For an independent trainer, especially one just starting out, using the web is one of the best ways to find new training clients. The people that need training the most are usually the ones that spend most of their day behind a computer screen, so that's usually the place they'll go first when looking for a trainer.
When it comes to the web, one of the major places people turn to is Craigslist. It is such a highly trafficked site that it turns out to be one of the best places to get training clients, but only if you do it right. Despite its potential, the fact is that most trainers still get their posts all wrong, which is evident from a question I was asked recently by a trainer:
"Hey Kaiser - I've been posting ads religiously on Craigslist since last October, with terrible results. I have one of the highest level certifications and a nutritional certification, and charge half of what everyone else charges, and all I've got in all of these months is just one client. I'm ready to give up - what am I doing wrong?"
This question shows a lot of things that can go wrong with posting ads on Craigslist. To help, here are my three posting tips that will start getting you more clients than you can handle and will give you an unfair advantage over all of your competition:
- Don't compete strictly on price. The first thing to know is that even though people on Craigslist tend to be price shoppers, you can't compete solely on price. There hasn't been a business, except maybe Walmart, that has been able to succeed only by being the cheapest.
What you really need is an offer. This is the reason why someone should contact you and why they should do it now. A sample offer could be a three-session introductory package, where you give your clients a chance try out your sessions at a competitive price. If you were advertising a boot camp, you could offer a two-week trial for only one dollar. Throwing in a guarantee and an expiration date are two more things that can make your offer even more compelling.
- Have a good website to send your visitors to. There's only so much information you can put into an ad, but if you put the link to your website in there, you can form a much deeper bond. Your website can have video, testimonials and tons of information that will give your visitor a hundred reasons to take the first step and contact you.
- Post frequently and in multiple categories. It's almost impossible to be successful on Craigslist by following their terms of service to the letter. You'll have to bend the rules a bit to get the best results. The first trick is posting more than one ad per day. You'll have to be creative and open multiple accounts so you can post several times per day, depending on the volume of ads in your area. In New York City, it had to post 10 times a day, and I have a friend that, with all of the different sections on Craigslist considered, posts 30 ads per day regularly! Just make sure your ads are unique and appropriate to each category so you don't get flagged, and you should be set.
One more bonus tip is to find someone to do all of your posting for you. Just give them the ads, and they'll do all of the work. There are firms oversees that specialize specifically with posting ads on Craigslist. For that, you can go to someplace like www.elance.com, post the project and give it the best bidder.
Using these techniques should turn Craigslist into a goldmine of new clients and new business for you. This is one of the best places to get clients on the web, so enjoy it while it lasts!
Kaiser Serajuddin writes one of the web's most visited online fitness marketing blog, Super-Trainer.com, where you can get a free comprehensive course on starting an online fitness business. He is also a private consultant for some of the world's top trainers. Kaiser can be reached with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.