Maybe it’s because I’ve been speaking about this with a couple of my coaches lately who are each trying to build their own coaching businesses up, but I wanted to take some time to write about how I’ve marketed my business.
I began marketing RevFit on social media, and specifically on Facebook in 2016. I had already been in business for 7 years and nearly all of my leads for new clients up to that point had been through face-to-face interactions, business to business (B2B) networking groups and word of mouth referrals.
I didn’t understand how to use Facebook for marketing beyond having someone do graphics work for me and then pay Facebook for ad exposure.
At the time, it wasn’t money I was certain would present a good return on investment for me and I didn’t have a great deal of discretionary income to put that direction anyway.
It somewhat innocently began when I posted some pictures of our Richard B., (we’ve always affectionately him called “King Richard”) who was 75 when he started and is now 81 and still training with us.
Richard was training with battle ropes and the trapbar deadlift and everyone who watched him was inspired by him.
I would post pictures of Richard training, post them on my personal wall on Facebook (privately not publicly) and then tag him.
Over time, it not only brought attention to my wall but Richard’s friends would comment outside of his gym time about the work he was doing. It was getting my business name out there, slowly but surely.
Then, I started posting pictures of clients who were succeeding with their weight loss goals. The same system would apply: take the picture, post the picture, tag the client, get the post engagement. Rinse and repeat.
It didn’t take a lot of time, it was fun to do, I got to brag about my clients, and, it was free.
Fast forward six years, and I’m still aggressively marketing my business and the work we do in a similar, but different way.
I post personal bests on the big lifts (assuming that I have the permission of the client), weight loss success and random “quotables” that clients say during their training sessions.
Typically, the quotes are intended to be humorous and since there are many things that a client might say in a workout that has sexual innuendo, it’s good for a laugh. Some of the quotes are inspiring, some risqué, and some can be taken however the reader finds them (especially when presented without context).
There’s a risk in posting some of them because there is always a chance that the quote might offend someone, which is never the intended effect but a possibility. Of course, I could edit them more but I feel it shows a true glimpse of conversations that actually happen in the gym and people can determine if it suits their flavor or not.
One thing is certain: we train people of all variety of backgrounds/upbringings, political/religious affiliations and romantic preferences. Everyone is welcome which means that there is a wide array of personality dynamics and I try to highlight many of them. I consider us fortunate that we can cater to as many people as we do and as diverse as they are, we embrace all of them.
As a result of what’s been termed as my “relentless” posting on social media, we generally attract people who want to lose fat in a sustainable and fad free way, we attract people who value getting strong and we attract people who want a smaller, “boutique” environment to train in.
Because my business is, and always has been, frequented by at least a 65% female demographic, we’ve attracted the women, especially moms, who want to regain their sense of self, their sense of strength and their sense of confidence. In many cases, they bring their spouses and/or their children to come train here as well.
As far as what else we might attract, I’ll reference something that happened in 2020 (leading into 2021) as an example.
Late in 2020, there was a spike in our area of the coronavirus and this was prior to vaccinations being available. I made a judgment call based on the perceived anxiety levels of my clients and opted to mandate masks for our facility, something I had declined to do when we were allowed to reopen after the initial lockdown.
I wasn’t entirely sure what would happen but within a couple of days of the mandate, I had a very small handful of clients who declined to train with us while the mandate was up. It was disappointing but I respected the decision.
And then, something unusual happened.
We got A LOT busier.
You see, despite the mandate, I kept the marketing up and so, in each picture, you would see clients showing off their weight loss success or hitting a personal record, and everyone was wearing a mask.
I believe, and I could be wrong, that it attracted more people to the gym who wanted a place they could go that was enforcing the masks. When I dropped the mandate, membership continued to climb and some of the clients who initially left came back in with us.
Now, allow me to share with you a time when my marketing effectively “lost” a client.
Over the last year or so, I’ve been posting in one of my closed communities and on Instagram, the meals that my wife and I eat for dinner. Marissa and I are both bourbon/rye fans and I will typically post what we’re enjoying that night. Part of the inspiration to do so was to 1) show my clients what the dinners look like in our household 2) how we moderate our alcohol consumption.
I know that many of my clients partake and my wife and I have bourbon as a complement to the meal, not for the goal of getting drunk or carried away with alcohol.
I have routinely attracted clients to the studio who are actively in recovery for either drugs, or alcohol or both. Part of this is because of my own history as a recovering drug addict (I’ve been clean since 2006). I understand addiction as it has been a very real aspect to my life. Alcohol has never had the same effect on me that drugs did and measuring what we drink is how I maintain things to not get out of control for me.
That being said, not every person who has struggled with substance abuse can say the same. In the words of one of my clients: “I know that one will turn to several and I can’t afford for that to happen.”
I completely understand that.
On one occasion, I had consulted with a potential client who mentioned that they were in recovery. I will typically reference my own past with drugs as a way to establish a common bond and I will also normally ask if it’s triggering for them to see the posts I make with our food and drink of choice. I failed to do the latter with this particular client and after they decided to join, I added them into our closed community.
Unfortunately, the posts were indeed triggering for this individual and they decided to no longer be a part of what we do here. I apologized for any negative experience I gave them and respected their decision. I know that every person in recovery has to forge their own path, as I did for mine. It’s my hope that some day, they might feel comfortable to rejoin us but I am not certain it will happen.
After all of these years of experimenting with how I market the business, I know that what I do works and it works very well. It has remained a free source of advertising for us and I handle all of the marketing myself. Like a lot of things, it’s a slow burn to success but I’m willing to put the time in because I’m proud of what this business and my clients have accomplished, and I am more than happy to put that out into the world.
When I give advice to my coaches, I remind them that how they approach their marketing can work in a similar fashion.
–Be willing to try new things and gauge the response.
–Be flexible to change course if you feel that something doesn’t resonate with your intended audience.
–Be genuine, be human, and learn, to the best of your ability, how to market to your desired demographic.
–Be relentless (or aggressively consistent).
–Have fun. If it’s not fun, you won’t stick with it.
Come to think of it…edit just a few words on each of those bullet points (and ignore #3) and you’ve got a pretty good plan for your health, your diet and your training plan.