With nearly 900,000 certified personal trainers in the US this year, with a 5% annual growth average, it's important to stand out from the rest of the crowd to attract clients.
And that’s what marketing can do for you. Personal trainers with plenty of clients know how to market themselves and their services well. In this article, we guide you through building your brand and list personal training marketing ideas to help you get more clients.
If you're interested in marketing specifically for gym businesses, make sure to check out our 'Gym Marketing Ideas' post.
How to Get Personal Training Clients
Identify your target audience and define your ideal client
The first and most crucial step before considering marketing strategies is identifying your target audience. To effectively market your services, you shouldn’t market to just everybody. It’s like drawing needles from a haystack when it comes to getting clients. You need to narrow down the focus—who are the people you want to provide services to—so that you can know them, their problems and needs, and provide a solution (your services).
For example, you live in the city, and you want to provide personal training services to working people with families to help them achieve better overall health. That’s your target audience.
The next step is to define your ideal client from that audience. Take your time defining them—give them a name, build situations around them, and know their problems. Because that is where you will be basing your marketing ideas from.
Here is an example:
My ideal client is Jane (female), around 35 years old.
She is married with a toddler and is an executive at a big firm.
She struggles with balancing time between work and family and is often wiped out at the end of the day.
She wants to make time for herself and improve her fitness because she knows she needs to be healthy and strong to take care of work and family.
She just doesn’t have the time to go to the gym and doesn’t have enough know-how to start looking.
Too detailed? It should be. Envision your ideal client and how she would go on about her daily life. Where can your services fit in and provide the help you know she needs or would benefit from?
Create a unique identity with your brand
After you have identified your perfect client, the next thing would be to identify you and your services—your brand! Creating your fitness brand is also an essential part of a successful personal training marketing strategy.
- Your business name
- Your niche (target audience, ideal client)
- A branding kit (contains your logos, branding colors, and fonts)
Remember, your brand should be unique, entirely you, and reflect your services. It is what your clients will associate with your service. If you are creative, you may find this enjoyable. Otherwise, know that you can outsource this task to a designer to help build your business design collaterals.
Decide on the right marketing channels to reach new clients
Once you have identified your target market and built your brand, the next step is determining how you will attract new clients. You can use the traditional way of marketing through paper ads, brochures, and door-to-door advertising or digital marketing such as social media, blogs, and e-mail lists.
Most do a bit of both. Note that there is no right or wrong way of doing this—your target audience will determine the best techniques. Identify where your ideal client will most likely hang out and get information from, and advertise your services there.
Personal training marketing ideas & strategies
Showcase your expertise with website content
More than 70% of small businesses have a website, and if you don’t have one—this is the best time to do so. You can (and should) market yourself on social channels but remember that having your own “home” on the world wide web makes you more credible.
Think of your website as your virtual storefront. Clients go here to learn more about you and the services you offer so they can decide whether to contact you or make a purchase.
As a store, make it look appealing and provide everything your audience is looking for about you—let them get to know you better so you can develop a stronger sense of community among clients and leads.
Build a strong online presence through content marketing
Building a website doesn’t magically get you clients—you need to make sure your website shows up on Google’s search results to be able to get website visits from those that are looking for your services.
One of the ways to accomplish that is through content marketing. Content marketing is creating and sharing content or information through videos, blogs, and social media posts that do not explicitly promote your services but are intended to stimulate awareness and interest in your brand.
A few ideas for content marketing that will be relevant to you as a personal trainer are:
Share valuable insights through blogging
Your website should have a blog where you can write articles that educate your ideal client. You don’t necessarily have to promote in your blog posts, as the goal here is to establish your authority as a fitness expert. Think of topics that would be helpful to your ideal client and write about them.
Establish authority and trustworthiness by being a guest author
Another personal training content marketing strategy to showcase your expertise in the fitness industry is to write for reputable media outlets. Pitch an article idea to health and fitness websites and magazines.
This way, when someone comes across your article, you’re automatically seen as a fitness expert, and readers who resonate with you are more likely to convert into paying clients.
Provide easy-to-understand information through infographics
Scannable content in the form of infographics increases the chances of having more people share it, especially across social media. Convert long-form blog content into infographics (try Canva to produce these images, it is free and easy to use) and embed it on your website, and share it on your social channels.
Provide valuable information through video content (on YouTube, Tiktok & Instagram)
Videos are the “it” format for marketing in 2023. Think TikTok videos, YouTube Shorts, and IG Reels. And videos are the perfect content type to showcase your expertise! Demonstrate an exercise technique, show a cooking demo of a healthy recipe—the ideas are endless!
Provide valuable advice through a podcast
You can either start your own or have yourself as a guest in fitness podcasts. People are more likely to connect and engage with others when they hear someone provide valuable information about fitness and health.
Work on improving SEO
Another way to show up on Google’s top results is to work on your website’s SEO or search engine optimization. Search engine optimization (SEO) might be too overwhelming initially, but don’t get intimidated. Know the keywords your ideal client is using when looking for your services, and make sure to have them incorporated in your website copy frequently.
List your business on Google My Business
Another way is to make sure you show up in local SEO search results. For example, when people search for a personal trainer online, they usually type “personal trainer near me” into Google.
To show up in this kind of keyword search results, register your business with Google My Business. Doing so means your business can appear as one of the search results in the expandable box in Google Maps. Having reviews on your listing can also help make you look legitimate.
Learn more: How to list your business on Google My Business
Invest in PPC advertising for your online presence
PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising or online advertising is similar to having ad campaigns on TV. However, with PPC, you only pay when your ad is clicked. It may be worth a shot, especially if you want to increase visibility on google searches.
Get listed on local directories for online visibility
There are online sites and directories specific to personal training, like IDEA, Angie’s List, and Thumbtack’s personal trainer directory. These directories provide free inbound links that improve your website’s credibility in Google’s eyes. This, in turn, can generate more traffic for pages like your blog posts.
Create an email list
Marketers would always say this: email marketing is still the best way to stay on top of mind with customers. As a personal trainer, building your email list can become your number one client acquisition asset.
You can start building an email list by creating a simple freebie to give to people when they visit your website in exchange for their email addresses. They can opt-in to your email list to receive your free product. Your freebie can be as simple as a checklist on proper exercise form or as extensive as an ebook about effective workout plans and healthy meals.
Engage with clients on a Facebook page
Aside from your website, having a social media presence is necessary in today’s fast-paced digital world. And Facebook tops the list of social media platforms—it is the third most visited website in the world, with Google and YouTube topping the list (that says a lot).
If you don’t have one, create your Facebook page (not just a personal account, but a page exclusively for your business). Once set up, aside from posting regular content, make sure to engage those who leave comments on your posts. Social media marketing is all about engagement.
Reach new clients with Facebook and Instagram ads
Expand reach and credibility through partnerships
Collaborations are a great way to reach more people. Partnerships also help you stay ahead of the competition. A few ways to expand reach through partnerships are partnering with fitness influencers and collaborating with other local businesses.
Partner with fitness influencers
Influencer marketing is often seen as the replacement for celebrity endorsements. This is why marketers are now considering it as a mainstream form of advertising. As a personal trainer, you can offer free training to some local influencers and share that training on your digital platforms.
Influencers have their own platforms and usually have a huge following. Once they share your service on their channels, people who follow them might want to connect with you, so you can also help them get into shape.
Collaborate with other businesses
Identify industries that can work with or benefit from your services and connect with other businesses in those industries to set up collaborations.
For example, nutritionists usually work hand in hand with gyms or fitness centers to offer consultations with their members. You can partner with a nutritionist to offer a package that includes nutritional consults every month. You can even take it further and partner with a meal provider to offer an all-in-one health package.
Leverage current clients and networks
Personal trainers usually get most of their business from referrals. If you have an existing clientele, consider asking them for referrals. Don’t forget the value of cross-referrals! Ask other professionals in the health and fitness space—such as physical therapists, chiropractors, complementary therapists, or nutritionists—if they can refer you to clients looking for a personal trainer.
Incentivize current clients through a referral program
To encourage referrals, give your clients an incentive by offering them a discount or another promotion. You can give both the referral and referee an incentive!
Reward long-term clients through a loyalty program
Loyalty marketing is a great way to retain existing customers, as it is more cost-effective to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. Consider setting up a loyalty program to incentivize current clients to stay in the program longer. For example, those who have stayed for three or more months get a free blood work-up, and those that stay for more than six years can get a nutrition consult at a discounted price. Explore this idea when you have enough clients to offer incentives.
Network and build relationships at local events
Local events are a great way to market your services as a personal trainer. A mix of traditional and online marketing practices can be best applied at local events.
Use marketing partnerships and flyers for brand promotion
Flyers and brochures are the best way to boost exposure for your personal training services at local events. Make sure it has all the important information so people can look you up online, too! Distribute them around‚ post them up around town, or talk to relevant businesses, such as meal prep companies, spas, chiropractors, and gyms, about displaying them.
Showcase services through a fitness event
If there is a local event around your area, consider spearheading a fitness event. This will help get the word out about your personal training services and showcase your strengths as a personal trainer.
Educate potential clients through workshops
Run workshops in your local community to promote health and fitness. You won’t necessarily promote yourself directly, but stressing the importance of health and fitness can help people become aware of the need for your personal training services. Again, this establishes your authority, and people can regard you as the go-to person for fitness.
Build a health-focused community
Building community helps increase client retention and satisfaction, which in turn helps you get more word-of-mouth referrals. You don’t even have to promote yourself anymore, as your clients promote you! Happy customers make the best brand advocates.
To achieve this, building a community around them encourages support, care, and concern for one another. Knowing someone is on the same path to fitness as you go a long way in helping them stay on track with their fitness goals.
Here are a few ways to build community among your clients and prospective clients:
- Conduct healthy outings such as a weekend hike or a morning jog every weekday
- Run a fitness challenge
- Offer group training sessions for free or at a discounted price at your local plaza or club hall every weekend
Offer convenience with online training
Online training programs are a great way to capture clients who have no time to show up for one-on-one training. By letting them know you are flexible enough to work out a mix of online and one-on-one in-person training sessions, you can provide convenience and options for your clients.
Stay ahead of the curve with fitness technology
Fitness technology, such as smartwatches and new workout equipment, is all the rage right now. More and more people find personal trainers who craft workout sessions based on new technology, specifically those that they are using, better.
Discuss this when talking to prospects to get them more interested in working with you. Or adapt your workout plans to cater to fitness technology, such as smartwatches, to help track fitness goals.
Improve your skills through education
Even if you get certified, continuous education and up-skilling are required to help you stay on top of your game. Remember that major accrediting bodies such as NASM and ACE require some sort of continuing education.
There are many specializations you can go after—certification for nutrition, weight loss, group training, martial arts, youth fitness, and senior fitness—the list is endless.
The more knowledge you acquire, the more valuable you and your services will be. These, in turn, help you market yourself better as THE expert in the health and fitness industry. Who wouldn’t want to work with an expert, right?
Frequently asked questions on marketing strategies for Personal Training businesses
How can I effectively market my personal training business?
To effectively market your personal training business, you need to first define your ideal client, build your brand, and determine which channels your audience is using, so you can effectively market your services there.
How can I promote my personal training services on Instagram?
You can promote your personal training services on Instagram by consistently publishing content, particularly reels, partnering with influencers, collaborating with other businesses, and performing ad campaigns.
How can I improve my local SEO for my personal training business?
Get your personal training business listed on Google. Registering on Google My Business helps your business appear in search listing results.
What are some effective ways to gather testimonials for my personal training business?
You can gather testimonials for your personal training services by asking your current clients directly. Ask them to choose between making a short video or writing a testimonial. Sending regular surveys or feedback forms to your client list is also a significant indirect way of getting testimonials from satisfied clients.
How can I leverage influencer marketing for my personal training business?
Partner with influencers to help expand your reach. Identify influencers relevant to your industry and propose a partnership. Influencers can create content showcasing your personal training services, and this is shared across their huge amount of followers.
How can I create a podcast for my personal training business?
To start a fitness podcast, develop an idea, plan a content calendar, source equipment, hire podcast editors if needed, and start recording.
How can TeamUp help personal trainers?
With Teamup's personal training software, personal trainers can take their business to the next level. The software simplifies the management of appointments and bookings, giving trainers more time to focus on what they do best - delivering exceptional training and fostering strong client relationships.
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