If you operate your personal training business independent of a club or other large facility, you do not have a membership base of 2,000-plus people to rely on for potential clients. Even if you work in a club setting, relying solely on the membership to grow your client base is not a good idea. Eventually, as you start to exhaust the club membership or rely too heavily on your clients for referrals, your business will reach a plateau. For continued business, you have to step out of your comfort zone and into other avenues.

Developing relationships with local businesses is a cost-effective way to gain greater exposure. You can cultivate a “partnership” in which you provide personal training gift certificates for your partner’s customers while your partner provides something for your clients. Can you imagine any business not wanting to offer an extra something to loyal customers—especially when that extra something doesn’t cost a thing?

Choosing a Cross-Promotion Partner

How do you decide which businesses to align with? Ask the following questions:

  • What type of client do you want to attract?
  • Where does this type of client spend time and money?
  • What businesses are in a 10- to
    15-minute driving radius from you?
  • Do you have any close contacts with any of these businesses? (Approaching someone who knows and likes you is always easiest!)
  • Which three businesses could you
    go to tomorrow to initiate a cross-promotion?

Here’s a look at some of the businesses we have partnered with in the last few months.

Massage Therapist. In January we aligned with a local massage therapist who is also one of our clients. Every client who purchased 10 or more private training sessions received a 30-minute massage. Throughout the month we posted the massage therapist’s flyers in our facility, displayed her brochures and discussed her skills with all our clients. In turn she gave all her clients certificates for a complimentary personal training session. This arrangement allowed each of us to promote the other’s business and increase our own exposure without spending anything more than time.

Resort Hotel. We partnered with a local resort hotel in February. Every client who purchased 10 or more private training sessions was entered into a drawing for a 1-night stay and dinner for two at the resort. We highlighted the resort all month and in return they gave us 3 nights free. Our only expense was the dinner.

Footwear Retailer. In March a local footwear retailer put up a bulletin board to advertise our services, distributed our marketing package and provided one complimentary private training session to all customers who purchased $100 worth of footwear products or services. We gave our clients a certificate for
15% off any purchases at that retailer. We were happy to do business with the company, since it provided excellent customer service that included gait analysis as well as footwear.

Spa. In April we aligned with a local spa. Every client who purchased 10 or more private training sessions received a complimentary facial or pedicure. This was a nice gift we could give to our clients. In return, the spa promoted our business and awarded a complimentary personal training session to its clients.

Establish the Guidelines

The following guidelines will help you initiate this type of cross-promotion and increase the likelihood of success.

  • Decide on the exact details of the promotion. What will the client/
    customer have to purchase to receive a gift certificate? Setting up the promotion in a way that allows you and your partner to promote each other
    is the best scenario.
  • Trade weekly customer/client counts so you and the partnering business know how many certificates/flyers to produce for each other.
  • Prepare the certificates. Be sure to include each other’s logos.
  • Ask your partner business how many employees it has and give all of them a small “freebie” at the end of the promotion to thank them for their support. A cross-promotion is limited by the amount of support it gets from staff members, so get them on your side from the beginning by letting them know they will get something in return for their enthusiasm. The most obvious incentive is one or two complimentary personal training sessions.
  • Run each promotion a maximum of 4 weeks. If you drag the promotion on, the staff may start to lose enthusiasm.
  • Specify to your partnering business that gift certificates must be treated like money. Leaving them out in the open where anyone can pick them up devalues the offer. Certificates should be handed out at the point
    of sale when the cashier is giving the customer change and receipts.
  • Encourage the business to advertise the promotion in display windows, throughout the store and in any media advertising. Point
    out that customers who are aware
    of the promotion may purchase more goods.
  • Provide the business with your marketing materials to help advertise the promotion. Include your headshot, brochures and a personal portfolio.

Building Momentum

Initiating strong relationships within your community can only benefit your business. Start with one cross-promotion, measure its success and then continue with other promotions. You could focus on a different local business each month. Your name will get around quickly, and other businesses will soon start asking you to work with them.