As our industry moves forward into the “NEW NORMAL” there are a ton of questions about WHAT to do next.
New fitness business models continue to fragment and expand into various hybrids and 100% online training services and memberships.
A LITTLE CLARITY…
Among the hybrids and 100% online business owners — I hear and read about “disappointment” because “online” sales are not happening quickly enough.
Many bought into the myth: “build it and they will come” — after being sold on how “easy” it would be!
You already know NOTHING in the fitness business is easy!
But, just like anything else… if you put in the work… online fitness services can be incredibly lucrative. I have proof!
Listen… the reason “ONLINE SALES” take longer to convert is because they require a relationship.
RELATIONSHIP MARKETING IS DIFFERENT
In the digital landscape, it’s super easy to “connect” with people…. anytime, anywhere on the entire planet!
But, a “connection” is NOT a “relationship.”
In fact, they are two very different things.
Just think about this for a moment…..
A “connection” is a click away.
But, a “relationship” is a commitment. It requires time and space to nurture and grow.
THE ONE-CLICK CULTURE…
At some point, online marketers decided the holy grail is this:
“Close the sale with just one-click.”
This “one-click” mindset has become pervasive and created a “culture of impatience.”
Today, online marketers expect super-fast “one-click” sales results — rather than allowing a relationship to develop and flourish.
THE ONE-CLICK DILEMMA
The problem with one-click culture is that it’s made us forget that there are real PEOPLE on the other side of the computer screen.
Yes… real people with real feelings, emotions and a yearning for “relationships” — especially after 18 months of social distancing!
It is PEOPLE with whom we form relationships.
It is PEOPLE to whom we market our health and fitness services.
One-click culture is a data-driven strategy fueled by instant gratification — even when it de-humanizes the very PEOPLE it hopes to serve.
Seems crazy… right?
Want to see a data-driven strategy in action? Last week I browsed the websites of several big box multi-club operators as well as some online fitness platforms:
• LA Fitness
• Gold’s Gyms
• 24 Hour Fitness
• Planet Fitness
• Life Time Fitness
In a nutshell, ALL of them are 100% focused on the “connection” (leads, sales) and NOT the “relationship.”
But….. I digress.
Let’s get back to you and YOUR marketing.
TWO (2) SECRETS TO SUCCESSFUL “ONLINE MARKETING”
While there are many nuances to online marketing, here are the 2 BIG THINGS all online marketers in the “health and fitness space” must consider:
Secret #1: Identify Your Niche
Too many fit pros and health coaches attempt to be “all things to all people.”
It never works… and definitely won’t work when marketing your “online” fitness services.
The most successful online fit pros and health coaches are “niche specialists.”
And, the deeper, more narrow the niche, the better!
- Steve Nunno in upstate NY works specifically with firefighters. And, he just launched an exclusive “membership” to a deeper niche: Female Firefighters.
- Michele Sodon near Denver, CO, recently introduced a proprietary program called “Passage” for “menopausal women struggling to get through this phase of life relatively unscathed.”
- Trent Mitchell in S. California focuses exclusively on retired business executives who choose to remain active…. really active!
- Cory Loudon in Ohio runs a membership site for “road warriors” (sale professionals) using on-demand videos of resistance band workouts. The videos were all recorded inside motel rooms to demonstrate where and how to hook up the bands!
When working with a niche… your ability to “talk their language” is exponentially increased.
It allows you to “resonate” and emotionally connect with your niche audience. And, that leads to the next secret:
Secret #2: Build Relationships
Well… yes, that’s what this post is all about.
But, WHAT does that really mean?
Here’s how I describe it for my coaching clients:
A “relationship” is built on an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION.
Your online prospects have a rainbow of feelings…from fear to joy – and you must tap into those emotions in order to make a personal and emotional connection.
For example, you could describe the “anxiety of the first workout” and how it might make one feel. Or, you can detail how it feels to be de-conditioned or overweight — from either your own experiences or that of one of your clients. These are often labeled “pain points” but, it’s really deeper than that.
On the other hand, you can also describe the joy, confidence and feeling of “wellbeing” upon completing even just one session.
No matter what you convey your conversation needs to “resonate” with your online prospects.
A “relationship” is built on TRUST.
All relationships are based on trust. In this case, it means “delivering on your promise.”
For example, displaying your certifications to demonstrate your credibility. Showing before and after pictures, videos and testimonials allowing prospects to project themselves into your coaching. More than telling your online prospects that you are trustworthy and can help them achieve real results… SHOW THEM!
A “relationship” is built on YOUR PERSONALITY.
This might be the biggest one of all. Take down all barriers between you and your prospects. Allow them to see WHO you are and WHAT’s behind the curtain.
Obviously a lot of this can be accomplished with “behind the scenes” photography as well as a social media presence.
And, believe it or not, you can even share insights and challenges of running your business. Yes… you can allow them to “participate” in your own journey and take them along for the ride. After all, they’re part it!
YOU’RE SUCCESSFUL WHEN…
Here’s the true goal of online relationship marketing:
Your online prospects should come away from your emails, blog posts, website, etc, thinking to themselves:
“Wow, this person (you) really “gets” me!”
“This person (you) knows exactly what I need to do!”
“I need to work with this person (you)!”
Another sign that your relationship marketing is successful occurs when you attend a “live” event and people you’ve never met come right up and start talking to you as if you’re best friends!
That’s because they “feel” like they know you… (like they already have a relationship with you!) even though the conversation has been totally one-sided through your communications.
It’s a little weird at first. But, you’ll get used to it… and feel like a rock star!
So, if you’re already an online marketer, (or plan to be one) ask yourself a few questions.
Do you have a niche?
Are your communications “conversational” and friendly like the free email download on this page?
When you read your website pages, emails and blog posts do you feel like you’re connecting with your prospects?
USE EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT!
Relationship building is a “full-on” strategy that requires the use of ALL of your marketing tools:
• blog posts
• live streams
• social media posts
O.K. let’s visit “real-ville” and just accept that none of this is easy. And, yes, it’s time consuming.
Even after you’ve got it all going like clockwork, you still need to be patient.
The “nurturing” process of relationship marketing is NOT an “overnight” thing.
BUT… SO WORTH IT!!!
There are lots of successes among “online” fit pros and health coaches.
Over the years I’ve showcased many of them. And, have built out websites for quite a few.
The one recurring theme with those who run relationship marketing programs is LONGEVITY.
By that, I mean their clients are long-term and super loyal. There’s no churn.
As a result, their online businesses continue to grow and scale with:
• Hot Referrals (from loyal clients)
• Expanded Product Sales
• Affiliate Marketing
• Evergreen Programs
Ultimately, successful online marketing starts with a RELATIONSHIP!