Marketing can be difficult for the newly-qualified personal trainer. There are so many ways of promoting yourself, online or in person, that it can be overwhelming.
The list below examines some of the more popular ways you might consider.
We’re not suggesting that you use all of these methods – you’d barely have enough time to train people if you did. They’re suggestions that have worked for others, who have found their own journey to successful marketing through hard work, luck, and trial and error. Why not benefit from a head start by taking this knowledge on board? Or signing up for PG-NASM's business course?
Personal trainer marketing ideas
A strong website need not take a huge amount of time or invention to create, and neither does it necessarily require coding knowledge. Wix, Wordpress and others allow you to create a site from a set of templates, many of which are free to use. If photographs and video are important to you, make sure these are prominent. It’s important that the site reflects you and the type of service you will offer; it should invite people to contact you. In a similar vein, the text you use to describe yourself and your style is important. Words such as ‘patient’ , ‘caring’ or ‘friendly’ are just as important for people to read as ‘motivating’ or ‘inspirational’.
Make sure it’s easy to navigate and not text heavy, and that you have a single contact page where people can get in touch easily – clearly displaying your phone number, email, social media etc. Include big call-to-action buttons, such as links to promotions and areas to sign up to an email newsletter. If things aren’t working, experimentation using products such as Google Optimizer will tell you whether visitors are engaging with the site, and whether slight alterations might be necessary.
Once the website has been developed, the next step is to get it on the first pages of a web search. Web designers may offer a service to ‘optimise’ your website (Search Engine Optimisation) and have it hitting the top of the search engines. Another option to consider is enrolling on various online business directories that offer low-cost business listings – these are often a cost effective way of getting to the first page on a web search.
Regular newsletters to both clients and those interested in joining is a good way of gauging interest. Don’t make them regular to the point of verging on harassment; once per week will suffice. A newsletter might contain:
- News on clients’ successes
- Engaging photographs
- Links to videos
- Promotional coupons
- Subscriber-only content
The way you use your social media will - or should - differ across accounts. For example:
This may be your strongest initial selling social media platform, simply because existing members and clients can quickly and easily spread the word about your services. Interested visitors can see the sort of people who are clients, and how they’ve benefited. They can see your courses and you can also elicit reviews, and pay to use targeted advertising to find people who may be looking for personal trainers. Don’t forget Facebook Live as well, when you become confident with videos.
Obviously picture-based - this might include running routes; meal ideas; before/after shots; and memes and inspirational quotes. Search out other trainers and see what they do; how they frame photographs and which filters they use.
Use this to offer advice on exercise and nutrition; business models; problem-solving in business, the benefits of good health on life, and so on. It’s also a fine way of forming a network of like-minded professionals, gaining endorsements and recommendations, and also recruiting any employees should you wish to expand.
Other advantages of LinkedIn include:
- Access to more than 200 million users worldwide
- The option of weekly digest emails from their connections.
- The large number of groups for professionals to join and interact with each other.
- Numerous free functions
- LinkedIn InMails give you the capability to directly message anyone that you uncover throughout the social network. These are far less spammy and cold than most regular direct correspondence, as the recipient can access information related to you instantly to check you out.
- One of the greatest features, only available on an upgraded account, is that you can see who has looked at your profile.
- Another upgrade feature is a saved search capability that will email you automatically if a new user appears on LinkedIn that meets your particular search filters
- If you have a website or blog, you can download a ‘View my profile on LinkedIn’ badge to display on your homepage.
If you’re on LinkedIn already, why not join our group where we discuss all the latest news and findings in the health and fitness industry? If you don’t yet have a profile on LinkedIn, set up your free profile today!
Twitter is a good avenue for finding new reading matter and the routines of other trainers. Utilise hashtags to search out relevant trends and use photographs and videos. Also, do some research on the best times to schedule tweets (eg after work) for success.
They may seem like a pain, but networking events will help you to gain a reputation as a knowledgeable personal trainer. You may pick up speaking opportunities at events and partnership opportunities, as well as advice on how to run the business side of your company. You might also get access to funding and investment, and boost your confidence at the same time.
The basic idea of these clubs is that they meet on a regular basis to exchange ideas and, most importantly, give each other referrals and new business. Business Networking UK (BNI) has a global presence, yet operates on a local level – groups meet once a week (usually at breakfast) and each member of the group is given a minute to talk about their business.
The significant advantage of networking clubs is that they are fantastic places to meet the people who can help you with your business needs, such as accountants, printers, and web designers.
Six-week weight-loss programme. Eight weeks to lose a stone. Get yourself fit for the football season...these could all be used to get multiple people interested in improving themselves with a specific objective in mind. Offer these as part of an overall package, to be paid up-front, for newbies – but at the same time don’t forget the clients you already have. Discounts for long-standing members for a new, additional course may be well-received.
While many PTs may be wary of filming themselves, through lack of knowledge, practice will make perfect. Firstly, you don’t need to be an Oscar-winning director. A mobile phone, a good studio (fitness, not Hollywood!) with strong lighting, and probably a microphone, are the only real prerequisites for a short video.
Content could include an introduction video about yourself, interviews with successful clients, introductions to exercises with pointers on technique; analysis of fitness news; and recipes. For those who are even braver, you could eventually try live workouts, training, boot camps and conversations over social media.
The bigger issue will be getting people to find you among the competition, so you must treat your various methods as an overall package – not separate. Link from your social media accounts to your videos; play them at networking events; even consider QR codes on printed material.
Podcasts are simpler still than videos, and easy to edit and put together. People can listen to them while training or driving, or while they’re busy doing something else. They don’t need to be long, expansive talks – in fact, a short and snappy 5-7 minutes might be ideal. A smartphone/tablet and a mini microphone, alongside an app such as Audacity and Reaper, will be all you need from a technical perspective; more difficult is coming up with fresh content on a consistent basis, and making sure people listen. Try linking up with other fitness specialists to provide new voices.
In the new year people want to shed the winter pounds. In spring they want a body ready for the beach. In summer the sun is hot and they want to get out running. So why not host a public event, perhaps with other PTs from the area, and hold a day of introductory lessons and activities for people of all ages? This could be in a park or playing field or, with permission, a shopping centre or town square. Record it and you’ll have fantastic footage to use on your website/social media. Perhaps it could become a regular, yearly occasion.
Another method is to take part in fitness events yourself. Even taking part in regular associated events as a participant, such as 10k runs or park runs, might be enough to get your name out there.
Word of mouth
Encouraging people to spread the word is one of the most powerful methods of gaining new clients. Anyone can see a website or a social media feed and ignore it; that’s more difficult when a member of our family, a friend or a colleague raves about about something that might be of interest. Even better, encourage ‘finder’s fees’ or discounts for new members.
Unbiased, positive reviews from a wide range of clients could be worth their weight in gold, so periodically encourage people to do so. Notable quotes could be used on social media and your website, or even on recruitment sites such as Glassdoor. You may also incorporate them into any printed material, such as posters and flyers.
A more unusual idea that takes the flyer in a new direction; a printed out set of ideas for exercises, or advice. Maybe it could be a poster or planner, perhaps in calendar form. Maybe it’s a 30-day itinerary to achieve flatter abs or bigger biceps. It’s essentially something that can be taken out and about or pinned on the wall – it’s up to the recipient. Ensure that it’s easy to find and print out through your website, or that it can be found anywhere where people pick up leaflets.
PPC (pay-per-click) advertising is not easy to understand at first but, for personal trainers, it can be a quick way of pushing people towards your website before many of the other methods listed here are utilised. The process involves paying for sponsored ads, which appear at the top of the page when people search for certain terms. Every time someone clicks on an ad to come through to your site you pay for it, and this can be expensive depending on the rate you’re paying. However, it can also get results quickly, and you may only need 3-6 months to see returns – and then you can stop buying. Do your research before diving in.
Discounts on multiple classes/sessions
The initial offer to bring people in is a smart idea to try. A free consultation for clients is a usual way of meeting people, and this is a necessary evil of the fitness world, despite involving working for nothing. However, if you can quickly put together a brief layout of how a fitness schedule could work within a given time-frame, and how you could help, with an introductory offer (say, £150 for four weeks of sessions), you might gain regular clients.
As old-fashioned as they may seem, the humble business card is still a clear and crisp method of promoting your details, but also one where you can really express your skills, personality and creativity. This Pinterest board shows some of the best examples; note the sliding bar chart; the peel-off stickers representing body shapes; the ‘one-minute’ plank challenge; and the ‘detachable belly’. Non-expensive from sites/designers such as Etsy or Vistaprint, and easy to spread far and wide, these are a good way of getting yourself noticed quickly.
Fitness and personal training lend themselves naturally to partnerships with local companies, organisations and public bodies. A joint partnership with a local nutritionist, sending business to each other, can surely only benefit both. However, one could be a little more creative and look for additional streams of revenue; for example, classes at a local school in lieu of the normal sports classes, or businesses at lunchtime, or exercise for older people. Not only might you gain a regular and fairly easy income, but word of mouth (see before) might bring in new business elsewhere.