If you’d like to know a few low cost or even free ways to market your services in a down economy, then here are four methods that I used starting around the time of the financial crisis of 2008 to build a multiple six-figure personal training business from scratch, in just a couple of years.
1. Public Speaking.
Public speaking has long been my go-to. First of all, it’s a “no-brainer” to get speaking opportunities by offering to teach something valuable to groups at no charge. I went to many local companies, community groups, and business networking meetings to present and they were almost always very receptive to the idea.
Not only that, but speaking in front of a room instantly gives you an air of authority. This is known as the “podium effect” in marketing circles. Even if you’re brand new in your industry, simply being willing to stand up and talk makes you come across as an expert and a leader. The key to making this all work for your business is to combine valuable tips with lots of stories. I always tried to give 3 or 4 tips in 30-40 minutes, and for each tip I’d walk them through a “case study” of one of my training clients.
PRO TIP: Always end every talk by offering them a valuable free gift in exchange for an email address (and possibly more contact info). A free consultation or a free report should do the trick. This will let you do the most important part of the sales process which is: follow up! More on that below.
2. Content Marketing.
Content marketing includes things like blogging, article marketing, YouTube videos, Instagram, email, podcasts, etc. The idea is to routinely pump out great content which demonstrates your knowledge and the kind of value you provide for your clients – the more, the better.
You want to use all these formats to drive traffic back to your main website, where, hopefully, you have a way of capturing visitors’ contact info.
My advice is to focus on whatever format makes you feel most motivated. That way you’ll be more likely to stay consistent with it. If you enjoy talking and presenting, do video. If you’re more of an introvert, writing, and to a lesser extent audio (e.g. having a podcast) might be more your bag. In either case, it’s not hard to take that content and repurpose it across many channels and on all your social media (if you’re on those sites; this part in NOT required, contrary to what people will tell you).
3. Join Ventures.
At the highest level, you want to find someone who already has your clients and make a deal with them. Here’s an example. Around the time I was building my business, I had a colleague who sold in-home personal training. His stroke of genius was approaching home fitness equipment stores and adding value for them by letting them offer certain purchasers his free home training instruction.
His team would then convert a lot of those trial sessions to paying clients, and he built a sizeable business rather quickly off the backs of just two of these relationships.
Another way is to get together with other non-competitive but complementary services to cross-refer and cross-promote. As a personal trainer I was in a good position to refer to chiropractors, and over the years I’ve sent a couple of them quite a few new patients. This ideally would be a two-way street, if there’s enough trust between you.
To put this strategy on steroids, add other health providers to the mix as well. Imagine a dietician, a massage therapist, a chiropractor, and a personal trainer all cross-promoting to each other’s clients. This is standard in the direct response industry. But a lot of service providers don’t think this way. They’re costing themselves sales. Organizations like BNI are built on this principle and some of those groups are very productive. The problem is when the businesses serve different types of customers it makes mutual referrals a lot less natural.
4. Email Marketing.
Alright, here’s where it all comes together. In my way of doing things, all roads should lead to your email list. I built a list of 2,500 subscribers in a couple of years using the free methods listed above. And I’d keep in touch with tips, stories, and event invitations once per week. This is the persistent follow up I hinted at above. Don’t spurn this part!
There’s an art and a science to effective email marketing, but the idea is to combine content with promotion. Share a tip, reveal a common mistake they may be making, then link it back to how you can help them and don’t forget to include an offer for them to contact you! Keep the dialogue focused on your prospects’ problems more than the features of your service. And make it entertaining. The easiest way to do this is just to tell lots of stories.
There you have it. You don’t need a big marketing budget to make money. In fact, if anything I’ve found the leads that come to you via these methods are higher quality. There’s some leg work required with each of them, to be sure. But if you want to build a business that will provide you with freedom and feed you for years to come, get over it – and get out there!
P.S. Get your FREE copy of my book “Stealth Email Secrets: The Simplest System Ever Created For Writing High-Converting, Cash-Producing Emails On Command” and more free marketing tips by joining my email list here: http://conorkelly.com .