I’ve been told many a time by many different influential people in my life to always follow my passion.
I have to say, I totally agree with that piece of advice. I truly believe you should always stay true to yourself and follow your own path. Never follow someone else’s path. Unless of course you’re lost in the woods…then by all means you should follow whatever path you can find.
But unless you’re lost in the woods (which I’m hoping you aren’t), something you should keep in mind is that if you do what everyone else does, you’ll get what everyone else gets.
Here’s what I mean…
Back in the 1940’s, McDonald’s was the one and only ‘fast food’ restaurant of its kind. It was started by Maurice and Richard McDonald. They were told the idea of fast food was a ridiculous idea – and look how that turned out for them. McDonald’s is now situated in over 100 countries, and according to the McDonald’s by my house, they’ve sold over a billion of their burgers. Over a BILLION! Fast food isn’t such a silly idea now, is it? The golden arches are a world renowned fast food restaurant that wouldn’t even exist today had the McDonald brothers listened to what everyone else said about fast food being an absurd idea. Since McDonald’s emerged, look how many other fast food restaurants have followed in its footsteps – Burger King, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr., the list goes on…
Similar story with Starbucks. Back in 1971, the very first Starbucks opened in Seattle, Washington. At this time, coffee was still a means of waking up – there was no social aspect to it. The idea that Starbucks promoted – to make coffee an experience – was seen as ridiculous. It was the only type of coffee shop of its kind, and everyone thought it would fail. Well, if you look at most street corners nowadays, you’ll see they’re almost all adorned with a Starbucks coffee shop…turns out the founders of Starbucks weren’t as crazy as everyone thought they were. The coffee company is now based in 59 countries, with over 19,000 stores worldwide. Since the idea of socializing over coffee has become so popular, look how many other coffee shops have embraced the idea. Kudos Howard Shultz – turns out you’re not as crazy as everyone thought.
I realize McDonald’s and Starbucks have little to do with the fitness industry, other than the success of their business keeps our industry going. However, when you look closely at successful businesses, a pattern in their marketing strategies start to emerge – they were all doing things before anyone else were. They had something unique and different to offer.
Apple started making iPods when everyone else was still selling CD players and Walkmans. Facebook emerged with a new way of communicating with the world. See how so many of the ‘big name’ corporations these days are successful because they didn’t follow the herd? They had an idea, and ran with it. They marched to the beat of their own drum.
This is how I have found so much success in my business.
In my own personal training endeavours, I realized all the other trainers were selling single or small block sessions to their clients. Everyone else took cash or cheques from their clients. They all offered 60 minute training sessions. And when I watched other trainers, I realized they treated their clients as doctors treat their patients – it was a sterile, stuffy environment, and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a training session, and a colonoscopy based on the serious, no-fun attitude and environment.
So what did I do?
The exact opposite.
I started selling six to twelve month programs, and was only willing to accept clients that would commit for this amount of time. I put all my clients on auto-debit (EFT), making it easier on me and more consistent for them. I started offering 30 minute training sessions – my clients saved money, and got an extra half hour of their day back. And lastly, I made the environment my clients trained in a fun, energetic one. I wanted my clients to actually ENJOY coming to train with me. What a foreign idea.
And you know what? I’d say my tactics have worked pretty well for me.
So this is how I suggest you conduct your own fitness marketing strategies.
I can talk until I’m blue in the face about fitness marketing tactics, but at the end of the day, you won’t be successful if your business is a cookie cutter version of everyone else’s fitness business. In order to be wildly successful, I can’t stress how important it is to stand out. Be different. And march to the beat of your own drum. Find the vacuum in your market, and fill it.
It may sound stupidly simple – but you’d be surprised how easy it is to get sucked into the vortex of ‘sameness’ and forget about the importance of being unique.