Marketing, especially for someone who is passionate about fitness, biomechanics, and anatomy, is a foreign subject that can be really scary and intimidating. To keep it simple, marketing is everything you do to position your fitness (and nutrition) products and personal training services in front of potential clients.
It’s an activity, involving a wide variety of actions and strategies that result in making products and services available that satisfy the needs and expectations of customers. The goal is to generate profits for the business. Marketing activities include sales, advertising, public relations, pricing, and packaging. One simple way to explain the differences between each aspect, is with the following anecdote:
“If a man tells a date she’s intelligent, is a great conversationalist, and looks beautiful, he is saying the right things to the right person at the right time, and that is an example of marketing. If the same man tells his date how handsome, smart, and successful he is in business, that’s advertising. If someone else tells the young woman (his date) how handsome, smart, and successful her date is, that’s an example of public relations.”
In any business, whether it be personal training or selling hammers, the goal is to persuade someone to part with their hard earned money. Marketing is all about finding the right people to persuade, by using the right message, at the right time. Therefore, as a business owner, and effective marketing strategy helps you to allocate your valuable time and money to accomplish the following:
- Generate revenue by selling products and/or services to newly acquired clients
- Generate revenue by selling products and/or services to existing clients
- Build client loyalty and repeat business
- Build client loyalty and referral business
- Increase the dollar value of each individual sale
Customers Are the Key to Marketing
As simple and calculated as marketing may seem, it really isn’t that “cut and dry”. Although one would think that marketing begins with a great idea or unique service to sell, it actually starts with customers (the people who will buy what you have to sell). Regardless of how amazing your products or services may be, you need to have an audience of people who want (or need) what you have to sell for your business to succeed.
Most fitness entrepreneurs truly love what they do. Helping people make positive improvements in their lives and getting them to feel better about themselves through fitness and exercise can be “intoxicating”. Fitness entrepreneurs also innocently assume everyone else feels the same way about fitness. In reality, the majority of people don’t like exercise and are not necessarily looking for what personal trainers have to sell.
People have their own unique perceptions of the world based on their own belief system. For example, if someone is looking to lose weight, but had negative experiences with exercise or sports in school (i.e., embarrassed in gym class, being the last one picked in team sports), they will most likely hesitate when it comes to starting an exercise program at their local gym. Although the program may be proven to work, it will be hard to “sell” this person on the proven weight loss program. In the end, great ideas will only succeed when you market within the context of the perceptions of the people you target.
As a business, you need to market to your customers by fulfilling their wants, providing for their needs, solving their problems, or improving their situation. People don’t just “buy” a product or service. They “buy” the concept of what that product or service will do for them, or help them do something for themselves. People who are overweight don’t buy a fitness club membership to exercise and get sweaty. They “buy” into the concept of a new, thin, happy, and successful life.
Marketing vs. Selling
Before we continue, let’s take a step back and outline the differences between marketing and selling. There is often confusion between the two terms, even though they are very different in their function. Marketing is constantly evolving and changing to meet the needs of various markets. Sales, on the other hand, always stays the same.
Selling consists of the real time conversations between two (or more) people. It happens in the moment and is a short term activity. When it comes to sales, the fundamental motivations for someone to buy, and the skills a salesperson needs to obtain commitments to purchase, will always remain the same. Regardless of what a person purchases, and the various steps they take to buy something, they buy emotionally and justify their decisions intellectually.
Marketing does not involve one-on-one conversations and is a vehicle to broadcast messages to many people at one time (i.e., radio, television, print media, social media, etc.). Unlike a sales transaction, it involves a long term activity designed to deliver a message promising to fulfill a customer’s wants and needs through the products and/or services a business has to offer.
Effective marketing strategies, at their core, exploit human psychology. Marketing campaigns target their message to drive consumers to want and/or need a product, by manipulating the thoughts and emotions of the intended audience. These strategies differ based on which medium is used (i.e., television, radio, print media, social media, etc.) and the context of the message. In the end, marketing, when done right, can effectively manipulate a target audience to feel good about purchasing a specific product or service, whether they need it or not.
Marketing Made Simple
There is a common misconception that marketing is for established businesses that have big budgets and a dedicated marketing department. That’s why most fitness entrepreneurs (the ones with a passion for fitness and a limited bank account) believe marketing is optional, and something to add to the business when it has the extra money to spend. Being that most fitness entrepreneurs are a “team of one”, these business owners are too afraid to tackle marketing on their own and have come to believe they need to hire an expert for marketing to actually work.
Although it is multifaceted, marketing is not a unicorn or mythical creature that is only seen and understood by marketing specialists. Marketing can be broken down into a few basic ingredients, like a successful business “recipe”. To keep it simple, marketing consists of the following components:
- Understanding the “real” demand for a specific product or service
- Exploring and identifying what motivates clients to buy this product or service
- Developing a message that makes the purchase more appealing
- Identifying the ultimate “sweet spot” (where the message, audience, and timing are in perfect harmony)
In “Why Does Marketing Matter? – Part Two” we will continue to dissect marketing and make it relatable for personal trainers and fitness professionals.