Has your client intake list leveled off? Or worse, taken a nosedive? While your skills and expertise may be up to par, the message or image you present might be hampering your progress.
“[The health and fitness industry is] a particularly crowded professional space, so standing out with a different message is really tough,” explains Lauryn Bennett, startup brand strategy consultant at www.lauryn bennett.com. To really stand out, she urges, professionals must analyze and create a more appealing identity. Bennett offers this advice:
Do what you say. This may seem simple, but it’s the top rule that companies break. They say they’re the best “this” or strongest “that,” and they just can’t back it up when it comes to putting their offering where their mouth is. If you say you’re all about service, you can’t answer emails 3 days after you receive them, or refuse to put the time in on Twitter when you’ve put your handle on every marketing material you have.
Focus on the how. In the fitness industry, differentiating yourself by what you say is hard: It’s tough to go to market with a message that’s not some variation of “I’ll help you look and feel better.” So it’s important to think about how you bring your message to market—your brand’s personality, voice, look and feel, and even the actions it takes. Let’s say you and your brand are different because you care about your clients more than your competitors do. Choose a color palette that’s warm and approachable (e.g., not black and red) and use pronouns and contractions in your language to show you’re inviting and casual. You might also offer in-home or in-office consults; late-night or early-morning hours; and flexible cancellation policies to prove you back up what you say you believe in.
Understand their world. While you may live in a fitness-oriented world 23 hours a day, your potential customers probably don’t. They’re interacting with dozens of other industries and hundreds of other brands online and off. So when you’re thinking about your website’s design or your app’s user experience, the bar is not your fitness competition, but your clients’ favorite websites and apps. You needn’t hold yourself to the same standard as Simple or Mint, but keep in mind that half the reason why Nike+, FitBit and Jawbone’s UP™ do so well is they’re fun to use. Start small by moving your website and blog from the less design-focused Blogspot or WordPress to Squarespace, or to Shopify if you’re doing some e-commerce work.