Cash in on the lucrative practice of selling products to colleagues.
If you’ve ever looked into creating a product for fitness consumers, you’ve probably noticed that this market is saturated with weight-loss and shape-up tools. On the other hand, a less-crowded but increasingly profitable market is that of fitness professionals—your colleagues. As more people enter the fitness profession and the industry becomes more competitive, business-to-business sales are fast becoming a burgeoning and well-paying arena.
In a business-to-business (or B2B) transaction, one professional or company sells products or services to other professionals or companies rather than to consumers. You might be most familiar with large, established fitness companies selling B2B products and services such as equipment, books and certifications.
However, a growing number of individual fitness professionals are profiting from this arena as well—and without big marketing or production budgets. These fitness pros affordably develop and sell information products, such as CDs, DVDs, teleseminars and e-books. Learn why items like these are profitable, and glean ideas for products—as well as strategies for selling them.
An information product is “any product or service that you can sell to people to provide them with information, usually about a specific topic,” according to Fred Gleeck, author of Selling Information: How You Can Create, Market and Sell Knowledge in Any Field! (Fast Forward Press 2004).
Information products might teach fitness professionals how to launch or improve some aspect of their fitness careers; for example, setting up and marketing specialty workouts or selling more personal training packages. See the “For Fitness Professionals by Fitness Professionals” sidebar for more examples.
Selling information products can be rewarding in terms of helping other fitness pros—and increasing your income. Before Tampa, Florida, resident Jim Labadie became a full-time info-entrepreneur and fitness business coach, he was a personal trainer and owner of an in-home training business for 5 years. “I love helping fitness pros improve their business skills so they can earn more money and stay in the fitness industry,” he says. “This is an easy business to get into, but a tough one to stay in.”
A personal trainer’s income is largely restricted to hours worked and clients serviced, so making a comfortable—or even highly profitable—living while avoiding burnout can be a challenge. Selling information products as a sideline to your training career helps solve this problem. “All the limitations that are inherent to training no longer apply,” says Tony Reynolds, MS, president of Progressive Sporting Systems Inc. in Terre Haute, Indiana, and creator of several information products, including Trainer ClipArt and trainer scheduling software.
“With training, you are going to hit your ceiling for potential income quickly, and it may not be all that much money,” says Reynolds. Offering B2B information products means you don’t have to worry about reaching a cap on the fees you charge clients or losing income when you’re not actually training. “I can take a vacation or a day off without worrying about trading hours for dollars,” says former personal trainer Ryan Lee, a fitness entrepreneur and creator of dozens of best-selling business resources and fitness info products in New Canaan, Connecticut.
When you collect revenue whether you’re at the gym or at the movies, you’re earning passive income because you don’t have to be actively working to make money. “With passive income streams (especially with information products), the amount of money you can make is virtually unlimited,” says Lee.
“One of the best feelings in the world,” adds Labadie, “is how excited you get when you wake up in the morning, check your e-mail and discover you made money while you were asleep.”
Your potential for a higher hourly rate also increases, especially compared to what you can reasonably charge clients for an hour of your training time. “Products create what I call escalating hourly income,” explains Reynolds. “You may spend 50 hours creating a product and an hour or two a week promoting it, but once it’s done, it’s done! Every time you make a sale, that income goes toward the number of hours you spent creating the product.”
Why produce B2B products as opposed to resources geared to the millions of consumers in need of fitness guidance? Creating B2B products can be more attainable and far less expensive and time-consuming than preparing a book or a competitive workout DVD for consumers. If you know your way around a computer, you can produce e-books, special reports and even audio CDs. You might choose to develop and distribute the products yourself or arrange for a fulfillment company to do these tasks for a minimal cost.
Another reason to consider B2B ventures, says Lee, is that fitness professionals—like any market segmented by occupation—are easy to reach. “They all attend the same industry trade shows, read the same magazines and visit the same websites,” he says. Plus, you probably already know this niche market very well.
Even within the fitness industry, though, it’s important to narrow your scope. “Don’t try to sell to everyone; laser-focus on your market and dominate it,” says Lee, whose products include a kit showing fitness professionals how to create their own information products. “There are so many niche markets in the fitness industry (for example, seniors, athletes, Baby Boomers, soccer moms) that every professional can carve out a very nice business.”
Once you have sharpened your focus, research your target market (an easy task if you also belong to that market). “Create products that answer [your potential customers’] questions and fulfill [their] needs and desires,” says Reynolds. And establish a unique selling proposition, or USP, to make you and your product stand out, says Labadie, creator of the Ultimate Sales Kit for Fitness Professionals, among other products.
For Reynolds, writing articles that included athlete workouts led to the development of his first product. “I was spending absurd amounts of time explaining the exercises,” he says. So, with the help of a graphic designer, Reynolds created a series of exercise illustrations. “After I published two articles using the new clip art, other authors started asking where I got those illustrations. I decided to turn [them] into a product.”
The easiest way to make your product accessible to customers is through your website. Setting up an online automated system to accept credit card payments makes your product available worldwide.
However, cautions Labadie, “you don’t just put up a website and have every trainer on earth beating down your door for your product. You have to make a credible offer and be seen as an expert on your product’s topic.”
How? Labadie suggests sending complimentary copies of your product to well-known professionals (in your target market) and asking if they would consider writing a product testimonial for your website. “Establish yourself as an expert,” he adds, “by getting your name out there with article writing and speaking.”
Other effective ways to sell your products include setting up an affiliate program through which other fitness pros sell your products on their websites for a commission and/or placing your products in relevant catalogs.
To make significant money selling information products, Labadie says, you don’t want to stop at just one. “The first sale to a customer is just the start. If they like your stuff, they are going to want more.”
However, you certainly don’t have to forfeit your training career to reap the benefits of this exciting profit center. “I foresee my focus shifting away from the training end of the business a bit, but I will always be involved in it,” says Reynolds. “[Training] is my true passion, and it fuels all the other tangents my career has taken.”
Below are some examples of business-to-business information products created by fitness professionals.
- “Secrets to Scoring Publicity in Top Women’s Fitness Magazines”: an audio CD containing insider tips for promoting yourself and your products and services in widely read health and fitness magazines; www.activevoice.ca
- “How to Write Winning Queries”: an online workshop on how to sell your article ideas to editors and consistently get paid for your writing; www.amandavogel.com
- Fitness Information Products Program: step-by-step instructions on how to create info products, including target market, pricing, production and website considerations; www.fitnessinfoproducts.com
- FitnessGenerator: an all-in-one tool for breaking into online training; www.fitnessgenerator.com
- The Ultimate Sales Kit for Fitness Professionals: no-pressure sales tactics for successfully selling your personal training services; www.howtoget moreclients.com
- The Ultimate Referral Kit for Fitness Professionals: tips on how to generate endless referrals from your existing personal training clients; www.howtogenerate referrals.com
- Trainer ClipArt: more than 1,000 professionally illustrated strength and conditioning high-resolution images; www.trainerclipart.com
You Focus on Your Product More Than Your Market. Instead of telling everyone how wonderful your product is, convey how wonderful it will make your customers’ lives.
You’re Waiting for Perfection. Trying to create a perfect product may stall your success; just create a quality item and sell it.
You Neglect Marketing. Just as you must constantly promote your services to obtain personal training clients, you must constantly promote your products to sell them.