start a website. It’s best to get with someone who’s done their own before. They will help you through the process.
People in the Gym See You
You don’t have to talk or do anything.
Just train people like you are a professional. Others will see and want to work with you.
If you see someone looking at you train people, offer them a free session. Tell them when you can take them in one day or just grab them on the fly. Help them with what they want to be helped with and see if you get along with each other.
The worst that happens is that you both find out that you’re not compatible. Or your find out that the person can’t afford it. If you create a good impression and show that you’re willing to help people, you will get a referral from that person.
Everything you do is an investment in your future. Don’t write people off. People are important.
Even if the person you’re dealing with is not so great, they are connected to someone who can change your life.
Be nice to people and help them. It’ll come back to you.
I didn’t do this as an independent trainer, but when I was working for a small mom-and-pop gym, we did broad mailers.
It produced some customers. I don’t know if it even really paid for itself.
But it is an option. You may be in a small town or a big town. You may work as a fitness trainer in one of the top ten overweight cities in America (as I have). The demographics of your specific area change wildly and your marketing should adjust to fit that.
If I were in a small town, I would see what they found valuable and I would use that to get their attention. If they value family, I would put out a flier that said “Stay fit for your family.”
If I were in a big city with a big emphasis on looks (like Los Angeles) I would say “Wanna get noticed? Come train with me and I’ll help you get something that’ll get noticed.” And then you insert a stock photo of some woman with an amazing rear end.
You can put these mailers out to get different publics. The one mentioned above would probably target soccer moms and most women. But if you wanted to target seniors or kids and teenagers, your approach would definitely be different.
See what others in your area are doing and either do the same or do the exact opposite. Use common sense. Ask your neighbor what they would respond to best.
Make it real.
Give free nutrition seminars.
Invite everyone and their mother. And their siblings. And their spouses.
What do you lose by inviting more people? Some air? It is literally no cost to you. Just stand there and give away all of your secrets. Tell them what you do to turn large people into no-so-large people. Tell them that you are saying exactly what you do.
Open-source data is valuable to people. It is nice to hear Elon Musk or Steve Jobs just tell it to you straight. It is also good to hear an authority on fitness tell people something straight. Be that guy (or girl).
Make a big deal out of it, hand out fliers, call people to confirm and fill the place up!
Everyone who comes will be surprised that you have such an effect on your community. If you out-do yourself every time, you should be surprised too.
Social Media Galore
So there are thousands of ways to promote yourself on social media.
Show a client on their first squat and then show them doing a single-legged squat after training with you for a few months. You’ll get sign-ups.
You can get very creative with this and, depending on your gift of gab, you can get enough clients from this method alone to keep your schedule full.
Offer a Free Session
You should tell everyone in the gym about your free session offer.
Then tell them again. Then tell them again.
Some people just don’t get it until the third time. If they don’t get it then, go ahead and tell them a fourth time.
Once you’ve told them over and over that you’re willing to help them, they will happily accept and then pay for your help.
But you’ve really got to mean to help the people you interact with. It’s not okay just to say “Hey, I offer a free session.” You’ve got to really want to help the person and get excited about meeting with them to see where they are going and what they are messing up on.
I honestly have fun helping people. There’s not much more to life than helping others, in my opinion.
At the end of the day, I can sleep soundly because all I do is help people. Offering free sessions is a small by-product of that need to help others.
Your potential clients will pick up on this insane drive and want to work with you.
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Absolute Recommended Book
While we are talking about the subjects of help and marketing, I have a book for you to read (or listen to).
This book has literally changed the entire way I look at marketing and my job.
I’ve rarely seen so much truth packed into such a small package. As opposed to studying the entire field of marketing, I suggest that you look at this one little book and get an idea of how you fit into your clients’ world.
The audiobook version is under 5 hours and has excellent audio. I kept having to pause it and write things down. You know how you fold the corner of a page when there’s an important piece of information? That’s what I had to do with this audiobook, except I had to stop and take my own notes.
I don’t offer things lightly. If you read it, you will be happy you did.
Look, here is a lesson you should learn if you’re a fitness trainer: Help people unconditionally. Let them know that you live, breath and eat help. It is what you were made for.
You’re not a servant. You get happy when you help people and then you get paid. It is just obvious to others that when they do well, you do well.
In fact, the reason I recommend the book above is because it places you, not as the hero, but as the person who helps the hero. The people are the heroes in their own stories. You’re just the helper.
So help them.