If you go read the CrossFit.com message boards all the way back to 2001, you’ll find questions about marketing.
The very first affiliates struggled with marketing. Affiliates in 2014–during the highest-growth period of CrossFit affiliates worldwide–still struggled with marketing. And in 2018, affiliates were still struggling with marketing.
So when some gym owners started to find success with various Facebook marketing strategies, I was thrilled. FINALLY, we could talk about actually running a business! FINALLY, more affiliate owners could afford the service that would really make a difference: mentorship!
And it happened: on more and more “Free Help” calls with affiliate owners, I heard: “I ran this six-week challenge and now I can afford mentorship!”
It appeared that the marketing problem was solved–at least, temporarily. No Facebook strategy lasts more than a few months, but I hoped that gym owners were being given some breathing room to work on the stuff that works forever.
But then I started hearing about the “bait and switch” advertising (I refuse to call it “marketing”.)
You know how it works already: “FREE challenge! Sign up here!” Then the potential new client is told the challenge is actually $499…but they’ll get their money back IF they leave a good review…and check off a bunch of other boxes.
I heard stories about coaches leaving, because they no longer trusted the box owners (“If they’re lying to clients, they’re probably lying to me, too.”)
I heard stories about great, long-term clients being “washed out” of the gym by the tidal waves of short-term, in-and-out groups of 30 or more.
I heard stories of burnout by owners. Stories of clients who thought they had “done CrossFit…and now I’m looking for the next thing” because they thought CrossFit was an 8-week mass challenge.
Stories of marketing companies charging tens of thousands of dollars for this stuff!
But what really broke my optimism was this: “People have commitment problems. They never stick around after 8 weeks!”
That’s not a commitment problem. That’s a leadership problem.
What kind of leader promises something to get you in the door, and then tells you the truth later? Not one that I’d follow.
What kind of relationship starts with a lie?
Since starting TwoBrain, I’ve wrestled with the question “What do gym owners actually NEED?” many times. It’s my mission to make gym owners wealthy–because I am one. I’ve asked the question about data sources; about booking and billing software; about handbooks and templates and courses and seminars and mentorship.
But what gym owners actually NEED is the ability to change lives. That means leadership. It means business strategies that stand on their own: logical, replicable, and honorable.
What gym owners don’t need is tricks. That’s what made the industry so corrupt BEFORE CrossFit!
So when two members of the TwoBrain family–John Franklin and Mateo Lopez–told me about their success with Facebook marketing, I was eager to hear their story. I love these guys. I trust them. They’re great leaders. They do things the right way.
They showed me their strategy. They’d taken years (and over $80,000 of investment) to learn how to market their four gyms well. I loved their method, but I don’t sell ideas; so we tested it. First in mentors’ gyms, then in a dozen TwoBrain gyms, then in a hundred. Their Facebook marketing strategy proved SO successful that we built it into the Incubator permanently. Every gym owner who works with TwoBrain receives mentorship in Facebook Marketing now.
Our strategy isn’t a swipe file or one specific campaign. It’s not an over-promise-and-pray plan. It’s mentorship.
What works in my market might not work in yours. Hell, I wouldn’t WANT another gym running the same ads in my city anyway. But John and Mateo have built a mentorship program for marketing on the TwoBrain platform that makes me proud. It’s one-on-one help (not big group calls); a help desk; tons of samples; coaching on ad spend and mentorship on testing. And it’s a fraction of the cost of these challenge-brokers, because I think that’s the right thing to do.
We also make gyms fix up their operations, retention strategy, coaching development plans, and pricing before teaching them marketing…because that’s ALSO the right thing to do.
I want to make gym owners wealthy. That means the ability to stay in the game for 30 years; to build long-term relationships of trust; to lead. Does your marketing make you proud…or does it make you a fraud?
In this week’s edition of Marketing Monday, I’m going to walk you through:
How the Facebook algorithm works
Why using specific, interest-interest based targeting doesn’t work, and
How you can use the algorithm to your advantage
If you’ve ever launched a campaign only to watch it fizzle out and die after 4 days and you don’t know why, then click to watch this week’s video!
Have you ever tried to sue someone for their gym fees?
I haven’t. And I don’t want to. So I don’t have contracts.
“Never make a rule you won’t enforce” is something my first mentor taught me. But he didn’t tell me the harder lesson: that you have to enforce the rules that you make. And you have to enforce them the same way every single time, or they won’t work.
When we sold Open Gym memberships at Catalyst, we had a full page of rules:
Clear out before group starts
Don’t come near the floor while there’s a group going on, even to warm up
Put your stuff away
I don’t have to spell it out for you. You know what’s on that list.
The problem was that no one really followed the list. So for awhile, members using Open Gym would show up while class was on, and discreetly their warmups in the corner. Sometimes they’d walk through class to get a foam roller. Eventually, their warmups involved a barbell. And then they began to involve the AirDynes…and then a coach snapped on them, and everyone felt awkward and bad, and I had to placate people who were in the wrong.
They weren’t bad people, and it wasn’t their fault. It was my fault for not showing them where the lines are.
When the rules are gray, there aren’t any rules.
If you give people five extra minutes of personal coaching after class for free, you’ll never sell personal training as a service.
If one coach starts class late, your clients won’t show up on time.
If “Open gym” runs during class time, your students will have a lesser experience.
If you aren’t saying “no”–and saying it clearly every time–you’re really saying “yes.”
Consistency is greater than everything else. Even when it’s painful.
The irony is that upholding your rules consistently and clearly is only painful once. In the long run, it’s far LESS painful.
I once had a client decide to row a half-marathon during Open Gym. Great guy, he’d been around for over two years, and he was choosing a tough option.
But five minutes before class was set to start, he still had nearly 5k to row. There was no way he was going to finish.
The coach told him to make sure he finished rowing before class started. Period. He said, “I’m over 15k in! I can’t stop.”
The coach said, “You will stop. That’s the rule.”
He stopped. He got off the rower, picked up his bag, and left the gym. He never came back. In the moment, it sucked.
But we’ve never had the problem since. That was six years ago. One hard conversation saved us from dozens of hard conversations, awkwardness and apologies down the road.
When the rules are complicated, they won’t be followed.
Imagine you’re a new client, and you you’re not really sure what the rules are. You see others showing up early and warming up while another class is running, so you do it too. Then a coach barks at you. You’re in a new place with strangers, and you were just embarrassed in front of them. Why would you ever come back?
Clear rules and consistent delivery teach your clients how to fit in. They save you from frustration and burnout, and save your clients from confusion and awkwardness.
If your rules aren’t being followed now, it’s probably because you haven’t enforced them before. Or because they’re just not clear. Or because people don’t know them.
Good pet owners, good parents, and good parents do it the same way every time.
3 years ago today, I officially launched TwoBrainBusiness.com.
You can read why I did it here.
There are over 500 entrepreneurs in the TwoBrain family now. These are 500 gym owners (and other service companies) who are in the game for the right reasons; who practice “help first” and build profitable businesses from their care.
500 is just a start, but a large group creates a platform that none of us would have alone. For example:
- The “best practices” we teach evolve faster with a larger data set
- The templates we give are 10x better than the originals were
- The mentorship we share has been successful hundreds of times in every scenario
- There’s more than enough support for those struggling in our midst.
500 also creates opportunities that no single gym owner has:
- Health insurance companies want to talk about packages
- Software companies pitch US on improvements, instead of vise versa
- We can create media that actually benefits gym owners
- We can build collaborative relationships between gyms in the same city (no, really)
- We have buying power on software and equipment
Best of all: 500 gyms proves that you can make a great career in fitness without feeling like a slimebag or a martyr. Or making wild guesses (like I had to, back in the old days) or feeling all alone out there.
500 proves that mentorship works; that processes make wealth; that service wins.
First with the head, then with the heart, then with the hands.
Logic, care, action.
Left-brain, right-brain, go!
Here’s some inspiration for all of you entrepreneurs out there!
Happy Two-Brain Day!
Here’s some advice, well-wishes and praise from some brilliant entrepreneurs in the TwoBrain Family!
Last night, my son’s hockey team finally won a game.
One of my service goals is to introduce kids to fitness and sport in our community. So Robin and I sponsor teams, manage teams, and coach teams. I’m not much of a hockey coach, but I do know this: offense wins games, defense wins championships.
We won because we scored the most goals. But we scored the most goals because our defense created a lot of chances.
When the defensemen keep the puck in the other team’s zone, the forwards get more chances to score. And their team really can’t score when the puck’s in their end of the ice. So a few of our kids scored–including mine–but the win can be credited to the defense. All of our offense is built on their foundation.
When I sought out a mentor in 2008, I was looking for sales. I needed money badly. I didn’t even have the money in my account to pay him. So when he started teaching me business systems, I panicked.
“Who cares how often I sweep the floors? I need more clients!” that was the thought I shared with my wife. But I did the work, built the foundation, and started selling.
Many of the clients who were around in 2008 are still around NOW. Most of the same coaches, too. We can sell more memberships and keep people for a very long time because we built the foundations first.
It’s very tempting to chase marketing plans before solidifying your operations. The story usually goes like this:
- Gym owner runs a short-term challenge for a bunch of people
- Gym owner sees some positive revenue for the first time in awhile
- Gym owner becomes a huge fan of the marketing “system”, and repeats it
- A year later, the “new” clients are gone, and have taken the old clients with them
- The owner still doesn’t feel safe in their business
- Sometimes the owner is still working a day job, but doing more work than ever
- Coaches are burned out
- Ad costs are going up
- Lead quality is going down
…and the owner stares into The Abyss, seeing his life spiraling downward. He hates his business, hates his job, hates some of his clients, hates his lack of control over his life. This is NOT what he signed up for!
In our Incubator program, we fix operations and build systems first. That means a career roadmap for coaches; a meaningful long-term relationship for clients; and a few days off for the owners.
We have the best sales and marketing mentorship program in the industry. But we start with systems first, because defense wins championships. When you can keep the puck in the offensive zone, you spend less time fighting fires and more time taking shots on net.
Facebook is like the rap battle that never ends.
There’s no debating, just posturing. No point and counterpoint, no real discussion. Just one-upmanship and mic drops. There are no question marks on Facebook, not really; just a lot of exclamation points. Aggressive posts with passive-aggressive responses instead of arguments.
And you can’t leave the ring. Despite your best intentions and “facebook fasting”, your business needs you to maintain a media presence.
As the great strength coach Mel Siff once told me, “As soon as you plant your flag, people are going to start shooting.” You’re going to get a bad review, or negative comments. People will want to draw you into a fight. And every instinct you have will whisper, “Let’s do this!”
Here’s how to win the fights on Facebook:
- Don’t get into fights on Facebook. There’s no benefit to you, or your company. You don’t need to win to win.
- If you’re attacked, delete the post. What are they going to do: post again? If so, revisit the first part of this tactic.
- If you get a bad review, you can’t delete it. But you SHOULD respond. Try this: “We’re so sorry you had a bad experience. We do our best to deliver the best XYZ in town, and our feedback is usually very positive. I’m sorry this wasn’t a good fit.”
Sooner or later, everyone’s going to get a bad review. It’s like the first little scratch in your car: you can’t truly relax until it happens anyway.
- Go for a walk before you respond. Bad news can wait. They don’t deserve your full and immediate attention. Sun Tzu even recommends forcing your opponents to wait as a tactic in “The Art of War”.
- Read the entire post out loud to someone supportive. You’ll probably laugh. Get it out of your head and into the world where it can die of exposure.
Finally, ask yourself, what’s their REAL motive?
Several months ago, I was invited to a “facebook debate” with an aspiring business consultant. I declined, because I realized it wasn’t going to be a debate at all. It was just a chance for him to jump onstage and share some of the credibility and trust I’ve built over the last decade. I took a bit of flak, but no one even remembers the conversation now.
People want to share your limelight. Sometimes they’ll invite you to box just so they can say they touched you. But as my grandfather used to tell me, “You don’t wrestle with a pig, because you’ll just get dirty and the pig will like it.” In other words, they don’t really deserve your attention. The best way to kill an argument is to starve it.
(kidding! I always wanted to do that. But there are no mic drops on Facebook. Someone always picks the damn thing up and says, “My turn…”)