Before going into what I believe to be the #1 personal trainer marketing strategy ever, I want to share with you a couple lines from an email I got from a friend yesterday.
The email was in regard to her 13 year old son.
Here it is….
Oh and I’m trying to teach him [her 13 year old son] importance of dreams and visions… A couple weeks ago he said mom “when you make a lot of money and we buy a house can we get a full size basketball court?” hah!!! I said love the big goals son!
Or he’ll randomly say by then you’ll have five boot camps and people will be running them for you.
Love that he’s 13 and truly believes the sky’s the limit!!! Yeah!!!!
Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to be an astronaut, fireman, veterinarian and what have you? As kids the sky is the limit.
Kids have a passion that adults at some point seem to lose. Kids dream big… larger than life… and again as adults those dreams somehow get stifled, snuffed out, put in a box.
I can tell you this with 100% certainty that when you continue to dream big, live with passion, and claim your purpose the sky IS STILL the limit.
Those three lines above from my friend’s email reminded me of this important lesson… if you choose to live your passion, find your purpose and dream big, it will trump every personal trainer marketing tactic on the planet – GUARANTEED.
That said, we’re not going to just sit back and just dream or wait for the passion fairy to come out of hiding and dust us with a big helping of passion and purpose. We’re going to do something about building your business and get it to massive success (so long as you agree to take action and do what needs to be done).
The thing I want to share with you today is what I consider to be the #1 personal trainer marketing system ever.
I don’t know of any other client getting system that…
– gives you pre-qualified prospects
– is as no cost or low cost as this
– delivers leads are that easier to close
– gives your clients who are likely to buy your biggest programs
– is super predictable (as long as you do your part)
I’m talking about the humble referral.
Think about it. Can you think of another personal trainer marketing program that can do everything I listed above?
But there’s an ugly problem that most personal trainers and boot camp owners are experiencing. It’s the problem of not getting referrals no matter what they try. So how can referral generation be the #1 marketing system for personal trainers if most trainers are struggling to get referrals?
There’s actually a common problem that most fitness business owners experience and it’s critical for you to know what this is before we go any further…
First off, most fitness trainers have conditioned their clients to not refer. They’ve done this by not setting expectation from the get go. They’ve done this by not deploying any referral generation systems and instead operating a business by the seat of your pants
…that’s a proven formula for failure, stress and burn-out.
After over a decade of working with thousands of personal trainers here’s what I’ve come to understand. Most trainers don’t ask for referrals, and in fact don’t implement referral generation tactics into their personal trainer marketing funnel becuase…
1. They’re too scared to ask for referrals becuase they feel they are annoying their clients or coming off sleazy.
2. They feel that by asking for referral that their clients will think that they are all about the money and not about the client.
3. They don’t have a systematized approach to ask for referrals – therefore out of desperation they’ll try a “hail marry” approach to referral generation and write it off when it miserably fails.
Lets get some facts right before going any further.
Fact is, referral generation is the top client getting system for majority of Fit Body Boot Camp owners like Cara and John Eckerman, Jeff Sherman, Josh Carter, Jeremy Werner, Stephanie Flynn, Steven Hadley, Sonya Gonzalez, John Bocobo, and for many of my 7 figure mastermind coaching clients like Sean Francis, Dan Ritchie, and Ray Ortiz just to name a few becuase they are the best in class.
See, everyone I mentioned above not only has a systematized approach to getting referrals, but even before any of that, they are the “best in class” in what they do.
Think about that.
Can you honestly say that you’re best in class?
Would your clients say that about you if their friend was considering trying out a big box gym, another trainer or boot camp?
Better yet, do your clients talk about you even before anyone asks them about their fitness program?
What makes you best in class is what separates you from all other fitness programs in your area.
Are you known for the results that you deliver?
Are you talked about?
Do you guarantee results?
Is your program quantifiabley different/better/superior to all others?
There’s a LOT of talk about differentiation in the marketing place, but honestly… I don’t see it.
What makes you a better trainer than the trainers at the big box gyms?
Are you really going to compete on price rather than value?
The other day I posted a link to this yahoo news article on my facebook fan page where they said that there are now more personal trainers in the US than ever before… and then the article went on to say how most trainers hardly have clients and are working in the big box gyms making $12-$15 per hour.
That’s how the rest of the world sees our industry.
But that’s not how it is…
…because there’s a whole other sub section of trainers who are making more money than doctors and lawyers. Who use systems to run their business instead of random acts of desperate marketing. And who are KNOWN in their area as the top experts in their field.
These studio and boot camp owners are expert marketers in addition to being amazing fitness trainers.
They are the best in class.
And it doesn’t matter if Mrs. Jones is price shopping for one on one personal training or boot camp – the minute these trainers get their hands on a prospect they over deliver in value, instantly demonstrate every point of differentiation, and that’s the reason why they continue to charge more, and in fact consistently raise their rates and still have prospects beating down their door no matter the economy or the competition.
Value, service, results, fun experience, and better marketing makes them best in class.
The best in class will always trump being the lowest priced personal trainer or boot camp.
Here’s a perfect example for you…
Boot camp saturation is at an all time high. Even big box gyms are starting to offer “boot camps”, yet Fit Body Boot Camp owners are killing it these day more than ever.
With the popularity of boot camps people are starting to look up boot camps more and FBBC owners use this opportunity to differentiate themselves from boot camps that take place in parks and now in big box gyms.
That’s probably why there are more Fit Body Boot Camp locations on the map this month, than there was last month.
Just like one-on-one trainers in big box gyms popularized personal training and gave the independent smart trainer an opportunity to start a better business and deliver greater value. Boot camp are the same.
The more “boot camps” that pop up the higher the opportunity for awesome boot camps to stand out and win that client.
Knowing what you unique selling proposition is. Being able to easily explain what makes you different. And then demonstrating that difference is what makes FBBC so unique. That’s why in most areas Fit Body Boot Camp is the highest priced option and we never compete on price.. only service and outcome.
So lets get back to referral generation and how it totally kicks ass when it comes to being a predictable and low cost personal trainer marketing strategy.
The moment a prospect becomes a paying client you’ve got to make referral giving a condition of doing business with you.
A simple script like: “Mrs. Jones, as I help you achieve your fitness and fat loss goals can I count on you to help me with my goals which is help reach more people in our community? Can I count on you to tell your friends, family and co-workers about us as we help you get to your fitness goals?”
How simple is that?
Setting the expectations so that when you ask for a referral your clients will remember that they committed to helping you reach more people in the community.
Email auto-responders are an automated way to stimulate referrals. I assume that most trainers reading this post use FitPro Newsletter for your email marketing and list building. I took the time to craft a killer 28 day auto responder sequence for FitPro Newsletter users that delivers value and gently asks for referrals.
All you have to do is drop your new client’s email address in the autoresponder sequence when they sign up.
Then there are referral generation contests that you can run where the winner gets an ipad or a flat screen TV. One time I gave a way an $800 pink road bike as the grand prize for the person who sent me the most referrals a week.
I set the bike up in the middle of the training floor, put a big bow on it, and made the whole contest a BIG deal.
It was a huge success!
Here’s another thing you have to get into the habit of doing. Publicly reward your clients who refer you clients. Give them props during their work out, and if they referred someone who became a client give them their next month for half off.
It’s just the cool thing to do, right?
And think way outside of the box. For one of my 7 Figure Formula Mastermind clients who was having a hard time getting his clients to refer, I thought up a cool contest for him to run. I called it “The Fitness Ambassador Program” where one of his clients would end up being the “face” of his business and won a total make over.
And of course they claimed the title “Fitness Ambassador”.
To win they got points for a period of time for fat lost, strength gained, and number of referrals.
The Fitness Ambassador Program BLEW UP and now several other of my coaching clients are running the program.
Then there’s “operation appreciation” where you’d send out a hand written thank you card along with a $5 gift card to Starbucks to your clients. In the card you’d simply remind them that “I’m never to busy for your referrals”.
Showing appreciation by sending a thank you card or some cool swag to your clients adds to you being “best in class” and gives you a valid reason to systematically ask for a referral.
The point is this… from the very first interaction that you have with your client you should set the conditions of doing business with you. And one of those conditions is to refer to you.
Create and deploy referral generation systems.
Schedule specific times when you’ll be running these systems and make a big deal of it.
Make it fun and rewarding for your clients. And for the sake of all things holy, don’t just wing it.
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