trainers to avoid the mistakes I made early on, and one of the lessons
is, replace the idea of advertising with the concept of marketing.
I encourage personal trainers to jump in the marketing arena with
both feet and get themselves in front of people by doing seminars,
getting booked as guests on television and radio shows and appearing
in front of groups whenever possible. Let me explain precisely why.
trainers arenít often exposed to conventional business training
or creative marketing. Weíre taught biomechanics, fitness testing,
anatomical function and then we are thrown to the wolves, expected
to somehow "just know" how to prosper. This may be the greatest
challenge trainers face, and in that challenge, most attempt to
emulate other trainers, thereby sacrificing any hope of a unique
position and cluttering themselves among others stuck in a sea of
personal training mediocrity.
lesson Iíll convey in this article is a simple one, but donít let
its simplicity throw you. My intention is to provide a new marketing
mindset. I wonít actually provide marketing techniques as Iíve done
that in previous issues. This month, Iíll advise you to get your
head out of marketing "training sessions" and "packages" and ask
you to market your "position."
Iím often appalled by the "state of our industry," I am also sometimes
confused by how to define our industry. Iíve managed to cross a
few borders by writing for bodybuilding magazines and appearing
on weight loss segments on television news. Are bodybuilding and
weight loss the same industry? Are Ronnie Coleman, the current Mr.
Olympia and Richard Simmons even remotely related? (Stop laughing.
It was a rhetorical question.) Does the health club industry have
anything to do with the industry that drives the sales of protein
powders? Can you find even a distant strand of similarity between
television fitness product infomercials and exercise physiologists
who perform VO2 Max testing behind closed doors helping a select
few understand the realities of cardiovascular fitness?
asked Conrad Swanson, editor of Personal Fitness Professional,
to describe the state of the industry in a single sentence. He didnít
need a sentence. He used one word: fragmented.
our industry is so "fragmented," where do we, the professional trainers
fit in? How can we claim positions of professionalism if our industry
lacks clearly drawn borders?
upsetting that we go through schooling and continuing education
to master skills rarely recognized as true areas of professional
expertise. Once in awhile, I get disheartened by the absence of
a minimum performance standard within our field. Then I grab hold
of my senses. Why be disheartened? If the industry fails to define
or regulate itself, those who have the greatest potential can set
their sights on the absolute pinnacle of success.
everyone who loosely wore the title, "professional personal trainer"
maintained a standard of excellence, the top of the field would
be crowded. As it stands now, when you weigh out the challenges
and opportunities that we face, opportunities win hands down, provided
you understand the vital concept of positioning.
of a brand of aspirin. Iíll bet the name Bayer popped into your
head. Why? Is Bayer the best? It doesnít matter, itís grabbed the
top position. Usually, the first product to penetrate a market with
a new position retains that spot until someone markets a superior
position. Rather than being "just like everyone else in the field,"
itís important you creatively grab an edge. What makes you better?
What makes your offerings superior? What facets of your business
and presentation offer greater benefits to customers than theyíd
expect to receive? The answers to these questions will be the foundation
of your position marketing.
breakout marketing slogan was, "Pain Relief Without a Prescription."
Other brands followed but Bayer is still the aspirin that comes
to mind. Everyone else was simply emulating Bayerís position. Until,
ultimately, someone creative came along and made a substantial dent
in the pain relief market. Can you guess who it was? This company
didnít position their product as "just another pain reliever." Tylenol
grabbed a unique position by hitting the market as, "A Pain RelieverÖThat
Doesnít Upset Your Stomach!"
often use this analogy when I conduct my positioning seminar aimed
at Personal Fitness Professionals. In a room that is filled with
400 to 500 trainers, I ask the question, "who gets an upset stomach
from aspirin?" No more than five or six hands ever go up. Then I
ask how many people use Tylenol for relief when they have a headache,
and hands go up all over the room! Tylenolís marketing put it in
the hands of people who didnít even suffer the pain it claimed to
overcome, however, it was positioned as better than aspirin and
so it claimed a top spot.
To Position Yourself as "Better" Than Your Competition
you identify your competition, think beyond other trainers. In fact,
they can be your allies if they help elevate the public perception
of trainersí values. Think of your competition as anybody who will
ever collect money from an individual that could have invested that
money with you in exchange for value. Bookstores put millions of
copies of diet books into the hands of your potential clients. Health
food stores, diet centers, sporting good stores as well as medical
weight loss centers can all take away business that may have been
yours. Itís important, therefore, that your marketing approach separates
you from all of them. Donít offer "another option for weight loss,"
or "an alternative for getting in shape" because then your position
would be impotent.
power you have over many of your real world competitors is quite
clear; you can deliver long-term, healthful, life-altering results.
If you think thatís enough to send clients flocking to your door,
youíre in for a rude awakening. While the ability to deliver true
results might be your reality, fitness decisions arenít based on
reality. Theyíre based on emotion and emotion is influenced greatly
by established position.
the abysmal failure of the weight loss and diet industry in delivering
long-term weight loss, itís a thriving industry. When people destroy
their metabolisms and experience residual weight gain, the clever
positioning of the diet industry leads diet victims to make irrational
decisions. They go back to the diets that failed them. The actual
advantage you have over the diet centers may be a result of the
diet industryís failings, but as long as diet centers promise results,
theyíre positioned as the "easier" option.
must grab a position that goes far beyond taking people through
workouts and promising results. You have to position yourself as
single appearance by an author on Larry King Live or Oprah can instantly
turn that author into a millionaire. Regardless of the virtue of
the material those authors disseminate, they are instantly positioned
as experts and viewers flock to bookstores to invest in their expert
not suggesting you stalk Oprah. I use her as an example to illustrate
the power of perception. Any time you find yourself in a position
where you are interviewing or presenting before a group, you are
instantly, from a perception standpoint, elevated to the position
of expert. Iíve counseled trainers who were floundering with their
careers to use local resources to become radio show guests, television
"experts" or the subject of articles in local print media. For many,
that simple achievement has often led to lucrative fitness livelihoods.
status is a vital ingredient in establishing a position that allows
you to prosper despite the state of the industry, but there has
to be more. Fitness experts in the media today are commonplace.
To further identify a position of power, letís understand why people
are failing to get the results they seek.
isnít lack of willpower. Many who experience weight loss "failures"
stick to diet after diet, and although that willpower sooner or
later gives way to natureís call to eat, even a week of deprivation
is enough to prove that willpower is present. Is it laziness? No
way. Many of your clients have attempted numerous exercise programs
before, subjecting themselves to hours upon hours of tread-mill
sweating and ultimately wind up with expanded waistlines.
found that when people fail to get the fitness or weight loss results
they seek, itís for one reason and one reason only. They are being
misled. They are attempting to change their bodies with ineffective
technologies. Starvation diets, excessive aerobic exercise, stimulant
herbs as well as brain altering drugs may all offer short-term weight
loss tricks, but if the goal is a leaner, healthier body and an
improved quality of life, every one of those options will fall short.
In order to have value far above that promised by other perceived
alternatives, you have to use your expert status to empower people.
How? By guiding them, coaching them and also becoming a resource
for a concept they so desperately need: basic understandable truth.
are confused, and as a result they clutch straws, seeking out the
next miracle. They need to be rescued by experts positioned as deliverers
of basic understandable empowering information.
marketing efforts should place you in front of people and establish
you as an authority. Whether you achieve this through live seminars
or by tapping into the power of the media, if you deliver understandable
truth regarding fat loss, health, metabolism or muscle development,
your position skyrockets and your marketing efforts pay-off in massive
should be viewed, not as someone who sells personal training but
rather as a qualified, educated, passionate individual with a single
agenda: results. There are a great many individuals and companies
making a fortune at the expense of fitness hopefuls. Your position
should separate you instantly from the rest of the pack.
others fight for attention by clamoring to sell "quick easy magic."
Being a Personal Fitness Professional, you have a huge advantage,
but you have to know how to convince the population at large that
you are, in fact, unique. Establish a position, get out there as
an expert and market fiercely. Recognize the power you can gain
by marketing creatively: write an occasional article, stand up and
speak before groups and pursue relationships with the media. There
are hundreds of thousands of self-described personal trainers vying
for attention in health clubs and gyms. Be more. Be better. Grab
your position as an expert, a resource for basic understandable
truth and despite the state of the industry, shine and prosper!
Kaplan is the author of Personal
Training Profits and A Secure Fitness Future and one of the
worldís most in-demand fitness professionals. His PEAK Training
seminar program helps fitness professionals build and develop their
careers. He can be reached at 800.552.1998 or you can visit him
on the Web at www.philkaplan.com.