Health coaches and exercise professionals should never lose sight of the fact that the fitness industry is built on service. And, as a member of a “service industry,” your credibility is among your strongest assets.
So, how can you build your credibility in the industry and the community in which you work? The initial steps outlined below should help you get started with establishing yourself as a trusted expert in your particular corner of the fitness industry.
Use the following checklist to be sure you’ve covered the basics. Only then can you begin to establish your reputation as an authority in your field.
A Professional Email Address
A quality email address includes your website’s domain name (if you have one—more on this below!) and establishes professionalism at first contact. If you don’t have a domain name, be sure to use a professional-sounding email address. Imagine yourself as a potential client: Would you be more likely to work with CoachJack@optimalwellness.com, email@example.com or TightAbs@aol.com? As trivial as it may seem, these first impressions matter.
Quality Business Cards
When it comes to business cards, unless you are a branding expert or graphic designer, it’s best to keep it simple—logo, company name, contact info and website address. The quality of the card itself is important, as well. Perforated edges that show you printed the cards at home or free business cards you can order online with the printing company’s logo on the back may undermine your credibility.
If you don’t currently have a website, building one should be a top priority—and it’s a lot easier than you may think. A small website to serve as a “home base” with just a few pages of basic info is all you need. And, if you do have a website but it is outdated, now is the time to update it. There are templated websites available that simplify this process and provide a professional look. While a poorly designed site that is visually displeasing or tough to navigate is sure to drive potential customers away, a beautiful and easy-to-use site can enhance your business and establish your professionalism.
It is worth the investment to have professionally produced photographs taken and then displayed on your website and promotional materials. While you may need some standard headshots, you should also be creative when using pictures (or videos) to demonstrate what it is that you do. Whether you specialize in working with a particular population, coach professionals in corporate settings or teach outdoor bootcamp classes, be sure that is reflected in the images you use. You want your marketing materials to be engaging and welcoming, so it’s best to enlist the help of a professional to brainstorm ideas and take your photos.
Reviewing products and services online has become a staple of modern life. When’s the last time you saw a movie or went to a restaurant without first reading a review or two? It’s essential that you offer testimonials on your website and marketing materials that bolster your credibility and effectively speak to the clientele you are trying to reach. When the time is right, ask satisfied customers if they would be willing to provide a detailed testimonial of how you have helped them reach their goals. It’s best if people are willing to attach their name, company name and maybe even a website to their testimonial, as anonymous praise carries far less weight with consumers than specific testimonials, especially if it comes from a name or business they recognize.
It’s also important that the testimonials are specific to what you do and the people you serve. “Jane really understands the needs of a busy mom and was creative in helping me reach my goals,” is a much more meaningful review than, “Jane is a great trainer and coach.” You may want to tactfully prompt your clients or participants to write impactful testimonials.
A Professional Network
It is vital to build a professional network of like-minded professionals in your community, both inside and outside the fitness industry. Being associated with recognized experts is a great way to establish credibility and expand your business. An advisory board of trusted professionals can provide advice, help you avoid pitfalls and guide you to a better understanding of the local market.
Shannon is a certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach providing information based on the BYS System.