// The brand new you

by Blake Worrall-Thompson

Those runners you’ve got on; one look at the distinctive swoosh on the side tells everyone what brand you’re wearing. The t-shirt you wear with the unique puma on the sleeve, the watch with the polar icon on the face – all these are symbols and associations of successful brands.

Today, branding is everything, and everything is branded, from your training shoes to the gym where you work. Health and fitness is one of the fastest growing industries and it doesn’t matter whether you have two or ten years experience, it’s essential you understand the importance of branding and what it takes to stand out from the competition. I’ve seen trainers with a decade of experience who have less business and branding skills than trainers with only two years under their belt.

Spring is here, which means that summer is around the corner and prospective clients are looking to get in shape for the sunny season. Now is the perfect time to redefine yourself, from being just ‘another’ personal trainer, to becoming a health professional. With a little branding work you can establish your own micro-equivalent of the Nike Swoosh. I’m not talking about picking brand colours and logo’s here – although those are elements which should be bought into play at some point in the process – rather this is about you, your behaviour and your service.

Every health professional has the opportunity to be a brand worth talking about, but those who succeed are the ones who realise it’s a constantly evolving process involving continuous upskilling and development. You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Puma or Lorna Jane. To start thinking like your own brand manager ask yourself the same question the brand managers at these companies ask themselves: what is it that my product or service offers that makes it distinctive, powerful and unique?

So, what does your brand offer? Are you the trainer who is constantly late for your sessions, who is caught out eating at the golden arches, who walks around the gym with a can of coke, who looks unfit and unhealthy? Or are you the trainer who is never late for a session, who always smells fresh and clean, who sends texts during the week to check up on your clients, who gives clients a towel and water bottle at the start of each session, and who recalls members’ names even if they don’t personally train with you?

Most fitness facilities will have at least one ‘superstar’ trainer, a sought-after, fully-booked elite health and fitness professional. If that person isn’t you, then compare your professional conduct with theirs and note the differences between you. This is the same approach the big corporations take when creating a brand.

How do you market your brand?

The number of ways in which you can enhance your profile is limited only by your imagination. Here are ten top ways to brand yourself with the micro-equivalent of the Nike swoosh.

1. Introduce yourself to members

Sometimes people like to try before they buy. Maximise your time on the gym floor by introducing yourself to members and perhaps offering them a complimentary training session. Even if they don’t continue with you, they’ll be singing your praises and helping to spread the word
about what a friendly person you are. If you’re naturally shy it will be difficult, but if you want to be successful there are going to be plenty of times when you need to step outside your comfort zone.

2. Sharpen your pencil!

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a writer, try contributing a column or an opinion piece to a local newspaper or magazine. Start small and local – don’t think that you are going to make the front page of Men’s Health. Those gigs don’t happen overnight, you need to build credibility. Plus, local publications have the advantage of targeting your ideal demographic, i.e., those who live where you work. Community newspapers, professional newsletters, and in-house company publications provide opportunities to get your message across. Once you get started, you’ve got a track record and examples that you can use to secure further writing gigs.

3. Get on your soapbox

Try your hand at public speaking. Look into the many opportunities available to make a presentation at a local workshop, social club or Rotary Club meeting. Visibility has a funny way of multiplying; the hardest part is getting yourself started. The first one won’t necessarily be easy, but the more you do, the easier they become, and the more fun! You’ll find your confidence increasing, and by putting yourself in
front of an attentive audience that you have tailored your presentation to, you put your name and face at their front of mind should they consider using a local personal trainer.

4. Learn from the experts

Speak to people who know what it takes to brand and market something. Identify local businesses and individuals who have built a recognisable brand in your community and tap into their day-to-day branding and marketing know how. The more time you spend with these people, the more their successful influence will rub off on you. Of course, you don’t want to just use them for what you can get without providing any benefit for them; make the relationship mutually beneficial, perhaps offering a couple of training sessions in exchange for their time and advice.

5. Focus on your client

Remember you are a personal visibility campaign, so everything you do matters. It’s incredible the number of trainers who constantly watch the TV screens in the gym while their client is on the treadmill, or keep one eye on the hottie performing deadlifts in the corner. While you watch, you are being watched – and judged. A well established trainer I’ve worked with has two clients who each train with him twice
a week who contacted him because they noticed that he concentrated on his clients while other trainers got distracted. Four sessions a week for 50 weeks of the year is a fairly good payoff, just because he was focused on his clients.

6. Make a name for yourself

Most of us will be self-employed, and work in a large chain of health clubs, but it’s important to have your own identity, especially if you have plans to branch out to bigger projects outside the four walls of the gym. Be creative with your business name and ask clients, friends and colleagues for their opinions on it before you register it. It is wise to name your business something other than your actual name – this
increases professionalism and lays the foundation for potential future expansion, franchising or on-selling of your business.

7. Create a professional online presence

Find a graphic designer or web developer to build a website for you. If you are technically savvy and a skilled designer, fantastic, you can do it yourself. The odds are though that your skills lay elsewhere, otherwise you’d be a graphic designer, right? Just as our clients pay us as health and fitness professionals to help them achieve their goals, so it is worth our while investing in the services of a design professional to achieve ours.

8. Be good to your clients, friends and members

Hands down, word-of-mouth is the most important marketing vehicle you have. What clients, friends, members and colleagues say about you and your service is how the market will ultimately gauge the value of your brand. The big trick to building your brand is to find ways to consciously nurture your network. If you are good to your network, it will be good to you.

9. Live the message

Image matters. Most importantly, remember that image is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see youas a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you’re thinking like your brand, you don’t need organisation-chart authority to be a leader. The fact is, you are a leader.

10. Surround yourself with the best

Within every company there are the good and the bad. Work out who the best five health professionals are in your gym and spend as much time as possible with them. Any apprentices that I train will always be fast-tracked in their career because they are spending time with someone who has been in the industry a lot longer than they have, but also because I help them surround themself with the trainers in our club who are motivated and brand themselves very well.

 

Blake Worrall-Thompson

An experienced personal trainer, Blake also runs a highly successful corporate speaking business along with a mentoring program for personal trainers looking to become world class professionals. His company, Raw Solutions, is one of the fastest growing corporate and mentoring programs in the country. For more information visit www.rawsolutions.com.au


PERSONAL TRAINER NETWORK • SPRING/SUMMER 2009 • PP3-5