I’ve been coaching for 10 years, and I can say that I have lost more than I have been able to keep. In fact, I have lost a lot—the equivalent of two years’ worth of experience in just two months. I have found that the “three steps” method of marketing that Cade Burrett advocates is the foundation of his coaching and his marketing methods.
The biggest challenge for most people, when they start getting coaching clients, is that it can feel like a struggle—and it is a struggle at times. You put in all this effort, you’re on a roll, and then you get stalled and stalls can suck. But “stalling” is not what it sounds like. Stalling is really just the failure to keep on moving forward. And here’s the good news: you can break the stall. You can overcome it. In fact, you have to.
Getting (and keeping) more clients is a skill you’ll need to master whether you’re new to the health and fitness sector or have been coaching for a while. Here’s how to take a three-tiered approach to improving your marketing and growing your business.
Stacey, a friend of mine, used to be one of the top fitness models and figure competitors in the world. She has won numerous professional figure competitions. The largest health and fitness magazines featured her on their covers. Appeared on television shows on the major networks.
She was living in her parent’s basement at the height of her celebrity, just scraping by as a personal trainer.
Surprised? It’s a little-known reality that physique competitors don’t make much money competing in fitness competitions or doing magazine picture assignments. Even network television shows are underpaid.
Stacey was a household name in the fitness industry, but her notoriety came at a cost. At the very least, she could use her celebrity to attract clients, right?
Not at all.
Even with her celebrity, she didn’t seem to be getting many more clients than she had been previously. (Of course, she didn’t have much time to build her personal training business or even serve her existing clients because she was so busy with figure shows, photo shoots, and auditions.)
Please don’t misunderstand me. Stacey has accomplished some impressive feats. She has put in a lot of effort. Her accolades, fitness modeling triumphs, network appearances, and magazine covers are all things she is proud of.
There is, however, an essential lesson to be learned here.
Stacey, like many others in the health and fitness industry — both seasoned pros and newcomers — felt that renowned meant wealthy. People in a variety of sectors believe that “getting exposure” or chasing recognition will help them make a decent living.
However, this is quite rare.
That’s why, if you want to obtain (and keep) more coaching clients, I recommend doing the polar opposite.
What’s the difference between fame and success?
Coaches that are financially successful and have a significant impact in this field, in my view, rarely focus on themselves (i.e. personal fame).
Instead, they concentrate on their customers.
to be more specific
- They concentrate on determining what their clientele truly require and desire.
- Then they give it in a spectacular manner.
Sure, they do get renowned from time to time. They aren’t looking for fame, though.
Instead, they’re concentrating on doing the best work for the best people. They’re getting better at coaching. They are adamant on providing excellent service to their customers.
Personal achievements, such as being published in a magazine or winning a competition, are satisfying. They’re also entertaining. They aren’t, however, business opportunities.
They don’t make the proverbial rubber meet the road. They don’t entice folks to come to you. They don’t assist you in growing your coaching practice or honing your coaching abilities. They also don’t create your business in a real, practical, show-me-the-money, pay-your-rent-on-time way.
In fact, focusing too much on your own achievements can easily divert your attention away from the things that can genuinely help you succeed and make a difference.
Fitness celebrity is reserved for those who obsess over themselves.
People who think a lot about their future and actual clientele are more likely to succeed in the fitness industry.
How do you go about doing that?
This is where the “Tripod Marketing Formula” comes in.
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The Tripod Marketing Methodology
Consider a tripod, which has three legs that are evenly spaced and properly balanced.
When you remove one of the tripod’s legs, it collapses. To be complete, a tripod must have all three legs.
Now take that notion and apply it to marketing.
- Step 1: Discover what your community / market truly desires.
- Step 2: Deliver that thing in a spectacular way.
- Step 3: Make sure everyone knows about it.
Consider your own coaching practice: are you trying to balance it on one or two legs like a tripod?
You may have a good idea of what your neighbors want… Do you, however, know how to give it? Then go around telling everyone about it?
More than likely, you believe you know what your target market wants and needs. However, you have no way of knowing for sure. As a result, what you provide them may or may not be appropriate.
I know what I’m talking about since I’ve been there.
What I learned from receiving candid comments from clients
We used to believe that people who signed up for our coaching programs did so because they wanted to be healthy and fit.
Maybe they wanted to slim down. Perhaps they wanted to bulk up. We assumed that as soon as they achieved their physical goal, they would be satisfied.
We were mistaken.
I saw a review from a former client a few years ago. She was asked if she would suggest our program to others. The gist of her response was as follows:
It is not something I would suggest. I lost weight, but I never felt like I had a strong connection with my coach. I didn’t require much assistance from her. But I’m not sure how much help I would have gotten if I had needed it. As a result, no. It is not something I would suggest.
By the way, this woman shed nearly 50 pounds while working with us.
I was taken aback.
We had assumed that if ladies like her lost weight and kept it off, they would be happy. Especially if they’d already tried and failed with other applications. (Which she possessed.)
It turned out that she couldn’t endorse us for an entirely different and fair reason:
She had the impression that no one cared.
She didn’t believe she was being heard or understood.
Losing weight was a good bonus, but it wasn’t enough.
Step 1: How do you figure out what your clients want?
People who are passionate about health and fitness, both amateurs and professionals, frequently assume they know what people want when it comes to eating and exercise: to “look good naked,” to enhance their blood panels, or to improve their sport.
And while that’s definitely part of the reason they hired us, it’s not the whole picture.
We make a guess. We can only speculate. But there’s no way of knowing for sure.
Studying people is the best method to discover what is truly important to them.
In the instance of, I understood we needed to learn more about what our clients really wanted, and understand it better.
We spent months interviewing clients and conducting exit surveys with those who had completed our coaching program. We wanted to know why they were departing, despite the fact that their physical results were excellent.
For us, this exercise—and the humiliating yet profound data and insight it produced—was a watershed moment.
Business boomed as we figured out exactly what our clientele wanted.
Our clients felt better treated and more engaged as a result of our efforts.
We were happier and more fulfilled at work.
And I’m convinced that this strategy will work for you as well.
To that aim, I recommend that you train to be a “anthropologist” of your clientele (or potential clients).
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Watch. Pay attention to the things that make them thrilled and light up. Take note of their self-expression and body language. Look for minor details that can reveal more about them and what they’re looking for.
- Listen. Pay attention to what they’re saying and ask follow-up questions to make sure you’re getting it. Before offering counsel, pause for a moment or two.
- Stop making assumptions. Begin to be certain. Inquire directly about their preferences, desires, and requirements. They might not know right immediately, but it’s better to work around the “not sure” than to not inquire at all and get it completely wrong.
- Observe. What websites do your prospects frequent? What social media networks do they utilize, what types of content do they like and share, and what kinds of things do they reply to?
- Find out what happened to them. What brought them to see you today? Why not six months ago, or in six months? What chain of circumstances led them to your doorstep today?
- Inquire about comments. Pose probing questions and provide a secure setting in which they can respond honestly. Yes, it can be unsettling, but it can also be quite beneficial if you have the courage to take a risk and truly absorb the information.
Try a method like Jobs to be Done if you want to delve further. (That’s what we do, and it’s what we encourage.)
Step 2: Figure out how to deliver that thing in an excellent way.
We discovered that everyone who hired us had the same goal in mind:
They desired one-on-one attention. However, they didn’t necessary desire a large amount of it.
Another way to look at it is that they desired to be pleasantly surprised by personalized service. Outside of the context of a typical coaching engagement, they desired to be cared for and appreciated.
So it wasn’t enough to swiftly react to their emails and offer advice when needed. We needed to discover clever ways to demonstrate our clients we were paying attention, especially when they were least expecting it, in order to provide them what they genuinely needed.
It didn’t have to be difficult.
For example, we altered our client’s “intake questionnaire” in a way that made it much easier to add a personal touch.
When a new client first came in, they had to fill out a lengthy form detailing everything from their prior fitness and nutrition experience to their personal goals and any injuries or diseases they had.
But, armed with our new knowledge (that people crave unanticipated personal attention), we added a few more questions, such as:
- Do you own any animals? If so, what kind of animal are you talking about, and what is your pet’s name?
- If you fulfill your objectives, how will you reward yourself? (Are you planning a long trip somewhere? Attempt a new sport or pastime?)
We also made certain that coaches had easy access to this crucial information about their clients.
Every customer quickly developed a “profile,” which their coach could access to view things like:
- The workout and nutrition history of their clients
- Where they used to dwell
- Their pet’s and family members’ names
- Their pastimes and recreational activities
- Their ambitions and goals
- How they intended to reward themselves once they had achieved their objectives
- There are plenty of other data points as well.
Our coaches could now provide workout and nutrition advice to their clients, as well as personalize their interactions with them in subtle but significant ways.
They began by adding basic comments such as:
Make careful to stay warm out there this week; it looks like you’re in for a big snowstorm.
Hey, I see your birthday is approaching. Are you making any plans?
I hope you don’t mind, but I just gave you and Sparky a box of these sweet potato doggie treats. Please let me know what he has to say!
It may not appear to be much.
When working with an online client, though, any form of personal connection—especially a few of unexpected sentences—is accentuated and appreciated.
So. Consider your current routine.
How could you provide this kind of surprise personal attention to the people you serve?
Jon Goodman, the founder of the Personal Training Development Center, popularized one of my favorite methods (the PTDC).
In a nutshell, this is his strategy:
Take advantage of any chance to do something cool (and quick) for your client.
Let’s imagine your customer tells you after one of your training sessions that he’s tired of eating the same meal every morning.
You can try to make some advice to him right now.
However, there is a more deliberate and personal method to demonstrate your concern.
After your session, make a mental note of the following:
Bill despises having oatmeal for breakfast every day.
Gather a few recipes and mail them to him.
Prepare your gift before your next meeting with Bill. It may be a simple link to a breakfast-related article. It may be a list of your favorite breakfasts, along with instructions on how to prepare them. It might be anything from a cookbook to a Magic Bullet blender. If you enjoy pretending to be a chef, you might make him some easy homemade granola and put it in a Mason jar with the instructions. (This is very hipster.)
Whatever it is, give it to Bill the next time you have a session with him and tell him:
Hey, after our last session, I was thinking about you and thought you’d enjoy this.
Why is this seemingly insignificant act so powerful?
1. Bill is taken aback. It’s lovely to tell Bill that you’ll purchase him a cookbook or jot down your favorite breakfast recipe, but it’s also an explicit commitment.
Bill will be pleased if you keep your word. But if you don’t keep your word—if you forget to bring the cookbook or don’t have time to write down your ideas—Bill will lose faith in you.
You’re demonstrating that you listen and care by penning a message to yourself and surprising Bill with the gift the next time you meet him.
It’s unanticipated one-on-one attention.
2. It demonstrates that you are still thinking about them after they leave the gym. And it all boils down to how you present your gifts:
Hey, after our last session, I was thinking about you and thought you’d enjoy this.
Who doesn’t want to be remembered and cared for even if they aren’t present?
Step 3: How would you inform everyone about it?
We wanted to inform everyone about it once we worked out what our clients needed (unexpected personal attention) and how to offer it awesomely (small, smart remarks and superior coaching intel).
The goal became evident quickly: find a means to share our story to a larger audience.
For an online business, this entails increasing the number of visitors to our website.
More website traffic, of course, means more people sign up for our coaching programs (especially if they’re genuine prospects interested in what we have to offer). We generate more money when more people join our coaching programs. More people are receiving assistance. Plus, as we earn more money, we will be able to pay our employees well and assist many more individuals!
The cycle repeats itself indefinitely.
(Illusion busted: revenues aren’t used to fund opulent parties, artisanal kale-and-caviar canapés, or Dr. Berardi’s private invisible supersonic jet.) All of our profits are reinvested in bettering our ability to serve additional clients.)
But… how do we recruit additional people? What’s more, how do you find the proper people?
You’re undoubtedly asking yourself this question. There are a plethora of choices available. None of these are inherently “correct” or “incorrect.”
Do you, for example:
- Write additional blog entries and articles aimed at the types of people who are most likely to enroll in your programs?
- Write guest posts for other sites in exchange for a link back to your own?
- How can you expand your referral network and attract more affiliates who can drive more traffic to your website?
- Improve the SEO (search engine optimization) of your website and run more targeted ads?
- Put strategic promoted posts on Facebook that link to helpful articles and free courses for those who have connections who know about your business?
- Or do you opt for one of a half-dozen other possibilities?
Although your coaching practice may differ from ours, business fundamentals remain the same: there is only so much time, money, energy, and resources to go around.
You must prioritize and concentrate. Choose a path. And you should have a sound, data-driven justification for it.
We chose the option with the best chance of paying off big: promoted Facebook posts targeted at people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who knew people who
This was chosen for a variety of reasons:
We already had a sizable following on Facebook: slightly over 100,000 at the time. That meant we could potentially reach millions of friends of friends.
We discovered one significant aspect through our customer interviews and research: people were more willing to join our coaching program if someone they knew (a friend, family member, or acquaintance) had tried it and succeeded.
We were already getting about 10,000 weekly website visitors from Facebook; in other words, we had an established relationship with room to grow.
We spent the following two weeks devising a plan and budget for running Facebook sponsored posts before implementing it.
Ka-blam. Our weekly Facebook traffic increased from roughly 10,000 to just under 100,000 visits in just a few weeks. More individuals visited our website, learned about the great things we’re doing, and signed up for our programs as a result.
But let’s be clear about something:
There is no one-size-fits-all diet, and there is no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy.
It’s possible that the strategy that worked for us won’t work for you.
(Plus, marketing is pointless unless you’ve taken the effort to get to know your customers and committed resources to delivering something exceptional.) First and first, focus on creating something worthwhile that people truly desire, and then figure out how to market it.)
Concentrate on one or two strategies that will help you connect with your audience the most (or your potential audience). Examine the information you have about your clients and/or the people you want to work with. What does it teach you about where to find more people and how to get them to find you?
Choose the option that generates the highest number of qualifying leads. In other words, the folks who are most likely to buy and benefit from your goods or service.
Numbers alone aren’t enough. Anyone with a printer can print a thousand fliers and distribute them throughout the area.
Instead, consider the following:
What is the demographic of my ideal audience? And how do I get in touch with them?
(By the way, go back to Tripod Leg #1: Know Your Audience if you’re not clear who your target audience is.)
Collect the information. Examine your current roster (assuming you have a decent one that represents your ideal client) and ask yourself, “How did these folks hear about me?”
You might see a pattern right away (e.g. most of your ideal clients heard about you from a friend or family member). Once you’ve discovered a pattern, you can look for ways to repeat it.
What to do next: Here are some suggestions from.
Recognize the distinction between a personal achievement and a corporate plan.
Consider things from a practical standpoint.
Don’t mix your own greatness (plenty as it is) with practical business strategy like client interviews, new service creation, and marketing or referral planning.
Turn on the lights first.
Turn on the lights first.
People don’t care if you’re a superstar, to be brutally honest. They’re interested in seeing if you can assist them with their specific issues.
We noticed that our clientele were looking for more than just better health and fitness. They also desired unanticipated individual attention.
Make it your duty to learn everything you can about your prospects and discover what they genuinely desire.
Begin by paying attention more intently. Make a career as an anthropologist. Ask inquiries, keep an eye on what’s going on, and take notes. Then, if you’re ready for prospect studies 2.0, try a technique like Jobs-to-be-Done.
To deliver that thing, do something amazing.
We devised a more in-depth questionnaire for prospective clients and gave our coaches more conveniently available data to give them more unexpected personal attention. Our coaches were then able to reach out to customers in a smart manner and provide value when they were least expecting it.
Follow Jon Goodman’s rule: whenever there’s an opportunity to do something cool (and quick), seize it.
Don’t notify your friends or family that you’re planning to do it. Don’t be a cynic about it. They’ll be surprised. Make them aware that you are thinking of them.
Make a list of all the different ways you can tell people about it.
Keep in mind that your resources are limited. Like a laser beam, concentrate your efforts. Prioritize.
Make use of data. Look for a pattern. Take a look at your present roster (or your prospects) and think about how they found out about you.
Simply improve and magnify what’s currently working once you’ve identified a pattern.
If you’re a coach or wish to be one…
It’s both an art and a science to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a way that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.
Consider the Level 1 Certification if you want to learn more about both.
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