In 1986, fresh out of graduate school, with $40 and a new pair of shoes, I started my business, At Your Convenience Personal Fitness Training; it was Kansas City’s original personal training center.
I spent seven years in college studying exercise science and corporate wellness, but never took a single business or marketing class. Fortunately, my entrepreneurial spirit, a few good mentors and the school of hard knocks guided me in the right direction.
One of the first lessons I learned was the difference between selling and marketing.
Marketing is more about developing a demand for your personal training services and fulfilling your client’s needs than it is about selling. If you can create, inspire and satisfy a client’s needs, the selling will take care of itself.
With a $40 budget, I had a brochure created and walked door-to-door introducing myself, and a new industry, to a conservative Midwestern market. Even my wife was skeptical, asking, “And they’re willing to pay you for that?”
The answer, of course, was “Yes” but first I had to create and inspire the need for my services. The only way I could accomplish my goal was to get in front of my audience, but in 1986 the internet and online marketing didn’t exist, so I laced up my new shoes and hit the road.
Today’s marketing strategies are different, but the basic concept is the same.
Instead of walking door-to-door like I did in 1986, you can quickly get in front of your target audience through the development of a website with the right keywords and content. Did you know that 59% of all consumers use Google to find a reputable business, and that 80% of all local searches resulted in an in-store visit, phone call or purchase?
While those numbers are impressive, the reality is that both face-to-face and online marketing are important components to any company’s marketing strategy, so don’t underestimate the power of old-school marketing.
I’m a firm believer that running a successful personal fitness training business requires personal connection, because our business, in large part, is about building relationships. At its core, face-to-face interactions help to build trust, understanding and a shared sense of accomplishment throughout the process. Giving a warm handshake, pat on the back, “at-a-boy” or purposeful listening can help form stronger, more meaningful and longer-lasting business relationships.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I need to lace up my shoes and get in front of a few more potential clients today…