Guest Post by Chris Burgess, Business for Unicorns Adjunct Faculty and Founder of Lift the Bar
“People buy using emotion” is one the of the most common phrases in marketing and sales across the three different industries I have been lucky to have been a part of. While it does hold true to an extent, how to use this information for growing a personal training or online coaching business can be tricky. The extent to which emotion is present can have massive implications for the types of people you attract. And this in turn can have even bigger implications for retention, and of course, your job satisfaction.
Attracting Bad Customers
In traditional fitness professional marketing, it’s common practice to target people based on their emotional pain points; things that make the consumer feel anger, fear, sadness, etc. Health and body confidence are hugely emotive topics for many people and so showing an understanding of these pain points is never a bad thing. However it needs to come with several carefully considered caveats.
Highly pained/ emotional consumers often display little to no awareness of the ongoing commitment it takes to get in shape. Everything from allocating time to train, to researching whether or not what they intend to do is good or bad for their health.
At the highest levels of pain points, people can’t make a rational choice on good verse bad, and whether a trainer would be a better idea than a juice cleanse – hence why there is no shortage of quick fix products that promise to fix their problems with little to no effort.
At this stage, people throw money at the problem to make it go away.
In practice, this theory also rings true. We have all had clients we believe we can help when they start. But in practice, they blame anything and everything from poor adherence to subpar attendance to their less-than-stellar attitude on you and/or your program.
So if we know that highly pained prospects are easy to attract but hard to train and retain, it’s important to make one of the following three decisions:
1) You can make lots of sales by agitating pain points, and accept you’ll need to replace your entire client base frequently for reasons that have nothing to do with you or your qualities as a coach. Huge numbers of people are just not ready to change.
2) You can make the same choice as above, but look to address retention via coaching. This requires creating systems focused on giving as much emotional support as technical support. These clients tend to come with higher time demands to meet the emotional needs they have – and even with a huge level of support, it might not be enough to make them sufficiently enjoy exercise enough to keep at it.
3) You can forgo aggressively agitating pain points. In this scenario, you’ll work on attracting clients who have a higher appreciation for what coaching is and a higher acceptance of what it takes to create lasting change.
Attracting Great Customers
Wouldn’t life be great if every client came to you having already decided to allocate the time to train, an acceptance that they need to make changes, a willingness to make the changes, and high levels of persistence and patience to reach their goals?
Nearly every personal training client you encounter will be someone who has tried something else to reach their goals in the past. This is great news, because it means they are already acting upon solving a problem!
When someone is in problem solving mode – rather than problem focused mode – things get far more rewarding in every sense. Adherence, attitude and attendance go up, and we get more satisfaction too.
Where Do These People Exist?
Here’s one simple example: think about the people who joined a gym in April, and are still there now. They train 3-4 times per week and have developed good consistency even if their results haven’t been great yet. (There are millions of these types of people all across the world!) You know these people will very likely be a good fit for coaching. They accept the required behaviors, but lack the necessary knowledge, and perhaps even motivation and accountability, to make the progress they’d like.
In language and communication it’s important that you demonstrate how you help clients bust plateaus. You have to show how you get results in particular time-frames (even what to expect in the first 2 weeks), how perseverance pays off, how you beat the natural lulls in willpower and motivation, and lots of reviews of proof that what you do works – this shows control and mastery over the progress of people who work with you.
If you want to attract people who will appreciate coaching, you need to show lots of examples of this process working. Build your message to the world around how you actually coach – not just your technical coaching or nutrition principles, but the humanistic side of what it means to be in a client-coach agreement. What have people achieved with you this week that matters in their life?
Your clients will buy their next clothes, book their next holiday, find their next experience completely in accordance to the results they achieve with you. Earlier in this article we said that being vulnerable is magnetic, but don’t forget that achievement, pride and enriched life experiences are what people want to buy; so use this magnet to its fullest effect.
Will you create as many leads this way? No
But will you still create a great stream of great quality leads from people who are much easier to work with and retain? Absolutely YES!
Want more marketing help? Sign up for the BFU newsletter and keep your eyes peeled for Chris’s marketing course being offered this September through Business for Unicorns.