450personal trainers were asked what their primary challengeisin building a lucrative and secure fitness future,and374 of them agreed that the greatest challenge is theacquisitionof new clients.

Thatsimple survey exposes a flaw that runs through the core of our industry.BeforeI share what I believe this pervasive flaw is, let's substitute somehypotheticals,using other industries as food for thought.

TheFlawed Perception
Supposethe owner of a restaurant with a rottenchefand horrible service says his number-one problem is "patron acquisition."ââSupposethe owner of a store with poorly stocked inventory, inferiormerchandiseand an offensive manager overseeing an under-qualified staffexpressesthe number-one challenge as "customer acquisition."ââ

Dothese examples help shed some light on the flaw in the all-too-commonthinkingamong trainers?

Ifyour challenge is client acquisition, the big question that can illuminatewhatmust be improved is, "Why?" Here are the possibilities:

  • Prospective clients don't know you exist.
  • Prospective clients don't perceive you as a solution.
  • Prospective clients don't equate your services with value.
  • You attract clients and fail to retain them.

Wecan't solve all four of these in a single article, but the focus on clientacquisitionis fast alleviated with a consistent "reach and compel"â❠strategy followedby arelentless effort to ensure that every client receives extreme valueforhis or her investment. When you grasp the simplicity of marketing andthrilling,the client acquisition challenge goes away. I want you to understand:Theshortage of available clients is purely in your head.

CapitalizingEthically on the Mindset of the Needy
Therewasa fable of a mule who starved to death trying to decide betweentwoequidistant bales of hay. This is an appropriate metaphor for manyclientele:The dieter who is trying to decide between the new low-caloriedietand "listening to what the trainer says about calorie deprivation."ââTheobese person trying to decide between lap-band surgery and onemoreattempt at "eating right and exercising."â❠The man who stands in thehealthfood store comparing bottles of fat-burners with bodybuildingpowders,wondering whether he should believe the advertising jargon orhirea personal trainer.

Ifyou are going to acquire new clients with any consistency, stop thinking,They'llcome to me when they're ready. They're beyond ready. They'reneedy,andunless someone legitimate comes to their rescue, they're going to windupvery much like the fabled mule. Your greatest tool for client acquisition issimpledialogue and human interaction with a willingness to direct, to inspireandto take the initiative for a much-needed decision.

Getout of that limiting place where you believe your prospects are onlythosewho "want"â❠a personal trainer. As you might have heard me say before,nobodywants to walk on a treadmill. They may be willing to embark upon adailytreadmill journey only because they want an outcome. Nobody wants tobuya health club membership. Some will be willing to hand over their creditcardwhen the salesperson asks only because they want an outcome. Nobodywantsa fitness assessment. They'll subject themselves to pinching and weighingonlyif they believe it's a step toward an outcome.

Nowis the ideal time to be tactfully aggressive, to spread your importantmessageof the right way to find fitness and to not stop short of asking eachneedyperson to consider the option you have to offer. Forget about the official "NewYear,"â❠and recognize that every day you speak with people in need canbethe first of 365. In fact, the failed resolution is a great marketing hook, asspringtimeif just off in the distance.

ThePost-Resolution Solution
Unlesssomeone who made a fitness-relatedresolutionachieved the desired outcome, the want is still in there. Itmightbe buried by ego, self-doubt or embarrassment, but if you can reignitethespark, you'll have an opportunity to prove your value - and the marketplaceofneed, as you now know, is vast. To rekindle the resolution:

  • Applaud for desire, and alleviate self-blame. You didn't fail; the program failed you.
  • Empower with a handful of "a-has"â❠(i.e. calorie deprivation slows metabolism and reduces lean body mass).
  • Identify potential obstacles. What prevented you from sticking to the resolution you made?
  • Establish milestones and measures. What would give you a sense that you are on your way?
  • Establish a mutually comfortable schedule, considering time availability and the economy.

Summonup the willingness to initiate discussions and prompt the stuckandneedy to act, recognize the power of the resolution and realize you canreigniteit right now, and devote time and energy to ensuring your clientsmaintaina sense of forward motion. Then I suspect the client acquisitionchallengewill become someone else's. You'll have it resolved.

PhilKaplan is a personal fitness trainer with a 25-yeartrackrecord. His newest pursuits include the Be BetterProjectfor personal trainers seeking career growth. Findmoreinformation at www.philkaplan.com.