About five years ago, I had just built my flagship online fitness course called "The 10 in 4 Challenge." I had poured close to 100 hours into creating this program, and I knew that the official launch could make or break its success.
Instead of devising the marketing strategy on my own, I decided to hire a coach who could advise me along the way. I began asking for referrals and searched Google for the perfect business coach. Here’s what I found:
- Experienced Business Coach for Small Businesses…
- Expert Marketing Coach for Business Owners…
- Business Coach for Online Fitness Entrepreneurs…
Which coach do you think I hired?
Yes, coach No. 3.
The third coach spoke directly to my need. I had a “pain” (i.e. not knowing how to launch a new online fitness product), and she had a specific area of expertise (i.e. coaching online fitness entrepreneurs) that positioned her to perfectly solve my pain point.
It was a no-brainer.
There is a saying that goes something like this: “Nobody will ask for expert advice from a generalist, but many people will ask for general advice from an expert.”
Think about your fitness business for a moment. Are you positioned as a generalist or as an expert?
If you’re a generalist (or if you’re not sure), it’s time to define your niche so that you can become an expert. Experts are highly sought after. They never have a shortage of clients, and they can charge more money.
The riches really are in the niches.
3 Steps to Finding Your Perfect Fitness Niche
If you’re a personal trainer, nutritionist or other health professional working as a sole proprietor, the following three steps are the most important ones you can take for the future growth potential of your business.
If you own a club that employs fitness professionals, this applies to you, too. It’s your job to fill an array of niches from within your team so that each of your staff members is perceived to be an expert. Your team will benefit, and your sales will benefit.
Before we dive in, let’s define the term niche for the purposes of your business. A niche is a tiny segment of people from within the large health and wellness market. These people have common characteristics, they have common needs, and are they are interested in common products and services.
Now, it’s time to hone in on your ideal niche.
Step No. 1: Identify Who You Love
This step is simple. If you are going to be viewed as a true expert in your field, you have to love working with the clientele in your chosen niche.
Being an expert means more than working with an exclusive group of people. It means immersing yourself in their lives. You need to intimately understand their hopes, dreams, desires, pains, frustrations and past failures if you are going to become the expert who can help them better than anyone else.
For me, this means understanding women who are in the perimenopause stage of life. I read about their hormone shifts. I study exercise routines that could be useful to them. I host menopause experts on my podcast to learn more and to spread helpful information. I fixate on this niche, and I love helping them. You need the same passion for the clientele within the niche you choose.
So, who do you absolutely love working with?
Step No. 2: Identify Where There’s Need
Once you’ve identified the type of client you love working with, it’s important to determine the problem you can solve for those clients. Simply determining that you want to train runners, for instance, isn’t enough. What is the exact value you are going to offer?
Going back to my own target audience (i.e. women during their perimenopause years), this is still a broad group of people. Some women in that age group may be looking to have a full-body makeover – they are looking to lose 100 pounds or more. Others may want help training for a marathon, and some may need help with injury recovery, early onset arthritis or a host of other medical issues.
It would be impossible for me to be an expert in all of those areas, so I had to narrow my focus even more. I chose to help women in perimenopause who want to lose just 10 pounds.
Those women who are looking to lose 100 pounds may use my products and services, but I only position myself as an expert in helping clients lose 10 pounds. My ideal clients aren’t far from their ideal weight, but they need a little help to get over the hump. This is a real problem that I can help my clients solve.
Again, think about the clients you love working with. What is a specific problem that you see them struggling with over and over again? Can you create a solution to that problem, and, in doing so, become an expert in their eyes?
Step No. 3: Identify Your Growth Potential
The final step to finding your perfect fitness niche is assessing its profit potential.
Some niches are so large that they’ve already attracted many well-established experts. For example, if you perform a Google search for “new mom weight-loss programs,” you’ll see that this market segment is quite saturated.
Just because some professionals already are operating in your chosen niche, it doesn’t mean it’s a poor choice, but you do need to think about how much catching up you’ll have to do in order to be seen as one of the experts in that area.
The more specific your niche, the easier it will be for you to seize that market, grow quickly and become profitable.
Recently, I was searching for an expert guest to join me on a podcast episode all about pelvic floor damage due to pregnancy (i.e. pelvic prolapse). Even for this seemingly tiny niche, I was able to find half a dozen experts whose businesses were devoted to serving the exact same clientele.
In the case of women experiencing pelvic prolapse, there are enough clients to support each of these practitioners. But if that niche were flooded with another 10 or 20 fitness professionals, the saturation point would be reached and everyone would struggle — well, everyone except the top experts who have already established themselves as being the best of the best.
It’s time to research your niche. How many other trainers, coaches, studios, etc. are providing a similar service? How much room is there for your business to grow within that market segment?
If a niche looks crowded, stay away. It’s almost always better to define an even tighter niche than it is to fight it out in a broader space that’s already spoken for.
All consumers gravitate toward people, products and services that are finely tuned to meet their unique needs. Don’t miss the opportunity to incorporate this principle into your fitness business.
By narrowing defining who you serve and what problems you solve, you can quickly become an expert in your field. At that point, the clients will come to you, and your business will become rich within your niche.
Dave Smith is a professional fitness and weight-loss coach who was chosen as Canada’s Top Fitness Professional in 2013. He shares health and weight-loss tips through his blog and podcast at makeyourbodywork.com and helps fitness professionals grow their onlines businesses at onlinetrainersfederation.com.