Online and digital marketing channels have created unprecedented opportunities for personal trainers and fitness professionals to find new business, build and manage a thriving client base and increase awareness about their services and offerings.
But it takes more than a Facebook account and a few posts to market your services effectively online.
Alexi Kafentzis, a digital marketing expert and e-business specialist who works with the Health & Fitness Professionals Associations (HFPA), explains that there are many approaches and strategies to consider when you’re trying to build your personal training brand and business online, with a few non-negotiables.
Find your unique flavour
“A good place to start is to look at what other successful personal trainers are doing online and on social media,” says Alexi.
He suggests that aspiring and emerging fit pros should follow other industry experts who they value, respect and want to compete with.
“See what resonates with you about their style and methods – what works and what doesn’t – and use those insights and various elements of their campaigns to craft your unique approach that has your own personal spin on it.”
Crafting a digital content play
Alexi believes that the most successful online marketers are savvy fitness professionals who leverage their considerable knowledge, experience and expertise to create valuable content that they share online.
“Compelling and informative content positions you as an expert in your field. This helps to build a community of regular readers or followers who trust you, which you can then target with campaigns to generate leads or boost sales.”
The key to realising value and success from this approach, though, is getting people to share their contact information, explains Alexi. The best way to do this is to give them something of value in return for their contact info and data, like a beginner’s workout, a diet plan or a helpful weight-loss guide.
Building a digital footprint
According to Alexi, a website should form the foundation of every digital strategy. “It’s a central location that you control and can use to share your content and collect data. If you have the budget, I highly recommend creating a well designed website where you can publish blog posts, news, client testimonials and your contact info, and capture visitor information.”
In this regard, catchy headlines or special offers on personal training or programmes work well to draw people in and get potential new clients to opt into your database, he adds.
“It’s not hard sell of your products and services. Instead, craft all content with a call to action, whether that’s to hire you, buy a programme or simply share their contact info with you for regular updates. With their permission to send them emails, newsletters or contact them, you are able to market to them directly and maintain regular engagement.
“This is the most powerful form of sales and marketing because if someone gives you their email address or cellphone number, you can assume there is some interest there.”
Small spend, big impact
Alexi adds that functionality also exists on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram where fit pros can use forms to collect data and build valuable databases.
“The added benefit of investing some advertising budget on these social media platforms is that you can target based on location and according to specific demographics, which ensures trainers target the right people and there is very little wastage. They’re also cost effective, which means this form of advertising isn’t restrictive to most fit pros.”
Boosting content on social media platforms is also a great way to target people based on their search history or interests.
“This increases the likelihood that they will click through to your website where they can register if they like what they see or read. That’s why I always advise allocating at least some budget to social media marketing.”
Creating organic growth
You can also grow your database organically by seeding content via social media platforms.
“The most important element in this equation is the quality of your content. Content is king in the digital world and is pivotal to any successful social media marketing strategy. The better the content, the more people will trust you. They will also be more willing to engage with you. And people who read helpful, relevant or interesting content tend to share it with their friends and family.”
When it comes to creating compelling content that keeps people coming back for more, Alexi offers the following suggestions:
- Create content that you would like to read and are interested in.
- Don’t just regurgitate content you’ve read before.
- Always come across as professional. Use proper language, grammar and punctuation.
- Keep it concise, informative and to the point as people have limited time and attention spans.
- Use catchy, attention-grabbing headlines and sub-headlines.
- Always add your unique viewpoints and insights to every topic.
- Ensure content is helpful and relevant.
- Be authentic and relatable, and always keep it tasteful.
- Post new content consistently and regularly.
- Boost search engine optimisation by using the right key words and tagging your articles appropriately.
- Always use positive positioning instead of negative messaging.
Expanding on the last point, Alexi explains that it can be as simple as changing a storyline from “how weight gain is detrimental to your health”, to “how losing weight will improve your life.” Creating a good mix of content also helps to keep readers interested and offers a broader appeal.
Regular engagement required
But you can’t expect to push your content out into the digital realm and expect people to come to you. You must be ready to engage with people online. “This requires an investment in time, but it will be worth it in the long-run,” explains Alexi.
“Respond to people who have taken the time to comment and post on your social media feeds and on your blog or website, and make sure you reply promptly. People appreciate it and this creates opportunities for further engagement which could lead to new business. It also shows that you are accessible, while building social proof and value within your online communities.”
Importantly, it also shows that you aren’t just interested in pushing your products and services online, which many people are acutely aware of these days, adds Alexi.
“However, when you do engage, remember that not everyone will agree with you or may not hold the same views as you. They also have their own opinions, so respect their right and don’t ignore them. And don’t argue in public forums. Rather, master the art of debate.”
Additional digital must-haves
Mobile platforms also offer additional marketing and engagement opportunities, with chat groups and SMS campaigns proving both popular and effective when used correctly.
“It’s important that you aren’t obtrusive and disingenuous, especially within broadcast groups. And the same principles apply when sharing content – it should be as relevant and personal as often as possible.”
Alexi also suggests using WhatsApp stories on groups to post special offers. “Design something attractive and catchy, or use a web tool to design a graphic, but be polite and unobtrusive when you send it. And use these channels sparingly. You don’t want to come off as overbearing or aggressive in your hard-sell campaigns.”
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.