How Conversation Marketing Can Help You Grow Your Gym

Podcast-1 (5)

Chris Cooper (00:02):

“Hey, Coop, can you tell me how your lead-nurture process works at Two-Brain?” I got this email a couple of weeks ago, and it really made me smile because the person writing the email is in our lead-nurture process—but it doesn’t feel that way. The secret is conversation marketing. And today I’m gonna tell you step by step how conversation marketing works, and how it can work for your gym. If this episode is helpful to you, please hit subscribe on your favorite podcast platform and consider leaving us a five-star review. We publish this stuff for free all the time. We really want to help gym owners. And the best way that I can do that is when I know something is hitting home for you, I can make more content like that. So conversation marketing, as a little bit of a background if you’re just starting to listen to this podcast, I’ve been writing love letters to gym owners for almost 10 years now. Every day, over a dozen people write me back with questions like this: “Hey, can you tell me how your lead-nurture process works for Two-Brain?” I also interview gym owners who are successful on our podcast, and we tell stories about great gym owners on our YouTube channel and on social media. A few times a day, I pop into our free Facebook group, Gym Owners United, to answer questions and share resources. If you’re not in that group, you can just go to and we’ll redirect you straight into the Facebook group. Every single day, I get Facebook messages from 30 to 40 different people. I think my record is 120 asking for guidance or resources. And it’s all part of my conversations with new friends. Like you, the average person is in a six-month conversation with me before they buy anything. And usually people wind up asking for mentorship when the time is right for them.

Chris Cooper (01:50):

So the right answer to the question I started this podcast with—“Hey, Coop, can you tell me about how your lead-nurture process for Two-Brain works?”—is you’re in it. If you wanna get good at marketing, you have to get good at conversations. Conversations bridge the gap between advertising and sales. Advertising is there to get somebody’s attention. Sales is there to get somebody’s commitment. But the space between the two of them has always been kind of a mystery, like the business plan of the Underpants Gnomes from “South Park.” Their profit plan was: Phase 1—steal underpants, Phase 3—profit. So what’s Phase 2? It’s conversations and conversation. Marketing is part content marketing, part lively chat and part persuasion. Some people would call this “lead-nurture strategy” or “building trust,” but I just call it “winning hearts and minds before people will buy from you.”

Chris Cooper (02:53):

They have to know you, like you and trust you. How do you get to know someone? How do you grow to like them? And how do you get them to trust you through conversations? And so today, I’m gonna give you some tactics to bridge the gap between awareness, where somebody’s heard of you, and commitment, where they buy something from you. And then we’re gonna get into some very specific steps about how this actually affects your retention, too. So whether you’re trying to grow your gym or just keep your members around longer, you need to learn conversation marketing. So here are the four steps to getting new signups. With conversation marketing, you build trust through conversations. Again, conversations bridge the gap between advertising and sales. And it doesn’t matter if you call this “lead nurture” or “affinity building.” You can call it whatever you want, but we’re all in the relationship business.

Chris Cooper (03:45):

And so we have to be good at this. Here are the four steps. Step 1: start a conversation. How do you meet somebody new? You meet somebody new by going first by starting a conversation. Good entrepreneurs aren’t always great salespeople, but they’re always good at making someone feel welcome and heard. So that means sharing a personal story. If you’re talking online or offering your hand to shake, if you’re meeting somebody in person, here’s exactly how to do it. If you’re meeting somebody in person, my best new-buddy pickup line is “good morning.” Now this was not an easy skill for me to learn. I’ve always been shy and kind of introverted, but wishing somebody a good morning? There’s no social risk. No, one’s gonna say “who the hell are you?” or “how dare you wish me a good morning?” or “get lost.” So offering a hand to shake is irresistible even in the post-COVID era.

Chris Cooper (04:43):

So try this: go through a local coffee shop drive-through or get four coffees standing in line—whatever. Walk next door to the business closest to your gym, hand over the coffee and say, “Hey, good morning. I’m Chris from next door.” You don’t have to think about the conversation from there because it will just take its own course. Usually they’ll respond with a question, but if they don’t, you can just say, “Hey, how’s business?” And then just carry on the conversation from there. You are good at having conversations. I guarantee it. You just need some practice starting conversations. And a coffee, a handshake, a smile and a “good morning” is the best way to start conversations. Now, if you’re online, make a milestone post that includes a number. Like this: “Today is my 100th consecutive day of practicing morning meditation.” Or “I have been married to this wonderful woman for 17 years today.”

Chris Cooper (05:39):

The milestone doesn’t matter as much as the sharing. And you should include a number when people comment on your post. Ask them if they’ve ever tried what you’ve been doing or achieved something similar. Like, “How long have you been married?” and then move them to private chat if they wanna talk about business. So if you say like, “Hey, I just spent my fifth consecutive day doing Zone 2 aerobic exercise and I feel better than I’ve felt in 20 years.” If they say “what is Zone 2?” you move them to private chat and carry on the conversation. Well, I learned this strategy from Richmond Dinh in our Tinker program. It works because milestone posts tell a story. And the more stories you tell, the more conversations you start. Step 2, whether online or in person, is to listen. So you need to get people talking.

Chris Cooper (06:30):

The reason that we’re all scared to start a conversation with a stranger is we don’t know what to say. So the solution is don’t talk about yourself. Just listen. I work with Bob Burg, the author of “The Go-Giver,” and he gave me these 10 feel-good questions. OK. So these are Bob Burg’s 10 feel-good questions. Trademarked. Try all 10. “How did you get started in the widget business? What do you enjoy most about your profession? What separates you and your company from the competition? What advice would you give someone just starting in the widget business? What’s one thing would you do with your business if you knew you couldn’t 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 experienced in your business? What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business? What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?” Now, some of these have to be adapted to feel more natural to you, but as an entrepreneur, it’s natural for you to ask these questions of new friends because you’re in business, too. So, “Hey, oh, you own a car wash. That’s amazing. How did you get started in the car-wash business?” Or, “Hey, what’s one significant change you’ve seen in the car-wash business in the last 10 years?” So Step 2 is just listen. Step 3 is to invite them to something. If you think that you have a great fit between coach—that’s you—and client—that’s them—tell them so and invite them to take the first step with you.

Chris Cooper (08:20):

So in person, if the person is talking about their goals, you can say, “those are great. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we go work out together at my gym? Just you and me. How’s Thursday afternoon?” Or online you can say, “I think I can help. I’m making my schedule up for next week and I have an opening on Thursday at 2 p.m. Would you be open to talking about the next step?” And of course we give you this full sell-by-chat template in our Growth and Tinker programs so that you can just kind of follow along, and it makes the conversation easier. Step 4 is sign ’em up and start changing their lives. You can’t help them unless they commit to you. So in person face to face or even over Zoom, ask them about their goal. Find out why that goal is important to them. Make a prescription to get them to their goal. If that’s a goal that you can help them reach, tell them the price, receive their money and start delivering on your promises.

Chris Cooper (09:12):

And of course we provide a full template for this in our RampUp and Growth programs. So start talking. People must know you, like you and trust you, and conversations are the only way to check all three of those boxes. Advertising might start a conversation, but advertising is a monologue. Conversations are a dialogue. Your goals are to start conversations, guide conversations, to being able to solve their problem and building relationships. Every relationship that you have must be fed or it will weaken. So you feed relationships with conversations, and next I’m gonna tell you how to keep feeding the relationships that you do have using conversation marketing for retention because you can’t build a business on one-night stands. Conversations are also required for retention. And so I just told you how to feed your relationships, to keep them alive. And you feed your relationships with conversations.

Chris Cooper (10:14):

So let’s start by having more conversations with your current clients. If you’re not asking your clients about their goals and tracking their progress, they will not be your clients for long. So start with your five best clients. Ask to take them out to coffee one by one, and start by asking these questions. “Hey, what led you to my gym in the first place? Hey, what else have you tried that you didn’t like as much? Hey, how can I serve you more?” And then you tell their story. So you interview them and you make them famous on your website and social channels. We teach this process in depth in our Growth Program, and then you move to the rest of your clients. So you book quarterly Goal Review Sessions with each of them to talk about their goals and measure their progress.

Chris Cooper (11:01):

Remember just because they swiped right one time on your ad doesn’t mean they’re ready to marry you. You have to keep dating your clients. Forever. Lack of conversation is the Number 1 predictor of divorce in marriage and in business. And of course we teach the goal review process in our RampUp and Growth programs, too. Now let’s talk about starting conversations with your former clients, because if you genuinely and authentically care about people, you will check in on them. Even when they’ve broken their commitment with you. Maybe your brother really ticked you off last week, but sooner or later, you have to send him a text and ask, “Bro, what are you up to?” Maybe your feelings were hurt when a client left, but unless they burned the bridge on the way out, they’re probably gonna come back someday, and they might just be waiting on an invitation. So start with a story.

Chris Cooper (11:50):

“Hey Joe, I was just remembering that time we … .” Or “hey, Jess, a memory just popped up on my Facebook feed. Remember that time? How are things going with you?” We shut out our former clients because our egos are bruised. When they leave, we feel like we need to win that relationship, but you don’t need to win the battle to win the war. You win when they come back. Of course, there will always be the 10 percent of former clients you don’t want back, and you can just let their stories end. So what is my lead-nurture strategy? I started this podcast on conversation marketing with a question: “Coop, what’s your lead-nurture process?” My process is this: Tell a story, start a conversation. If the conversation is positive, invite somebody to take the next step with you. But everything starts with a story. The very first blog post on my gym’s website was called “It’s all About the Story.” I wanted to give people in my city the opportunity to write a better story about themselves and their lives.

Chris Cooper (12:59):

Now I’m gonna tell you the strategy in a moment here, but really if you take nothing else away from this podcast, I want you to learn that telling stories, sharing stories, making your clients famous, these are all parts of the conversation. And you grow in your authority. You grow in the number of people in your audience. You grow in the like and the trust and the affinity that people have for you through a process that we call the Authority Ladder. This is how you build a personal brand by telling stories—because good stories spread. Good stories outlive bad stories, and good stories help people to know you, like you and trust you. So if you wanna build a personal brand that attracts people, you have to be a storyteller. OK? So you need to decide who is your audience, who you’re talking to and who you’ll dedicate the next year talking to through storytelling.

Chris Cooper (13:55):

These people are your niche, right? So you need to tell these people stories about your journey. And then you need to look at the questions that people in your audience are asking. Which questions can you answer? Which answers do they like most? And then tell them stories to make your answers stick. Then you need to decide which problems can you solve for your audience better than anybody else. And how can you turn your knowledge into results for them? And then what is the value of those results? Finally, you need to tell stories about your clients’ success. How will you know when your program is working? You need to audit your program, and then you need to iterate, and then you need to audit it again and you need to upgrade it. You need to tell stories about your client’s journey, and you need to do this for years, and you need to get better and better.

Chris Cooper (14:43):

And you need to always give clients your best and never stop making your program better. This is how we built Two-Brain Business. It’s been a 10-year conversation with gym owners like you. The most important part of building a personal brand is consistency. And that’s also where most people fail. You must talk to your audience daily. Authority, affinity—these are games of momentum, not first impressions. If you stop telling stories, everyone will think your story is over. You don’t have to tell the best stories. You don’t have to be the best storyteller, but you do have to start building a brand, and that requires a plan. We call that plan the Authority Ladder. It’s based on storytelling. And I’m so happy that you’re in this conversation with me. Thank you.

Mike Warkentin (15:32):

Don’t make a big mistake here. Subscribe for more shows just like this. Now here’s Chris one more time.

Chris Cooper (15:38):

We created the Gym Owners United Facebook group in 2020 to help entrepreneurs just like you. Now it has more than 5,800 members, and it’s growing daily as gym owners join us for tips, tactics and community support. If you aren’t in that group, what are you waiting for? Get in there today so we can network and grow your business. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook or Join today!

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One more thing!

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