Dr. Erin Nitschke by Dr. Erin Nitschke

It’s inevitable. As a personal trainer, clients will come and go. To keep your business going strong and your client list full, make a conscious effort to find new and creative ways to effectively recruit new clients. The more effort you invest, the easier it will be to get clients through the door. Here are 10 fun, affordable and refreshing ways to attract new clients to your facility. 

1. Invest time in social media

Print media still has its place in the world of marketing and advertising, but social media is hot, hot, hot. Be present and active in your social media networks. This means you have to do more than check the feed and hit “like.” Take time to comment, pose a thought-provoking question, offer another perspective and share your experience. Find out what social media networks your target market uses, and share tips, tricks and methods for achieving health goals. 

2. Create referral reciprocity

It is perfectly acceptable to tell current clients that you would appreciate their referral to others who may be seeking the services of a health coach or exercise professional . Additionally, your client list will likely include a wide variety of professionals. Refer those professionals to others and build your referral reciprocity. Also, don’t forget to create a client loyalty program. This helps you demonstrate your continued appreciation for their commitment to you as their trainer and for the referrals they provide. 

3. Investigate the academic programs offered by community colleges, technical institutes and/or universities in or near your community

Seek out the appropriate point of contact—usually a program coordinator, director or dean—and inquire about adjunct teaching opportunities for  health and wellness (this is often a general education requirement at many schools), exercise science, personal training prep courses, human anatomy or other physical-activity courses. This is an excellent way to network and build your professional resume. It’s important to note that accrediting agencies for institutions of higher learning usually have a minimum degree requirement (often times a bachelor’s) to teach certain classes. Be sure to ask this information during your research. 

4. Provide mini-workshops/lunch-and-learns to local businesses

Employee wellness is sometimes considered a luxury and not a priority. Make connections with local business owners at after-hours business gatherings or other events and inquire about providing short (30-45 minutes) workshops to employees over the lunch hour or online via podcasts or webinars for a minimal cost. You most likely will not make a large amount of money (unless employee wellness is popular in your location), but that isn’t the point. The point is to build your network, get your face out in the community and recruit new clients to take advantage of your professional services. 

5. Reach out to local high schools

Depending on your geographic location and budgetary constraints, many high schools do not have the ability to employ a full-time strength and conditioning coach for their athletes. This may be a perfect platform to market your services while still providing a necessary service to young athletes aspiring to enhance their performance. 

6. Incorporate testimonials in marketing efforts

Testimonials from current and past clients go a long way in elevating your professional profile and attracting new clients. Word of mouth—if it’s positive—is often the best form of advertising. You can use testimonials on your website or strategically place them in informational material such as brochures, rack cards or other print media. 

7. Offer special pricing deals

This rule never seems to wear out its welcome. People are always in search of the best deal or the most economically balanced option. Do some market research in your area and find out what others are doing and then do it better and in your own unique way. For example, offer a 25% discount on the first five sessions. Offer to perform discounted or free assessments every quarter or create special pricing during holidays or special events. You could even organize an event such as a St. Patrick’s Day 5K or Mom-Daughter specials. 

8. Record TED Talks or Podcasts

People often turn to the internet to find answers to their questions. Why not create quality online resources for people to benefit and learn from? Consider using a platform like YouTube to upload a TED talk or record a podcast or series of podcasts. Udemy is another online learning platform that is easy to use and has a financial benefit to the professionals who create “classes” or “lectures. 

9. The blog world is active and popular

Consider incorporating a blog into your current website. Blog posts do not have to be long to be interesting or informative. Keep in mind that a large percentage of the population will search for and read information on mobile devices. Keeping posts short and easy to read captures attention more effectively. 

10. Be visible in your community

It’s the community members you serve. Find ways to not just be present in the community, but involved on an active level. Join a non-profit board, volunteer or join the local chamber of commerce or other business organization to support and enhance your marketing efforts. 

Whatever strategy or combination of strategies you select for how to get clients as a personal trainer, don’t forget to develop an overall marketing plan so that you can budget for the more expensive efforts. Remember to revisit and revise this plan as time passes so that you can remain current and creative in your approach. 

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