Local Networking to Build Your Online Training Business
Part 7 of our series on offline marketing strategies that can help you get online clients covers relationships you can build in your local area with other small or even bigger business owners who target a similar audience with their products and services.
Most personal trainers start in the industry because they have a passion for fitness, exercise, physical activity. They want to pass on and share that passion with their clients while helping them along a self-discovery journey that brings them the results they desire.
The aspect, not every personal training courses emphasise is how much of the job is actually about the people. The workouts, the advice, the sessions are all just tools and channels to communicate your knowledge and expertise but what will help you succeed is how much of a people person you can become, if you're not one already.
Your personality will be part of your brand and your services, whether you realise it or not. What channels you develop to build relationships that can lead to new clients depends on what you feel comfortable doing or how much you are willing to get out of your comfort zone.
One way or the other, a growing online personal training business needs a rapport-building strategy, whether it will be you doing it or you outsource to a PR expert. The latter is a good alternative if you have the budget and don't feel you'd be good at networking. Let's see what you can do to increase your reach in your local area and ultimately get new leads into your online funnels.
Tip #1. Spend Time and Some Money Locally
Do you see a hairdresser or a barber regularly? Are you a coffee lover or like to treat yourself to some pampering now and then? How about giving a chance to local businesses instead of using big chains? Swap the Costa or Nero to one of your independent coffee shops, pop-into the nearest barber to your gym, explore the hairdressers in your area, get a massage and see if there are any other private health services in your area.
Once you have a relationship and you greet each other on the street, you can start asking about how they find clients in the area, what strategies they use and whether their clients would welcome a fitness offer if it came from them. In exchange, you can also place a few flyers in your gym or add them to the on-boarding package for new clients or even use it in a raffle or as a prize for challenge winners.
The same goes for online links. Many businesses will be on Facebook, Instagram and potentially other social media platforms. Share your experience with the local companies via your channels and offer trials to staff members for genuine feedback and shout outs if you have the capacity. You can even combine offline advertisement techniques and drop flyers at local coffee shops when you have an offer.
Tip #2. Attend Business Networking Events
Now, this may not be everybody's cup of tea, especially if you are working at almost full capacity with your clients, but if you can spare a few hours even just once a month, it may be worth looking up if there are events in your area to network with small business owners of all kinds.
Business networking groups mostly organise these events and offer support on either a membership or one-off drop-in fee basis. Before you commit to anything, it may be worth attending a few and see what they can offer you. As a rule of thumb, if you feel they pressure you into a decision too soon, ask for time to think and ensure their offering is what you need to take the next step with your venture.
Otherwise, look for local events where many of the already mentioned business owners, yoga teachers, physios, osteopaths and other professionals hang out and have a great time trying to get to know them. You will naturally connect to some and the relationships you build could be an excellent foundation for future ventures together.
Tip #3. Keep an Eye on Notice Boards in Your Area
Have you ever noticed that almost all grocery shops and stores have a notice board and in many local coffee shops the staff encourage locals to gather together, help each other out, meet up for coffee, advertise their offerings or put anything on there that could be of interest for the community?
If you haven't, I strongly recommend looking around during your next grocery shop, coffee pick-up and maybe even in the Post Office. You may notice an event that would suit you or you can also add your little ad with your contact details and online social media handles. The next level is a Call-to-Action that people crossing will want to pursue.
The best way to start acquiring online training clients is to start within your circles. Make sure everybody in your area knows that you don't only provide in-person services but also have online solutions for those who could use the flexibility of online personal training in their hectic life.
Networking is not something that will bring you leads straight away. It's more like content marketing and SEO, and it needs time to build up the awareness before it starts bringing in results. But if you persist it works very effectively.
Even if you're contemplating launching online services 3-6 months down the line, you can start building the foundations of your future online marketing strategy now by getting the word out, and creating a vibe before your services even become a thing. Networking is one of the best strategies to start small, plant the seeds now and reap the benefits when you are ready to grow.