Eight Deadly Marketing Sins


Paul Kuck is the founder of Fitness Tutor (www.fitness-tutor.com) and owner of a personal training studio in Singapore. Paul has more than 10 years of experience working as a personal trainer, manager, speaker and writer. He has a master’s degree in exercise and nutrition science and is an ACE-certified clinical exercise specialist. He can be reached at [email protected].

Many managers often make mistakes that they don’t even know about. They are akin to novice exercisers who start a fitness program on their own, making unnecessary and costly mistakes. If you address these mistakes properly, you will not only save yourself a lot of cost, time, frustration and disappointment, but you will also increase your bottom line quickly.

You should think about marketing, just as you do personal training. You evaluate the current situation, set goals, design a program/roadmap, implement your program, re-evaluate and troubleshoot.

Here are the eight most common sins to avoid:

1. Market sporadically without a plan. Your trainers already know how important goal setting is to a client’s ultimate success. But as a health club owner or manager, do you do the same with your marketing? Do you write down your marketing plan and tell your staff about it? Without it, you don’t know where you are heading and how. If you don’t have a plan, you are set for failure. So grab a pen and paper and start drafting yours now.

2. Not differentiating your trainers. Many managers market their trainers as experts in everything and target every market under the sun. Take a cold hard look at your trainers’ specialities. What do you see? Typically, trainers will list almost everything under the sun: sports conditioning, weight management, corporate programs, aerobics, yoga, etc. If you do that, your trainers will be seen as jacks-of-all trades. In order to sell your trainers’ services successfully, you’ve got to market them as the true experts in their own niches. In fact, the tighter their niche is, the better, providing there is a market for that particular service.

Two niches are really popular right now: sports fitness group and weight loss. An even more focused niche would be golf or tennis fitness training, or a weight-loss program for kids ages 6 to 12 years old.

3. Not devoting time to marketing when you are busy. As the saying goes, don’t start digging the well before you are thirsty. This holds true for marketing. Always devote a substantial amount of time marketing you and your team. The bare minimum is two to three hours a day.

What should you do? You can write articles, attend networking events, meet people, send press releases, send thank-you cards to clients, etc. No time? Tell yourself what you tell your clients when they say they have no time to exercise: make time.

4. Not understanding your targeted clients well enough. People don’t want to buy your trainers’ services; they want solutions to their problems. If you constantly tell your prospects what programs you have without knowing what they really want, you will not close a lot of deals. Before you decide to target a market, understand their problems. Every marketing piece and campaign should be geared toward solving these problems. Do that, and you will get more highly qualified leads and also have an easier time converting leads to clients.

5. Forgetting about your current and ex clients. What a sin! Your clients are the ones who keep you alive in the first place. They are the easiest to up-sell, cross-sell and re-sell. They are the best referring partners. Do what it takes to make them happy -- give them good results. If you or your trainers don’t do this, you need to evaluate your trainers’ skills.

Also, be sure to provide services beyond personal training. Send them cards, buy gifts, etc. As long as your clients are happy, it becomes very easy to ask them for anything.

6. Giving up on prospects too easily. Don’t expect your trainers to get clients easily with just a phone call or e-mail. It may take a year of numerous phone calls and mailings to turn a prospect into a client. (Be careful, though. Don’t let them end up being a pest.)

Prospects can only become clients when they have trust in their trainer. Encourage your trainers to continue their efforts by nurturing their relationships. Patience is one of the hallmarks of great fitness managers and trainers.

7. Trying to beat the competitors’ prices. Nothing can devalue you faster than this sinful act. In fact, you should always do the opposite. When you compete on price alone it’s as good as telling your prospects, “We are inferior.” Try to win clients by giving better value, better positioning, better trainers and stronger guarantees. Never do it by price.

8. Trying to sell instead of educating prospects. Always remember that when your trainers take on the role of sales associates (even though they bring in sales, this should never be seen as their title), they undermine the whole team’s credibility. This is called selling-based marketing. Use an education-based marketing approach instead. Find ways and means (through e-mails, newsletters, etc.) to educate your prospects. Let them know your trainers are the pros and not some hungry wolves looking for prey.

By avoiding these sins, you will bring your personal training department the success it deserves.

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