Personal Training Marketing: How to Drive More Clients

Did you know that, statistically, about 20% of small businesses fail in their first year and 50% fail in their fifth year? If you’re researching starting your own personal training business or trying to learn more about how to become a personal trainer, that number probably sounds pretty scary. But we’re not pointing it out to make you sweat; we’re showing you how important it is to put the time, energy, and resources into growing your business from the get-go. How can you do that? It’s all in your personal trainer marketing.

Personal trainers who strike off on their own typically start with a base of clients from previous jobs. Where most end up struggling, however, is expanding their business to a new audience — and that’s exactly where we want to help! In this guide, we’ll show you step-by-step how to promote your fitness business and set yourself up for long-term success.

How to Get Personal Training Clients

“How do I get more personal training clients?” That’s a big question most independent trainers ask even before they start their business. The answer is more of a process that happens over time than a single statement, but here’s how we’d sum it up: Research, build, and execute a calculated marketing strategy.

We’ll go over this process in more detail below. To give you an idea of the adventure ahead though, here’s an overview:

  1. Determine your ideal prospects to convert to customers.
  2. Define and build out your unique brand.
  3. Create a marketing plan for reaching your ideal audience.
  4. Advertise to your audience and close the deal.

Of course, you’ll want to keep in mind that the number one thing you need to get more personal training clients is an already existing solid foundation in your field. In other words, if you want to get more PT clients, you have to have a loyal base of them first.

Now, let’s break down the steps you’ll take to develop a personal training marketing strategy after your foundation has been built.

Define Your Target Audience

Marketing without defining your target audience is like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. You can have the best personal training marketing plan and tools in the world, but if you don’t know who to target, then you’re wasting your time.

It’s important to note that defining a target audience doesn’t mean excluding individuals from becoming your customers; it’s a means of carefully evaluating and focusing your efforts. It can be tempting to try to target everyone because you want to help everyone! But that isn’t as helpful as you might think when it comes to running your business.

By identifying your target audience, you can do the research necessary to understand their wants, needs, pain points, and the best methods for communicating with them. Then, you can create content and advertisements that resonate with them and pedal it in the right places. With this approach, your marketing efforts will go further, and you won’t waste any precious time you could be spending with clients.

Follow the steps we’ve outlined in this worksheet to help narrow down your target audience.

Branding for Fitness

Once you get to know your target audience, your next step will be to help them get to know you. But of course, you have to get to know yourself first! Building your fitness brand is an important component of successful personal training marketing strategy creation. What do we mean by “brand”? Well, branding includes a few things:

  • Business name
  • Brand positioning
  • Niche
  • Logo(s)
  • Colors
  • Fonts

Your branding should be completely unique to you, as it is what your clients will associate your business with and use to decide if they’ll purchase your services. To help you create your brand, we’ve put together a worksheet for you to complete. Once you finished it, you should have a much better idea of exactly what your brand is. Even if you’ve already created your brand, it’s still a great opportunity to write everything down and make sure you’re happy with it.

Get your free downloadable fitness branding worksheet here.

As you go through the worksheet, keep in mind that branding is also about setting expectations for your client experience. In order to convince strangers to train with you, those expectations need to detail what your brand offers that others don’t. In business lingo, this is called a value proposition.

For example, weaving your personal trainer story into your branding and marketing materials is a great way to make yourself stand out. If you started out 50 pounds heavier and worked hard to reach your goal weight, for instance, that’s a story that will resonate with many fitness beginners. The story element of your branding is all about creating an emotional, human connection with readers on the other side of that screen. Your biography is another great place to tell your story and summarize your brand. See these tips on writing a great bio as a personal trainer.

Top Tip: After you’ve outlined your brand guidelines, My PT Hub’s Branding features can help you bring them to life with your very own app! Upload your logo, choose your own theme, and offer your customers a unique and unparalleled training experience.

Steps to Creating a Personal Training Marketing Strategy

woman in gym writing out a plan in a notebook

So, now you know who you are and who you’re selling to. Next, you need to make sure that target audience sees the brand you’ve worked so hard to perfect! That’s where your planning and pre-launch marketing activities come in.

To help guide you through these sections and relate them to your personal training business, we’ve put together a marketing plan worksheet for you to download and complete. You might want to wait until you make it through the entire guide to write everything down, or you may want to jot down notes as you go and finalize everything at the end. Either way, we think this will help you keep everything you’re learning straight and make the most of it!

Download your free Marketing Plan Launch Template worksheet here.

Identify Your Key Marketing Channels

In the digital landscape, there are more accessible marketing opportunities than ever before. Although this is exciting, it can also be overwhelming. You may be tempted to try to do everything to find more personal training clients, but you’ll reach more qualified leads if you focus on the key channels where your target audience is most likely to be found. To get you started in the right direction, think about how you’d answer these key questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Do you know where you audience is most likely to be found? For example, which social media channels are they using? Would they rather read blogs or watch videos? Are they more likely to engage with an email or a text?
  • What kind of budget, if any, do you have to allocate to your marketing?
  • What do you want to achieve and by when? What are your overall business goals, targets, and objectives?

Answering these questions and working backwards can be a helpful way to think about your marketing strategy.

Set Your Business Objectives

Think of your marketing strategy as the yellow brick road and your business objectives as Emerald City; your objectives are where you want your business to get to, and your marketing is the path that will take you there.

Your business objectives are unique to you. A useful way to help you identify these goals is to follow a framework that helps you define and refine exactly what you want to achieve. One approach you could take, for instance, is the SMART method. This method of goal setting allows you to break down your objectives into greater detail, making it easier to create a step-by-step plan for reaching them. Here’s what the SMART technique means:

Specific: Make your objectives as clear and specific as possible to work out the best plan to achieve them. An example of a specific business goal would be, “Gain 100 followers on my personal training Instagram within three months.”

Measurable: The business and marketing goals you make should be able to be measured, so you can track your progress, adjust your plan as needed, and celebrate success. An example of a measurable business goal would be, “Secure one new training client per month for the first six months.” You’ll be able to easily measure how many clients you get each month and gauge your overall success after that six-month mark.

Achievable: This one is very important. Every goal you set for running and promoting your fitness business should be within the realm of possibility. Remember; it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver. If you set goals that are not achievable, your motivation and confidence will take a big hit and your business will likely suffer. An example of an achievable business goal would be, “Get five people to fill out my contact form through Facebook advertising in four months.”

Realistic: Your business goals should be realistic based on the expertise, time, and resources you have available. For the first few months, your objectives may be small in order to remain realistic. But five years from now when your business is established, realistic goals will look very different for you. An example of a realistic goal would be, “Gain 10-15 new clients in my first year of business.” In five years, you might have a team of trainers working under you and it will be more realistic to make that number 50-75!

Timely: This simply means that your goals have a timeframe or deadline attached to them. You do this kind of thing with your clients, so you know how it works; setting an amount of time for achieving your goal will help determine whether you’re working hard or smart enough to meet your target, based on your progress. An example of a timely goal would be, “Start making $X in profit after my first year of business.”

Bonus Tip #1: Looking at all of your long-term goals at once can be daunting and overwhelming. To help you stay focused and avoid stress, try breaking large goals down into smaller goals. For the timely example goal above, for instance, you might break down your yearly profit goal into a quarterly profit goal.

Bonus Tip #2: SMART goals are not something you can just set and forget — not if you want to achieve them anyway. Set aside a block of time each week to review the status of each goal. This will help keep you accountable and help you revise your goals as you go to ensure they still meet the SMART criteria based on the state of your business.

Create Your Marketing Plan

With your chosen marketing channels and business objectives in hand, you’re now ready to start creating your marketing plan! Let’s take a look at the five key areas you should focus on to come up with an effective and efficient strategy for getting your brand out there.

  1. Consider your strengths. Are you digitally savvy? Do you love engaging with clients on social media? Or are you great at networking and selling yourself to anyone? Think about your strengths in these areas and apply them to your marketing plan.
  2. Use your network. Make a list of everyone and anyone you know who can help you get your marketing materials and training business off the ground. Think big; it could be someone you met or worked with a long time ago but always got along with. Or it could be the friend of a friend who is looking for a personal trainer. A great way to get your first clients is to leverage your network, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
  3. Consider outsourcing. If you’re super short on time or have no clue about anything marketing, consider enlisting professional help. There are agencies, freelancers, and online services that can support you with anything from blog post writing to brand design, or even creating your full marketing plan. At My PT Hub, for example, we offer trainers easy-to-use marketing features like a custom website and pre-designed and optimized Google Ads that do the heavy lifting for you.
  4. Set a budget. Sit down and figure out how much of your budget you can allocate for marketing — and stick to it! You may even decide to start with a budget of zero and take advantage of the free marketing tools available to you, and that’s perfectly fine. If you’ve built up a portfolio of clients and contacts, you may not need to put any money into your marketing immediately. It is a good idea to factor it in as a potential cost though, if you want to explore options like paid online advertising or attending events.
  5. Plan out your marketing activities. Use tools like a calendar and a marketing plan template (like the one we made for you above) to help guide your strategy for promoting your fitness business.

Once you define your target audience, create your brand, and develop a marketing strategy, the next step is to take a deeper dive into all the other marketing channels you should be using as a personal trainer. Let’s dive in together, shall we?

Building a Fitness Website

As far as digital marketing channels go, a website for your business should be a top priority. Your website is like your own virtual storefront, where clients can visit to learn more about your brand and the services you offer before deciding whether to contact you or make a purchase. Here you can provide the information your audience is looking for about your company, let them get to know you better, and create a stronger sense of community among clients and leads.

With that in mind, you’ll want to put everything you’ve learned about branding and created for your brand so far into your website. This way your online storefront will be aligned with your overall business objectives and persona.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a web developer to create a website that looks good and aligns with your fitness brand. There are a number of online platforms that have easy-to-use templates for you to create a nice website without any technical knowledge. Here are a few you might want to explore:

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of building out an entire website, there is a simpler solution: use My PT Hub’s MySite feature to create your own microsite! Essentially, MySite allows you to create a landing page to showcase your fitness business. You can completely customize it to your brand and direct your audience there from paid ads, social media, and other digital channels.

Social Media Marketing for Personal Trainers

woman using social media on her phone and laptop with social media open in the background

72% of the American population and 77.9% of the UK population are on social media. Think of how powerful that means social media can be in helping to promote your fitness business!

Social media marketing is often the marketing channel new business owners think of first, since it’s free and simple to set up. It can also be one of the most effective if you use it properly. Through social media you’ll be able to reach a much wider audience than with most offline channels, as well as network with other fitness professionals. Especially if you’re offering online training services, social media can be incredibly effective at helping you reel in new clients from around the virtual globe.

As we’ve said before though, you need to choose the right social media channels to put your marketing efforts into based on the needs of your target audience. This is another area where you might feel tempted to tackle everything. However, if your target audience isn’t likely to be on one of these channels in search of your services, it’s not worth your time creating and posting content on that particular channel.

For example, if you’re targeting women aged 45-60, you may find that Facebook is the most popular. So, obviously, you’d want to funnel most of your resources to that platform instead of something like TikTok, where a younger crowd is likely to be. You’ll have to do some of your own research to help choose the right channels for you. After you pick what channels to be on, learn about what fitness hashtags you should be using on each one in our other blog.

Top Tip: If social media marketing is something you’re interested in learning more about, here’s where we recommend you visit next:

Email Marketing for Personal Trainers

Email marketing is an excellent tool for obtaining new leads, nurturing them, and eventually convincing them to make a purchase. In fact, in Litmus’s 2020 State of Email report, they found that companies were reporting an ROI of 36:1 for email marketing — or, in other words, you get $36 back for every $1 spent on email marketing. That’s a lot of profit potential! Emails are also useful for communicating updates, new services, and deals to your current clients.

When you’re starting out, you’ll want to focus on ways to build your email list with people in your target market. Even the best emails will fail to convert if they’re not being delivered to people who might care. Sharing content and resources that are relevant to them through your website or social media, in exchange for their email address and marketing permission, is a great way to do that.

Once you’ve started to build your email list of potential clients, you can send them details about your products and services. You can also offer educational content to help increase awareness of your business. Email marketing tools such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and HubSpot Email Marketing are user-friendly platforms you can use to start building and sending your email campaigns.

Fitness Content Marketing

If you want to connect with your audience online, you need to provide quality content for them to connect with. This may sound intimidating, since you’re a personal trainer and not a content marketer, but it’s not as difficult as you think when you break it down.

Quality content can come in many forms, including blog posts, videos, social media posts, email, eBooks, and so on. The good news is that even though you may not be a writer, videographer, or social media strategist, you are what marketers call a “subject matter expert” in your field. This means you already have a lot of knowledge and experience to pull from to provide the meat of your content, so the only thing you’ll have to learn how to navigate is the formatting — and that will come with time.

Here are some fitness content marketing ideas to inspire you as you get started:

  • Create a fitness blog with articles about workout tips, healthy recipes, the benefits of working with a trainer, and other topics you can connect back to your services.
  • Film workouts your audience can follow on their own. These don’t have to be extensive or something you do every week. But providing free workouts is a good way to show off your expertise and offer clients and leads more value in your personal training services. Check out Fitness Marketing Hub’s how-to series for shooting professional looking workouts on your smartphone to get you started.
  • Post photos on social media to engage clients visually, demonstrate the results you can deliver, and show yourself in your element. Examples of types of photos you could post are before and after shots (with client permission), you crushing your own workout, tasty healthy meals, and motivational quotes.

Along with helping you build trust and credibility with your target audience, content marketing also helps with your SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving your website to increase your company’s visibility and drive more traffic online. The more quality content you’re putting out online, the more chances searchers have to find you.

Personal Trainer Advertising

The words “advertising” and “marketing” are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually two different things. Marketing is the message you’re sending to your customers, which should show that you’ve identified and can meet their needs. Advertising is your methods for promoting that message. Think of advertising as a part of your overall marketing strategy.

When you’re marketing a fitness business, paid advertising is one avenue you’ll definitely want to consider. In the digital world, Google Ads and paid social media ads are two of your biggest opportunities for driving brand awareness. One major benefit is that both platforms allow you to create ads specifically targeted to your ideal audience. That way you know you’re making the most of the dollars you’re spending. Another benefit to paid advertising is that you can set budget limitations, so you’re not spending more than you’re bringing back in. Google will even recommend a daily budget for you to follow.

Paid advertising can also be a wise investment because it has a faster return than many of the other marketing strategies discussed above. Things like content and emails are important for long-term personal trainer marketing and business success, as that’s how you establish a sturdy foundation of clients. But paid advertising increases your immediate exposure to drive leads and conversions.

Top Tip: My PT Hub’s Google Ads integration feature makes it easy to start your first Google Ad campaign! We’ll help you design your own campaigns, or you can use the pre-configured, optimized, targeting advertising campaigns generated for you. Set and forget advertising has never been easier.

Additional Ways to Promote Your Fitness Business

These days, digital marketing is pretty much a must for businesses who want to be successful. However, that’s not to say you should forget about or underestimate how effective traditional offline marketing can be. Promoting your personal training business in your local community is a great way to build trust and connect with an audience filled with potential loyal, long-term clients. Here are some examples of other marketing tactics outside of the digital:

Events

Attending local events is a tried-and-true way for you to network, make personal connections, and form valuable relationships with people in your industry. Look for health and fitness-related events where you can attend, speak, or possibly set up a booth. Don’t limit yourself to just in-person happenings either; the virtual event industry is set to continue increasing in popularity even after the coronavirus pandemic.

Flyers

Good old-fashioned business flyers are a simple and eye-catching tool for boosting exposure for your personal training services. They’re easy to distribute and provide ample opportunity to outline all the important information potential clients need to know. Hang them up around town or talk to local relevant businesses, such as meal prep companies, spas, chiropractors, and gyms, about displaying them.

Sales & Promotions

Sales and promotions are really a combination of offline and online marketing, since they’ll go a lot further when you advertise them online. Although offering deals such as a free training session before signup, discounts on services, or a package giveaway may seem like a loss on your part, the payoff will be worth much more. Especially when you set a time limit on a deal, you’ll create a sense of urgency that pushes leads to convert now instead of putting it off (more on this in a minute!).

Closing the Sale as a Personal Trainer

personal trainer closing a deal with a fitness client

After you’ve got your marketing plan in order and it starts generating new leads, you need to be sure you know how to finish the job when someone takes the bait. If you’re not closing sales, then you’re wasting your time and energy. After all, even if you’re the best trainer out there, if you can’t sell your services to people then your fitness business isn’t going to make it.

Unfortunately, for many trainers it’s a familiar cycle: a lead makes contact, you take the time to discuss their goals and answer questions, then they say they’ll think about it and leave without signing the dotted line. So, how can you break the pattern? Start by using these tips to help close the sale!

Tip #1: Keep the focus on the client.

The fastest way to ruin a sale is to be overly pushy and generic about selling. A potential client needs to feel like you care about their needs, goals, and story — not just about getting their credit card info.

Keep your closing conversation focused on the clients. Review everything they’ve discussed with you and how your services will benefit them specifically. By centering the conversation around them and their needs, you help them feel like they’re making their own choice instead of being pushed into it.

Tip #2: Create a sense of urgency.

As we mentioned above, creating a sense of urgency for leads is another sales tactic that pushes them to sign up for your services now. Following an initial conversation or assessment, many leads will choose to take time to think about it and make a decision later. This gives them more time to talk themselves out of it, and significantly decreases your chances of securing them as a client.

Offering a one-time or limited-time discount or promo, such as a free extra session or a percentage off a training package, will help create a “now or never” mindset. Leads will be more likely to buy after that initial contact if they’re worried about missing out on a deal if they wait.

Tip #3: Ask questions.

Asking open-ended questions is a closing method that affords you the opportunity to dispute any concerns or objections a lead may have about purchasing. The idea is to pose questions that give them a chance to show you where their head is. An example question might be “What are your fitness goals?” or “Do you feel the services we discussed will help you reach your goals?”.

If the responses are favorable to what you can offer, then the conversation will naturally lead back to booking a session. If the lead has questions or apprehensions about your business, then you can use it as a chance to clear them up and highlight your solution again.

Following these tips above will help you sell your services but if you want to learn about being a successful personal trainer and client management you can read more here.

Ready to Get More Personal Training Clients?

Whew — that was a lot to go over, wasn’t it? Well, marketing your personal training services is a big job. But the good news is, now that you know how to promote your fitness business, once you put it into action your client list is going to be stacked! Thankfully, with My PT Hub, you can manage unlimited clients with our all-in-one software. Organize client info, store notes and photos, and even use a dedicated instant chat to keep in touch throughout their fitness journey.

Start your free 30-day trial today to streamline and optimize your personal training business with client management and all our other amazing features!