In the highly competitive fitness arena, it is essential to communicate the unique strengths you bring to the table. What are your passions? What experiences have you had that make you who you are today? What words do others use to describe you? Discover the answer to these questions, and you may have the key information needed to express your personal brand.
You are valuable to your organization, but you also offer the world something different than anyone else. The myth that personal branding is only for those who are looking to be famous or an online guru is untrue. Value differentiation can take your business beyond the brick and mortar to a place of passion.
Personal branding can be as powerful and significant as the marketing of your gym. Your logo, website and Facebook fan page each serve as a tool for the company's public relations. On the other hand, new customers are not buying membership from a logo, websites don't speak and brightly lit signs don't sell contracts. It is the responsibility of you and your staff to shake hands, say "good morning" and help guests realize their new lease on life.
Brands, organizations and businesses are made up of human beings. Prospects will relate more to you as a person than reading a brochure. You must bring your personality to the front line. The most difficult part of personal branding is creating differentiation. You have an array of distinct attributes that sets your story apart from all the others. Once you gain awareness and confidence in the specific talents you bring to the table, your professional identity can commence.
Use these actionable practices to position you and propel your personal brand above the rest:
Spruce up your web presence. You may have a dedicated section on your health club's website, but that may not be enough. Set up avenues for your individual branding that are separate from your corporate presence. Produce your own personal site or blog for added benefit. Potential customers are likely to search you on Google before they even set foot in your gym as a prospect. A personal website is an opportunity to share your independent charm, attitude and philosophy. Express this through your choice in colors, images, style and content. Ask yourself, "How do I make people feel?" Then, transfer that emotional understanding into the visitor's web experience.
Engage social media. As a fitness industry leader, people desire to hear your views and opinions. Monopolize on this by sharing news and resources to assist your target audience. Be willing to mentor your followers by posting regular updates. Don't make this process robotic. Be transparent, truthful and authentic. Above all, be present—listen and participate. Don't pull a disappearing act in the middle of the show. To nurture a true following, you must remain steady and dependable. In addition, connect with other wellness forerunners to stimulate interaction across the industry.
Book speaking engagements. A good way to test the influence of your personal brand is before a live audience. Use speaking gigs to express how people benefit from a connection with you. Volunteer to speak at conferences, events and trade shows. Events such as the Club Industry Show have mounds of opportunities to expand your audience.
Conduct workshops. For a more hands-on educational opportunity, plan regular seminars or workshops. Host the engagement at your fitness facility to get double exposure. Teach members about nutritious eating or how to warm up before coming to the gym. Offer to give a facility tour after the event or give away membership packages to energize the crowd.
Go on tour. Set up a local tour to extend the exposure. Partner with businesses that share your target audience to host an event. This will position you as a community advocate for wellness. Community colleges, civic organizations and churches are often seeking speakers about health and wellness. Share your expertise openly and freely. Shine a light upon your giving nature. Every meeting does not have to be pro bono. Balance two-thirds of your gigs to be financially beneficial.
Partner with a nonprofit. Become a public endorser for a major community concern. Choose a cause you care about. If the organization accepts donations, volunteer your facility as a drop-off point or distribution center. Choose a month to donate a percentage of sales to the nonprofit. For many groups, donated time is as precious as money. Volunteer for a few hours one weekend a month. Offer discounted services to the residents of a low-income housing complex.
Make mentoring moments. Share your formula for success with an up-and-coming industry enthusiast. Budding entrepreneurs are eager for knowledge and the chance to learn new skills. Do not view this as training someone to be your competition. Personal branding is about helping others but letting your competitive advantage be the hero.
Empower brand advocates. Employees serve as an extension of your personal brand. According to a recent study from IBM, 71 percent of CEOs believe human capital is a key source of economic value. Customers prefer to relate to the person behind the logo. Realistically, that person can't always be you. Train the entire staff to communicate and demonstrate your brand in the right way. Accomplish this deed by inspiration. Inspire the staff to share your values and mission. In-house customer service representatives operate under the direction you define. Employees, vendors and volunteers are the extension of your brand, which helps retain customers.
Personal branding involves more than checking off channels on a marketing to-do list. It is an opportunity to take your clients and customers on a journey—with you as the tour guide. Drop the sales pitch and make followers feel something special—trust, comfort, challenge, motivation, contentment and passion. To grab the advantage over competitors, deliver the adventure that makes YOU awesome.
Content Sponsored by Affiliated Acceptance.
Terrell McTyer is the marketing specialist at Affiliated Acceptance. Affectionately known as the "marketing monster," McTyer has worked in the field of marketing and branding for more than a decade. Recently, the team at Affiliated added a new health club software to its suite of comprehensive solutions, ityCity, which is a cloud-based platform to manage customers, employees, facility, programs and scheduling.