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Issue Date: November-December 2011, Posted On: 1/25/2012


Before-You-Market Marketing
Simple systems that attract new clients and retain a loyal following
By Leanne Ellington
It is not always easy to think of new and exciting ways to market your fitness business. Whether you are a personal trainer, run boot camps, or specialize in the most nichespecific segment of the industry, if you aren't keeping the wheels turning on the marketing side of things, how will you thrive and keep your business booming if you have no one to train?

Easier said than done though, right? Fitness marketing can be a risky, confusing, and frustrating endeavor if you don' have extensive marketing experience. Unfortunately, it's also where a lot of people get it wrong and potentially end up wasting a lot of time, money, and effort. So how you can you make sure that your marketing efforts and dollars are put to good use? What good is marketing and getting a bunch of people into your door if you don't know how to handle these people? Can you fulfill the product or service you are selling? Are you acquiring several leads through expensive marketing tools only to let them fall through the cracks when it comes to follow up?

I've put together my most effective internal and external marketing and sales tips to make sure that you have all of the above factors (and more) completely in control, so you can help even more people get fit, healthy, lean, and simply become better versions of themselves. This is the "if only I knew then what I know now" stuff that I wish someone had told me when I started my business.

External Sales and Marketing SYSTEMS

First things first: let's review the definition of a system. My definition would simply be "a systematic, consistent series of events or steps used to create a predictable flow of actions." Webster's Dictionary says, "an organized and coordinated method; a procedure."

My point is this: neither definition consists of you haphazardly dealing with leads, prospects, and clients in a different manner every single time, constantly changing the way you do things and never having a predictable, orderly, and (more importantly) trackable way of getting people into your program. As you are reading the rest of this article, I encourage you to be thinking about how you can systematize what you are doing and constantly improve upon that system.
 
Get Your Lead Generation, Follow-Up Process, and Sales Process in Check

How many people do you come in contact with in 30 days? How many of them actually give you an email address or phone number? How many get to try out your services? How many convert to paying members? Without some sort of system, you would have no way of answering these questions, and you may just be running your business shooting from the hip. If you don't have a system in place right now, this is a great system on which to focus first. You can always test and tweak as you go. The simplest way to get this started is to figure out what funnel you want to use to get people in your door so they can experience your services. Do you want to offer a free trial? Do you want to get them to opt-in on your website to receive a free report or workout so that you have permission to contact them? Do you want to just go for the sale?

My Personal Lead Generation and Follow-up System

- A potential client provides their basic information with a simple opt-in form on my website to their activate free trial
- My admin calls to confirm and set up a time
- They either show up or don't show up
- If they don't show up, we contact them to reschedule. If they do show up, I meet with them after class to find out more about their goals and
use my sales system to either get a YES or a NO for the sale.

Through testing, tracking, and tweaking, I have found that the more parallel my opt-in offer or lead generation offer is, the more qualified the prospect turns out to be. I would rather get in front of five top qualified prospects than 20 "tire-kickers" that aren't in my target market or aren't likely to buy. Plus, as a fitness professional, we like to work with motivated and dedicated clients. With this system, I have a higher likelihood of getting in front of those types of people.

Set aside some time to create your ultimate sales and marketing funnel based on your products, services, and personality. Then once you are
consistently getting in front of qualified prospects, it would be wise to develop your sales system to constantly test, tweak, and improve.

Internal Sales and Marketing SYSTEMS
Get A Retention System In Place

We all have busy schedules, but it is important to make sure that our schedules are not to the detriment of our clients and the services we are providing. Maintaining your clientele and increasing retention should be a major part of your marketing efforts. After all, isn't it easier and cheaper to just keep your current clients rather than constantly trying to attract new ones?

So do you have a major leak in your bucket? Are you losing clients at the same rate you are acquiring new ones? If so, you need to take action.

First, go back and make sure you are giving as much value as possible. There should be a clear distinction in your clients' minds that you are a "value-adder" and not a "money-extractor." Implementing systems like monthly phone calls, handwritten cards, internal client contests, member appreciation parties, and a simple face-to-face conversation are simple ways to go the extra mile. More importantly, having a system in place that ensures you take the steps needed to maintain these communications is even better. Go the extra mile. It will be worth it, and your clients will remain loyal to you for it because they can tell you really care.

Here are some services I have done to improve retention:
- Internal "30 Days of Awesomeness" Transformation Contest and awarded winner an iPad
- Handwritten cards with a $5-$10 Starbucks gift card
- "Member Appreciation Party" at a local restaurant; I paid for appetizers and drinks
- Potluck "Cheat Brunch" where we all brought in our favorite dishes

Get creative -- the sky is the limit!
Put Referral Systems in Place

Do you have a referral rewards program set in place where you recognize and reward members for sending their friends? When was the last time you had a referral contest to not only attract new clients but to add a fun spin to what you normally do? Incentivize them and get them excited to send people your way. And don't ever forget to thank people for sending you new clients. Of course, the best way to do that is to have a system set up in place that ensures it gets done. Noticing a theme here?

So let's recap...

Before you go spend oodles of time and money on print ads and fancy marketing, go back and get your internal and external marketing systems in place. Make sure that you have an orderly and systematic way of:
- Acquiring and capturing leads
- Qualifying those leads
- Getting in front of your prospects
- Selling or closing those prospects
- Retaining, rewarding, and over-delivering to your clients
- Getting your clients to be your personal referral cheerleaders

Once you have this all in place, then it’s time to start diving into new and exciting marketing tactics. At this point, you have officially fixed any leaks in your bucket and you will be able to change so many more lives with your services. It's a bit of work in the beginning to get all in place, but once you get it dialed in, it will seem like time well spent.
 
 
Leanne Ellington is a Certified Personal Trainer, Local Fitness Celebrity, and a walking, talking personal fat loss success story. Her nearly 100-pound fat loss transformation inspired her to pursue her own fitness career and has paved the way for the success of
her indoor fitness boot camp facility for women, Not Your Average Boot Camp in Orlando, Fla. Leanne has also been the Health and Fitness Expert for her local CBS news station for the past three years, regularly contributes to FitnessRX Magazine for Women, and has been featured on CNN. To find out more about Leanne, you can visit
www.NotYourAverageBootCamp.com.

Topic: Marketing

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