Marketing Your Personal Training Business

People will associate low-quality materials with a low-quality business and trainer.

Most personal trainers possess a positive, high-energy personality, and have spent a lot of time and effort on their education and certifications. But even the best, most qualified personal trainers will fail miserably without a game plan for attracting clients.

To set themselves apart from the competition, trainers and their clubs need a solid understanding of their business and how they would like to be positioned in the marketplace. In addition, a short-term and long-term marketing plan will ensure maximum exposure for their training services and take revenues to the next level.

Let me ask you this: How many personal training businesses have the marketing and advertising budget of, say, Nike? My point is, not only do we have to get our message out there to potential customers, but we have to do it in a creative and cost-effective manner. Instead of using expensive advertising venues, such as television or glossy publications, personal trainers and their clubs should rely on promotional flyers, brochures and business cards to market their personal training services.

Image Is Everything

Most personal trainers are educated in exercise science, not in marketing. Yet trainers often take responsibility for the design and layout of their own marketing materials. The result is materials that don't provide the professional image that is required for personal trainers to succeed and survive. I strongly encourage trainers and clubs to consult with a graphic artist or marketing consultant when designing all marketing materials. This will cost money in the beginning, but in the long run it will pay off.

Be Consistent

A consultant can help you establish the correct image that will represent you, your clients and your services. They can design a logo that will represent your business and its message.

Once you have a logo/image that pleases you, incorporate it into all your materials. If you maintain a consistent image (including colors, logo and headlining text), people will become familiar with who you are and associate you with your advertising and marketing efforts.

First Impressions Count

When designing your materials, remember that first impressions count. People will size up your credibility within a few seconds of viewing your brochures, flyers, letterhead and business cards.

For that reason, don't be shy with investing more money when first developing your materials. Nothing will shoot down your credibility faster than low-quality materials.

Don't Sell the Braces

Most people hate wearing braces. So why do people get them? Because they want straight teeth, and for this they are willing to go through some pain.

It's kind of the same way with personal trainers. Do you think most people want personal trainers? No. They want results. They want to look and feel good, and they recognize that a personal trainer is a way to help them get what they want. So it's critical that trainers and clubs don't use their marketing materials to focus on the training business. Instead, the materials should focus on the results that a client will achieve through training.

Trainers and clubs should determine what their niche wants to change through personal training and address it in the marketing materials.

“If They Can Do It, So Can I!”

Since you are all in the fitness industry, you are probably familiar with Tae Bo. And you probably realize that forms of Tae Bo have been around for years. So why did Tae Bo become so popular? Solid marketing is the answer!

If you ever watched a Tae Bo infomercial, you probably noticed that a great majority of its content focused on testimonials — in other words, people expressing how Tae Bo had changed their lives. The reality is that testimonials work. People like to know that similar people tried the service or product and got results. Testimonials make them think, “Hey, if they can do it, maybe I can too!” So I encourage trainers and clubs to use testimonials and success stories of real-life clients in all materials promoting personal training services.

Get Your Money's Worth

Be creative and save money by making sure your promotional pieces are designed with more than one use in mind. You do not want to design a new piece for each need. For example, a good letterhead can be used for price sheets, client correspondence, information packages, fliers or promotional offers. A brochure should have the ability to be mass-mailed, posted in clubs, distributed at local businesses or mailed to top prospects.

Go Classic

Develop a brochure that is “classic” in style so you aren't forced to re-create your brochures every year. For example, if you include prices in your brochures, each time you increase your personal training fees, you will be forced to reprint your brochures.

Create a marketing brochure that is more “image”-based and supplement it with other materials, like price sheets. And you're on your way.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc., has been in the fitness industry for more than 13 years and has presented hundreds of fitness workshops. McMillan, who is also an author, fitness columnist, club owner, and Nike- and PowerBar-sponsored Fitness Athlete, can be reached at www.nwpersonaltraining.com. To purchase her latest release, The Successful Trainer's Guide to Marketing — How to Get Clients and Save Money, contact IDEA at www.ideafit.com or (800) 999-4332.