By Justin Price, MA
Marketing Your Start-Up
Use these proven strategies to attract clients from the first day you open for business. This article, the fourth in a five-part series on starting your own personal training business, will discuss the different methods of marketing your services. Word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective way of getting and keeping clients. Just as important, it's virtually free! As the opening day of your new business draws near, you want to create as much buzz as possible. You probably have a ready-made client base consisting of people you currently train in other facilities. Use these clients to increase your word-of-mouth presence. Send invitations to an opening party and encourage your clients to invite family, friends and coworkers. To motivate attendance, include tickets for door prizes in the invitations. Ask your clients for their input on the best way to approach your opening day. Many of them are successful in their own businesses and would undoubtedly love to talk about their experiences. Approaching clients for their input also puts your facility opening at the front of their minds and gets them talking about you to their peers. Encourage word-of-mouth advertising by offering your current clients incentives such as discounted rates for referrals or free sessions. Creating a company binder for distribution to clients and potential clients is another way to generate business. Include a list of all your services, some sample exercises and other relevant information. Prepare a professional-looking document with the name of your new facility shown clearly on the front. You could also print T-shirts that display your new business name. These types of materials encourage people to talk about you and the wonderful service you provide. Your pricing strategy (which you clarified in your business plan--see June 2004 IDEA Trainer Success) will influence the best type of marketing for you. If you plan to keep your prices down, you need to attract a large number of clients in order to make a profit. Achieve this by launching a massive advertising campaign that gets your name out to as many people as possible. Consider flyers, radio spots, print ads, brochures and e-mail newsletters. You can create marketing materials yourself with computer software pro-
Word of Mouth
grams like Microsoft Publisher or Adobe Acrobat. However, hiring a marketing expert will help you develop professional materials that will give your facility the image it deserves. You may have the best service in the world, but without the right packaging, it is very difficult to attract people who don't know that yet! Ask your clients for referrals to marketing specialists or get advice from other health professionals. Have three or four marketing experts submit proposals with samples of their work and a pricing plan. You will need to provide the expert you choose with continuous feedback. Only you know the business image you want to portray. The marketing person's job is to present your ideas in a way that will make it easy for prospective clients to see what it is that you do so well. Another excellent way to inform people of your new facility and services is to send press releases to local television stations, community magazines and newspapers. (See "Writing a Press Release" below.)
Keep in mind that editors want to know how your story will affect their audience. Study various publications to see what type of news is covered, the kinds of companies that advertise in them, and any other information that will familiarize you with your potential audience. Then take the following steps to prepare a press release that editors will be likely to print:
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