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Marketing Personal Trainers and Fitness Studios - Starting out...


The facts

There are now over 25,000 personal trainers in the UK, a fact which could be daunting to those of us just starting out in the personal trainer business.

As well as fulfilling the basic requirements of business operation, such as insurance, venue partnering, accounting and means of being contacted, a major concern for new PTs is undoubtedly advertising and marketing.

Should I Outsource my Marketing?

 Apart from the fact that obtaining a foothold by using any marketing or advertising company is very an expensive option - especially when your customer base only boasts family and friends - marketing is without doubt the easiest way of wasting money without gaining results. This can often be because marketing needs to be directed by someone who understands the demographic you are interested in and for whom you are designing your products and services and where you are able to easily provide them. In short, your marketing needs to be managed by you; you cannot engage a marketing company by demonstrating a 'fire and forget' attitude, they need constant input from you in order to be focusing where you need to be.

Where do I begin then?

A very good idea is to forge a very clear understanding of your business and intended demographic before you even name your business or begin trading, this way you have an identity will stand out in the market place. 'Sonning Post-natal Regenerative Studios' is a better name than 'Kangaroo Fitness' just because everything you ever do will act as a marketing tool - from T-shirts to Yellow Pages, everyone knows exactly what you do and where to find you. If you start to expand you can add trading names or all sort later on, don't worry about boxing your self in as you need to start out by surviving. Making your services stand out is crucial in order to be successful in such a competitive market.

Define your Goals in Advance

Start out with where you need to be to succeed and then start working backwards so that you can roadmap the activities you must complete to reach your objectives.

If, like many personal trainers, your marketing goals centre around growing your customer base then that is a very common goal which means you must be aware that you are following a common path. Keep that in mind as you plan and add extra touches to ensure that you stand out.

Basic questions to begin your customer base building plan will include :

  • Who are my target audience going to be - do some research on which areas are the most and least affluent and work out where your pricing will fit in. What age will you be aiming at? Make up a profile of your ideal demographic and decide what will appeal to them.
  • How many new customers do I want to win over the next six months? What will be the average profit from each customer interaction and what are your costs? Where do you need to be in six months?
  • What am I going to do to reach these new prospects? What sort of advertising or online marketing is going to be effective in order to reach out to these people?
  • How do I influence them to join up - what is special about my service?

As you are planning business objectives, you should bear in mind your current workload. Although less important at the very beginning as there are fewer customers to appease, you must ensure you will continue to be capable of providing the highest level of service to your existing customers and to any that you may subsequently win .

Marketing methods

Now that you have determined your goals, you must assemble a plan for the marketing techniques you will use to reach those objectives. Planning an integrated marketing strategy is the most effective way of achieving results and whilst assembling your plan, consider the following techniques:

Lets start with the simplest and easiest methods of getting yourself noticed as a business - as already mentioned, it is vital that you are aware you are joining a vast industry that you need to assert you place in, and that you are going to struggle just by joining the group of local personal trainers in the Yellow Pages. Hopefully you have already chosen a niche that you passionately believe in and that you have a bit of elbow room with in your locality. If so, then you can start with very modest means and receive decent results.

Leafleting local houses and people is a great way to get yourself noticed. If you are a local trainer then you can be sure that most of customers will not be travelling that far at first and that a well designed flyer by a professional with a unique selling proposal. Do not just make up your own unless you have some real training in this area - first impressions last and you need to give the right one - and a colourful and beautiful flyer will be the one that they notice when they collect the post from the doormat. 

Clothing and Poster Advertising Is there a local marathon? Are you going to enter? Some bespoke running shirts always go down well - clothing in general is a great idea in fact, as people often wear what ever is available to the gym and that is your hunting ground, full of great prospects! Posters at the local gym are a great means of advertising too, if you can get the right spot.

SEO (search engine optimisation) is a service provided to you by web development company and involves optimising your website so that it is search engine friendly and easy to locate is crucial in the competitive fitness industry. SEO is highly dependent on you having found a niche for your business in the first place and can be a tricky prospect unless your web developer really know their stuff. SEO works best when you are running a blog on your website that you constantly update with new fitness videos etc. to help your prospective customers understand why you are different and more effective than the competition.

PPC (pay per click marketing) Paying per click simply means that, instead of paying a web designer to get you to the top of Google search results, you pay Google direct to be included in the 'Ad' space above the top results. This is a great way of getting prospects quickly but you must be careful of other trainers clicking on your adverts to charge you unnecessarily. You start a campaign with Google by choosing certain keywords and writing an advert to go with them. your advert will then appear at a certain placement based upon the bid you have agreed to pay if anyone clicks upon your advert, whereupon they are taken to your website. Adwords can get expensive quite quickly so set out a daily budget in advance of trying it and set that budget up immediately, and always keep at least a couple of differently worded Ads running so you can learn what works for your customers and what doesn't. You will need to keep an eye on your competition too as prices often rise with a new competitor in the local market.

Social media marketing There are now over two billion users on social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and marketing your business through such websites can bring tremendous rewards. It should be noted however that as there are two billion other users on these platforms, making an impact can be hard work. Professional looking videos are expensive and time-consuming to produce and there are so many to compete with. Keeping your sites and blogs up-to-date and of the highest quality will help you and your services stay engaged with your customers which is essential to keep up with the competition in social media. Unless you are looking to broadcast lessons online or have a worldwide following this can be the wrong way to go at first.

Email marketing With the new regulations being implemented in 2018, email marketing will become much more highly regulated. As long as you persuade prospective customers to sign up to your marketing lists and they agree to the terms by which you keep and use their data then you can continue to use email marketing. Repeatedly contacting prospects with deals and offers can set you give you an advantage over other competitors in the market.

Referral incentives Your existing customers can often be the best way to spread the word amongst the local community. Incentives for referring friends and family can be a great way to earn new business, particularly in the fitness industry. Cash rewards, free sessions or vouchers are other popular methods encouraging people to recruit their friends to sign up.

Traditional Media advertising Advertising through radio, television and printed publications can be expensive but providing that you carefully select the most relevant places to advertise, can generate great return on investment.