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Five Deadly Personal Trainer Marketing Mistakes

Jim Labadie is a fitness entrepreneur, sales expert and speaker. You can download a free copy of his new e-book "63 Must-Have Sales Tips for Personal Trainers" at

Personal trainers are typically caring, warm-hearted and passionate people. Unfortunately, they are also typically awful marketers. That's why the personal training manager or fitness director at your club needs to make sure the following deadly marketing mistakes aren't killing your personal training revenues.

1. Not promoting weight loss.
For the most part, people do not care about their health until they have lost it. In the meantime, almost everyone hires a personal trainer for one reason: They want to look better naked. Some club owners and personal trainers have a problem with that. That's fine. But these same clubs and trainers are usually the ones who are struggling to make ends meet.

There is a reason that diets, diet pills, miracle potions and the like sell so well — they promise easy weight loss. It's mostly because these companies are selling what people really, really want — weight loss. If your personal training department is promoting to your members how you can help them fit into their "skinny jeans" again, well, you're completely out of touch with reality.

When you provide a solid program of nutrition and exercise that delivers terrific weight-loss results, it's like hiding medicine in applesauce. Members will receive health benefits as a natural matter of course, along with the weight loss they want.

2. Failing to promote your trainers as experts.
Because health club owners have offered new members a free personal training session for years and years, fitness professionals often are seen as nothing more than dumb jocks that couldn't get a "real job." Fortunately, this perception can be overcome pretty easily by doing the two things that instantly establish anyone as an expert: speaking and writing. Writing simple "how to" articles on subjects pertaining to — you guessed it — weight loss are easy to write and distribute. They can be placed all over the club, distributed to members personally, sent via e-newsletter and posted on a blog.

Having your personal trainers do public speaking in your community is great marketing and positioning, and best of all, it's free. Networking groups often are looking for free speakers for their meetings, and local corporations are often happy to have someone speak at a "lunch and learn" for their employees.

Publicize the speaking schedule of your trainers to members as a way to promote them as experts in the minds of members, and as a reminder that your trainers are available for speaking engagements.

3. Lack of follow-up.
Not everyone becomes a client after a consultation with one of your personal trainers, so you need to have a formal follow-up plan to contact prospects afterwards.

Lost sales should be added to a follow-up database where they automatically receive ongoing promotions via direct mail, e-mail or phone calls. If they were interested in personal training at one time but were not ready to buy yet, then there's a good chance they might hire one of your trainers when the time is right, so long as you stay in front of them.

4. Taking on bad clients.
You need to educate members that working with your personal training department takes a special kind of member. Training clients are expected to become walking, talking billboards for the fitness professionals working with them. If the member isn't willing to be that "billboard," they simply cannot be accepted into your very private, very exclusive personal training department.

Other members are watching to see what kind of results your personal trainers are delivering. Everything is marketing, and marketing is everything. And no marketing is going to be more powerful than real-world results.

5. Referral programs gone wrong.
Personal training clients won't know referrals are welcome unless you let them know. Your fitness professionals should educate clients about what kind of person makes an ideal referral and where these people can be found.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that trainers will ask their clients for referrals. Most trainers are too afraid. That's why you need to have a formal referral system so trainers know exactly when to educate clients on the subject. A great time to ask for referrals is typically during the client's re-assessment. Failing to recognize and reward referrals will result in angry referrers. Have a system in place so clients who refer are instantly recognized for their contribution. Simple thank-you cards and small tokens of appreciation go a million miles toward future referrals.

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