External Promotions: Form Strategic Alliances
“A lot of successful people are risk-takers. Unless you are willing to do that, to have a go, to fail miserably and have another go, success won’t happen.”—Philip Adams
If you operate your personal training business independent of a club or larger business, you do not have a customer base to rely on for potential clients. Even if you do operate within a club setting, it is not healthy for your business to rely solely on the present club members to grow your client base. Eventually the growth of your business will plateau as you start to saturate your fitness club membership base or rely too heavily on your clients for referrals. You will have to step out of your comfort zone and start to rely on other avenues for continued business.
External promotions reach outside your current client list or work location. Relationships with local businesses will be critical for reaching your business potential.
With Other Businesses
Developing relationships with local businesses is a cost-effective way to reach a much larger market and gain greater exposure for your services. Ask yourself the following questions when determining which businesses to align with:
- What type of client do I want to attract to my personal training business?
- Where does this type of client shop or spend his time and money?
- Are any of the businesses this client patronizes in a 10-to-15-minute driving radius from me?
- Do I have any close contacts with any of these businesses? (It’s always easiest to approach someone who knows and likes you!)
- Which three businesses could I go to tomorrow to initiate a cross-promotion?
Here’s how you might approach a local retail business owner:
Trainer:“Hey Phil, I have a great idea I think you’ll really like!”
Phil: “Oh yeah?”
Trainer: “Here’s how it works. I put together a gift certificate you can hand out to all your customers. We set it up so that, for example, for every purchase of $100 or more, your customers will receive a complimentary personal training session from me courtesy of you. I put your name and logo right on top of the certificate. This program will offer more value and savings to your customers. It’ll be a special way to thank your customers for shopping at your store. What do you think?”
Phil: “I think it’s a great idea, but what will it cost me?”
Trainer: “Would you do it if it were free?”
Phil: “Yeah, of course!”
Trainer: “Then it’s settled. I’ll take care of all the details. All you have to do is distribute the gift certificate to your customers when they purchase something from you.”
Can you imagine businesses not wanting to offer something extra to their loyal customers? They have nothing to lose.
And instantly you have an entire business
promoting your services and helping you develop your client base. Here are guidelines to help you initiate this type of cross-promotion.
- Decide on the exact details of the promotion. What will the client have to purchase in order to receive the gift certificate?
- Get the weekly customer count so you know how many certificates/flyers to produce.
- Get the business’s logo to put on the certificate.
- Ask for the number of employees and give them a small freebie at the end of the promotion to thank them for their support. A cross-promotion is limited by whether the staff at the business supports it. Get staff members 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 for each employee.
- Run this promotion a maximum of 2 weeks. If you drag the promotion on, it can get monotonous and the staff may start to lose enthusiasm.
- Specify to the business that the certificates must be treated like money. They are not to be left in the open where anyone can pick them up. Careless treatment would devalue the offer. Certificates should be offered at the point of sale when the cashier is returning change and giving a receipt.
- Encourage the business to advertise the promotion in display windows, throughout the store and in any media advertising. Making customers aware of the promotion may encourage them to purchase more goods.
- Provide your marketing materials to help the business advertise the promotion. Include your head shot, brochures and personal dossier.
It is acceptable to do different promotions with other businesses at different times. For example, each month focus on a new local business. Your name will get around quickly, and other businesses will start asking you to work with them also.
The following are good businesses to align with and potential customer approaches:
Sporting Goods Stores. “Purchase a treadmill/set of hand weights/multipurpose resistance machine and receive a complimentary personal training session. A trainer will come to your home and show you how to use the equipment safely and effectively.”
Spas. “Purchase a facial/massage/body wrap and receive a complimentary personal training session for the complete mind-body-spirit package.”
Flower Shops. “Purchase a bouquet of flowers for your mom, and she receives a complimentary personal training session. Help keep Mom healthy forever!”
Gardening Shops. “Do you notice your knees ache after a day of gardening? Purchase $100 worth of gardening supplies and we’ll send you a personal trainer who will design a program to strengthen your body so it can handle the demands of hours of gardening.”
Candy Stores. “Worried about your special someone getting fat from all the chocolate? Don’t worry! Buy the chocolate for your honey and we’ll throw in a complimentary personal training session to ensure she takes the pounds off as quickly as she put them on!”
Golf Centers. “Does your back ache after 18 holes? Purchase $100 worth of golfing equipment and we’ll throw in a complimentary personal training session.”
Adventure Travel Agencies. “Book a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon and we’ll provide a complimentary personal training session to make sure your body is ready for the adventure.”
Developing relationships with local businesses may open up many opportunities. For example, a business may allow you to:
- permanently post and distribute your promotional flyers and brochures for customers
- use the business’s space to host educational lectures for customers
- purchase the customer list so you can mail promotional flyers or brochures
- piggyback your brochures with one of the company’s mailings in return for complimentary sessions
Initiating strong relationships within your community can only benefit your business. Start with one cross-promotion, measure the success and then continue with other promotions.
What else can you possibly do? Every little bit of exposure helps. Try some of these ideas:
- Get involved in business organizations. For example, join the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Rotary Club, your local chamber of commerce or the Young Entrepreneurs.
- Book yourself as a guest speaker at Rotary Club meetings, church group gatherings or corporate events.
- Donate your services to, or provide sponsorship for, charity events, fund-raisers, auctions and races. (Commit yourself to three to four events like this a year).
- Mail your brochures or flyers to homes within a 10-minute driving radius of your business. Budget to mail at least seven times a year to about 1,000 prospects. One mailing is not enough to have impact.
- Consider how you can increase readership of your brochures. For example, everybody reads postcards, so make an offer on the back of one. Or send out your brochures stuffed in a special delivery envelope. That’ll get people’s attention. A direct-mail piece does you no good if no one reads it.
- Use trade directories to mail to a specific audience. For example, if you want to target the legal profession, look in the directory of the local bar association (found in most libraries or on the Internet).
- You will eventually find it necessary to take out an ad in the yellow pages and you will be surprised at how costly it can be. Start small and grow the size of your ad as your revenues warrant.
- Advertise in professional publications targeting lawyers, accountants, bankers, doctors. This approach is more cost-effective than advertising in general interest publications, since it targets the populations you’re trying to attract.
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