Simple Steps to Self-Promotion
These six core strategies will boost your market presence.
Being a successful entrepreneur requires a solid foundation, a trust-building sales cycle process, appropriate pricing and consultative selling. However, if people don’t know about you, it’s almost impossible to build the fitness business of your dreams. This is why self-promotion is so important. This article explores the ins and outs of this key practice and explains how to make it work for you.
Core Self-Promotion Strategies
Before you zone in on the details of making connections work for you, it’s important to take a step back and audit your current marketing position (see “Awareness Audit,” below, for more.) There may be some steps you need to take before you can successfully move forward with the following six core self-promotion strategies, three of which are mandatory and three optional.
Let’s begin with the three strategies you must commit to using every day.
Mandatory Self-Promotion Strategies
This strategy is different from what you might envision. Instead of schmoozing at formal meet-and-greet events, prioritize connecting and sharing with people you already know to deepen the relationship.
Audience: These are potential leads and partners with whom you already have a relationship.
Get started: Make a list of 90 people you’d like to know better. These are people who could become clients themselves, introduce you to other leads or enhance your business in some other way. Track your interactions, and aim to engage in a one-on-one exchange, at minimum, every 30 days. Remember, in this context, networking is about deepening relationships with potential clients and partners.
Goal: You want to develop deeper relationships and, when the time is right, get these people into your sales cycle or otherwise engaged in a business-to-business opportunity.
Networking uses one-to-one outreach mediums such as email, direct messages, texting, phone calls, web meetings and even face-to-face interactions, which can happen formally or informally. Reach out with the intention to share who you know, what you know and how you feel. Enhance the relationship and expect nothing in return.
As your relationship progresses, there may be natural opportunities to work together, whether as a client or a partner. Try to send three to five messages each day to the people on your list. As they become clients or business partners, they’ll move off this list to make way for more leads.
Direct outreach is similar to the networking strategy, but the focus shifts to connecting with a fresh group of people.
Audience: These are prospective clients, referral partners and influencers you don’t know . . . but would like to.
Get started: Make a list of 20 people you’d like to meet, and initiate contact with them via social media, email, phone or something similar (without being pushy).
Goal: Create a relationship with potential clients and partners with the intention to move them from direct outreach to networking and then into your sales cycle over time.
Direct outreach also includes one-to-one interaction. However, before you hit “send,” do a bit of research and consider how best to position yourself so you don’t come across as disingenuous or otherwise “spammy.” Follow the contact on social media and engage from afar.
Eventually, as you understand more about what motivates the person, what they’re looking for and how you might bring value to their lives (or vice versa), you can find authentic ways to begin the conversation. Try to interact with at least one person on your direct outreach list daily, aiming to fall into a regular cadence of back-and-forth conversation over time.
Your referral strategy leverages current clients and partners to identify potential customers and partners. Depending on the type of referral, the new contact may eventually land on your direct outreach or networking list. Hopefully, the personal connection to someone who trusts you will help fast-forward the “courtship” and move the lead into your sales cycle, which means you don’t have to work quite as hard or long to land the client. However, for this strategy to work, you must be proactive.
Audience: These are prospective clients, referral partners and influencers you’re introduced to via other people in your network or sales cycle.
Get started: Create evergreen referral opportunities for clients and partners, a system for asking for the referral, and a way to track them.
Goal: The plan is to add potential clients and partners to your direct outreach list, networking list or sales cycle.
Most of us already know the power of referrals and, most likely, have some available. However, many of us fall short by not asking for referrals daily. Each day, strive to create a welcome place for a client or partner to pass someone your way via a warm introduction instead of waiting until you need leads.
See also: Strategic Self-Promotion for Fitness Pros
Optional Self-Promotion Strategies
While the mandatory strategies are a daily must if you want to successfully promote your business, the three optional ones are to be used less frequently and are not all necessary. While they can supercharge your efforts, they should only be used after you’ve consistently used the mandatory strategies, which should be routine.
Whether someone is promoting you or you organize your own opportunities, public speaking is a great way to establish yourself as a credible resource and get your message out into the world. Today, there are more ways than ever before to speak on stages large and small, including events with a live audience, events you set up yourself, and online options such as webinars or social media broadcasts.
Remember to provide a way to capture attendees’ contact information, either before or after, to keep in touch over time and make sales offers.
Whether your writing is self-published or published by others, digital or in print, this is another way to enhance your credibility as a category authority. You can easily repurpose your writing in other self-promotion efforts, such as in social media posts, webinars or other communiqués.
It has never been easier to self-publish, so consider creating short or long e-books, blogs, articles, or even lengthier social media posts that showcase your knowledge. And, of course, remember to use your writing as a way to get people to follow you, go to your website or otherwise engage with you so that you can continue to get to know them over time and offer options for jumping into your sales cycle.
You might be surprised to learn that your web strategy is considered optional. Yes, a professionally designed website that is up to date and well maintained is a must if you want to start conversations with potential clients. Not only does it help build trust and credibility, but it also shows your investable opportunities. The “optional” part of your web strategy centers around activating a few more bells and whistles to generate awareness and activity.
First, be sure you build an effective website, and hire a professional to do this for you if you don’t have this skill. Once you’ve established a solid foundation, it’s easy to build a presence that speaks to your ideal client’s values. It demonstrates how dedicated you are to those in your target market, their needs and desires, and the biggest result that you help them get. The other five self-promotion strategies can send people back to your site—your home base—to confirm all they’ve seen out in the world, which deepens the trust.
Here are three of the most critical, easy-to-understand, tried-and-true techniques and strategies for generating more traffic to your site:
- Learn about search engine optimization (SEO).
- Cross-promote through partners.
- Put your URL in your email signature and social media.
Once people are on your site, be sure you have a few ways to connect, such as enticing them with your freebie, encouraging them to sign up for your email newsletter, and including a footer that includes contact info and a form to email you directly, as well as your social media handles.
Plan for Success
Being successful requires you to identify the actions needed to play the long game. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, you do have a business. Therefore, you must get clear on what you do, who you do it for and what you hope to achieve. Then you can focus on developing multiple ways for clients to work with you, and you won’t have to use hardcore sales tactics because people will be coming to you.
This article is the fourth part of a series that ran in IDEA Fit Business Success.
Awareness Audit: Are You On the Right Track?
The following three promotion statements will help you better understand where you are now and where you want to go.
Marketing doesn’t get you clients—it just gets you awareness. Awareness is essential, but what people discover after you gain their attention can make or break your business. You must develop and demonstrate your “who,” “what” and “why” and offer a range of services that allows potential clients to find their best fit once they find you. You have to build trust. No matter how good your marketing is, if you don’t put all these pieces in place, you risk quickly losing your leads, and then you’ll have to work harder to pull people into your world.
Marketing must be more than advertising, promotions, lead magnets and click funnels. You will need to ask for the sale from time to time. However, the self-promotion plan discussed here makes this strategic. It will be placed at the right time and based on the amount of trust someone has in you. In other words, trust becomes proportionate to the offer. Your asks should be 20% of your total outreach, while 80% is valuable information. Resist the urge to spam the airwaves with promotions, which risks turning people off. Instead, aim to make plenty of “deposits” in potential clients’ and partners’ “piggy banks” by consistently showing up and providing valuable information.
Social media is great, but it shouldn’t be your only outlet. Social media is often referred to as the “darling of marketing” because it’s accessible, easy to use, and often free or very inexpensive. Yes, social media is great and should be part of your overall plan, but you also must prioritize one-to-one outreach if you want to build your business.
Self-promotion is a combination of letting people know the value you offer, connecting with your audience, sharing your story and promoting your products and services.
Shannon Fable is a sought-after speaker, author and thought leader in the area of fitness business development and strategic innovation. She has spent more than two decades helping impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, ACE, FIT4MOM® and BOSU® with business and program development. Fable served as chair of the ACE Board of Directors and is the co-founder of GroupEx PRO®, a cloud-based group fitness management tool that she successfully sold to Daxko in 2019. As a certified Book Yourself Solid® business coach, she helps fitness professionals navigate the industry to build scalable and sustainable careers.
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