4 Strategies to Build Your Fitness Clientele: Increase Client Base and Revenue
For some people, sales are easy. They have a natural Dale Carnegie-esque charisma about them, and are able to sell sand in the desert. For others, like myself, prospecting and closing sales in fitness feels excruciating. It’s uncomfortable asking individuals to part with their hard-earned money for your services. I briefly worked at a massive fitness chain where part of my job entailed giving new gym members a complimentary Pilates session. Immediately after the session, I was supposed to ask if they’d like to buy a Pilates package. The gym provided me a script to follow, which felt phony. I didn’t like having to persuade people to buy anything, even though I truly do believe in the health benefits of Pilates.
Selling for a big brand wasn’t for me, but after I left that job, I realized that no matter where I taught Pilates, I would need to become more comfortable with sales. When I decided to start my own business as a Pilates instructor, I used these four strategies that helped me increase my client base and boost revenue.
1. Niche Down: Going niche is all the rage these days. Microblogging and microinfluencers are where brands are seeing the future of marketing. Reaching out to a selective group of potential customers is now seen as more advantageous than trying to spread your message everywhere. The branding on your business cards, flyers, and website should be hyper-localized. Ask yourself super specific questions, such as: where do I want my target clients to live? What is their age, specific training goals, discretionary income, and training style? Instead of marketing yourself as a personal trainer specializing in women’s fitness, maybe instead market yourself as a postnatal expert for new moms looking to strength train in a specific city (assuming you have the appropriate credentials of course.) Being a jack of all trades will have potential customers looking right past you. Be specific and find your people.
2. Work on your social networking, not just the workout: Marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk does a great job explaining this. Many trainers like doing what they’re good at: the workouts themselves. He writes in his blog post that “Fitness entrepreneurs want to do the minimal work and still expect a huge return. It’s easy for fitness entrepreneurs to do the push-ups, to do the squats and deadlifts because that is exactly what got them to where they are now. They started in fitness and now they want to make money just by having those guns or that body. They default into what is easy without recognizing what is hard: running an actual business.” In other words, burpees themselves won’t make you popular. It’s necessary to be active on social media: writing tweets, answering DM’s, posting pictures.
3. Work on your IRL network: Even though maintaining your social media presence is vital, make sure to also work on networking in-person. Finding like-minded people in adjacent industries can be key in building up your client base. For example, when I started my Pilates business I rented space out of a physical therapy studio. I immediately was referred clients by the PT’s, and likewise referred some of my injured clients to them. It was a mutually beneficial way to gain and help clients.
4. Give First, Ask Second: This may sound counter-intuitive but sometimes you need to give away before you can ask for payment. When I started my business, I offered free 30-minute sessions to patients at the physical therapy studio. Many of them took me up on this offer and approximately 75% of them bought sessions and became long-term clients. Though a quarter of them had a free session and never followed up, I believe the strategy paid off handsomely.
Even if sales isn’t where you shine, the above tips should help you find new clients so you can focus on growing your business.