Home Posts tagged "fitness business"

Why Fitness Industry Hiring is Different Than What You Think It Is

In the past, I've written a few times about how when we want to expand our staff at Cressey Sports Performance, we only hire from our internship program. In hiring, the goal is to get someone who is both competent for the job AND a good fit for your culture. We can teach that competency in an internship, but just as importantly, an internship give us 3-5 months to evaluate whether an individual is the right fit from a personality standpoint. We actively involve our current staff in hiring to make sure that they're the ones helping to shape this culture. I can't recall exactly, but I believe I initially heard the competency/fit discussion in a book from Richard Branson and his hiring practices at Virgin.

This is an important lesson for all businesses, but I'd argue that the fitness industry is unique in that the pendulum swings much more in the direction of "fit." Why? My theory is that it's because the barrier to entry in this industry is so low that very few candidates show a level of competency so overwhelming that they're "must-hires."

Just last week, my theory was put to the test when a large company reached out to me on a reference check on one of our former interns who'd applied for a job. Here was the email I received:

Hi Eric,

I was given your information from <name removed> regarding a professional reference. Would you be able to answer the following questions, in a timely manner?

How long have you know him or her?

What is him or her work ethic?

What management style is conducive to their success?

What is one strength and one opportunity for improvement?

Strength:
Improvement:

Eligible for rehire?

Thank you!

You see where I'm going with this? Not a single one of those questions was specific to this candidate's competency for the position? She didn't ask me whether he had memorized the Krebs Cycle or could differentiate between linear and conjugate periodization.

It's crazy, but competency is actually either a) assumed or b) viewed in a way that the organization thinks they can teach a candidate everything they need to know to be successful...as long as they're a good fit.

What does this mean for up-and-coming fitness and strength and conditioning professionals? Let your resume speak to your competencies, but utilize interviews and your references to show just how awesome you are from a fit standpoint. And, if you're looking for a job at a particular location, get in front of your potential employer in person before applying. That might mean doing a facility visit to observe, dropping off your resume in person, or actually doing a lengthier internship at that location.

Our hiring processes are one of the subjects Cressey Sports Performance co-founder Pete Dupuis and I cover in great detail in our Business Building Mentorship. Our next offering is April 7 at our Jupiter, FL location. For more information, click here

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5 Strategies to Avoid Overthinking Strength and Conditioning Programs

I frequently run Q&A sessions on my Instagram stories, and sometimes, I'll get an inquiry that warrants a detailed response that goes beyond a 15-second time limit of the small amount of text I can squeeze into a respond. This question is one such example:

The more I learn, the more stressful I find programming for athletes. Any tips for this?

First off, I should acknowledge that this is an incredibly common problems for not only new trainers, but experienced coaches as well. The curse of knowledge is a very real thing that can lead to a lot of frustrated tapping on the keyboard as you write up programs for clients that really don't require things all that advanced. Here are a five strategies I've found to help:

1. Identify the biggest rocks and circle them.

After I write up all my notes on an evaluation, I go back and circle 2-3 things that I view as the highest priority items. Maybe it's very limited cervical range of motion, or brutal single-leg strength. If it's a resting heart rate in the 80bpm range, maybe we need to hammer aerobic capacity. Regardless, I find that when you definitively identify and highlight the highest priority items, it makes it easy to get the ball rolling on the program and build some momentum in the "don't sit in silence and overthink things" direction.

2. Think quality movement first.

When joints move efficiently (work from "neutral"), it impacts a host of other systems. You take longer to shift from aerobic to anaerobic energy systems strategies. The length-tension relationship is optimized to enhance strength and power. The lymphatic system works more efficiently to optimize recovery. Effectively, moving efficiently has a "trickle down effect."

These downstream benefits are why we take so much pride in our warm-ups. They shouldn't just get your body temperature up, but rather, they should also work to reduce bad stiffness and improve good stiffness. For instance, with a back to wall shoulder flexion drill, we're reducing bad stiffness in the lats, scapular downward rotators, and lumbar extensors. Meanwhile, we're establishing good stiffness in the anterior core, deep neck flexors, and scapular upward rotators.

3. Acknowledge that you very well may never use some of the tools in your toolbox.

If you're working with post-pregnancy women who are just looking to lose their baby weight, don't expect to use French Contrast Training. And, if senior citizens are your niche, your extensive knowledge of plyometric progressions probably isn't going to have much of an impact (sorry, bad pun).

If you hire a contractor to fix something at your house, he rolls in with his toolbox, but isn't emotionally attached to the idea of using a chainsaw, hammer, screwdriver, or any other specific tool. Rather, he matches the right tool to the job in question, even if it means all the other tools are unused that day. You have to be willing to recognize that a ton of the things you've learned over the years may, in fact, be completely useless for you.

4. "Batch" your programs.

Believe it or not, I have an easier time writing a program for a professional baseball player with years of training experience with us than I do writing a program for an untrained female. The reason is very simple: I write a lot more programs for baseball players, so it's familiar and I have a lot of related cases from which I can draw perspective ("X athlete is similar to Y athlete, so I can build on the success I had with that athlete instead of reinventing the wheel"). For this reason, try to write multiple programs for similar demographics in the same sitting instead of breaking them out to different programming sessions. As a general rule of thumb, I never sit down to write a program unless I'm doing at least 3-4 programs in that sitting.

5. Build on the previous program.

Most of the time, when I write a program, I'm writing it right over the top of the previous month's programs, as doing so allows me to contemplate progressions and regressions quickly and easily. Never, ever start by staring at a blank programming template!

Wrap-up

In closing, remember that program design is only as complex as you make it. When in doubt, simplify!

This post delved into programming strategies, but the truth is that our programming is just one aspect of the systems that make our two Cressey Sports Performance facilities what they are. In our upcoming Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship, CSP co-founder Pete Dupuis and I will pull back the curtain on these systems to help other gym owners improve their systems. Our next offering will be April 7 at our Jupiter, FL location. For more information, click here.

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The Best of 2018: Strength and Conditioning Features

I really enjoying creating features with multiple installments because it really allows me to dig deep into a topic that interests both me and my readers. It’s like writing a short book, with each post being a different chapter. That said, here were a few of my favorite features from 2018 at EricCressey.com:

1. Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training

This is definitely my longest standing active series, and while I don't update it every month, it'll always include some gems.

Installment 30
Installment 31 

2. Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success

This series touches more on the business aspect of fitness.

Installment 9
Installment 10

Installment 11

3. Performance Programming Principles

I made it a goal to write more about program design this year, as I think it's a big hole in the market.  These were a few steps in that direction:

Installment 2
Installment 3

The Best of 2018 series is almost complete, but stayed tuned for a few more highlights!

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Fitness Business Success: Maybe You Aren’t as Prepared as YOU Think You Are

A few weeks ago, we took our three-year-old twin daughters blueberry picking. They had an absolute blast - so you could say that they are very passionate about blueberry picking. In fact, they are quite certain that they are the best blueberry farmers on the planet today.

Here’s the thing, though: they really don’t know much about blueberries. And, they don’t even know what they don’t know.

Addison refused to take her sunglasses off, so she could barely tell the difference between the ripe ones and the ones that needed to stay on the branch for longer to ripen.

Lydia got so excited that she tripped over an irrigation hose.

In short, their passion left them nothing short of blind and disoriented with respect to the competencies it takes to become a successful blueberry farmer.

Sadly, this example is not much different than where many fitness professionals are at the start of their career. They're wildly passionate about fitness and really enjoy working out, so why not make it into a career?

Wikipedia defines the Dunning–Kruger effect as "a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is."

In other words, you think you're going to be the varsity quarterback, but you're actually only skilled enough to be the carrying water bottles out to the JV squad. This is the harsh reality of most fitness businesses: they're often based too much on passion and not enough on specific career capital (which I previously wrote about here and here).

As a result, people who open gyms get surprised by a lot of things. Start-up costs are higher than anticipated. Generating leads is tougher than they'd expected. Managing growth proves challenging because they've never had to manage employees or pay attention to client retention strategies. They don't realize how complex managing finances is. There aren't enough hours in the day to get to everything they need to do when both working IN the business and ON the business. The list goes on and on.

And, I'd argue that these issues are even more prevalent in the fitness industry than in other entrepreneurial realms. There's a lower barrier to entry in the industry, significant initial start-up costs for gyms, and a service-oriented business model that presents unique challenges. In short, there are a lot of reasons why gyms either fail or really struggle to get by.

My Cressey Sports Performance business partner, Pete Dupuis, has a MBA and consults for various gym owners on a daily basis to help them avoid these common pitfalls. We've been at this for over 11 years and have two facilities still going strong, and a huge part of that success is the significant work we do behind the scenes to make sure we're a well-oiled machine and just just a "workout place" started because we were passionate.

With that in mind, last year, we offered our Business Building Mentorship for the first time. It sold out quickly and received outstanding feedback - so we've decided to offer it again. It'll take place October 15 at our Hudson, MA location (alongside our fall seminar). If you're interested in attending, you can learn more and register HERE.

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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 11

It's time for a new edition of my thoughts on the business of fitness. Before I get to it, just a friendly reminder that we're hosting our second-ever Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship on October 15. You can learn more HERE.

Now on to some business concepts...

1. It might take years for someone to become a customer.

Just a few weeks ago, I released my newest product, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions. One interesting thing about my newsletter/product management set-up is that I can tell how long someone has been a "prospect" before becoming a customer. Basically, I know the date they signed up for my newsletter, and then I can check that out to see what products they've purchased and when.

During this launch, I had multiple people purchase this resource as their first purchase with me after over 3,000 days on my list. Yes, that means they "window shopped" for over eight years prior to taking the plunge.

Very few people purchase on the first exposure to a marketing message. Or the second. Or the third. It actually takes load of opportunities for them to perceive your expertise, and usually over the course of an extended period of time. They need to know, like, and trust you - and some people take a long time to get to trusting you enough to initiate a transaction.

Be persistent, but patient. It's harder than ever to be seen and heard.

2. It's a very small world; watch your social media behavior.

I made this post on Twitter yesterday, and it got quite a bit of attention.

 Beyond the obvious moral issues of saying cruel things to pro athletes (or celebrities - or anyone else, for that matter), you should be cognizant of the fact that it can very quickly come back to bite you in the butt. Some of the agencies who represent these players may also represent others - athletes, actors, musicians, speakers, or coaches - who could be potential future clients for you. One of your followers could be an old friend or teammate of the athlete. It's an incredibly small world, so chasing a few retweets isn't worth sacrificing a relationship or potential client down the road.

3. Investments are different from expenses.

This is one of the most misunderstood accounting/economics concepts in all industries, and certainly in the fitness business.

An investment has the potential to appreciate in value. Maybe you spend money on a continuing education event, buy a DVD for some new training strategies, put money into a retirement account, or purchase some equipment that allows you to deliver a higher-quality product to your clients. Perhaps you hire a consultant to fine-tune your business, or decide to buy your building instead of continuing to pay rent. Additionally, from an accounting standpoint, investments are usually (but not always) tax deductible.

Expenses are like setting money on fire. They're the $5 you spend at Starbucks each morning, or the Porsche you bought on credit when you were making $20,000/year (is that even possible?). They don't appreciate, and there is a huge opportunity cost to these expenditures. Some are necessary and even tax deductible (e.g., rent), but they always need to be heavily scrutinized. Can that expense be reduced or somehow shifted into an investment?

Fitness businesses are notoriously bad at understanding the difference between the two, or understanding that one's financial situation may dictate what is and isn't acceptable. If you're grossing $5,000/month, paying $1,000/month to a cleaning service probably isn't a good expense; clean the gym yourself. Do you really need to buy seven different types of leg curl machines when you're already $300,000 in debt? And, why do you have payroll expenses when you've only got three clients?

Most businesses (and individuals, in their personal finances) would be wise to go through every cash expenditure and figure out how each one can be categorized. Growing gross revenue is always a priority, but many businesses can be even more profitable if they learn to appropriately trim the fat.

If you've found value in these insights, I think you might enjoy the upcoming Business Building Mentorship Pete Dupuis and I will be hosting on Monday, October 15th. It's a tax deductible expense if you're a fitness business owner, and we'd guarantee that the lessons learned will more than pay for the cost of attendance. Plus, registration in the mentorship includes free attendance at our fall seminar on October 14.

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Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship – October 15, 2018

We’re excited to announce that on Monday, October 15, we’ll be hosting our second CSP Business-Building Mentorship, a day of learning with Pete Dupuis and me. This event will take place at our Hudson, MA location the day after our annual fall seminar. Pete and I have spent nearly a decade crafting the operational systems and strategies that fuel CSP today, and we’re excited to pull back the curtain for fellow gym owners.

It is our intention to foster an environment conducive to learning and the exchanging of ideas, so we will be limiting participation to 25 individuals.

Here’s a look at our agenda for the day:

8:30am: Registration & Coffee

Morning Session – Lead Generation & Conversion

09:00am – 09:30am: Introduction: The Four Pillars of Fitness Business Success
09:30am – 10:30am: Lead Generation: Strategic Relationship Development, Identifying & Connecting with Opinion Leaders, Social Media Strategies
10:30am - 11:00am: Q&A
11:00am - 12:00pm: Lead Conversion: CSP Selling Strategy & Methodology
12:00pm - 01:00pm: Lunch (provided)

Afternoon Session – Business Operations & Long-Term Planning

01:00pm – 02:00pm: Operations: Accounting for Gym Owners – Guest Lecture from CSP’s CPA, Tom Petrocelli
02:00pm – 02:30pm: Operations: Internship Program Design & Execution
02:30pm – 03:00pm: Operations: Hiring Protocols, Staff Development & Continuing Ed.
03:00pm – 03:30pm: Long-Term Planning: Lease Negotiation Considerations
03:30pm – 04:30pm: Long-Term Planning: Strategic Brand Dev., Evaluating Opportunities, SWOT Analysis
04:30pm – 06:00pm: Q&A

Cost: $699.99 (includes free admission to CSP Fall Seminar on Sunday, October 14) 

SOLD OUT!

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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 9

It's been a while since I posted a new installment on this series, so here are two thoughts that have been rattling around my brain on the business side of fitness.

1. It takes time and many exposures to build top of mind awareness and, more importantly, trust.

I had a chat with one of our free agent minor league baseball players a few weeks ago. He moved down from New Jersey a few months ago to train with us all offseason.

Two years ago, his agent encouraged him to check Cressey Sports Performance out. He didn’t act.

Then, he played with one of our guys in independent ball and again heard our name, but didn’t follow up on it.

Later, he heard my name mentioned twice on the Tim Ferriss Podcast. While intrigued, he still didn’t act.

Then, last summer, he read the New York Times article about our work with Noah Syndergaard, and he finally reached out.

 

This #tbt is a video of alternating serratus slides on the @trxtraining suspension trainer, with a great demo from #mets pitcher @nsyndergaard. Some thoughts: 1️⃣One of the things we worked a lot on with Noah this offseason was differentiating between glenohumeral (ball on socket) and scapulothoracic (shoulder blade on rib cage) movement. Most pitchers get too much motion from the upper arm, and not enough from the shoulder blade. Notice how the scapula upwardly rotates around the rib cage - which takes stress off the front of the shoulder. 2️⃣ serratus anterior also helps to drive some thoracic flexion in a throwing population that often presents with a flat/extended thoracic spine (upper back). 3️⃣in a general sense, you could call serratus anterior the “anti-lat.” The latissimus dorsi drives a gross extension pattern and can be heavily overused in throwers; the serratus anterior works in opposition (scapular upward rotation, intimate link with the anterior core, accessory muscle of exhalation). 4️⃣add a full exhale at the “lengthened” position on each rep 5️⃣you could’ve observed the shoulder blades better if he was shirtless, but I figured Thor has already hit his weekly quota for shirtless social media cameos.😜 👍💪#cspfamily

A post shared by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

Top of mind awareness isn’t enough anymore. People need to know, like, and trust you. And it takes longer than ever to get to that trust point. I recall hearing that the law of repeated exposures used to be seven interactions with a marketing message. Now, it’s probably a lot more.

If you want to be perceived as a go-to expert in your chosen field, it’s not just enough to do a good job. People need to be made aware that you’re doing a good job from a number of different angles; you have to make your expertise easier to perceive.

2. Don’t compare apples and oranges in the fitness industry (or any industry, for that matter).

As you probably know, we have Cressey Sports Performance facilities in both Hudson, MA and Jupiter, FL. The systems and overarching approach to coaching are very comparable – especially because I spend part of the year at both locations – but there are actually many differences between the two facilities.

Our professional baseball clientele comprises a larger portion of our yearly revenues in Florida, whereas Massachusetts derives more from high school athletes (especially because the high school offseason is longer in a warm weather climate).

Our Massachusetts facility is larger because we have to do more throwing and sprinting inside during the winter. Conversely, Florida weather allows us to do more of this work outside.

We have different staff members at each location. They have unique expertise and personalities.

CSP-MA opened in 2007, and CSP-FL opened in 2014. Massachusetts is a more “mature” business, which gives us a better picture of norms that allow us to compare how things are progressing from year to year.

I could go on and on about the difference, but the important takeaway is that if I sometimes struggle to compare two facilities with virtually the same name and training philosophy, why should you ever compare yourself to another gym?

What Mark Fisher Fitness has to pay for rent in New York City far exceeds what a personal trainer with a small studio in Alabama would have to pay.

Ben Bruno can train a lot more celebrities in Hollywood than a trainer can in North Dakota.

Gross revenues for a giant commercial gym in San Francisco are going to be substantially higher than what a semi-private operation in Minnesota can take in. Meanwhile, the owner of the MN facility might actually make more money and sleep better at night than the owner of the big box gym.

The point is to have a filter when you look at all the “success” you see around you in the fitness industry. There are gyms grossing millions of dollars that are scraping to get by, and others that only do a small fraction of that amount while having a huge community impact – and allowing a fitness entrepreneur to live the life he wants.

Just like you would never encourage your clients to compare themselves to other clients, supermodels, or professional athletes, you shouldn’t compare yourself to any other trainer, business, or facility. All that matters is that when you compare yourself to what you were days, weeks, months, and years before, you’ve progressed.

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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 8

I'm long overdue for a new installment on this series, so here are some thoughts that have been rattling around my brain on the business side of fitness.

1. Unique skill sets help you fill in the cracks.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: most of the strength and conditioning resumes that come across my desk are painfully similar. Seriously, they are 90% the same. Here's an excerpt from a presentation I gave earlier this year when I touched on the topic:

As you can probably infer, experience like this is really abundant - and what is abundant is rarely coveted. I'm not saying any of things are bad to have on a resume; I'm just saying that they're prerequisites, not differentiating factors.

So how does an up-and-coming strength and conditioning professional stand out from the crowd? Here are a few examples:

a. Fluency in another language (Spanish is incredibly useful at CSP, where we train quite a few bilingual baseball players)

b.Technology proficiency beyond the "norms" (I can't tell you how many times long-time CSP employee Chris Howard has helped out with everything from Powerpoint issues to wiring speakers)

c. A demonstrated history of lead generation and conversion (Have you built and grown a business? Have you found value where others missed it?)

d. An internship at an established facility (I'm going to look more fondly on someone who's interned at IFAST, Mike Boyles, EXOS, or something comparable - as opposed to the person who chose a random YMCA on the other side of the country)

e. Playing AND coaching baseball (have you seen it from both sides of the lens?)

The possibilities are endless, but the point is that these unique skill sets are differentiating factors that make it easier for someone to justify hiring you.

2. Your bio is probably more important than you think.

Most of the time, when someone posts their bio on a website, it's to make sure that prospective clients review it and recognize two things:

a. This person is qualified (Allison graduated from XYZ university with ABC degree, and has achieved these certifications)

b. This person is relatable (In his spare time, Doug enjoys walking his two pet schnauzers and eating ice cream with his wife of 27 years, Peggy.)

An experience the other night reminded me that it's important to give equal attention to each.

This guy lost out on a pretty big time client because he focused too much on being relatable; almost his entire bio was targeted toward potential patients, but not other practitioners who might be looking to evaluate his clinical skill set for the purpose of referrals.

When you write your bio, make sure you include components of both - and that might mean you have to trim the fat on some of the non-essentials.

3. Slow and steady still wins the race.

Have you ever heard the story of the small company who gets a big breakthrough to get their product on the shelves of Wal-Mart or Target - and then goes out of business just months later because they didn't have the short-term cash flow to keep up with a huge surge in production demands and inventory needs? Their systems couldn't keep up with their lead generation.

Many trainers would kill to add 20 new clients, but most fail to realize that they don't have the systems in place to take on that many new people and still deliver a high quality product. This is a classic story when a fitness bootcamp runs a Groupon to bring in a surge of new prospects - only to see their long-term members get irritated at crowded classes, watered down programming, and "flightly" training partners who go from one gym to the next each month. The systems weren't ready for the surge in leads.

Last summer, my business partner, Brian Kaplan, co-founded The Collegiate League of the Palm Beaches near our Jupiter, FL Cressey Sports Performance location.

In a matter of weeks, we added over 60 new college baseball players as 3-5 days/week clients for a two-month period. It took months of planning to make sure that we were staffed accordingly, and included loads of email outreach to schedule evaluations. It even meant that there were a few cases when we had to turn away "drop-in" evaluations from college guys who hadn't scheduled in advance. I even flew down from Massachusetts for a week to help out with the initial surge.

As Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin wrote in From Impossible to Inevitable, "Speeding up growth creates more problems than it solves." It only makes sense that this would be a huge issue in the fitness industry, where we have people who are often skilled technicians, but not very savvy entrepreneurs and managers. So, unless you have your systems fine-tuned, be careful what you wish for when it comes to expanding your offering to new markets or within the existing market.

4. Read this post from my business partner, Pete Dupuis.

This is an excellent lesson that can apply to any endeavor in business and in life.

The Value in Giving More Than You Take

If you're looking for a longer read on this front, I'd highly recommend Adam Grant's Give and Take.

 

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Brandscaping and the Fitness Industry

When they were still in diapers, my 2-year-old daughters would always request the ones with "Big Bird" on them. The images on the diaper didn't change how effective it was at doing its job, of course.

And, if the paper towels didn't have a picture of Olaf from "Frozen" on them, a temper tantrum might very well occur - even if any regular ol' paper towel would've gotten the job done just as well.

They adored the Mickey Mouse sippy cups my mother bought them even though they weren't any better at delivering the beverage than a generic cup.

All of these are perfect examples of Brandscaping, a concept to which I was introduced by Andrew Davis in his outstanding book by the same name.

In its simplest form, brandscaping is an approach to developing partnerships with other brands who also cater to your target market. Davis spends considerable time discussing how Tony Bennett's resurgence in the past decade has a lot to do with joint ventures with Lady Gaga and the Muppets; they've modernized his classic approach to create a new synergy.

As an more applicable fitness industry example, Cressey Sports Performance (baseball strength and conditioning) and New Balance (baseball training apparel and shoes) are a great synergistic fit - and it even led to a limited edition training sneaker.

Referrals to and from physical therapists are another example, and the list could go on to include pitching instructors, massage therapists, meal preparation services, and a host of other complementary services. If we look at the classic "here's how you can grow your business," brandscaping is likely the single-best way to grow the "same product, new market" component. Your brandscaping partner recognizes your specific expertise/offering and brings new folks to it. You, in turn, do the same for them. Everybody wins.

Unfortunately, though, a lot of fitness professionals get in their own way and "obstruct" opportunities for brandscaping. A big mistake is definitely trying to be everything to everyone. If you're training everyone from cardiac rehab patients, to fitness competitors, to basketball players, to powerlifters, chances are that potential partners are going to struggle to see the specific realm in which you'd be a good partner. When you have a really broad collection of offerings, it's a challenge to market to them. The cardiac rehab patients might hate the internet, the fitness competitors love Instagram, the basketball players are on Twitter, and the powerlifters are on Facebook.

Moreover, some fitness professionals mismanage their web presence, even if they have a specific, marketable niche. As an example, if you train high school athletes, but a huge majority of your social media posts are about beer and partying, that's going to be a huge turnoff to their parents (who pay the bills). And, if you're a rockstar when it comes to training middle aged corporate executives, they're likely going to be turned off if all your social media content is shirtless photos of you from your recreational bodybuilding hobby.

In wrapping up, there are really three huge takeaways for you as you try to grow your business.

First, someone else has your ideal customers. Think about how you can partner with them in a mutually benefical relationship.

Second, your ideal customers or brandscaping partners might not be able to appreciate how good a cross-referral or co-banding relationship with you could be because you keep getting in your way. Think about the image you're creating publicly for your business or brand.

Third, don't let your daughters boss you around like mine do to me.

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Fitness Business Entrepreneurship Thoughts: Lead Generation

Most fitness industry folks are convinced that their single biggest area for improvement is lead generation. If only they could get more people to know about their gym - and possibly even take a tour - then they'd absolutely blow up.

I hate to burst your bubble, but while your lead generation might need work, in the overwhelming majority of businesses, systems and retention are where the biggest opportunities for improvement exist. You see, if you shore things up on these two fronts, you'll create a better product and dramatically increase the number of word-of-mouth referrals you get. Over the life of your business, word-of-mouth should blow any direct mail or Facebook advertising you do out of the water, so why not work on the things that impact it the most?

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I should actually talk a bit about lead generation, as the truth is that it's probably more complex than it's ever been.

If you look back 15-20 years, a lot of folks weren't on the internet - and they certainly didn't have social media. It was really, really hard to get in front of people affordably if you were a small business. If you didn't have the cash to pay for radio, TV, newspaper, or billboard ads, your only option for generating leads began and ended with pounding the pavement to shake hands and kiss babies. Nowadays, things are a whole lot different; you can get in front of just about anyone pretty quickly and easily.

If this wasn't the case, a kid from small town Maine named Cressey - who didn't even play high school baseball - wouldn't be training more than 100 professional baseball players each offseason.

This modern marketing world creates opportunities, but also a lot of noise. People are bombarded by more marketing messages than ever before because we have more devices (phones, tablets, computers, radios) and mediums (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Email, etc) than ever before. There is so much noise that people are completely desensitized to the marketing messages that are being sent their way. That means that top of mind awareness is substantially harder to achieve.

What does this mean for lead generation in the fitness industry? You have to get in front of people regularly and via a number of different marketing channels. If you're reading this blog, you probably hear from me here, on various social media channels, and via email. Perhaps you read an article by or about me on another website or print magazine or newspaper. We might have interacted with one another at a seminar, or we might have a mutual friend who recommended that you check out EricCressey.com.

The point is that you have to stand on your head to make expertise easy to perceive. It's just not good enough to just pay for a newspaper ad and hope for people to show up.

This is particularly complex because everyone will perceive expertise differently - and in different places. Teenagers aren't really on Facebook very often, but it's a great marketing avenue for those over the age of 30. Some of the people there might like video content, and others may prefer writing. Every lead must be generated via a unique marketing mix, and that can make it very challenging to be really successful across multiple niches. At Cressey Sports Performance, we can easily market to baseball players, coaches, and parents, but it'd be really hard for us to build a successful discharge program for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients. It's an entirely different demographic that we'd struggle to access.

Bringing things all back together, some closing thoughts:

1. You probably generate a fair amount of leads but need to do better at making sure they aren't disappearing out the back door while you're so focused on getting more people in the door.

2. You may need to prioritize optimizing your systems to put yourself in the best position possible to deliver a high-quality product (both training and environment) that will yield more word-of-mouth referrals.

3. Make expertise easy to perceive across a variety of marketing mediums, especially if you're trying to cater to multiple demographics.

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