How to Delight Your Clients Online

How to Delight Your Clients Online

Facebook groups are a powerful tool for client engagement between classes. Unlike Slack or any other group chat service, your clients are already on the platform.

But most Facebook groups suffer from low engagement, lack of quality discussion, criticism, arguments or all of the above. Some groups attract a wide variety of opinions without any kind of filter to discern fact from—well, crazy. Sometimes clients try to sell their Amway products to each other. Done wrong, Facebook groups are just a huge distraction for you—and for your clients.

Here’s how we’ve built the best Facebook group in the world, why we don’t let everyone in (even our own clients until they’re ready!) and how we keep the content valuable.

 

The Two-Brain Business Facebook Group: The Most Valuable Group in the World

 

The Two-Brain Facebook Group contains just over 500 members and over 50 posts every single day. Many contain sample materials that gym owners generously share with others (blog posts to copy, social posts to swipe and—most valuable of all—honest experience). When gym owners reach the Farmer Phase of entrepreneurship, this group provides most of the peer support they need to be successful. It’s a retention tool and adds a ton of value to gym owners: You could literally make more than $500 every month just by copying the stuff others share!

Here’s how we keep it valuable. You can copy these lessons to build a Facebook group that delights your clients.

 

First, We Keep Our Group Private

 

We don’t allow people who aren’t in the Two-Brain family inside because we want to maintain the huge wall of trust that surrounds our tribe. Many of the problems that plague other Facebook groups come from a lack of transparency: People are scared to tell the truth about themselves so they either over-hype themselves or stay silent.

In our group, all know they can’t hide the truth about their businesses because their mentors know their numbers. In other groups, it’s incredible to see gym owners posing as “experts” while their gyms are practically bankrupt.

We don’t even allow members of the Two-Brain family into our private Facebook group until they’ve reached the Growth Stage of mentorship. This is because entrepreneurs in the Incubator need focus more than they need peer support. Our Incubator program is done 1:1 with a mentor: We actively eliminate noise, great but distracting ideas and time on social media for Incubator clients to help them focus.

In your gym, this means you should remove people from your Facebook group when they cancel their memberships. It means you should make a big deal about inviting new people (and welcome them one by one when they join). And you should actively remove people who aren’t a good fit. Your Facebook group should be a bonus to your clients, not a right.

 

Second, We Lay out Expectations Clearly in Advance

 

Here’s the top post in our group:

*****START HERE*****
This is a group for high-level business discussion. It’s private for TwoBrainBusiness mentoring clients.

Questions are encouraged. Ideas are prized. Dogma is forbidden.

Dead horses have their own thread. If you’d like to ask about booking/billing software, search for the “master thread” on software.

Please keep the discussion focused. Memes and jokes are the backbone of Facebook but don’t fit in this group. Likewise, criticism of non-Two-Brain practices is discouraged.

There are no “experts,” no icons here; everyone is asked to be open to mentorship and play the role of mentor to others. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Beginner’s Mind, read this before posting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin.

 

Third, We Actively Uphold Our Rules

 

It’s extremely rare, but we remove people from the Facebook group immediately if they don’t follow the rules. The Facebook group is only a complement to our mentorship practice, and our duty to the group’s members is paramount. So if one member is negatively affecting the experience of another, we remove the problem person immediately. No warnings necessary and no doubt about the action.

 

Fourth, We Remove Distracting Conflicts Before They Arise

 

In some cases, an entrepreneur in one city will have a conflict with another. That’s none of our business, and we believe every entrepreneur should have a chance to succeed. But members of our Facebook group can request that another entrepreneur from their city be excluded. The second owner can complete our Incubator program and even join the Growth Phase; they just can’t join the Facebook group.

The funny thing is that this happens far less than you’d expect. Most gym owners realize that it’s in their best interest to have nearby gyms operating at the same standard they are, so they actively recruit their neighbors to join. Out of over 500 members in the Two-Brain group, we’ve only received four requests to block another gym owner—and three of these were for the same person!

 

Fifth, We Lead by Example

 

Mentors think before they post. Mentors don’t have spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in their posts. No one posts memes, rants or other time-wasters, because group leaders don’t bury good content under that stuff.

We don’t allow criticism of anyone, even the people who attack our strategies. Because that doesn’t help the people in our group.

We encourage thoughtfulness and positive internal dialogue. For example, every Friday, dozens of Two-Brain entrepreneurs post their Bright Spots to help them practice gratitude.

In your gym, that means you need to be actively engaged to spur conversation. Start with something like Bright Spots Fridays—it’s been copied by many gyms, and it helps with their retention in a measurable way.

It means that the group’s tenor and engagement are a reflection of your tenor and engagement. Use it to build people up or don’t do it at all.

 

Sixth, Gift People With Fame

 

Give them a podium early and often.

Every new person in the Two-Brain Facebook group gets a specific introduction: Here is this amazing gym owner; here’s what the owner accomplished in Incubator; here’s what he or she will add to the group. Then several dozen others respond with a warm welcome. It’s a great opportunity to show new people a red-carpet greeting.

You can do the same thing. Introduce a new person with a great memory from your on-ramp program, a good picture and some personal detail that you remember about him or her. Put the client on a podium. Brag about him or her every chance you get, like this:

“Hey all, Harvey brought up a great question this morning in our group … .”

“Guys, I just have to take a minute to brag about Helen. Last night, she … .”

“Just in case any of you missed it, Alena got her first double-under on Saturday!”

Look for opportunities to make your clients feel famous.

When you start a private Facebook group, you’re going to have to be the catalyst: Spur it into action. Share openly. Start conversations. Make it what you want it to be. Don’t wait.

You’ve probably heard this phrase: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Those people can pull you forward or pull you backward. And you can do the same for them.

“No man steps in the same river twice.” —Heraclitus

Like it or not, every interaction you have with the world—and the people in it—changes them. And it also changes you. So lead your people in the direction you want to travel yourself.

The people I spend most time with are in the Two-Brain family. I prefer to be around people who will change me in a positive way. That’s why our Facebook group is private. That’s why you have to complete the Incubator and start Growth Stage before joining: I want you to master the basics, then add complexity.

 

Other Media in This Series

How to Delight Your Clients
Delighting Your Clients: Giftology
How to Help Your Clients Win
What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching

How to Help Your Clients Win

How to Help Your Clients Win

Only you can put your clients on a podium.

Their bosses aren’t writing their names on the wall after a good week in the office.

Their kids aren’t giving them a round of applause after they mow the lawn.

No one else is celebrating them.

You have a daily opportunity to delight your clients. Not just to deliver a good class with individual scaling and cheerleading. Those are the basics. The best gyms put their clients on a podium.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Find opportunities for “podiums” within your scheduled workouts.

For example, in the workout Jackie, there are at least four opportunities to do something they’ve never done before:

A. Row 1,000 m faster than ever before.
B. Do 50 unbroken thrusters.
C. Do 30 unbroken pull-ups
D. Finish the workout in a PR time.

And I’m sure you already see more opportunities, right?

2. Before the workout, ask each client which podium they’ll aim for (or their personal goal in the workout).

3. Coach the client toward that goal when the workout begins.

4. When he or she hits the mark, write the goal on a small whiteboard and take a creative picture of the person holding it up and smiling. Stand the member on a plyo box with a small whiteboard listing PRs and use the #podium hashtag.

5. Post on your Facebook business page and your personal page. Tag the athlete. Make sure the post is “public” so the person’s friends can see it.

You’re probably already taking pictures of your clients during workouts, right? Uploading and tagging them? That’s not new to anyone. But context matters: a sweaty heap of Henrietta on the floor isn’t as appealing as a beaming Henny, standing on a plyo box, holding a banner that reads, “I DID IT!!!”

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This is also helpful to your gym in other ways:

1. It gets your coaches thinking about celebrating success and delighting your clients.

2. It teaches the habit of internalizing small wins.

3. It presents a new way to approach old workouts.

4. It puts small wins in context (“the growth mindset”).

5. It allows for mucho celebration. If you’re using SugarWOD, the fist-bumps will fly.

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Checklist:

1. Review your programming with coaches a week before. What are the best opportunities for podiums?

2. Get 10-15 small whiteboards and a lot of whiteboard markers.

3. Allow two minutes at the end of class for podium celebrations, pictures and hashtag time.

4. Post one picture from each class to Instagram; auto-feed to Facebook.

5. Create a Facebook album on your page for the other photos.

6. Tag every person in every picture.

7. Host a Podium Party every quarter.

8. Smile.

Our business isn’t “based on service.” It is service. The best way to service your clients is to show them the path to success … and help them celebrate when they get there.

Your best programming doesn’t matter nearly as much as celebrating success does.

When your clients celebrate success, they’re more likely to internalize joy and gratitude. That is the definition of delight.

Put them on a podium.

 

Other Media in This Series

How to Delight Your Clients
Delighting Your Clients: Giftology
What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching
How to Delight Your Clients Online

Delighting Your Clients: Giftology

Delighting Your Clients: Giftology

I love giving presents. I get more excited than my kids do. I am horrible at keeping gifts a secret.

Every time I build a new tool for gym owners or create a new handbook, I feel amazing—that’s why we spend around $20,000 per month publishing this stuff and then giving it away for free. Here ya go!

I love giving my gym clients the Intramural Open experience every year. It feels like I’m giving them a present.

I love giving my coaches an annual shopping spree on me at Christmas.

I love giving less-fortunate families in our community a huge present every year (we call it “The Gift”).

But the greatest gift I give is opportunity and empowerment.

When a gym owner shares an amazing blog post, social post or other media with me, I sometimes send them some money. Then I turn around and give it to the Two-Brain community as a gift.

When outside experts have brilliant ideas but no audience, I pay them for their education and then give the idea to the Two-Brain community as a gift. For example, we have amazing new templates for nutrition challenges and online coaching thanks to this acquisition process.

Giving gifts makes you feel great. And it can make your clients feel great, too.

But giving gifts costs money. And the ROI is impossible to measure. Many businesses give their clients gifts for the wrong reasons:

1. They think it will increase retention (there’s no data demonstrating that to be true).

2. They think it will make a deposit in the client’s “emotional bank account” (which doesn’t exist).

3. They think it will encourage a higher perception of value from the client (again, impossible to measure).

 

Welcome Boxes?

 

Welcome boxes and packages are becoming more popular, and some companies have even tried to provide custom welcome boxes to gyms. It seems like a great idea but sometimes backfires because:

A. The gym is spending money without tracking any kind of outcome. Does it really change anything? If so, what? And by how much?

B. The gym has to buy a ton of inventory to be cost effective, tying up resources that it could invest elsewhere.

C. It’s awkward to give a great gift to a new client without giving anything to your existing clients.

On the other hand, a “welcome package” is a great way to share your policies with new clients, kickstart their journeys and empower them to be successful. There’s a great example of a “welcome package” done right in the next section.

 

When Should You Give Clients Gifts?

 

1. When they show up for a No Sweat Intro, give them bottles of water. This triggers an impulse of reciprocation.

2. When they sign up for your gym, give them your welcome package, which includes your client handbook (or gym rules, or whatever). Give them the rules, but make it feel like a present. Add a couple of little surprises. Here’s a great example of a cost-effective welcome package from Push511:

(Can’t see the video? Click here.)

3. When the client hits a first little accomplishment, give the gift of a podium. Read more about that here.

4. When your client hits a new milestone, give the gift of recognition: a small badge, some social media posts, a round of applause from classmates. These are gifts your clients can’t get anywhere else. I like the Level Method for creating these powerful moments.

5. At the big milestones (100 workouts, three years as a member, becoming a coach, etc.), you should celebrate with a gift. Some ideas are below.

 

The Two Best Gifts I’ve Received From Other Businesses

 

1. Incite Tax—When I referred my first client to Incite Tax, John Briggs sent me a pretty amazing gift: a jersey from the Sault Greyhounds. The jersey wasn’t cheap. But the real gift was knowing that John’s team had done some research: They had figured out that I liked hockey, that my highest-level hometown team was the Greyhounds, what size I wore, and that I went to watch the Greyhounds play every month or so. That is a thoughtful gift.

2. Forever Fierce—Matt Albrizio once sent me a custom North Channel Lightning banner. I volunteer to coach and sponsor a team of local kids. Every year, we travel to a couple of tournaments, and I usually have to cover some travel costs, food and hotels for families who need it. I love doing it. We buy the kids warmup suits and new uniforms and everything they need to make them feel like pros. Matt made up a huge North Channel banner that the kids signed, and we take it to tournaments to rally the crowd. They love it. The gift was incredibly thoughtful.

 

Top Lessons From Gifting Pros

 

Here are the basics of great gift giving, according to John Ruhlin, author of “Giftology”:

1. Buy the best in the category instead of a mediocre gift in a higher category. For example, you’re better off to give the best speed rope in the world ($20) instead of a cheap water bottle (also $20).

2. A gift with your logo on it isn’t really a gift. This is a hard line to walk, because some clients really do want to show off their membership. I’d go with a combination gift: something best in class and something with your brand on it. For example, a great backpack and a bumper sticker.

3. It’s more important to be timely than to give a big gift. Immediate recognition encourages repetition. When clients hit PRs, it’s better to stand them on boxes and take their pictures right away than to give them a “shout out” in an email newsletter later.

4. A gift is not a bribe, and a bribe is not a gift.

 

Top Lessons From a Bad Guesser (me)

 

As much as I love giving presents, I’m really bad at guessing what individual people will want to receive. So here’s what I do:

1. Personalization is best, but cash will do. Our local team gets a “shopping spree” at Christmas because it’s fun. And they show me the stuff they’ve bought themselves. It’s never anything I would have chosen, but it’s always something they love (skis and boots were really popular this year).

2. Presentation is everything. If you make a big deal about giving the gift, you’ll increase its perceived value. If you downplay it (“I’ll just leave this on the desk”), you’ll decrease the gift’s value. For a gift to mean something to the recipient, it must mean something to the giver. So when you give a client a “100-workout badge,” it’s critical to stand the person in front of the class and make a huge presentation.

3. The best gifts don’t cost much. Recognition on your PR board, a round of applause, a picture on the internet—your clients probably don’t get these awards anywhere else in their lives. Their bosses aren’t writing their names on the office wall to celebrate their performance. Their family members aren’t clapping because dinner was great. Their spouses aren’t celebrating them on Instagram.

4. Use something you can automate, like Sendoutcards.com. We use it at Catalyst and Two-Brain. The site has my handwriting uploaded as a font, so cards look like they’re handwritten. Put a personal picture of your client on it, type a quick note and hit send. And the cost to send a card is usually around the cost of postage.

Delighting your clients can mean giving them gifts. All of us have money to spend, but none of us has money to waste. Approaching gifts pragmatically means optimizing the gifts you share—and making the most of the Big Give.

 

Other Media in This Series

How to Delight Your Clients
How to Help Your Clients Win
What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching
How to Delight Your Clients Online

How to Delight Your Clients

How to Delight Your Clients

I write about retention a lot: the things you have to do to keep people engaged in your gym.

Providing great coaching and having clean bathrooms? These are the bare minimums necessary but insufficient for business success. Neither will get you more clients, but failure to provide either will cost you clients. It’s possible to have clean bathrooms and knowledgeable coaches and still provide a C- experience. And no one brags about a C-.

Planning the Client Journey, celebrating Bright Spots, putting your clients on podiums—I covered all of that in our “Changing Behavior” series. These are specific tactics that are proven to improve retention.

According to our data, the average microgym has poorer retention than it did two years ago. Meanwhile, the average Two-Brain gym has higher retention than it did two years ago—part of the reason for the widening gap between Two-Brain gyms and the rest of the industry. As our data shows, a three-month improvement in retention can mean an extra $40,000 per year for gym owners!

Download our free “Never Lose a Member Again” guide here. Bring your gym up to the new standard of excellence first.

These are specific tactics dedicated to keeping your clients around. If your clients are happy, they’ll stay. But if they’re delighted, they’ll become evangelists.

“Get your clients good results and they’ll tell their friends”—we all know that doesn’t work because good results are the expectation. Meeting expectations is the bare minimum requirement for retention. But delighting people is something far different. This week, we’re going to talk about how to delight people.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about my favorite activity: giving presents.

In Part 3, I’ll tell you how to make your clients feel famous—a feeling they can’t get anywhere else.

Part 4 is a podcast: Jason Ackerman, author of “Best Hour of Their Day,” will be on Two-Brain Radio with me. He’s going to share the highlights from his new book and the number one thing he wants to tell every coach on the planet.

Finally, I’ll tell you the secrets of how to delight your clients online—the specific tactics I use to make the private Two-Brain Facebook group incredible. (No, you can’t join—that’s one of the secrets.)

I know you’ve probably been told that “getting your clients good results is the best marketing.” But when you put your groceries on the line, you can’t afford to wait and hope. You have to take action.

Delighting your clients is more than providing a great experience in class. Coaching and community fill their cup; this week we’re going to make it overflow.

 

Other Media in This Series

Delighting Your Clients: Giftology
How to Help Your Clients Win
What Jason Ackerman Learned From 10,000 Hours of Coaching
How to Delight Your Clients Online

How I Built an Audience for My Gym

How I Built an Audience for My Gym

In this series, I’ve been sharing the importance of building an audience. In the previous post, I gave you the step-by-step process of Affinity Marketing, which you must master before turning to paid lead generation.

This process has been tested and refined over the last two decades of gym ownership and proven by thousands of gym owners around the world.

Of course, when I started Catalyst, there was no guide. So my approach wasn’t optimized, but I still covered all the bases. Here’s how I did it.

 

“Need a Writer?”

 

Starting around 2000, I realized that the path to becoming a superstar trainer was to get published on websites like Testosterone.net (it’s called T-Nation now). There were other models at the time (I wrote for Bodybuilding.com and was actually offered the option to buy the site for $400—which I turned down. Sad trombone.).

I eventually realized that my training clients would come from our town—not the internet—so I emailed the three local newspapers and offered to write a column. Two actually took me up on it.

Because I wanted to train athletes, most of my posts were about athletic training. As crazy as it sounds, two online articles about linear periodization actually got me my first paying client—Nick, a soccer player. I was working in a treadmill store, and his dad marched him up to the desk to ask if I’d train him. Then he wrote me a check!

I trained Nick in the back parking lot of the treadmill store for a few months—using equipment that I stored in my truck and a “sled” that I’d built from a broken shopping cart. Nick got results, and soon a teenaged girl named Holly showed up in the treadmill store to ask about training.

What did they have in common? Both were multisport athletes, but both played soccer. And both were being shopped to NCAA schools by a local promoter. So I called him to ask how I could help his other athletes.

He showed up to make training videos, and he loved the unconventional training we were doing—sled pulls, barbell work and sprints instead of the bodybuilding and distance running most athletes were doing in town.

And I kept publishing. I was prompted to write about weight loss because the treadmill store was sandwiched between a Weight Watchers and a herbal weight-loss supplement store. I got pissed, wrote about it in one online newspaper, and soon had my first weight-loss client.

 

Slow but Steady Expansion

 

So my first clients came from publishing content, direct referral (one parent to another) and publishing different content.

My next half-dozen came from the college recruiter because I took the time to find the common link between my current clients.

Then it got cold. I couldn’t train people in a parking lot or city park anymore. I had to find a place to train them. So I asked the owner of the gym where I trained if I could use his space.

“Sure—just make sure they buy a membership!” he said.

Memberships were $30 per month. I stressed about telling parents they’d have to pay for a membership and pay me (I was probably charging around $35 per hour back then).

I printed two T-shirts that said “FOCUS Strength and Conditioning” and a dozen business cards on my printer at the treadmill store. I wore the shirts when I was training the kids. The gym was clean, but it was in a bad neighborhood and had a bit of a reputation for steroid use. Unfortunately, as my clientele grew, the gym declined and was locked up in the middle of the night.

I had to find a new home for my growing stable of athletes (now up to seven). Luckily, the owner of a small personal training studio walked into the treadmill store to buy a triceps pushdown bar. We made a deal: I could use his studio space when he wasn’t in it and he’d charge me rent.

The studio referred me a couple of clients, but they weren’t in my target demographic. In fact, the first referral—a lawyer’s wife—walked into the space I’d set up for her, saw chains hanging from the cage, said, “What the f— is that?” and never came back. I couldn’t rely on the studio’s typical clientele, so I had to build my own book of business.

Within a year, I had 34 clients: I kept publishing everywhere I could and asking my clients about their friends and families. I told them how to help their husbands lose weight, advised them on home exercise equipment, listened to their frustrations with their kids’ coaches. I eagerly sought out opportunities to say, “I think I can help.” When my teenaged athletes were competing, I went to their events. I set up a tent beside the track for my runners. I sat with their parents at hockey games. I was introduced to families and other future clients. I even got invited to their weddings!

It’s important to note that I’m naturally introverted. I wasn’t comfortable doing any of that. But I did it because I had to eat.

It’s also really important to note that the other trainers at the studio did none of these things, and they grew their clientele much more slowly. Same location, same equipment, same pricing, same Yellow Pages ads, and most of them copied my training plans. But after two years, I had a waiting list and they were going hungry.

 

Have Gym, Will Train (and Create Content)

 

In 2005, I realized that I couldn’t make enough money even with 10-12 hours of training per day. I decided to open my own gym to earn more.

Now, I had around 30 personal training clients by that point. But there was no guarantee that any would follow me to Catalyst. I was still writing for local news blogs (and occasionally got something in a print newspaper), but in 2005, most people just bought ads in the Yellow Pages.

So when the Yellow Pages rep visited my gym, I expected to buy an ad—until I saw the price. I didn’t have any money, and I needed to buy groceries, so committing thousands of dollars to marketing just wasn’t possible. It wasn’t a budget problem—I had no budget. I literally had zero dollars.

In the mail the next day, I received a local chamber of commerce guide. In the back cover, the guide printed the email address for every single chamber member. It was 2005. There was no spam. I copied and pasted every email address into the CC line in Yahoo Mail and sent my first “newsletter” to around 45 people.

Two weeks later, I had to hire a second trainer. Not only had all my clients from the PT studio followed me to Catalyst but I’d also signed up several from my first email.

All these clients were busy professionals—lawyers, dentists, entrepreneurs. They were tactful and discreet, but when I asked one, “Why did you come to Catalyst?” he said, “I know more about training than the other trainers at your previous gym.”

This was an epiphany that I’ve always followed to this day: “Teach my clients to know more than any other trainer in town.” I think that’s a necessary part of audience building. But it’s not sufficient.

I kept writing in local news blogs for another year until both fired me on the same day. Luckily, I still had my (growing) email list. I’d simply add every email I found to the CC line of my monthly newsletter. Even when I bumped into Yahoo’s send limits, I’d copy and paste 100 at a time. And it was already clear that every email I sent was worth hundreds of dollars.

When our scheduler books got full, we started to look for online scheduling software. In 2006, we found MindBody, and its integration with Constant Contact really ramped up my emails. I think it’s key to realize that I chose the software based on its ability to send content; that wasn’t an afterthought or “feature” or “automation.”

By that point, I was hiring other trainers and filling their schedules. I remember filling our four private training rooms, and one coach—Tim—was training his clients in the stairwell because we were jammed. But what I didn’t notice—and should have—was that all the clients were coming in from the work I did. Very, very few—maybe one in 20—were brought in by the other trainers.

Audience building was my job. I was the only one doing it for our business. And I didn’t even focus on it—I wrote blog posts at 4 a.m. before my clients got there, or on weekends.

 

A Few Mistakes—and a Mentor

 

In 2007, we found CrossFit. I was trying to find a way to earn more per hour than I could as a 1:1 trainer. So I emailed my list and asked, “Who wants to volunteer for this eight-week trial?” I had 13 people reply before I even thought to put a cap on the group.

By 2008, CrossFit was all I wanted to do. We opened a second location because we couldn’t get out of our PT studio lease and couldn’t drop barbells there. My first member was the father of a PT client; my second member was her brother. Both heard of me through the stuff I’d written, and their trust was reinforced by their peer group.

By late 2008, I was almost bankrupt. And I thought it was because I needed better marketing. But I was dead wrong: I needed a better product.

I had plenty of clients and plenty of future clients who were paying attention to anything I did. But my product sucked; it was underpriced and I was exhausted while delivering it. There was no joy in either of my gyms in 2008. The real failure was mine: I thought CrossFit would sell itself. I didn’t think I had to build an audience for CrossFit. But no one in my town had heard of it, and its obvious appeal to me didn’t work for anyone else.

I was still getting PT clients, and they were paying the bills. But, stupidly, I tried to push all my 1:1 clients into group training that they didn’t really want.

I kept publishing, and everything we introduced sold out right away: kids groups, running groups, barbell specialty programs. But I was still running out of money. Somehow, it never occurred to me to charge more, that my audience trusted me enough to pay what I needed to survive. And I was routinely killing the golden goose by pushing 1:1 clients into group training they didn’t really want.

I found a mentor. I saved my gyms. He fixed my service and freed me up to do what I do best (build an audience.) Using what he taught me, I launched and sold two other companies in the next five years.

But sticking with Catalyst, we just kept publishing. We sent out a monthly newsletter. We wrote blog posts almost daily. When we finally got on Facebook around 2012, I shared our stuff there, and the algorithm didn’t block it. My focus shifted to telling clients’ stories on the site instead of simply providing educational content. I put clients on a podium. They shared our blog posts with their friends (they were thrilled to be “on the internet”). I kept looking for opportunities to meet my clients’ spouses and friends.

 

Don’t Buy Ads?

 

Today, Catalyst has still never paid for a Facebook ad. We have thousands of people on our email list, and our specialty programs fill every time (usually in less than 48 hours). We’re the most expensive gym in town by a huge margin. But our audience trusts us enough to accept our guidance.

The difference now is that we have excellent operations, processes, programs and pricing.

But my real skill is building audiences. And I built them one person at a time, following the now-tested Affinity Marketing strategy I shared in the previous post, plus consistent publication of good content.

I’m going to run a free webinar on audience building on Jan. 10. Click here—you have to register because I’m capping it at 200 people, and 125 seats are already taken.

 

Other Media in This Series

How to Build an Audience
Building an Audience: Start With One
Stockholm Success: How to Build an Audience With Per Mattsson

Building an Audience: Start With One

Building an Audience: Start With One

If you can’t get your mom to believe, you won’t convince your aunt.

If you can’t get your relatives to join your gym, you won’t get your neighbor.

If you can’t get your neighbor, you won’t get your town.

And if you can’t get your town, there’s no sense in paying for ads.

When building an audience, you must start with one person. Then get the second. Then get their friends. Then get your neighbors. And only then start talking to strangers.

Building an audience one person at a time is called sales. Talking to strangers is called marketing.

 

Work out From the Center

 

Where do your clients come from? The best clients come from a personal connection to you. The next best clients come from a personal relationship with your clients. That means you have to talk to people—real people, in person, one on one, before you do anything else. 

Eventually, you’ll build an audience using the amazing tools online. But you’ll never be good at it until you learn how to do it in person first.

The first stage of audience building is called Affinity Marketing.

Download our Affinity Marketing Cheat Sheet here.

You can find our full guide to Affinity Marketing in the Two-Brain Free Tools collection.

An Affinity Marketing plan looks like a bull’s-eye. In the Founder Phase, the personal connections used to grow a business are the entrepreneur’s own. The founder is at the center of the business’s first Affinity Marketing bull’s-eye.

Each ring or “loop” represents a new audience for your service. As we radiate out from the center, your audience size increases but its affinity decreases. You’ll have to do more work to “warm up” a potential client to get him or her to purchase, and even more work to keep that client.

The further from the center you get, the more education a prospective client will require before signing up for your service or buying anything from you.

Later in this series, I’m going to tell you how I built Two-Brain Business from this blog to the largest fitness mentorship practice on the planet. Yeah, there are paid ads and travel in there. But the reason people stick around and pay attention is because we talk to one person at a time.

I don’t write “sales letters” or “newsletters.” I send you love letters. And I tell you the same stuff I’d tell my mom if she wanted to open a gym (she doesn’t).

I don’t tell you how to run a physical therapy practice because I haven’t done it. I tell you how to run your gym because I have one. And I’ve screwed it up in a lot of ways before making it run exactly the way I want it to.

I don’t expect anyone to pay our mentorship team until after he or she has paid attention for a while. That’s what audience building is: earning the attention of one person and keeping it.

When gym owners complain that their funnels aren’t working or their new leads are “too cold” or their clients are “uncommitted,” I know they need help building their audiences. First, they need information. Then they need a model to follow. Then they need reps.

Get the knowledge you need to start here: the Affinity Marketing Guide.

In the next article in this series, I’ll give you a model to follow and tell you how I used Affinity Marketing at my gym, Catalyst.

Here’s a link that will help you get some reps.

On Jan. 10, I’m also going to run a webinar for you on this topic. I’ll walk through the process of audience building step by step and then do a Q+A. You can sign up here (it’s free if you register).

As Seth Godin said this morning, “Marketers make change happen.” The world is our audience. Let’s have a conversation.

 

Other Media in This Series

How to Build an Audience
How I Built an Audience for My Gym
Stockholm Success: How to Build an Audience With Per Mattsson