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Internal Marketing Promotions

Use your creativity to capitalize on several inexpensive and practical internal marketing tools.



“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” —Henry W. Longfellow

romoting your services doesn’t end when you gain a new client. You
have to keep that client! And you have to keep looking for new customers because personal training is characterized by a turnover in clients. “Internal” promotions may be directed to your current clients
or to potential clients within your current business location.

Following are six practices that all personal training businesses can use to gain exposure for their services. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a studio, club or clients’ homes.

1 Newsletter to Clients
A good client newsletter can help you establish a “community” or “family” feeling. It is a value-added service to your present clients plus a promotional tool you can distribute in clubs, local businesses and to your clients’ families, friends and coworkers.

The only rule for a newsletter is that you make it client-focused. Profile clients and their success stories, offer fitness tips or educational articles on topics of interest to your clients, or include an exercise or technique tip of the month. On a smaller, more subtle level, highlight upcoming programs or packages you are offering.

A client newsletter does not have to involve a huge time commitment. A one-page, double-sided newsletter can be developed very easily in about two hours with the right software system (I use Microsoft Home Publisher [$29.99]/Microsoft Business 2000 [$99.99]). After you get the hang of it, you may want to create a newsletter that is more extensive (four to eight pages). Offer the newsletter through e-mail and you will save the cost of printing and mailing it. Remember, you don’t have to produce it every month. Try it every four months, then every three and then bimonthly.

2 Client Referral System
Most personal trainers agree that the majority of new clients result from word-of-mouth referrals. But rather than waiting around for clients to think about sending you new customers, institute systems to regularly encourage them to help you develop your business.

Include “request for client” statements on your client feedback forms or client information packages. Prepare stand-alone “Give the Gift of Fitness” postcards.

Borrow a technique used by real-estate and financial advisory industries and ask each new client for three referrals. Or ask existing clients if you could send a gift certificate in their names to five friends who might be interested in personal training. Each person they name receives a complimentary gift, such as a fitness evaluation or training session.

If you decide to use a variety of materials to encourage clients to list prospects, use slightly different wording with each piece so your approach is not redundant. Here’s an example of wording that may work for you:

“Since you are such a valued client of XYZ Personal Training, we would like to give you the opportunity to offer one complimentary session to your loved ones. You may be the inspiration for them to start moving and experiencing many of the results that you’ve achieved! Since it’s a busy time for us, we’d like you to please limit the gift to three of your closest friends or family members.”

Remember to send a personal
thank-you note or gift to the person who refers a new client to you. Inform him of the results the new client has achieved while training with you and acknowledge that he was the catalyst for helping the new client take action towards her fitness goals.

3 Gift Certificates
Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day—take advantage of the advertising frenzy surrounding these days by promoting gift certificates. Most clubs experience tremendous success with this word-of-mouth referral system. In fact, one club reported a 90 percent renewal rate from clients who started because of gift certificates. Those are very good odds!
4 Complimentary
First Session
Complimentary personal training sessions are necessary to grow your client base when you first establish your business. But any training enterprise, established or not, will benefit from offering complimentary sessions.
When I first started personal training, I offered free sessions to get my name out. I was confident that if I was able to work with potential clients for just one session, I could convince them my services were valuable, which would lead them to purchase a number of additional sessions. It worked! I knew I could sell the person at least one more session, but often my track record was selling 10 to 15 additional sessions. The time it took me to do the one free session was definitely worth the investment.

The Cooper Fitness Institute in Dallas reports that its $1.5 million personal training business is a direct result of offering three complimentary personal training sessions to all new members. Brad Wilkins, assistant personal training director, reports that more than 50 percent of all new members going through this system retain their personal trainer.

5 Personal
Training Events
Offering a hiking club, running clinic, snow boarding and skiing trip, indoor rock climbing day or kayaking trip are great ways to extend value-added service and create wonderful friendships among your clients. They will enjoy the special treatment and will be motivated to continue working with you on a long-term basis.

To use these events to increase your client base, allow clients to invite their friends, colleagues or family members.

6 Health Lectures
Educational lectures and workshops are more value-added services that empower clients to achieve their goals. Of course, you also can use these lectures to gain exposure for your business by allowing clients to invite their friends, colleagues and family members.

Popular, sell-out topics include fat loss, nutrition, abdominal conditioning, back care and training for baby boomers. Try them quarterly, monthly or every two weeks.

Internal Promotions
for Facilities

If you operate your personal training business within a large health club, hospital or corporate setting, you may have 2,000 or more members to whom you can market directly. Before you invest time on external marketing, saturate your internal market first.
It’s often much easier to sell to cur-

rent customers.

Marketing gurus suggest that people need to see a message seven times before something actually clicks and encourages them to inquire about the product or service. If you can have your message displayed often and professionally throughout the facility, it will help to drive your business.

But not everyone is cut out to be a group fitness instructor. So what’s the next best thing? Well, if you can’t be the instructor, can you be the instructor’s assistant? Approach one of your club’s most popular fitness instructors and suggest that you can monitor technique of the participants during the muscle-conditioning segment of the class. In return, ask the instructor to introduce your skills and services as a trainer, and to describe the benefits people could expect to achieve from working with you. Most fitness instructors would value having a personal assistant during their classes because it’s difficult to effectively monitor an entire class alone.

This type of direct contact—initiating conversation and developing a personal relationship with members—will go a long way in helping you to grow your business. Approach members and inquire about their programs. This process often reveals that they’ve been
thinking about hiring a trainer for a while, but weren’t quite sure where
or how to start. You simply instigate the process.

Marketing yourself doesn’t have
to require a lot of time and money.
Use some or all of these tips and get ready for the new clients to come
pouring in! l

P

IDEA PERSONAL Trainer FEbruary 2002 profit center

IDEA PERSONAL Trainer FEbruary 2002

Rounding Up Referrals

While you may be uncomfortable asking for referrals, try to overcome this shyness. Your clients train with you because they like you, and naturally, they want to see you succeed. Asking for referrals is not at all overstepping your boundaries. We are providing an exceptional service that most people would want to share with their friends, family members and colleagues.

Here’s a system to help you comfortably ask for referrals.

1. Inform your clients of your present situation.

2. Listen for an opening.

Many of your clients will mention people in their lives who are struggling with their health and fitness. For example:

Client: My husband’s back has been killing him.

Trainer: Really? Why don’t I call him and offer him a complimentary session? I could show him some exercises to strengthen his back and abdominals.

3. Ask for the referral.

Get the potential client’s name and number. Inform your client of the process and ask her what she would feel most comfortable with. The conversation might go like this:

Trainer: This is so great. John will be so pleased that you have thought of him. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to call John and let him know that you’ve arranged a complimentary personal training session for him and book him for an appointment. Are you comfortable with that?

Client: That sounds great. But let me tell him first.

Trainer: Good idea. I’ll write it in my day-planner to ask you about it at our next session and then I’ll call him once you’ve informed him to expect my call.

Also be prepared to send a package to the potential client. Some of your clients will not feel comfortable with you calling their friends and may feel a package sent in the mail is less intrusive.

4. Show your gratitude.

Your client has just helped you grow your business, so show your appreciation. A thank-you card or call may suffice. Some trainers reward their clients with a free session or a gift when they refer someone who purchases 10 sessions or more.

IDEA PERSONAL Trainer FEbruary 2002 profit center IDEA PERSONAL Trainer FEbruary 2002

Resources
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