According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 250,000 fitness trainers and aerobics instructors employed in the United States in 2010. That number is expected to increase 24% by 2020 to over 310,000 fitness professionals. In a highly competitive market with lots of competition, how does one differentiate themselves from the pack and be successful? Personal branding.
Your personal brand is the powerful, clear, positive idea that comes to mind whenever people think of you. It’s what you represent (your values, abilities and actions) that others associate with you. Your personal brand influences how others perceive you in your work environment, including your clients, colleagues and competitors. It does this by telling your clients/potential clients three (3) things:
- Who you are as a personal trainer.
- What you do as a personal trainer.
- What makes you different from other personal trainers (or how you create value for your clients).
Many contacts in your circle of influence may already hold a high opinion of you based on these qualities, even though you weren’t even trying. So … imagine what would happen if you consciously crafted your personal brand to demonstrate your value to the people you want to work with (and those who can influence others to work with you)!
A Personal Brand is About Influence
Essentially, a personal brand is about influence. Personal brands influence how potential clients perceive you. Ideally, your personal brand will match the characteristics that your potential clients find valuable. This builds a sense of comfort and confidence when looking for a personal trainer. To be effective, your personal brand must elicit the following in the minds of your potential client:
- You are different. To be seen as new and original is the most important aspect of personal branding.
- You are superior. Your personal brand must encourage the belief that you are the among the best at what you do in some way (training ability, interaction with clients, get proven results, knowledge and experience, etc.).
- You are authentic. Great personal brands are genuine and real. Your personal brand must be built on the truth of who you are, what your strength is, and what you love about your work as a personal trainer.
The Promise of a Personal Brand
Your personal brand tells potential clients what they can expect when they train with you, which is what makes it so powerful. It’s an implied commitment between a personal trainer and a client (a promise that makes the client believe that when they pay for personal training, they are getting what they expect in return). People buy because a consumer brand (i.e. Apple, Starbucks, Nordstrom) makes them feel a certain way and their choices are rarely rational. Brands create expectations, and if those expectations are met, people will buy again (aka. brand loyalty). If the brand doesn’t live up to a person’s expectations, they will go somewhere else.
A personal brand works the same way. How you perform in your job throughout the day broadcasts information about your character, abilities and performance. It creates expectations in the minds of others of what they’ll get when they work with you. If your personal brand is sending the right message, potential clients won’t have a single reason to look elsewhere when they are looking for a personal trainer.
Creating a Successful Personal Brand
Start by identifying the qualities and characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What have you done recently (i.e. the last week) to make yourself stand out as a personal trainer?
- What would your clients or colleagues say is your greatest strength as a personal trainer?
- What is your most noteworthy/distinguishing personal trait that makes you a great personal trainer?
Next take these qualities and characteristics and identify the benefits each one has to your personal training clients. An example would look like this:
My experience as a mother of two young children, staying fit and healthy through two pregnancies, makes me a more effective personal trainer for women looking to remain active during their pregnancy in addition to helping them get back into shape post-preganancy.
Once you’ve identified the benefits you distinctively bring to your clients, you need to create your personal brand message. This is essentially the “30 second sales pitch” that is consistent in all of your marketing efforts as you sell your services as the “right” personal trainer for your target market. This message needs to be honest, genuine and sincere. An example would look like this:
My name is Jack and I am a certified personal trainer of two years. I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and learning from, the greatest fitness mentors in the industry. I continue loving to learn as I work towards getting at my craft. Getting results is important to my clients but my number one concern is safety and creating positive fitness experiences. My clients would say my best traits are my attention to detail and how I make the workouts challenging and fun!
Regardless of how you communicate your personal brand message as a personal trainer (i.e. in a conversation, in writing, on the radio, or in a video) it’s important that the message matches the expectations of the audience for the optimal effect. For example, a personal trainer with a personal brand associated with youth and family fitness could organize an after school group walking program in their neighborhood or work with their local church group to provide fitness programs and services. Your personal brand is what you say, how you act and how others perceive you as a personal trainer.
Developing a great personal brand can ultimately:
- Get you more of the right type of clients.
- Increase your earning potential. Your personal brand will position you as one of the leaders as a personal trainer (you’ll be able to demand a higher pay).
- Create a consistent flow of business.
- Keep you “top of mind” when people are looking for a personal trainer.
- Increase your credibility as a personal trainer.
- Create added perceived value as a personal trainer.
- Get you recognized.
Final Thoughts …
As a personal trainer there are three things you need to do to become successful:
- You have to provide real value to your client.
- You have to be a personal training “visionary” (a leader, a teacher, and an “imagineer” – being able to imagine and create something bold and new).
- You have to be a businessperson (focused on the processes to generate revenue).
Create your brand. Create your plan. Plant the seeds and watch your business grow!