“The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.” – Robin S. Sharma, renown leadership author

As fitness professionals, we operate in a very crowded space. Whether you’re a personal trainer, a group exercise instructor, a gym owner or a fitness equipment company, you have a lot of competition. As much as we are tempted to attract more clients or customers, it is equally important – no, it’s more important – to focus on the relationships you have with your current clientele. You must constantly remind yourself that your best customers are your customers. Investing in our current clients develops deeper and richer relationships that drive more sessions, higher retentionland stronger word-of-mouth to attract new clients.

In the concentrated, murky sea of fitness-oriented social media posts, email blasts, text updates, and mobile app notifications, how can we stand out? It’s no longer enough to have a presence on key platforms and channels. It’s no longer enough to be “better” at what we do. Being unique is what will get us noticed. And being unique means doing things differently than everyone else.

Here are three unique (and free) ways to engage your clients or customers:

Support a local cause

We all have causes that mean a lot to us for deeply personal reasons. Look for opportunities in your local community to support a cause that’s near and dear to you. Encourage your existing clients or customers to join your efforts. You don’t have to organize a complex event like a charity half marathon. You don’t have to ask for money. You can simply offer your services to help those who would benefit for it. For example, you can lead a free group fitness class at an assisted living communities or recruit your clients to spend time as a mentor to local youth.

Host an event with fitness influencers

We all like free stuff. Even the most influential people in your community love to get something for free. Last month, we hosted a Core Flyte group fitness class for New York City-area fitness editors and Instagram influencers. The class was free and we served a free breakfast. Each attendee received a goodie bag stuffed with healthy food and beverages provided by local businesses (who in turn were looking to promote their products). We created an event that helped promote our product and class format while energizing an influential group of people. Most of the participants are now vocal advocates for our products and programs. Don’t forget to invite some of your current clients too!

Share personal videos

Try something much more personal and effective than just posting videos to social media: one-to-one messaging using a video format. Use your smartphone to record a quick, 20-second video directed to a specific client. You can use the message to provide encouraging words, workout tips or as a friendly thank you note. Send the mini video through email or text and you’ll make someone’s day.

Whether you’re just starting to build your business, looking for growth or are content with the size of your client base, test these tactics and see how they work for you. Stronger relationships will boost your business and make your clients – and you – happier in the process.