Why Your Marketing Sucks (And How to Fix It)

by Mark Fisher

It’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up!

Not all of us had the good fortune to receive a BFA in musical theater, the widely accepted gold standard for education in fitness business excellence.

*Mark humbly bows to you with a flourish of his top hat*

Furthermore, the confusion that leads to crappy marketing comes from a great place.

You see, you know that to achieve long term fitness success, your clients will need:

  • Well-designed training programs
  • Great coaches who deliver said programs
  • Awesome customer service
  • Education on what they need to do the other hours of the week
  • Positive habit development
  • A supportive community of peers that are rooting for them and share their values

When you ask long term clients why they stay, these are the exact reasons they’ll give you.

So I understand why it can be confusing. Based on that data, it makes sense to create messaging like this: 

Come to Such and Such Fitness. We have a great community and amazing customer service (trust us). Our program design is unmatched. We also have assessments and our team has many, many certifications!”

But when we’re talking about marketing, it’s important to remember you’re not talking to your current clients.

Now it’s not that you can’t ever message the above points. But they don’t exactly make your marketing message sing.

Effective marketing is about “entering the conversation going on in your prospect’s mind.” So we need to think from their perspective. 

As I mentioned, I’m one of the lucky ones.

I’m a member of the few, the proud, and the brave…

Training gym owners with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater.

So this gave me an unfair advantage from day one.

(sorta kidding, sorta not.)

To be clear, I’ve also done plenty wrong over the years. And I’m sure I’m doing sh*t now that will have me slappin’ my forehead in the near future.

But as a classically trained actor, I spent a previous career pretending I was other people. My job was to develop a deep understanding of a character. I considered their “given circumstances”: what the playwright said, what the other characters said, and the imaginary world and backstory that gave life to this character.

I think this is why from Day 1 of MFF I was focused on what my friends actually wanted.

I knew what I had to deliver as a fitness professional. But when I imagined the conversation in their head, I never heard them say:

Gee, I wish I could find trainers with a sophisticated and progressive understanding of scapulo-humeral rhythm to minimize the chances of joint deterioration as I age.

Their goals were simpler.

  • Have more energy.
  • Get back into their favorite jeans.
  • Feel confident going into an audition.
  • Be stoked to wear speedos on Fire Island.
  • Not be scared about getting bad news at the doctor.

They didn’t really care about getting a “program.” 

The main thing they were looking to buy was “workouts.” 

“Workouts” and (gasp) “exercises.”

And even then, these features were only their understanding of the necessary means to their desired ends: the benefits that they really wanted.

Of course, I knew my/our job was to deliver a great program; one designed to help them master basic movement technique and safely progress them over time.

And for them to stick with it, it had to be an enjoyable experience. 

I also knew the value of community. So there had to be opportunities for them to connect with their fellow trainees and spark potential friendships.


And it had to be delivered by people who were super friendly and would ease any anxiety. 

And yes, we’d have to teach them what else to do besides show up for workouts.

Ultimately, prospects need to know you, like you, and trust you enough to come on the journey you prescribe. So by all means, you can and should address the value of these elements in your education-based content marketing. 

But the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is always the outcome they actually want.

It’s the thing they don’t currently have in their life that they want support in getting.

So if you want to help your people, don’t focus on the details of “flight.” Help them visualize the “vacation” and smell the salty ocean breeze. 

Meet them where they’re at.  

When you make an offer in your marketing messages, emphasize the benefits they want, not the features.

Then you can win the chance to use all your skills to take them where they want to go. 

Love you,

PS Want to check out a training-gym focused podcast with legit guests and actionable strategies?

Oh you saucy minx! I’ve got one for you right here in my back pocket…

Check out the Business for Unicorns podcast HERE.




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