As we’ve mentioned in past columns, marketing is considered absolutely everything you do in your business. Remember, the definition of marketing is “letting your community know who you are and what you do and encouraging people to try your services.” So marketing is how you answer the phone, it’s how you dress, it’s your website, it’s your materials, it’s how you train your clients, it’s the networking initiatives you participate in, and it’s the client referral programs you have established. It is also advertising.
As consultants, we recommend that in your personal training business or department, you first focus on marketing the business internally. Focus all your energies on initiatives that you are already using within your business or facility and with your current group of clients. Ensure that your business materials—brochures, fliers, business cards, letterhead and website—are stellar. Develop and maintain solid referral campaigns and gift certificate programs. Using these methods will give you the biggest bang for your buck, since word-of-mouth referrals are the number-one source of new clients for personal training businesses.
At some point, however, your business success will most likely plateau, and you’ll want to initiate a strong external marketing campaign to ensure constant growth. This campaign should incorporate advertising, networking at trade shows, developing cross-promotions and strategic alliances, and joining business organizations such as the chamber of commerce and the local Rotary club.
In our own business, we’ve focused most of our external marketing initiatives on face-to-face marketing. We’ve experienced the greatest amount of success with this approach. Just recently, however, our revenues have increased to the point where we’ve been able to launch an aggressive advertising campaign in addition to our other initiatives. When we decided to take this approach, we knew we wanted our campaign to have a different look, feel and function from your standard fitness club ad. Here we explain why we created the ads we did, why they were successful and how you can develop your own ads when you reach that point in your marketing campaign.
Guidelines for Ads
With so many choices available for advertising, it’s important to define
what you want to accomplish before creating any ads. We asked ourselves these questions to determine ad content and placement.
We were ready to further our brand image and enhance our exposure across our community. Plus, we had the additional financial resources to launch an ad campaign.
Where to Advertise?
We had to ask ourselves, “Who are our clients?” “Which publications do they read?” and “Which publications will give us the greatest exposure to our target demographic at the lowest cost?” Keeping in mind that our clients were predominantly business professionals, we chose to advertise in the Vancouver Business Journal and the Clark County chamber of commerce newsletter at a fraction of the cost of advertising in the citywide newspaper or other publications. So once you have decided to pursue print advertising, do your homework and compare the costs of all the publications and the readership among your potential clientele.
How to Advertise?
We knew that in order for advertising to work, we had to go big and/or go often. We had additional financial resources to start advertising, but we didn’t have enough to do it the right way and the best way to ensure that our business would be correctly positioned in our community. So we got creative. We knew that a number of clients whom we had close personal relationships with owned businesses with large marketing and advertising budgets. We approached these clients and asked them if they saw the value in sharing the cost of a full-page ad that would highlight them, the training successes they’d achieved and, indirectly, their business services. A number of clients jumped at the chance. They thought that it would be a great opportunity for them to do a different type of ad from the ones they’d currently been running and to put a personalized story to their name and business. As a result of this joint campaign, we have been able to post full-page ads in each of the local business journals and chamber of commerce newsletters every single month for only $1,000 per month. The cost to run this type of campaign in a standard way would have been three times our current investment.
What to Advertise?
We wanted our ads to be large and to run frequently. We wanted them to look, feel and be different from any other type of fitness or training ad or ad in general. We decided to use an amusing photo of the featured client; a catchy, “cheeky” headline to attract people; and a fun, personalized testimonial. We wanted the client to sell the benefits of training with us by discussing his own experience. The clients we’ve been choosing for these ads have all been “movers and shakers” in our community, so people feel compelled to read the entire ads. Check out two examples (“Exercise Sucks” and “I Used to Be a Quitter Like Everyone Else” on pages 5 and 6) for details. Remember that the client is paying half the cost of this ad, so he needs to see the value to himself and his business as well.
We’ve also launched “trio” ads, with three clients sharing the cost of the ad with us. The benefit to each client is that she can be highlighted in a full-page ad for about $200 per month. If she were to place an ad alone, she could probably afford only a small business-card-sized ad for that amount. We all know that such small ads get lost in publications, so the value to our clients of running a trio ad is huge. Check out the trio sample ad (“Working Out With Us Isn’t All Fun and Games”) on page 7 to get some ideas.
When to Advertise?
We would suggest launching this type of advertising campaign only when your internal marketing campaign and all face-to-face external marketing initiatives have been exhausted, and you’re ready to go to the next level. At that point, approach clients who love you, who have benefited from your services and who have the financial resources to be involved in a campaign like this one.
So how did the ads go over? Very well! First off, the ads have solidified our relationships with current clients who have seen them. Clients like reading the ads and knowing that their studio is featured.
Second, our community loves the ads. Local residents say there’s status associated with working out at one of our studios. Readers think, “If the successful, high-profile clients work out at that studio and are experiencing fabulous personal and business success, maybe I should work out there, too!”
Bottom line? People are talking about our ads! You know an advertising campaign works when it enters people’s conversation. So when you’re ready for an aggressive advertising campaign, try this approach to stand out in the crowd.
IDEA and its members are passionately committed to improving the health and fitness of all people. We are focused
on delivering compelling member value by imparting knowledge, credibility, inspiration, marketability, and personal
and professional growth opportunities.
- We believe that ethics come first;
fairness and integrity guide all of
our decisions and relationships.
- We have a passion for providing
fitness information and education.
- Our decisions are guided by the
professional needs of our members.