When looking for new clients you don't want just anyone. You want clients who will stay with you for a long time, value the services you have to offer, and will make a success of training with you.
But how can you attract this type of client? The best way is to be as picky as possible when looking, by focussing your search within a niche market.
So what is a niche?
A niche is a specific area of a market with its own particular set of requirements, customers, and products. Niches exist everywhere and they form the bedrock of successful products, marketing and advertising campaigns.
An easy example to use is the shoe industry. There are countless niches that manufacturers identify to lead their product development and sales processes:
- Supportive shoes for plus-sized men
- Shoes designed for women with narrow feet
- Footwear made with vegan friendly materials
- Boots for site workers
Even within the above examples, niches can be further refined by various factors such as:
Defining niches makes it easier to visualise the people we're trying to appeal to, so we can plan the most effective way to reach them.
But I'm a fitness trainer. Why do I need a niche?
Ask yourself three questions:
- Do I want a sustainable long term client base?
- Am I going to advertise for new clients?
- Do I have a limited budget?
If you answered yes to these questions you should consider that when advertising, being vague is bad. It's the best way to waste money fast, especially if you are planning to try online advertising through platforms like Facebook or Google.
An advert needs to speak to the person reading it and make a connection with them. If it doesn't, then they won't feel compelled to respond. And if they don't respond, they won't become your next client. For example, if your ideal market is females in their 20's, you are likely to write an advert very differently, and put it in very different places, when compared to a target market of males in their 40's.
Take this example of an advert by a newly qualified personal trainer trying to find clients:
"20% off personal training to get you fitter and healthier. All welcome!"
Discounted training for everyone! Who wouldn't want that? Well guess what, this advert will probably do very badly. And even if it received some interest, it would be impossible to predict the types of client you might end up with as a result.
Instead, consider this advert appearing beside the first in the same place, at the same time:
"New mother? Want to lose your baby weight? Start training this month and get your 5th session free!"
'Oh no' I hear you say, isn't this audience of new mothers tiny when compared to my first ad's 'anyone welcome'? That's true. It's also completely the point!
The second advert is indeed targeting a smaller number of people. Much smaller in fact. But it will resonate with them far more. You have identified a constituency of people with a genuine need, and offered them a solution to a very specific problem. These people are far more likely to pick up the phone or send you an email.
NB. This advert also has the added benefit of making you appear like an expert in a specific field (but more on that later).
The second part of this new advert is also worth mentioning as it acts like a lead quality filter. In offering a 5th session for free you have done two things:
Discouraged potential time-wasters from making contact. You know, the type that will train once (or take your offer of a free consultation) and then never return your calls.
Already implied a commitment to a 5 session booking. Yes, you're going to have to train one for free, but you're going to get paid for 4, which when you have a very small client base is a NET win. You then have multiple sessions to build up a relationship, massively increasing your chances of retaining them as a client for longer.
So to summarise, by using advert number 2 you can now expect to hear from women, who want to lose weight, and are motivated to train at least 5 sessions with you. Great! Now you can start doing some initial session planning while you wait for the phone to ring!
Another benefit of having a niche
One last thing to consider about having a niche, is that it can increase the perceived value of your service in the eyes of potential clients. Think about this in the real world. A specialist in a particular field has a higher value to potential employers who need those skills. A person with general knowledge across a broad area will probably not be as sought after or command such high fees.
This is the same when meeting new personal training clients. If they have something specific they need to achieve from training, and you can offer them those specific skills, then they are more likely to choose to train with you. They will also be more prepared to pay you a premium for the pleasure!
So how shall I choose my niche?
The process can vary from person to person. For some it will be immediately obvious which area to focus on. For others it might take some time. You might even choose more than one niche to explore initially to see which has the most potential.
There are just two rules:
- Each niche must be specific enough that you can visualise it as one person in your mind, and describe them in one short sentence.
- You must advertise to each niche separately, considering the best places and styles of advertising that will work best for each (so no reusing the same advert!).
Look within yourself
The first thing to consider is the value you already possess. Do you already have qualifications or some relatable life experience that naturally makes you ideal to help a certain group of people? Maybe you have yourself had a baby and lost your baby weight. This could make you ideal to offer this service to other new mothers. Alternatively you may have previously competed in a sport at a high level. This experience might make you perfectly suited to help others in a similar position.
It also helps if the niche you choose is of high interest to you. It will help to keep you motivated.
Look at the environment you are in
Another important thing to consider is where you are planning to work. What equipment will you have at your disposal? How many people are there within a reasonable radius of this location? It might be hard to build up a meaningful client base of aspiring ultra-marathon runners in a small town for example.
Look for untapped opportunity
Lastly, if you are still unsure which direction to head in, look around you for inspiration. Are there any local trends that you could take advantage of. Is there a group of people that are currently under-represented?
How to cope when the phone starts ringing?
This is a good problem to have, but it's also a good idea to be prepared. Schedule initial consultations with prospective clients first. Anything from 30 minutes to an hour should be plenty. Just enough time to get to know each other, understand what level they are at, and build a rapport.
Then, you need a system that can seamlessly get them signed up with training sessions scheduled. This is where InGym comes in. You won't need to have a folder of paper PAR-Q forms and training agreements to give out. And you won't need to sit down after they leave and write out an email with a session plan and invoice. InGym takes care of all these things on screen there and then so you not only have less admin to do, you also look efficient and professional to your new clients.