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Avoid Common Mistakes to Build a Successful Fitness Brand

Building partnerships and establishing a strong brand can help you reach more people and increase your revenue.

The fitness industry is constantly evolving, and after seeing the technology and product changes, new research and gym partners entering the market over my 30-year career, it has been an amazing ride.

As my own personal career evolved, I realized I couldn't possibly see everyone and help them make changes for a healthier lifestyle, so I sought bigger distribution platforms to help evangelize the lifestyle that so many Americans still want but struggle to embrace. 

What I found really interesting was that it takes loads of energy to work with clients one-on-one every day, and although I wanted to make more money, the amount of hours in each week was not growing. That's when I realized I needed products, residual incomes and passive ways of making money. By utilizing my trusted networks, I could make six figures or more in this industry where others had thrown in the towel.

Here are the three biggest mistakes people make when building a fitness business:

"All about me" mentality. This simple way of thinking will derail your business. No matter how great of a club you own or how amazing of a trainer you are to your clients, you will never be successful unless you understand that business is about helping others. Many trainers and business owners forget that business works on wins. It can never be about how great you are or what you have to offer but rather how your business can help their business grow. You have to be able to clearly talk about the win-win. No one wants to help someone else just make more money. Inevitably, they will see that it is only about your success, and although they are happy that you are doing well, they want to succeed, too.

From marketing partnerships to growing your database to sharing your lists with others to promoting social causes, you have to be able to show clients and marketing partners the value of working with you. One great example is Lululemon's ambassador program, which is simply genius. They seek out the top instructors in an area where they will be opening a store and offer them free clothing and publicity in exchange for hosting free in-store classes. The arrangement allows the company to provide a service to their customers and seem more credible, plus the instructors' devoted students see what they are wearing, which drives them into the store to dress like their mentor.  This is clearly a win for the instructors, who get new clothes and publicity, as well as for Lululemon's bottom line in sales.

Inconsistent messaging. Starbucks, McDonald's and other brand icons in service delivery continue to grow because of the public expectation of getting the same product each time. Many established brands have this nailed. You have to have a clear message and stick to it. It's difficult to be the best weight loss, running, pain management and nutritious meals coach all at once. Pick your niche and stick to it in all your offerings. Every time someone is approached by your brand, it should have the same look, feel and texture. "Everything is about a healthy lifestyle" has become my adopted tag line. I want people to realize that at any point in time they can jump in and make small changes to live healthier.

Credibility factor. Brands build trust through hard work, research, staying in the know and sharing what you know for free. To grow our distribution and expertise, we have to work harder than the trainer next door, but working harder doesn't have to mean working longer. Working smart is key. Perception is reality in the consumer world, so know and share your beliefs to grow your credibility and help change the way people think about living healthy.

For more tips on building a brand, attend my session, "Personal Branding," from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Club Industry Conference and Exposition, where I will share how to market and build your own brand as I did mine and share the steps to skip as well as the steps with which to jump on board in building your business. 

At my other session, "Make More Money: Affiliate Marketing, Free Press and Building your Distribution," from 8:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, I will share specific affiliate partnerships that can help build income and grow your brand, explain how to decode these opportunities and share exclusive offers for those attending.

With more than 30 years of experience in the healthy lifestyle industry, Andrea Metcalf has become recognized by national media outlets as a trusted expert and adviser. As a nationally requested speaker representing the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, among many other health authorities, she is a best-selling author, fitness DVD choreographer and trainer, as well as a force in the business media world.

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