// PT Manual for Success: How to promote your PT business in your local community

by Summer Nelson

Each month I receive several calls and e-mails from sales people trying to sell me advertising in their newspaper, magazine, radio broadcast or telephone directory. I patiently listen to their spiel, the costs, and the associated conditions and then I ask them one question; ‘How many leads will I get for my investment?’ Obviously, this is an impossible question for them to answer, and I certainly won’t claim that advertising in these media is without virtue, but the fact is that as a small personal training business owner I have found it more successful over the years to concentrate my marketing efforts on developing relationships with other local service providers to create mutually beneficial strategies to gain leads.

I recently surveyed some of Australia’s most successful personal training business owners. One hundred per cent of them said that referrals, or word of mouth, were their best source of leads. So how do you actively create word of mouth or referrals?

In this manual I will detail the steps involved in promoting your business in your local community, through developing relationships with other local businesses and professionals.

By implementing a successful business network you will save thousands of dollars otherwise spent on advertising which, though apparently heightening the professionalism of your business, may be largely unsuccessful in generating new business at a local level.

Step 1. Identify your target market or ideal client

First you need to identify who you want as your clients. This enables you to strategically target other businesses that these people frequent, as well as make other important decisions such as your price point, branding, packages and location. This should all be done as part of your business plan, which is another essential part of planning for a successful business.

It is best to focus on one or two demographic profiles rather than trying to be everything for everybody. Niche positioning is much more effective than carpet bombing! Here are some areas to look at to get you started.

Circle the profile of your ideal client in each category. Once you know who your clients are (or will be) you need to figure out where these people shop. (For more information on identifying your target market read PT Manual for Success, Volume 1, Number 1 – How to recognise and attract ideal clients by Robert Gerrish, downloadable from www.fitnessnetwork.com.au)

Step 2. Identify all the services and businesses these people frequent in your area

Using the trainer business prospects worksheet, Appendix A, make a list of all the business names in your area that your ideal client might visit and any others that might be relevant. Once you have made your list, go and use their services. Take note of the way you are treated, the presentation and branding, the customer traffic, attitude of staff etc. If you are then satisfied that you want to align yourself with this business, make an approach.

Step 3. Develop your strategy

Think about what you can offer this business owner. Some examples might be: using your service as a gift for their clients; additional people for them to market to through your newsletter; rewards for their staff; and additional service to assist their clients. Then think about what you want to get out of the relationship, and the best way to achieve that. It’s a good idea to have some ideas prior to your meeting and to allude to them when you phone for an appointment.

Examples of strategic alliances

A health food store might wish to develop a special package, such as a Spring detox treatment to promote in their newsletter.

You could offer a 60-minute nutrition consultation valued at $100 that they can include in the package. This can be presented as a voucher, the business just collects the names and numbers of everyone who takes one, you then call and book them in. In return they allow you to put up a poster promoting the Spring detox program and submit an article for the newsletter.

A hairdresser or beauty salon might like to offer a 12-week written exercise program valued at $120 as part of their bridal services. In return they might provide products or services you can pass on to your clients as gifts. To deliver the program you need their clients’ contact details, allowing you to send out the program individually and to promote a special offer for PT as well.

A café might like you to nominate healthy options on their menu, and in return allow you to put tent cards on their tables, posters on the back of bathroom doors and a lead box on the premises.

A pharmacist might like to offer a complimentary blood pressure test to anyone who purchases a weight loss drug or product. They will allow you to create a display stand with a lead box and conduct this service for their clients in their store on a busy day. In return, they may offer a discount to your clients on any purchase, and will promote your business on an ongoing basis.

A doctor or dentist might like you to provide a health and wellness newsletter for their clients that you can display in their waiting room. In return, they recommend you to their patients and invite you to conduct monthly seminars in their practice for staff and patients.

Think creatively and look at what other businesses do that is successful.

Step 4. Make your approach

Once you have decided on your strategy and what you are going to offer, it’s time to make contact. Ideally you would know the name of the owner and when they will be available for you to contact them. Your conversation might go something like this; ‘Hi John, it’s Summer here calling from My Trainer, how are you? I’m just giving you a quick call because I was in your salon the other day having my hair cut, and I thought that there might be some potential for us to help promote each other’s businesses. I run a personal training business in the Canterbury area, and many of my clients often ask me for referrals for various services. Do you ever do any cross promotion with other business owners? Great!

What sort of things? Well I’ve got a few different ideas to help you promote your business, so how about we catch up for half an hour over coffee and I can run you through them. Would Tuesday or Thursday morning be better for you? And what time would suit you best, 10 or 11? Great, well I’ll meet you at the salon, then we’ll head down the street to a café so we don’t get distracted. I’ll give you my number in case you need to reach me… and in the meantime if you want to find out a bit more about my business our web site is www.mytrainer.com.au. See you on Tuesday at 11am’.

It’s best not to have a script as such, as you will sound like a robot, but if you have a plan of what you want to say, and a prompt to follow that you are comfortable with, you will come across more professionally and have greater success.

If you don’t have any luck with your initial list, don’t despair, there are plenty of other businesses out there who will want to work with you. Don’t waste your time on people with bad attitudes or who need convincing, these business owners will never promote your business anyway as they do not have their thinking right. Just get out there and find some new ones to work with who have positive ‘can do’ attitude.

Step 5. Confirm the relationship and deliver the strategy

At this stage you will have invested a fair amount of time and effort behind the scenes into establishing these relationships.

Don’t let it all go to waste due to poor presentation or implementation. Remember that other business owners have spent a lot of time and money developing their business and client base too. When meeting with them, make sure you look the part. Shorts and trainers is suitable for training clients, but may not give other businesses owners the impression you want. Make sure you project the image that you are a professional, successful small business owner like them. Smart casual or corporate attire is usually most suitable, depending on your business and who you are approaching.

Have examples of any materials that you might want them to display, such as your brochures, posters, tent cards, vouchers, lead boxes and business cards. It’s also a good idea to have small options available if they have limited space or are put off by large format materials.

Have a plan and an outcome you want to achieve. Networking for the sake of it is a waste of your time. You may as well be giving a complimentary session to someone you have just met. At the end of the meeting, explain the next steps involved in the strategy and who will need to do them. Diarise what you plan to do, when you will deliver the materials, when you will brief their staff and agree on a review date. If you are leaving items such as perspex holders, lead boxes or picture frames you might like to get them to sign an agreement to say they have taken responsibility for your materials – this can also detail what is expected of each party in the promotion. See Appendix B for an example of acorporate marketing agreement.

Step 6. Follow up and make adjustments to your strategy

It’s best to stick with the strategy for at least six weeks, but always be prepared to make adjustments if required. You may need to modify the offer, or the way it is promoted, based on responses from the business and the number of leads you receive. Visit the business each week to collect leads, touch base with the owner or manager, get feedback from the staff and update or refill any materials. If there are no leads, take some time to talk to the staff about how they are promoting the program, reiterate that it is designed to help both businesses, and give them some pointers on how to draw attention to the promotion.

At the end of your promotion, debrief with the owner on the success of the program. Use the marketing debrief form, Appendix C,  to analyse the success of the program and refer to it for future use of the same promotion. If you plan on running it again, it is advisable to have a months break and change it slightly. This way, clients will see it as a fresh promotion to take advantage of. There is no need to change your look though – you want your prospects to see your brand over and over again so you are in the front of their mind when they realise they need a personal trainer.

Step 7. Build your profile

Ideally you want to be known as the local health and fitness expert. To enhance the success of your active lead-generating promotions, you need to build your profile. Look at what other business leaders in your area do, and do the same. Here are some examples to get you started:
• Develop a distinctive and professional brand
• Join (or create) a breakfast or networking group
• Sponsor a local sporting team
• Speak at local school assemblies and parent groups
• Present seminars for the community centre, maternal health
centre, kindergarten
• Get involved in local traders associations
• Introduce yourself to other business owners
• Give out your business cards at every opportunity
• Write articles for the local newspaper/ newsletter
• Support the local emergency services
• Get involved in community days and events
• Wear your uniform everywhere.

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to promote your business
In summary, the best way to promote your business in your local community is to get your brand out there in a memorable way and to associate yourself with likeminded professionals in complementary areas of business. Most people won’t remember a small classified ad in the paper, but they will remember a person they have spoken to – so get out there and meet as many people as you can!


Summer Nelson
Summer is the managing director of My Trainer Corporation and a strategic sales and communication specialist. Starting in fitness sales and customer service in 1999, she quickly moved into management at one of Melbourne’s most successful boutique facilities. Seeking new challenges, Summer joined the fitness industry’s most experienced consulting and sales training company. Driven by her passion for helping people to achieve exceptional results, she worked with some of the most successful health clubs in Australia and New Zealand. Summer is a regular contributor and event presenter for Australian Fitness Network. In 2006 she was the personal training business representative and an executive committee member of Fitness Victoria. Summer is an active member of the prestigious Round Table for Personal Trainers, and her business My Trainer Corporation was recognised as a finalist in the 2007 Fitness Victoria PT Business of the Year awards. Summer established My Trainer Corporation in 2004 to provide sales and business services for personal trainers. It’s unique licence model empowers trainers to do what they most enjoy, train their clients, while the My Trainer team of sales specialists build their client base. For more information contact Summer at:

My Trainer Corporation
Level 1, 123 Maling Rd
Canterbury VIC 3126
Ph: 03 9836 5599
E-mail: summer@mytrainer.com.au
Web: www.mytrainer.com.au

PT MANUAL FOR SUCCESS • Volume 1, Number 2, 2008