The phone rings at LynnVanDyke.com headquarters. I answer the call with my usual greeting:
"Hello, this is Lynn VanDyke. How can I help you?"
"Hi, Lynn. I'm Bob, a personal trainer in Missouri, and I have a website. Tell me why I need your services."
"Hi, Bob. Well, tell me a little bit about you and your business website. Does it work for you? Are you ranking well? Are you pulling in leads?"
"Well my business is doing okay. I could always use more leads! Who couldn't? And my website just kind of sits there. I just don't know if I want to redo the site. It just sounds like a hassle, but I heard from a few people that I should talk with you before making my final decision."
"Well I'm glad you called. Let's take a look at your current site and see what we're working with."
At this point, we proceed with a website consultation. Bob has an okay site, but the reality is that his site could be so much more. A website is not just a website these days — it has to be more than an online brochure. Your website must do these four critical tasks in order for it to be successful:
 
1. A Website Must Position You as the Fitness Expert in Your Area
What is a website if it doesn't highlight your strengths as a fitness professional? If your site has a horrible look and feel, consumers will assume that you don't take pride in your business or in them — a harsh reality. Your website has to look and actprofessional. Your website should contain so much information that it demands people ask the question, "Who is Bob the Trainer, and how can I train with this local fitness expert?"
           
2. A Successful Website Generates Targeted Leads
A website is your 24-hour, 365-day a year marketing machine. It should not only position you as the local fitness expert, but it should attract targeted website visitors from the search engines. If someone goes to Google and types in "(your city) personal training," is your website going to be found?
Ranking at the search engines is an art form — an analytical art form, I'll give you that. To even think about ranking at Google, Yahoo and MSN, you need to do some serious leg work. What are the actual terms people are searching for? How much competition is out there for those terms? Do you stand a chance at ranking for a particular term? Are you optimized for that term?
Ranking at the search engines is crucial to generating free leads month after month.
 
3. A Website Should Grow Your Opt-in List
Receiving targeted visitors is great and dandy, but now that they found your site make them do something! Everyone knows (hopefully) that the money is in a targeted list. So develop, grow and nurture your list.
The days of people giving you their name and email address "just because" are over. Consumers quickly realized that when they fill out a form, they are more than likely to get spammed. So today, you must offer something of value in exchange for their email address.
Value is the key word here. Offering a newsletter doesn't really cut it anymore. What about a free consultation with you? What about a free ebook featuring some helpful hints and tips to fat loss? What about offering a prize for everyone that submits a weight-loss success/struggle story?
 
4. A Well-run Website Automates Some of Your Business Tasks
Feel like you repeat yourself all day long? Going to go nuts if one more person asks, "Why do I need a trainer?" Then your website needs to become more active. Your website is alive! Make it work for you — It's the most inexpensive labor around.
Your site should educate the consumer on why they need your services (think emotion). It should provide the basic information that helps qualify your leads even more. By the time you personally have interaction with a lead, you should feel confident that you can close the deal because your website has already done most of the pre-qualifying. Read that last sentence again. See how your website should "work for you?"
Provide your phone number, address, directions and a map on your contact page. This eliminates the phone calls asking where you are located.
Put together an information packet of your programs and plans. Offer it as a download (grow your list!) for those that are interested in learning more about training with you. That information packet should answer basic questions that most, if not all, interested consumers will be asking you. Again, qualify your leads more and more so that when they finally reach you, they're ready to sign up.
Do you offer classes? Add your current class schedule to the site. This is really helpful for folks that want to know what's going on and when. Consider adding an interactive calendar and a professional blog as well. This positions you as an expert: "Wow, Bob the Trainer has an interactive calendar, and a blog, and video on his website!"
 
The Bottom Line
Your website must position you as the expert, it must rank well and generate targeted leads, it must grow your opt-in list, and it must relieve some of the day-to-day mundane tasks. Is your website doing all of this? Remember this is just the beginning. Once your site performs these four items, the potential to capitalize on targeted leads is endless.
 
If the idea of redoing your website sounds horrifying to you, work with good folks that have experience in generating results, the process should be painless.
Lynn VanDyke is an SBI Certified Webmaster and the author of The Ultimate Step-by-Step Lead Generating Website Guide for Fitness Professionals (www.fitnesswebsiteguide.com). Learn more about Lynn and about building a website by visiting her website at www.personaltrainerwebsitedesign.com.

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