Niche Marketing - The Biggest
Fish in the Smallest Pond
A "Make You Think"
Article for Personal Trainers
Look in the mirror and smile.
What do you see? Hopefully teeth. If I asked 1,000,000 American adults between
the ages of 7 and 70 to smile at their reflections, I can accurately
predict the number one answer to my “what do you see” question
would be “teeth.” If none of those teeth have been knocked out
or pulled those 1,000,000 people would display 32,000,000 teeth.
do we know about teeth? They’re
strong, they can pack a mean bite, and . . . they have to be cared
for. They have to be brushed
if we want to keep them strong and valuable.
forget we’re trainers for the moment, and let’s look for an identifiable
audience and a product to meet a demand. 32,000,000 teeth . . . we can sell toothpaste!
wait a minute. That isn’t
exactly an original idea. We’d
have to compete with Proctor & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive,
companies with billion-dollar advertising budgets.
If we were truly committed to succeeding in the toothpaste
business, it would be foolhardy to attempt to outsell the giants.
Tom’s of Maine. Tom’s sells “natural toothpaste” to a health-oriented
socially-conscious audience. Sure,
the socially conscious have teeth, but they don’t want to buy
any ingredients that harm the environment, nor do they want to
ingest anything that’s artificial, and when Tom’s hit the market,
they had an alternative to the products offered in the mainstream.
toothpaste” found its niche, and Tom’s experiences 20 – 25% annual
growth. They’re not the
biggest fish in the ocean, but they’ve identified their own pond,
a pond in which they can thrive and prosper.
They capitalized on a niche.
am I suggesting we sell toothpaste for the fitness oriented?
High protein cavity fighting gel with
although stranger sounding ideas have borne fruit. I’m suggesting
if we’re going to recognize that as trainers we are fitness oriented
entrepreneurs who have a casual yet solid place in the American
work force, we have to consider those business strategies that
“work” in other fields.
pretty easy to identify the niche that purrfectmatch.com, a dating
service for pet lovers, effectively targets. It’s also easy to see why Curves hit the market
running and hasn’t missed a beat.
They connected with the “small pond” of deconditioned
women who are uncomfortable in or have a negative perception of
mainstream health clubs, and when the niche is exploited it becomes
clear that what might have been a small pond in comparison to
the ocean is really quite crowded . . .with prospective customers
niche marketing usually involves a conventional business venture
specializing and reaching into a very clear and specific niche.
So now let’s explore how this translates to our world.
never intentionally eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help overhear a
muscular man with a “Personal Trainer” shirt as he uttered to
a member in the health club I was visiting, “I
only train people who are serious about training and they have
to be willing to sacrifice, to follow my dietary advice to the
letter, and they have to be able to pass through the pain barrier.
That’s my niche!”
this trainer employing strategic positioning, is he narrowing
the field and identifying a figurative small pond, or is he simply
displaying the lack of a sense of true professionalism? Can this
trainer be successful targeting . . . motivated masochists?
think I can answer the question. I struck up a conversation with him. He has two clients. They’re both aspiring bodybuilders and he trains
them “on credit.” They
pay him $200 a month and “owe him the rest.”
They’ll pay him when they get sponsorship contracts.
My view of his “market” is not exactly a pond, but more
accurately a puddle.
pain barrier buster may prove me wrong. Perhaps he’ll wind up being a trainer of bodybuilding
champions, but with an attitude of exclusion and the willingness
to accept pain as a filter, I feel pretty safe in my assumption
he’ll never make it to the ranks of top earners nor will he find
himself a role model among professional trainers.
however, we blatantly condemn his approach, let’s step back and
view “the big picture.” He
trains because he loves training, and his passion is working with
those who are willing to subject themselves to grueling workouts. In other words, he’s following his passion,
and isn’t that what we all strive to do?
Isn’t fitness passion what drove us all to this pursuit
in the first place?
read quite a bit about niche marketing. Some say it’s about inventing a new way of doing
things, and going after a group of people who will find greater
value in “your way” than in what is presently recognized as convention. Others say it’s about identifying something
you’re good at and using your talents and skills to compel a unique
say niche marketing begins with a global look at the marketplace.
Look at what everyone else is doing.
See where there’s a vast untapped market where demand is
failing to meet supply, or identify a market that is real but
may work for an entrepreneur driven solely by the promise of financial
gain. I haven’t seen it
work for trainers. At least not without consideration of that omnipresent fitness passion.
misunderstand. I believe
there is great opportunity for a fitness professional to identify
a niche. I’ve met trainers
who found their niche in training women with breast cancer. I’ve met trainers who found great success training
high level executives on executive fitness retreats. I even met a trainer who travels the world and
is well paid by targeting yacht captains.
I’d like to say, “what works in business
works for trainers,” I’d say that with reservation. There are some variables that must be considered
when comparing personal training to other entrepreneurial endeavors.
idea of following your passion without clear evidence of a responsible
market is risky, as is the converse.
have never advised passion-driven trainers to initially search
for a niche by studying demographics and feasibility, although
those are standard operating procedures in business.
I absolutely believe in positioning to create a buzz in
a specific market, but the positioning has to align with that
fierce and unrelenting desire we have to help people better themselves. Based on both nature and nurture, personal trainers
are as diverse as the audience at the Grammy awards.
love training “special populations” with medical challenges, others
wouldn’t dare venture near a “high risk” population. Some love training executives, others perceive
execs as corporate hotshots who expect someone to “do the work
if we can’t rely on finding our niche externally, how do we approach
an effort toward harnessing a niche population? We begin a process of self-discovery, of introspection,
and then we follow a step-by-step plan to assess whether our emotions
align with an actual opportunity in the marketplace.
other words, I believe the hunt for your niche is internal rather
than external. That’s wonderfully
idealistic, but once you “identify” your preferred niche, a process
of evaluation is necessary to determine whether it’s going to
lead you to your primary financial needs and then on to your career
first step in strategically identifying a niche that might skyrocket
you to expert status requires careful evaluation of the answers
to the following questions:
specifically, is the profile of the person or the population
you most enjoy training?
the most gratifying expression you can imagine coming from
the “before” profile of someone who would be most likely to
share that expression after working with you for a designated
period of time?
takes care of the passion. That takes care of the idealistic part of the
hunt. Next you have to
answer some far more difficult questions, the questions that help
assess whether you’re looking at an ocean, a pond, or a puddle.
categorize your “ideal” into a “market?”
do members of this market shop, gather or congregate? What do they read, who do they interact
with, what services do they use with regularity?
you achieve “expert” status within that marketplace?
can you take to ensure contact and to ensure you have an opportunity
to compel individuals who can serve as guinea pigs allowing
you to prove your merit in a unique marketplace?
know you’d like answers rather than questions, but that’s a trap
trainers fall into. Our
diversity precludes us from maintaining a rigid set of answers,
at least early on. Introspection and assessment are requirements
if you’re going to harness an identifiable market.
you have absolute clarity and a promising plan for rapid success,
or unless you’re independently wealthy without a financial concern
in the world, I’d advise you to consider an exploration of your
niche as a primary test while you establish or maintain a secure
training option that provides income, income allowing you to comfortably
take a few chances. Maintain the ability and opportunity to connect
with people that may or may not fall into your target niche, and
schedule time to devote to harnessing and captivating your ideal
YOU’VE MADE IT THIS FAR:
you’ve crystallized your market and identified strategies for
reaching into the pond and achieving expert status, you’re ready
for the next steps, and unlike the primary questions, these are
steps you can set in stone. They
constitute the path from market identification to positive exploitation,
the path to the proverbial win-win.
Find a dozen – after you’ve infiltrated
the marketplace, identify 12 individuals you feel clearly
represent your target.
Focus – arrange a gathering where
you can invite all 12 people to discuss beliefs, and desires. A focus group is an exceptional environment
for soliciting honesty and gathering information instrumental
in modifying your plan. In the focus group ask questions,
but avoid sharing judgment.
Explore the group perception of current market activity,
to your message, your promise, and/or your guarantee
Train four – take on four clients
that you feel are best suited to begin your specialized “arsenal
of evidence.” You want
the power to prove that you can consistently deliver results
in the marketplace you’re committing to, and there is no greater
proof than living, breathing, thrilled clients who share common
traits, pursuits, or interests.
Document, document, document. That means assess, re-assess, evaluate,
question, and use words, photos, audio, and video whenever
possible to capture “evidence” of your power to deliver.
Assemble your arsenal whether it’s
in the form of press
releases, a portfolio, a wall of fame, or a collection of
audio testimonials on CD and then . . .
Market aggressively! Give it your all!
you’re willing to heed my cautions, to look inside, to reasonably
assess potential, and to go the extra mile, carving out a niche
can be a ticket to success. Is
a “niche” a necessity? No. You can certainly earn a living in the personal
training mainstream, spreading your focus over the large sea of
“people seeking physical change.” We’re
lucky enough to have landed at a point in time where our nation
is in desperate need and most of the solutions being offered are
impotent. We have options,
and your diversity, your passion, and your commitment to excellence
will help you refine your career and reap the rewards.
and if any reader of this article winds up coming out with high
protein toothpaste for fitness-wanting tooth-conscious America,
please, at the very least, send me a few free samples!
the following pages:
Home ] [ Site
Menu ] [ For Fitness Professionals
] [ Superstore ] [ Update
Menu ] [ Ask
Group Workshops ] [ Programs
site is designed and operated by Phil Kaplan
Phil Kaplan's Fitness is located at
3132 Fortune Way, #D1
Wellington, Florida 33414
The TOLL-FREE Product Order Line is 1 800 552-1998
The Direct Office Number is 561 204-2014
The Fax Number is 561 204-2184