Jim Labadie is a fitness entrepreneur, publicity expert and speaker. To learn how to pitch to a producer, develop relationships with print reporters, avoid the biggest publicity mistake personal trainers make and much more, sign up for his free mini-course on publicity for fitness professionals at www.howtogetmorepublicity.com

Personal trainers are often viewed as more of an afterthought than fitness experts. If they were so terribly important, why are members given free sessions with them? People automatically assume that if their time is given away so readily it must not be very valuable.

However, I’m going to give you seven tips on how you can recapture the credibility of your training staff in your members’ eyes.

There are two incredibly easy ways to demonstrate expertise: writing and public speaking. Right or wrong, people assume authors and speakers to be credible experts. If they weren’t, why would they be published or allowed on stage? Although I’ve written about public speaking in previous Step-by-Step columns, I’d like to focus on writing simple “how-to” articles. Here are seven tips on why you should be writing:

1. Writing articles is a great way to market your personal training services. Many fitness professionals don’t realize just how easy it is to write short “how-to” articles, so they don’t utilize this very effective marketing tool. Every member of your staff should be writing at least one educational article per month.

As the saying goes, your chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Make your entire training staff look competent by requiring all your fitness professionals to be strong writers. If they aren’t already, make them practice until they become so. Or even better, make writing a requirement for employment.

2. Articles are easy to distribute. Not only can you place articles in your physical and online newsletters and Web site, but you can also place them in new member packages, in local publications and even in the newsletters of area companies.

You can get a lot of mileage out of one simple how-to article. And you never know who will end up reading them. Oftentimes, larger media outlets find story ideas from articles such as these. Print has been and always will be a very powerful medium.

3. Articles can lead to other opportunities, such as public speaking engagements, strategic partnerships and even physician referrals. In fact, someone from your staff should contact every physician’s office in your area and ask if they will distribute your expert fitness articles to their patients.

4. Pick a topic that people are really interested in. Yes, I know that seems mighty obvious. But do you really know the subjects your members want to know about? Have you asked them? Or are you writing about fitness items you think they should be interested in? Ask your members what they want to read about. Are they looking for information on how to reduce their blood pressure? Would they rather learn how to get six-pack abs? Again, this is marketing. Write for what your audience definitely wants, not what you think they want.

5. Use a killer headline. If nobody reads your article, what was the point in writing it? The headline is what will draw readers in, so it’s imperative that it really captures their attention. If you need ideas, go to your local newsstand or bookstore and stare at the magazine racks. Copywriters get paid big money to come up with headlines because they sell magazines.

6. Use the magic formula. In case you’re wondering, you’re reading a sample of that “magic formula” right now. Start with an introductory paragraph or two that explains a problem you are about to solve. Next, list the simple step-by-step tips (people love tips, by the way) to follow, and then end the article with the author’s bio and a strong call to action.

7. Put systems in place. Make sure the trainers know when their next article is due. Have topics ready in advance. Know who will distribute the articles and how and where they will be distributed.

Finally, make sure you’re tracking which articles are producing results. What articles are people most interested in? Which ones are creating leads? Generating sales?

As you can see, fitness articles are an incredibly simple way for your personal training staff to gain credibility with your members. They also are extraordinary marketing tools that can produce big revenues at very little cost.