Things are getting a little sticky, aren't they? The economy will probably get worse before it gets better, and people aren't exactly tripping over themselves to spend money on trainers lately. To most people, training is the sort of luxury expense that gets lumped into the same spending category as "buy a new boat" "go to Hawaii" or "pick up one of those little rhinestone sweaters for my Chihuahua."
I'm not going to lie to you, it's easier to make money in your training business when the economy is humming along and people can sell houses before glaciers wash them away, but just because it's easier in a good economy doesn't mean we have to make any less money in this one. We just have to market a little smarter. Let's take a look at five things you can do to keep your training business oblivious to the economic ups and downs.
Utilize Local Media
This is overlooked constantly. Everybody is scrambling for ways to get in front of millions of people online, but where do most of your clients come from? Locally! Who cares if you get 100 hits a day from Bangladesh? Focus the bulk of your attention on your local market so your marketing costs plummet and your revenue shoots through the roof.
Here's a little secret: Most local newspapers are dying to find something to write about. When's the last time you went to them with an idea for an article? How about the paper from the town over?
Press releases aren't just for big companies like some people think. They're for anything you think could be newsworthy. Have a new training class for a particular demographic? Press release time. How about a way to tie your training services into a current event? Don't waste it. Drafting a press release will take you a maximum of 30 minutes, and you'll be shocked at how many calls you'll get if you send it directly to your local papers and even more surprised at how much business a little write-up in your local paper brings you.
If you're going to make serious money as a trainer, you have to leverage yourself; trading hours for dollars just won't cut it. What do I mean by leveraging yourself? Well, you need to duplicate yourself, in a manner of speaking, or at least duplicate your effort. For example, when you train someone for an hour, and they pay you $100, that's nice, but there's only so far you can go with it. If you train clients all day every day, you're still limited to how much you can earn, and it's a very time-consuming, tough road. But what if you had a way to train two clients at the same time? Now you're starting to leverage yourself. But it gets better - a lot better.
What if you could collect money from clients without ever showing up to train them? Isn't that pretty much what happens when someone hires trainers to work at a club? The club has multiple people receiving training at the same time, and they generate a portion of revenue. That's one way to do it, but having staff creates a whole new mess of problems, which is why I recommend you leverage yourself in other ways.
You can create a book or DVD series once and sell it over and over again, and it doesn't take up any time once the product is created. There are many other ways to leverage yourself: books, audio programs, online training, seminars, conferences, group events, etc. Put some thought into how you can clone yourself, and profit from it. It may be a lot of work initially, but once it's done, you have an asset you can draw money from for a very long time.
You're probably heard of the 80/20 rule, the one that says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. Almost everyone knows the rule, but hardly anyone follows it. Don't be one of them. Find out through tracking which of your efforts are in the 80% and which are in the 20%, and then hammer away on the large share and forget about the small one.
Let's say you do seminars or clinics at 10 different places in a month and find that two of them generate the bulk of your clients. Now you know where to focus your attention. Market more in those venues, and forget the ones that don't put money in your wallet.
If you run ads in five newspapers and track the response to find that one of the ads blows away the other ones by a large margin, you can save the money on the other ads and focus on the one paper. You'll not only save a bundle of wasted money and time by paying attention to this, but your marketing will be far more effective.
Grab Your Calculator
In order to know where your 80% is coming from, you're going to have to get down and dirty and do a little tracking and measurement. You're not going to be able to play it by ear; track all of your marketing. It's what separates the winners from losers; marketing is a game of inches. If you ran ads in five papers like in the above example, you have to know which ones are performing and which ones aren't. You can either use different methods of contact in the ads, such as different phone numbers, or ask when people call where they heard of you and track it. You can even run different promotions on each ad and see what people call for, since many of them won't remember where exactly they saw your ad. Once you know what ad medium works (newspaper, radio ad, etc.), you're still not done. Now you have to determine what ad itself works best. Never run just a single ad and call it a day. Run two and see which outperforms the other, then run another against your winner (in marketing, this is called the "control") and try to beat it.
Ignore Your Marketing Budget
When the going gets tough at big companies, the marketing is the first thing to get slashed. That's because they're not doing the type of marketing you should be doing; they're branding. When you brand, it's a guessing game, and you never know really how much money you made from an ad or even a whole campaign. Does Budweiser really know how much they make specifically from a Super Bowl commercial? Nope. It's impossible.
You, however, will now be tracking and measuring every nickel that goes out the door for marketing. When that nickel turns into a dime, do more of it. When it turns into a penny, don't. It's not rocket science, but you need to put the organization around it. Then when you know that your marketing is creating dollars and not costing dollars, a tightened marketing budget is senseless and the last thing you should be cutting back on. If you give me a dollar, and I give you back five dollars, how many dollars will you give me? As many as I'll take, right? It's the same with your marketing. When done correctly, your money is working for you and making you money. Why would you ever say, "I'll do that for $100 a week, and that's it"? You wouldn't. Marketing budgets are for people that aren't getting or tracking results and look at marketing like throwing dice in Vegas. There's a word for people like that: broke.
Money comes a little quicker in a good economy, but when you're doing things right, it shouldn't be a large factor one way or the other; you just have to pay a little closer attention. The really great thing about tough times is that it weeds out those not determined or smart enough to pull through. Now you know what to do; go do it. And when things turn around - and they will - there's going to be a lot less competition than there was going in. Take advantage of it.
Make sure you read the next issue of PFP, in which I discuss the power of positioning in the marketplace and how most trainers shoot themselves in the foot from the first day.
Rich Butkevic, CFT, a.k.a. "Coach Rich" is a personal trainer and consultant to fitness professionals who are serious about optimizing and growing their business. Prior to becoming a trainer, he was responsible for marketing and Internet projects for companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo!, AT&T and others. He's also the author of the Trainer Traffic System, a step-by-step marketing system for fitness professionals (www.trainertraffic.com).
Read Part 1 – Building relationships with your customers and prospects using auto-responders>>
Read Part 3 – The power of positioning>>
Read Part 4 – Testing your marketing>>
Read Part 5 – Testing your marketing for five bucks at lightning speed using Google AdWords>>
Read Part 6 – Top seven tools of successful fitness marketers>>