A lot of trainers have a bit of an obsession with leads and adverts.  “I need more leads”, “how do I get more leads?”, “what’s working now for adverts?” BUT…. a lead isn’t a paying client and just because an advert is working for one person doesn’t mean it will be appropriate for you. 

A better question to ask is “How can I attract and keep the clients I like working with?” By changing the question you ask yourself, you change your focus from “I just want anyone to show an interest” to “I want someone that is going to help form the basis of a sustainable business”.  Not only does this mean you will get a better quality lead but you will also end up getting more of them by being able to tailor your messages to make them appealing. 

Let’s break the question down: 

1) Who are the clients I like working with? 

Knowing who you want to work with (and who you don’t want to work with) is pretty crucial for a sustainable business.  Unless you are just starting out then you should know who you work best with and if you are new to the industry then you probably have an idea who you want to work with for now even if you change your mind in future. 

This might mean people of a specific gender, age group or life circumstance or people with specific values, wants or needs.  There are many ways to categorise people and it is always worth spending some time identifying the commonalities between the people you like working with if you aren’t sure.  Think about why you like working with them and why they like working with you rather than taking the “guess who*” approach of only looking at obvious physical characteristics.  (* referring to the game e.g. all my clients have beards or red hair or are females aged 20-30.)

2) How can I attract them? 

This actually becomes a lot easier once you know who you are trying to attract.  Spend some time identifying what it was that attracted the clients that already work with you to you in the first place.  Consider how what you do benefits them and their life, understand what it is that appeals to them about you and your service and what prompted them to take action.  Once you know all this then attracting more becomes a lot easier AND you are better placed to move seamlessly from catching their attention to onboarding them as a client.  If you aren’t attracting the people you want, then it is a case of looking at the messages you are putting out and ensuring they are aligned with the customer you are after. 

3) How do I retain them? 

Provide a great service based on their needs.  Help them get the results they are after, support their psychological needs (self determination theory), understand what core concerns you are meeting (see Cathy MacDonalds work) and give them what they want, need and didn’t know they needed.  View everything through their lens, they get to decide what a great service looks like, what great customer service means to them and what is worth investing their time and money into. You get to influence expectations and are in control of meeting or exceeding those.

Don’t be tempted to ignore this stage until you have more clients, it is important to think long term from the beginning, otherwise it’s like trying to fill a sink without a plug.  You’ll need a lot more people to even begin to cover the basics.

This approach still works if you are starting out

Even if you are completely new to training people the questions above need to be considered.  If you are’t completely sure who you want to work with go with the group of people you know best, the group most available to you or the group that inspired you to get into the fitness industry.  You can always change your mind later.

You may not have clients to base your answers to question 2 on but you will know people who fit the group you are aiming for so think about them, how do they talk about the kinds of things your service will help with?  What are the things that stop them from buying your service or one like it?  What questions do they have?  All of these things will help you tailor your messages.

Put the time into answering the questions

The more you expand on your answers to each of the questions the better you will be at building your business so, if this is a new approach for you, make time to really think about each area.  Putting the time into this stage is far more valuable than constantly chasing a new angle to get leads or copying what other people are doing. 


LTB members I’d recommend the Marketing course, the Consumer Psychology and Fitness and the Consumer webinars and the Retention course as great starting resources for these areas.

If you aren’t an LTB member yet then get yourself singed up to the free trial here to benefit as you go into the new year.

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