Referrals SHOULD be your primary source of new business. Many fitness professionals are on the hunt for the next great marketing tactic while completely ignoring the best source for business growth. People who come from referrals are warm, pre-qualified leads that are easier to convert. You need to perfect your referral request system and ensure it includes a follow-up process.
Some clients refer often (we love them). Some clients will never refer anyone (that’s ok). Most clients will refer if they’re asked and reminded. The keys to a successful referral program are to be specific, be direct and be willing to follow up.
Specific: I’m looking to help 2 more people this month.
Direct: Who do you know that would benefit from working with us? (Expect a name or a relationship, e.g. my co-worker or my sister, but be prepared for “I need to think about it”)
Follow up: I’ll follow up with you to remind you to bring them in or to think about who you want to invite. Is text or email best?
It’s imperative that you declare your mission. Rally your clients and your team around the number of people you want to impact in your community. We’re on a mission to change 200 lives in our community by the end of the year. Will you join us on the #200Fit Mission?
Now that you have declared your mission, here are 5 marketing tactics that you should be executing:
1. Scheduled checkpoints
There are certain times during the client lifecycle that are ideal to ask for referrals.
- New members, between days 7 and 21. During this time they’re still very excited and motivated and are often already talking about your program.
- After they renew because you can be confident they like what you offer and they believe that you can help them.
- When they hit a milestone on their fitness journey (major or minor), follow up with “I am so proud that you’ve accomplished _____. I love helping people just like you. Does anyone come to mind that would benefit from working with us?”
- During the first week of each month, physically hand out “bring a friend” coupons to clients. Ask them who they’re thinking about bringing in, and be sure to follow up.
- Quarterly, set up bring a friend day/week where guests are invited to experience a class or just invited to come to check out your space.
2. Structured invitations for past clients and past leads
Another great lead source is past clients and past leads. These people have already engaged with you and your business.
Systematically and consistently reach out to past clients to check in on them. Ask about their kids, their work, and their hobbies. Share what you’ve been up to both personally and professionally.
A very common marketing mistake is never reaching out to past clients (but always feeling the need for more leads). Yet another common mistake is to only reach out to past clients when you want them to buy something (and wonder why you often don’t get any replies).
Business success is about relationships. Relationships are built by maintaining open lines of communication.
Along the same lines, unconverted leads also have the potential to be untapped goldmines. Get in the mindset that unconverted leads didn't say “never,” they said “not right now.” Look at your consultation notes so that you can personalize your outreach to them. Do you know something about their work, their hobbies, their family, their fitness goals? Ask them about things that matter to them before asking them to join your programs.
3. Consistent in-person networking
In-person networking introduces you to new people who will be your ideal clients, or who can introduce you to ideal clients. It’s difficult to grasp why fitness professionals spend hours trying to hack funnels & algorithms when they can go to an in-person event and instantly be in front of warm leads. This is critical even for online businesses.
The networking event is where to meet people, not where you make sales. The key to in-person networking is to be consistent and to follow up for one-on-one meetings. Use these as a jumping-off point for your in-person networking…
- Volunteering with your favorite organization
- Chamber of commerce, BNI & business grand opening celebrations
- Rotary & service Organizations
- Partnerships with other businesses (i.e. run shop, chiropractor)
4. Capitalizing on client reviews and testimonials
Documented reviews increase your credibility. When was the last time you made a significant purchase without reading reviews? Why do you think your potential client shouldn’t read reviews about you?
Reviews, especially those captured on your Google Business Profile (you have one of these right!?!) will help with SEO and can organically help people find your business. Regularly updated reviews and testimonials let the internet algorithms and the world know that your business is relevant, active and doing good work.
In addition, you can capture reviews on Facebook, Yelp and NextDoor. Add testimonials to your website, your social posts and any other marketing material you develop.
5. An organized social media strategy
You shouldn’t be silent on social media, but you also should’nt spend all of your marketing brain power trying to become an influencer and hack the platform’s algorithm. Most fitness professionals want loyal, paying clients — not just random likes on their posts.
Social media is a vehicle for people to get to know, like and trust you. It is a branding tool that will keep your company top of mind when the potential customer is ready for your services. It also helps you stay top of mind and engage with your current clients.
Avoid the extremes in social media… always asking for the sale (or always making a sales pitch) OR… never asking for the sale (or never asking people to meet with you).
- Educate. Give clients information on how to solve the problem they have or how they can achieve their goals. This includes exercise tutorials, nutrition tips, answering common questions.
- Entertain. You will see the most engagement with posts that are entertaining. This can be videos of clients working out, someone being silly, your kids, your pets, etc. Stop the scroll by putting a smile on people’s faces.
- Celebrate. Showcase the success your clients are having with videos and pictures. Encourage your clients to be celebrated even if they have not achieved their “end goal” but they have made progress along the way. This celebration can be for weight loss, decreased pain, strength gain, better sleep, improved mood, etc. Also use this category to celebrate birthdays, team member anniversaries and anything else you want to draw attention to.
- Inform. This is your opportunity to directly ask your social media followers for the sale. Is your nutrition challenge opening up? Looking to gain a few more private training clients? Are you offering a complementary consultation? Should they download your e-book?
Finally, be sure to have a clear answer before posting your inform offer.
- Who are you talking to?
- What problem do they have or what goal are they trying to achieve?
- How does that make them feel?
- Who else has had success working with you?
- What can you offer to help them?
'Make your marketing simply by executing these 5 pillars. Then, feel free to incorporate some additional initiatives, such as paid advertising, to this foundation. As we’ve learned in fitness, results are attained and maintained by executing the basics day in and day out.
Manny Escalante brings real life experience as a business coach and business owner. Since 2003 he has helped business owners generate more revenue and take control of their lives. He has worked (in varying capacities) 24 Hour Fitness, Disneyland Resort, professional baseball, professional bullriding, varsity sports and hundreds of business owners with monthly revenue from $6K to $300K per month. Manny has a Bachelor and Master's Degree in Sports Medicine. He is Certified in OKR Leadership and Goal Setting and is a Certified Customer Acquisition Specialist. He's an avid runner, an occasional beer drinker and an outdoor enthusiast. He loves his dog, but loves Jesus and his wife much, much more. Learn more about Manny at www.leadershipandleads.com. Follow him on Instagram @businesscoachmanny.