Chris Cooper (00:00):
I once got this email: “Hey, Coop, can you tell me how your lead nurture process works for Two-Brain?” I had to smile because this is the answer: “You’re in it.” I’m Chris Cooper, and this is “Run a Profitable Gym,” and today I’m gonna tell you about how I start and carry on conversations every single day on our many platforms and how that same strategy can work to grow your gym. So at Two-Brain, you might know this already, but we publish three to five blogs a week. We send three to five email messages to tens of thousands of people every week. We air podcasts and videos like this one on the “Run a Profitable Gym” YouTube, and podcast channels. And I also jump into our free group gymownersunited.com to answer questions and share resources wherever I can. We also publish a host of snack-sized tidbits on multiple social-media platforms every day.
Chris Cooper (00:55):
And every single day I get Facebook messages from 30 to 40 different people asking for one of our free guides or resources. It’s all part of my conversations with friends like you. And get this: the average person has a six-month conversation with me before they buy anything from me. Usually people wind up asking for mentorship when the time is right for them, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait to start the conversation. So today I’m gonna talk about having conversations and how that’s what really marketing is. If you wanna get good at marketing, you have to get good at conversations of all sorts. On all modern platforms, conversations bridge the gap between advertising and sales. Now, advertising gets somebody’s attention. Sales gets their money. But the space in between the two has always been clouded in mystery. Like the business plan of the Underpants Gnomes from “South Park.” They have this business plan that’s like Phase 1: steal underpants. Phase 3: profit. What’s Phase 2 for them?
Chris Cooper (01:58):
And for us it’s conversations. Conversation marketing is part content marketing, part lively chat and part persuasion. Some would call it a lead-nurture strategy or trust building. I just call it winning hearts and minds. Before people will buy from you, they have to know you, like you and trust you. And how do you get to know someone? How do you grow to like them? How is trust built over time? Through conversations. So today I’m gonna give you some tactics to bridge the gap between awareness—where they’ve heard of you from your advertising and purchase—and where they buy from you through your sales process. So we’re gonna do this in four simple steps, and this is how we get from ads or awareness through conversations into signing up. Alright, so I just said that trust is built through conversations. Conversations bridge the gap between advertising and sales.
Chris Cooper (02:52):
And you can call it affinity building or lead nurture—whatever you want. But we’re all in the relationship business, so we have to be good at this. So here are the four stages to conversation, marketing. Step 1, obviously, start a conversation. To meet somebody new, you have to go first. Good entrepreneurs aren’t always great salespeople, but they’re always good at making somebody feel welcome and heard. And that might mean sharing a personal story online or offering your hand to shake in person. It means going first, being the one to say, “Good morning. Hi, I’m Chris.” You know, offering to shake their hand. Here’s exactly how to do it in person. My favorite new-friend introduction pickup line is “good morning.” Now, this was not actually an easy skill for me to learn. I’ve always been shy, maybe a bit introverted, but wishing somebody a good morning is risk-free, right?
Chris Cooper (03:47):
Nobody’s gonna say, “Get lost. I wanna have a crappy morning.” And offering a hand to shake is irresistible, even in like a post-COVID world. So try this. Pick up four coffees at your local coffee drivethru, then walk next door to the business closest to you. Hand over the coffee and say, “Good morning! I’m Chris from the gym next door.” And they’ll respond usually with a question, and then just answer the question and have a conversation. Take it from there. If you’re gonna do this online, you can make a milestone post like this: “Today is my 50th consecutive day of cycling,” or, “As of today, I’ve worked out at least three times a week for five years straight.” Now the milestone doesn’t matter as much as the sharing. So include some kind of number, and when people comment on your post, ask if they’ve ever tried what you’ve been doing or achieved something similar, and then move to a private chat to carry it on out of the public eye.
Chris Cooper (04:43):
Now we learned this strategy from Richmond Dinh in our Tinker Program a couple years ago, and we’ve been using it ever since. It works because milestone posts tell a story and start a conversation. And the more stories you tell, the more conversations you start. So Step 1 is start the conversation. Step 2 is listen. Your job is to get the other person talking. Here’s the reason we’re all scared to start a conversation with a stranger: we don’t know what to say. The solution is to just listen instead of talking about yourself. So here are some feel-good questions from Bob Burg, the author of “The Go-Giver,” to get other people talking. These are his 10 feel-good questions, with a little trademark symbol beside them. So here we go. How did you get a start in the widget business, the gym business, whatever. What do you enjoy most about your profession?
Chris Cooper (05:35):
What separates you and your company from the competition? What advice would you give someone just starting in the widget business? What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail? What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years? What do you see as the coming trends in the widget business? Can you describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve ever experienced in your business? What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business? And what one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business? Okay, so Step 1 is start the conversation. Step 2 is listen. Step 3 is invite them, make them an invitation. If you believe that you’ve got a potential good fit for your gym or your business, tell ’em so and invite them to take the first step.
Chris Cooper (06:31):
So in person you would say exactly this: “Hey, those are great goals. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we work out together at my gym, just you and me? How’s Thursday?” Online, if you’re doing a chat, you could say, “Hey, I think I could help. I’m making up my schedule for next week, and I have an opening on Thursday at 4 p.m. Would you be open to talking about the next step?” Now of course, we provide a full sell-by-chat template in our Growth and Tinker programs, but you should just feel like you’re having a natural conversation when you do it in person or online. So Step 4 is sign them up and start changing their lives. If you’re in person talking to somebody at your gym, ask about their goal and find out why that goal is important to them. Make a prescription and get them to their goal.
Chris Cooper (07:15):
Then tell them the price, receive their money, and start delivering on your promises. And, of course, we provide a full No Sweat Intro template in our RampUp and Growth programs. The key to all this is just to start talking. To become your clients, people must know you, like you and trust you. Conversations help you check each box. Advertising might start the conversation or get you a bit of attention, but advertising is a monologue. It’s one direction. Conversations are a dialogue. So your goals are to start more conversations, to guide more conversations, and then to build relationships. Every relationship that you have must be fed or it will weaken, and you feed relationships with conversations, too. So now I’ve just talked about how to get clients with conversations. Now I’m gonna tell you how to keep clients and build retention with conversations. And we’re also gonna talk about reactivation, bringing former clients back.
Chris Cooper (08:12):
If you want improved retention at your gym, you have to start more conversations with your current clients. And if you want your departed clients to come back, you gotta reach out to them. You have to feed those relationships to keep them alive. And you feed all relationships with conversations. So let’s start with your current clients. How do you start more conversations with them? Well, if you’re not asking clients about their goals and then tracking their progress, they’ll stop training with you. That’s the first hint. So the fix is this: Take your five best clients out for coffee one by one, and then start the conversation with these questions. What led you to my gym in the first place? What else have you tried that you didn’t like as much? And then how can I help you with the rest of your lifestyle more?
Chris Cooper (09:01):
Then you want to interview them, you wanna make ’em famous, you wanna build them up, and you wanna tell their story. So you interview them on your phone, and then you share that to your social-media channels and your website. And, of course, we teach our clients exactly how to do this with step-by-step instructions. And then you move to the rest of your clients after your top five and you book quarterly Goal Review Sessions with each of them to talk about their goals and measure their progress. And, of course, we teach the goal-review process in our mentorship practice as well. Remember, though, that the people who joined your gym aren’t just gonna stay forever if you don’t talk to them regularly. Lack of conversation is the number one predictor of divorce in marriage and in business. All right, let’s talk about starting conversations with former clients.
Chris Cooper (09:44):
If you genuinely care about people, you will show them by checking in on them even if your relationship isn’t perfect right now. So maybe your feelings got hurt when a client left. Maybe it felt like a breakup, but unless they burned the bridge on their way out, they’re probably gonna come back someday, and they might just be waiting on an invitation to come back. So start with a story. Send them a message: “Hey, Jane, I was just remembering the time we did that big Murph workout on Boxing Day at my gym. You remember that?” Or, “Hey, John, a memory just popped up on my Facebook feed. Remember that time that you did a hundred box jumps in a row? How are things going?” We shut our former clients out because our egos get bruised when they leave. We feel like we need to win the relationship or get closure, but you don’t.
Chris Cooper (10:32):
You don’t need to win the battle to win overall. You win when they come back, and so do they because they start moving toward their fitness goals again. Of course, there’s about 10% of your clients who are former clients that you don’t want back. And if somebody wasn’t a good fit for your business, then just don’t restart the conversation. Let it die. Just let the story end. So I started this podcast, this video by talking about my lead-nurture strategy for Two-Brain, right? Somebody asked me, “Coop, what’s your lead-nurture process?” So here’s my process again. Tell a story, start a conversation. If the conversation is positive on both sides, invite a potential client to take the next step. But everything starts with a story. Tell stories regularly and you’ll start more conversations. And if you do that, you’ll acquire and retain more clients. I’m Chris Cooper. The story is the key to everything else. This is “Run a Profitable Gym.” And if you wanna start more conversations with me, with our mentor team, with other people in Two-Brain and other gym owners around the world, just go to gymownersunited.com. Join that free group and you’ll be immediately immersed in the highest value conversation that a gym owner can have.