Personal trainers learn about helping clients and exercise selection in their certifications and education, but one area that is typically overlooked by many new trainers is building a business and a brand. Building a brand revolves around marketing and understanding how to educate and influence people.
1. Understand your authentic self as a personal trainer and know the type of people you want to attract.
Sharing your true self is a key indicator in good marketing. But sharing yourself can only occur if you know yourself, your best qualities and how to best share them. This begins with several questions:
- Are you more funny or more serious and inspirational?
- What age are you and what age group of clients do you want to attract?
- Are you a better writer or a better speaker?
Answering these 3 questions will help you determine where to begin: If you are funny, share funny thoughts, memes and videos of yourself or your clients/situations, etc. If you are more inspirational, share quotes, testimonials of clients or yourself overcoming obstacles. Do not try to mimic what you see other trainers doing if it doesn’t fit your personality type. Just because a trainer has a lot of followers and is funny, doesn’t mean you should try to be funny, if humor isn’t your forte.
Depending what age you are and what age of clients you plan to attract will determine which platform to use for social media and sharing. It will also help you determine the best time of day to post, so more of your “true audience” will see it. Older clients tend to login early morning and later in the evenings. Younger crowds tend to be more present early evening and weekends. Sunday nights are great times to post for all ages/audiences. Lastly, if you are a better writer you will want to pursue Twitter or Facebook that are more inviting to writing. If you prefer videos and speaking, TikTok and Instagram reels may be more your strength.
2. Include yourself in as many marketing pictures as possible.
People need to know the face behind the name early in a personal trainer’s business. It is important to have pictures of yourself training, interacting, speaking to and engaging with your clients or class. People find comfort in seeing your face and it eases the insecurities they may have when they can see you personally, helping someone like themselves. It also helps people associate your face with your brand and who you train.
Set up a tripod and set a timer on it while you are training to snap pictures of you in action. Another option is to leave your camera recording video while training a client and use the video or take screenshots out of the video to use for promotional purposes. Also, ask group members to take pictures of you while working with their small groups. When speaking at events, ask the event organizer to take pictures with your phone to use for promotions. Try to record yourself in as many different ways as you can and reuse these images for all types of postings—duplication is key to people remembering who you are.
Another great option with video or pictures is to include your brand or logo in the image. The app stores have many great options for apps to help you quickly add your logo to any images you use — this prevents people from using your images for their own personal use and also helps people continue to tie your face with your business and brand.
3. Set up a Google account and create an identity in google searches, google maps.
Set up google business account at www.business.google.com and begin posting updates, articles, blog posts, social media pictures and pictures to bring brand awareness and gain credibility in search engines and in Google maps. Verify your physical address through Google maps so people can search your location and post pictures of your storefront or gym front. Setting up a Google account will also help your business name and location show up as suggestions on maps when people are driving in your area of work.
Encourage current members, clients, friends, family to leave Google reviews to also help search engine optimization (SEO). Finally, finish the account setup by including hours or operation, service options with specific pricing and offerings, and link it to your website address if you have one.
As you begin to determine the clientele you want attract, start to research boards, events and activities that you can volunteer to be involved with. Volunteering provides opportunities for you to network, meet people and gain empathy and understanding towards the systems that support the clientele you want to help. Some ideas include: 5Ks, charity events, school fundraisers, community causes, coalition for non-profits, sports and recreation committees, school or community after school clubs/programs, etc. At these events, bring water bottle stickers, t-shirts or kitchen magnets to hand out with your information on them. Offer gift item with your business information, gift cards and apparel for silent auctions or giveaways. These are the type of events to donate your time and energy for free.
5. Do not offer free or reduced items in your marketing for services.
Free does not equate to more clients and customers in your business. Reducing the value of yourself and your services at the beginning of your training career automatically reduces your worth in the eyes of the people seeking your services. When a person does not have any skin in the game, through payment for your services, they are not obligated to show up or continue training with you. Free or reduced payments also attracts clients who are not truly ready to commit to bettering their health and fitness, most of the time. People commit to free or cheaper rates because it is convenient, not because they are committed. To truly help people get results and improve their health, they need to be ready and committed and that includes paying you for your time and expertise.
Remaining true to who you are and the clients you want to attract, establishing a solid business storefront through Google searches and not undermining your business worth through reducing prices are keys to growth. Also understanding building trust and an authoritative voice in this industry takes time and patience — it will not happen overnight or even in a year. Building a brand requires consistency and repetition, so trust the process, and know the systems you have in place will eventually pay off, even if it feels slow at first.
Anna Woods, ACE-CPT, BMES was a 2022 IDEA World Personal Trainer of the Year nominee. Anna earned her degree in Exercise Science in 2005. Her credentials include ACE-CPT, Biomechanical Exercise Specialist, CF-L1, DNS Running/Weight Training/Exercise 1, Functional Aging Specialist, PFP Personal Trainer of the Year Finalist (2017). She has been in the fitness industry for over 17 years and currently is the CEO of sheSTRENGTH, an online and in-person fitness/training program. She trains women and youth of all abilities in her barn gym in Buhler, Kansas. She is the strength and conditioning coach for the Hutchinson Community College NJCAA softball team and Buhler High School lady athletes. She is also the author of the book and CEU course, “Adaptive Fitness Exercise Programming,” which trains coaches, teachers, and trainers how to work with athletes with special needs. Follow her on IG or Twitter @shestrength.