This is “Run a Profitable Gym.” Today, how to get more clients into your business. Successful gyms have up to four marketing funnels working for them all the time. Every funnel should lead to a free consultation. That’s how you constantly add high-value members. Gym owner and mentor Colm O’Reilly laid out all four funnels in detail at the 2022 Two-Brain Summit, and his live lecture is presented here for you on “Run a Profitable Gym.” Now here’s Colm O’Reilly.
Colm O’Reilly (00:25):
Yes, it’s called “the four funnels.” But really what this is is an impassioned plea for you to take marketing seriously. Marketing is the absolute lifeblood of your business. Yes, delivering the service is really important. Managing your clients, it’s really important. Taking care of yourself is really important, but getting new clients in is literally the lifeblood of your service. There is a myth, and when I started CrossFit, I believed in like the myth of remarkability. Glassman said that, you know, when you open up your gym, you don’t have to do anything. Everyone will just see your excellence. And I believe that it was like, “Oh, this is awesome. I just have to put up great CrossFit workouts, post them on a blog. Somehow people will find them. They’ll come to my gym and find all about that.” That worked for Glassman ’cause he was a very social person in a gym of about 6,000 people that saw him coach his clients every day.
Colm O’Reilly (01:18):
My gym was down a dark road in a dirty industrial estate at the time. I don’t know where your gyms are, but people have told me their gyms are on main streets and they still have to tell people. There is no guarantee that clients will just come in for you. So marketing has a cost, and we’re gonna talk about that cost and how we’re gonna put our efforts into it today. Now marketing seems like it’s something that’s really complex, but we’re gonna make it simple for you. That’s simple but not easy. And there’s a joke about the difference between simple and easy that I wasn’t allowed tell. So come up and ask me afterwards for the punchline for that one. Okay, everybody wants clients to come in, and I get it, you’ve so much work to do, and you want clients to come in, but we’ve all had the weight-loss client that wants to keep doing the same thing and lose weight.
Colm O’Reilly (02:05):
“Can I just show up at your gym twice maybe on a good week and lose weight?” No. “Can I just run good classes and occasionally post to the ‘Gram?” No, you’ve got to put the work into it. Now our four funnels there, the referral funnel, that’s the Affinity Marketing, that is talking to your awesome clients and trying to get more awesome people like that in. They are your people. The second one is your organic social media funnel. That’s posting about your awesome clients in a way that relates to people who aren’t there yet on their journey. Like-Minded people on Facebook—finding them, getting them into your groups and sliding into those DMs. Then we’ve got the content funnel. That’s our blog, that’s our email list, that’s getting our authority out there. And then finally, everybody’s least favorite, the paid marketing funnel. The first funnel is the referral funnel or the Affinity Marketing funnel.
Colm O’Reilly (02:58):
They are your warmest people. And the first mistake I want to talk to you about is that when you do goal reviews, if you do them with the intent of getting a testimonial straight away or getting a referral straight away, you will 100% repulse your clients. They don’t wanna do it. They know it’s just a sales exercise. And that’s smarmy sales. Your Affinity Marketing, your goal review is primarily a retention tool, right? Because your clients won’t sell for you. I was talking to one of my ramp-ups, Kate, and I said, “Tell me about your seed client.” It’s like lesson one or two in the ramp-up. And she’s telling me Alrick is brilliant. Like he’s moved over to Ireland, he’s in a small town, he works the local coffee shop.” She’s in a small village, everyone knows everyone. “And He is always telling people about my gym.”
Colm O’Reilly (03:46):
I said, “That’s awesome. What does he say?” And she goes, “He’s always telling people how sore he is and showing him ripped hands.” Your clients are not salespeople. They’re not marketers. They don’t know how to market your gym. We have to teach them to do that. Or rather yet kind of inception them and help them along with that. So the goal review is primarily a retention tool. That’s where we’re gonna give the goal review and say “I care enough to ask ‘how are you doing really?'” ‘Cause everybody in the world over, you ask them “how are you doing?” and everybody goes “good.” They don’t tell you what’s going on until you ask them that third, fourth or fifth question and genuinely want to know what’s going on. “How Is your fitness?” “Oh it’s good.” “I know when you joined me you wanted to lose 20 pounds. Are you still on your journey?” “Eh, maybe.” “How’s the sleep? How’s the nutrition? What are you eating for breakfast? What’s lunch? What’s dinner? I noticed you’re only getting in three days a week instead of four days a week.” Asking the extra questions. Now, being Irish, I know Bono of course, and he told me never to name-drop. But Chris Cooper told me that if you care about someone, you care about their extended family, you care about their environment, you care about their colleagues. And it has to be based off caring. “Who Else is in this journey with you? Who’s with you? Is it your spouse? Is it your best friend? Is it your coworkers?” The second big mistake people make when they’re doing Affinity Marketing is they’re like, “Great, can I have their number and ask for a No Sweat Intro?” “Oh, F off.”
Colm O’Reilly (05:23):
This is where you again have to resist the urge. And I know you’re busy. You’ve gotta resist the urge to try and skip the discovery process. “Well, Tell me about your wife. What’s she into? Well, she used to be really into rock climbing, and she hurt her knee a while ago.” “That sounds tough. What’s she doing for rehab?” “Well, she was going to physio, but she wasn’t going to rebuild.” So there you go. “But She didn’t do her physio right? And she’s still in a lot of pain. Okay, well like is she interested in coming in and maybe we could do some upper-body work while her knee heals? Is she up to that or is she a bit nervous?” That’s a great example of that. Or you know, “My spouse really likes the idea of fitness, but they’re a cardio bunny and all they think about is CrossFit is just weights just heavy, bulky stuff. “
Colm O’Reilly (06:14):
“Okay, Yeah, I get that. I get that. Well how about we set up a two-on-one workout where she comes in and she does some Assault bike and box steps and we throw a light medicine ball around and we keep it more cardio focused for her?” That’s how we do the next step of Affinity Marketing. Not just “gimme the damn number. I’ve gotta hit my sales target.” When they’re in as well, then if we’re going to have the conversation, the next stage then is asking the questions of them that maybe nobody else has asked them. “What Is that extra 20 pounds doing to you? How do you feel when you look in the mirror? How do you feel when you’re put on clothes? How’s it impacting your love life? How’s it impacting your social life?” They’re the extra questions that really matter. And then the final part of that sales process is does your solution match their pain point And where we’re coming from, that genuine place of caring, “Does my solution, can it help your problem?”
Colm O’Reilly (07:08):
And the only way I can know your problem is if I really, really ask “does it match your pain point?” Then you’re gonna make the sale with Affinity Marketing. I’ve got a great client in Ramp-Up. Walt is his name, and I get like emails once a week from him. Now, once he figured this out, ’cause he threw out the initial Affinity Marketing post and he’s like “I’m not getting anyone. I ask my seed clients for names and numbers. Like, okay, well, this is a fault of mine. I didn’t ask you or coach you enough. Initially what he did was he would just take the seed clients out and say, “What do you like about my gym? What don’t you like about the fitness industry? Whose number can I have?” And amazingly, he didn’t get numbers. When he slowed down and asked the extra questions, now he’s excitingly emailing me. He started working with me and Two-Brain at the start of the year, and he’s now gone from 60 to a hundred clients, and he’s selling higher-ticket packages because he’s slowed down and he’s asking the question. I’m not saying it’s down to me. I’m saying it’s down to him slowing down. Now next up we’ve got the second funnel. This is your organic social media. And 10 years ago, it was really easy to get likes and get engagement in social media because that’s kind of how CrossFit blew up. And I know not everybody’s a CrossFit gym, but we all know what CrossFit is now. It’s noise. You’ve gotta put out stuff all the time and you’ve gotta put out stuff that’s really appealing to where people are. If anyone ever saw a documentary on the Fyre Festival, absolute operational disaster but fantastic marketing campaign ’cause what they got is all the influencers, and they got them to post bright orange squares on their Instagram, and that breaks the flow of scrolling. So you’ve gotta think of “what’s gonna be an appealing image when I put this out?” And you’re never gonna know unless you put them out. You put out those images and see what’s going on. And then for marketing, what we’re really doing is we’re just talking about one of four things. Most of the time we’re talking about their pain points, their objections to getting started, the process and the result.
Colm O’Reilly (09:07):
So a pain point is “you’re feeling tired, you’re feeling sluggish, you’re overweight, you’re not strong enough.” The objection is “you don’t have time to meal prep. Getting fit is too expensive. You’ve tried personal trainers before, they haven’t worked out for you. You’re carrying an old injury.” The process then is what we talk about. “Look, This is how we do things in class. This is what we do. We start you with a conversation to know about you personally. We want to know about your goals. We start everybody in a very personalized manner.” “Or we use weights, we use cardio, we mix it up. We always have a coach with you.” And then finally the result: “You’re happier, you’re healthier, you’re fitter.” That’s what we’re doing is we’re solving a problem and we’re opening up a curiosity loop. So if any Marvel fans are in the room, if you guys all watched “Infinity War,” it was a couple of years ago and at the end, Thanos, the big baddie, snapped half of reality out of existence.
Colm O’Reilly (10:08):
Everybody talked about the movie “Infinity War” for a year until “Endgame.” The follow-up came out and everybody watched “Endgame” and said “that was cool” and went on about their life. The reason why “Infinity War” got talked about so much is it opened up that curiosity loop. Have you ever seen those posts—such as titles that say “look what happened when this person joined my gym. The answer may surprise you”? That’s opening up a curiosity loop. Or are you really tired with Irish people talking to you about marketing and want to figure this out? Oh, that actually wasn’t a joke. It was a legit question.
Colm O’Reilly (10:44):
That’s how we get people into a group. And one of the purposes of our groups is that we wanna build intimacy. With all other things being equal, people are gonna pick intimacy over authority. Most people aren’t looking for the absolute best gym in the world. They’re looking for the best gym in their city or their town, and they’re probably not even looking for the best gym. They’re looking at the best gym for them. And the only way they can do that is if they know you. If you’re the person they constantly see on their Reels, on their Instagram stories, on their Facebook feed, in their Google maps, they constantly see you talking to them about their problems, their issues. They’re like, “This is the person who’s front of mind to me, right?” That’s the reason why we want to get people into our group—because they’ll see our group posts and then yeah, absolutely, we can start to sell by chat. And I know Tiffy talked a lot about it, so I’m just gonna sum up some points here as well. It does take time. It’s worth the investment. It takes time to send messages and say, “Hey, thanks for joining my group. Tell me a little bit about yourself.” You have to be genuinely interested and you have to lead the conversation. Again, most people mess this up when they try and say, “Hey, thanks for joining my group. Book an intro. Link there.” That’s not personable. That’s just absolute 100% “I know this person is trying to sell me something.” No one wants to be sold on a thing. They want the perception of they took part in it. So how we do that? We ask multiple choice questions versus open questions. So an open question for you guys would be “what’s your biggest struggle as a gym owner?”
Colm O’Reilly (12:22):
That’s difficult to answer. If I ask you “what’s your biggest struggle as a gym owner? Is it getting new clients in? Is it paying yourself? Is it building issues? Is it staffing issues or is it something else?” Even if I’m wrong with all those answers, all those suggestions, it’s a lot easier for you then to come up with the next one. So when I’m asking someone “what’s your biggest struggle with your fitness? Is it getting the workouts in? Is it the nutrition side of things? Is it your motivation or mindset or is it something else?” it’s a lot easier for them to answer that question. To follow up with that again, if they say, “Well, I just can’t get the workouts in”—”Well, let’s do an intro.” Don’t rush it. Get them to tell you more, and then demo the next step. You don’t have to give them everything. You just providing a framework to things. And that’s how we use organic marketing to drive our clients towards us. Okay? Now, as much as you all like me and think I’m a swell guy, you wouldn’t get me to do open-heart surgery. I know how to set up your Facebook ads for you. I don’t know how to fix your Tesla. So you do need authority on top of intimacy, and that’s where your content funnel comes in. That’s where you are the guy or gal who knows what their problem is and knows how to solve it. That’s where you build your expertise. And this is a building process. This is a slow-burning process. I don’t have the latest, but I remember Chris telling me that it takes people about six months of opening his daily emails for them to book a call. Most people will start writing a couple of emails and they go “I’m not getting anything from this” and give up. You know, again, you don’t have to recreate the wheel. There’s a content bank that you all have access to as part of Growth.
Colm O’Reilly (14:11):
And what you’re saying in your emails is “I understand your problem because I’ve either solved it myself or I’ve helped people like you solve their problem. So I’ve helped people like you.” And what you’re doing—and Jason, this goes back to your question earlier about what material you put in. So in the earlier session, Jason asked “what material would you put publicly versus your group versus your private group?” Did I get that question right? Yes. Generally, what I would recommend is you give people the framework of how to do things publicly, but when they become private clients, that’s when you give them the actual steps. So right now I’m giving you the framework. I’m talking you through the four funnels. When you log on to members.twobrainbusiness.com and go to your ToolKit and go to your Content Vault, that’s the actual posts.
Colm O’Reilly (15:01):
When someone wants to get fit, we’re gonna say, “Hey, we’re gonna lift weights and get out of breath.” When someone wants to improve their nutrition, we say, “Hey, we’re gonna eat these foods in these quantities.” That’s the framework. When we say, “Okay, today’s workout is deadlifts and skipping,” that’s the actual content. Now what you can also do in your emails is talk to people’s fears and concerns. And that’s essentially saying “I know your fears because they’re X, Y, Z. I know you’re afraid of starting something again and failing. I know you think you’re too old, too outta shape, too broke to get fit”—or whatever the things are. And you say “but don’t believe me. Here’s my client stories.” So during the goal-review process, if you’re proud of someone and you genuinely care and you’re genuinely motivated, tell them you wanna celebrate them.
Colm O’Reilly (15:54):
And you can either celebrate them by saying, “I can write your story or we can do a video.” If your clients normally bump once they’re in front of a camera, they get nervous or they become a robot, don’t film them. They don’t want that. You wanna make them a hero. So you can say, “I can write up why I’m so proud of you.” They might be a little bit embarrassed, but trust me, humans crave attention. Oscar winners on average live seven years longer than their non-Oscar-winning counterparts. These are people in Hollywood who have pretty much all the money to invest in all their health, and they still crave human acceptance and appreciation that much. So we can do that to our clients. We can help them. And stories help people overcome their fears. So in our emails, in our blog content, that’s what we can say “don’t believe me? Listen to what Billy’s done or Sam has done.” Jay Rhodes, unfortunately he’s not here, but Jeff Jucha does excellent content like this, so go steal his. Now if you don’t live in West Little Rock, don’t say, “Hey, West Little Rock guys, what’s going on?” But follow Jucha because he does a great job of writing these content emails in that respect. And finally, what everybody hates: paid marketing. I joke about that. With all our other funnels, we don’t see the level of attrition. With our Affinity Marketing, we don’t see or hear all those conversations—our seed clients are great members, and they go out and tell their friends about our gym but mess up the sale. They don’t tell them about anything cool, like “this person really took care of me.” They just say how sore they are from the workout. With our posts. We’ll put them out.
Colm O’Reilly (17:31):
We don’t see the number of people who see the posts but don’t like, don’t comment, don’t engage. With our emails, we can write the best email in the world, perfectly suited to this individual at this point in their life, and if they don’t open it, we don’t get to see that. That’s a missed opportunity. With paid marketing, we get to see all these leads, and that’s why we see a high attrition rate in paid marketing. That is 100% normal. And if you look at all the data from all the leads in Two-Brain over the last six months, the lead to set rate is 56%. So for every 10 leads you’re gonna get, five of them are never gonna make the stage of even setting a No Sweat Intro. Now they’re not bad leads. They’re just cold leads. They’re just not ready to hear about that yet.
Colm O’Reilly (18:21):
So what paid marketing is is how we give Facebook or Google money in order to get us quick leads. But we are, with Facebook in particular, we are interrupting them. They might sign up and they might instantly decide it’s not for them. When I show clients how to analyze their Facebook ads, I point out that for every three people that click on an ad, only one person waits for it to load. These ads load in about half a second. That’s how quickly people talk themselves out of doing what’s in their own best interest. They’re not screwing us over, they’re not wasting our time. And why I’m so insistent on this is this is the mindset difference I’ve seen between people who are successful with Facebook marketing and people who are just giving Mark Zuckerberg money. So anyone in this room have more network than Mark Zuckerberg?
Colm O’Reilly (19:09):
No. So don’t give him money unless you’re going to get the return. Now, how do we get over that—as well as understand they’re just not ready yet? They’re just not ready to make that commitment to themselves yet. They could be perfect. You could be thinking “this guy gal is absolutely perfect to join my gym,” but if they’re not ready, they won’t pick up the phone. So you just get the reps in, park and move on. And if you treat your paid leads, when you’re starting off, as a chance to develop your lead-nurture skills and your sales skills, you’re ultimately going to be better off rather than thinking “a lot of these are a waste of time.” Now you cannot rely on automations. I’ve used Gym Lead Machine ever since I went to New York. John said, “Give me your laptop,” and he signed me up without asking my permission. True story and it’s fantastic. Gym Lead Machine are your automations, and they catch people who slip through the net. But non-automated human contact is the difference with paid lead machines—the difference with paid ads becoming successful or not. Now I know I’ve talked at you a while and give you a lot of information. So to break it up, I’ll show you a picture of me as a baby.
Colm O’Reilly (20:29):
Okay. It was a picture of a baby drinking a pint of Guinness in the pub, and it was all meant to get a big laugh. So just pretend you saw that. Thank you. Now there is actually a reason behind that. You have to treat leads like newborns. You have to pleasantly and persistently pursue them. Pleasantly and persistently pursue prospects until they either tell you “yes, sign me up” or “go to heck.” You cannot overreach with leads. Most people give up after two attempts. Most successful people take about seven to 10 to get through to people. I had a girl once Martha was her name, and I rang her every day for seven days straight. I rang her even on Sundays, and eventually on the eighth day she said, “Thanks for not giving up on me.”
Colm O’Reilly (21:29):
She booked an intro, signed up, started training with us. And when I went to confirm the intro with a text, I found that she had canceled an intro 11 months previously. She worked in HR in a pharmaceuticals company. She was just finished maternity leave. So she was busy. When people are on Facebook, they might be waiting for their coffee. Or when people are signing up to your website, they might be at a traffic light. Even though we shouldn’t be on our phones while driving, we all are. They might be going into a meeting. Don’t be afraid to continue to reach out to them. If you honestly believe that you can change their life, and I genuinely think that someone based in Dublin is better off being a member of my gym than not, then it’s your obligation to continue to reach out to them. Okay?
Colm O’Reilly (22:14):
They’re scared. They’re scared of getting started. So the more we reach out to them, the better we can help them overcome that fear. I’m just gonna continue to riff here as well. Okay, so with marketing, the way I think about it is there’s one really important question you should ask to determine is your marketing campaign working. And that’s “am I hitting my sales slash revenue target?” Some gyms have sales targets, like they want to make five grand in new business this month. And some have revenue targets. Like “we just wanna make 25 grand this month.” My gym’s the revenue target, right? I don’t care if it’s renewals or new business, I just have a target. I have to get there each month. It works for me, might work for you. But that’s the only question that matters.
Colm O’Reilly (23:06):
And to put it back in fitness terms, if you have a weight-loss client and every two or three weeks they’re stepping on the InBody and that weight is trending in the right direction, we don’t care what’s working, really. We don’t care if it’s the workouts, the nutrition, the sleep, or the stress management because it’s working. And that’s the same with your marketing. If you’re hitting your target, your marketing is working. Now obviously you want to know when it breaks which parts to look at. But if you’re getting obsessed about “well this post got 32 likes and this post only got 10 likes and you know, I got cost per lead of $2 last month and now it’s $4,” you’re missing the wood from trees. Ask yourself “am I hitting my sales or my revenue target?” That’s the most critical question. Then you look into what’s going on.
Colm O’Reilly (23:59):
And again, very funny to stand up here and say, as the marketing person, it generally doesn’t come down to marketing. It comes down to your lead nurture and your sales process. That’s where you need to invest time. It used to be like eight years ago, people could just rock into my gym and they’d, you know, do a class and they’d sign up. Sweet. Then about four years ago, we could just set up those No Sweat Intros and people would book a No Sweat Intro on Monday for Thursday. And then on Thursday I’d see them for the first time, and I could chat to them. Now, post-pandemic world, we know when someone thinks of the gym, that’s when I’ve gotta start nurturing them. Now obviously we want to keep marketing, but that’s how we do it. It’s all about that nurture and finding the right matrix that works for you.
Colm O’Reilly (24:46):
And speaking of that, we’re now gonna go to our worksheet. So people always ask me “where do I find all this time?” And I had a gym owner once come onto a marketing call with me late and the 30 minutes are tight for time as they’ve got another call. And this gym owner was like, they needed leads and they needed members quickly. And he was like, “I’m just finished my workout,” pumped and sweating, still shirtless. And I said, “Oh, what did you do?” He said, “Oh, just finished that Atalanta from the Games there.” For those who don’t know, Atalanta was the 2020 Aromas Games final. It was a mile run, a hundred handstand pushups, 200 pistols, 300 pull-ups, and another mile run, all while wearing a weight vest, right? I totally want you to get your workouts and take care of yourselves, but not at the expense of your business, which means you can’t work out anymore.
Colm O’Reilly (25:38):
So with your worksheet now, I’d like you to go through the answers and share them with your team. What we’re gonna do is start with one really inefficient hour of the week or 10 minutes a day and schedule that. We’re gonna figure out which funnel we’re gonna put our focus into, and then which part of the funnel it is, and then we’re gonna commit with our table to one action. And I’m gonna give you guys 10 minutes for that. So it seems like there was some good conversations going on there and people began to take action on your marketing. And I had a great question about like “what do you do when people are messaging you?” Leads are messaging you through the day. And it’s like, well, most of us, the times we think of as our classes and our PTs we think of as our “work.” And then we put our programming and our staff development and our marketing when we’ve got quote-unquote “downtime.”
Colm O’Reilly (26:26):
And that’s why I wanted you to schedule it—it is that important. It is as important as delivering classes and delivering your PT sessions and having your goal-review meetings with your coaches as well. So just a couple of things before we wrap up. And one of the things was, I forgot, is that with your posts, you wanna make them so, so, so simple. The initial Affinity Marketing guide that Coop wrote was about 90 pages long. It was brilliant, and it was all full of great stuff, but people are busy, people are stressed and they can’t absorb that information. But then when the 19-page super colorful one came out, everybody started Affinity Marketing. So make your marketing simple. Speaking of that as well, speaking of simple, Brian bought me to a baseball game on Thursday. I’m not saying mine is simple, I’m saying I’m simple, but what he explained to me is that the best hitters in the world miss about seven outta 10 shots.
Colm O’Reilly (27:20):
They bat .300. Is that right, Brian? Did I get that? Okay, they swing .300. The best swingers in the world do .300. What this means is that most of your marketing is gonna quote-unquote “fail.” You send out your emails and you might only get three out of 10 opens, right? You’ll post and out of all the people that follow you, maybe 10% will get to see them. This is normal. It’s just a numbers game of marketing. So that’s okay. It’s our job to find the best way to start the conversation. And that’s all marketing is. It’s starting the conversation. Now for any history buffs in the room, do they know what Alexander Graham Bell want people to say when they first answered the telephone, when it was first invented, anybody know what he wanted to say?
Colm O’Reilly (28:13):
Shout it out. Ahoy. Ahoy was suggested as the way to answer the telephone. But Thomas Edison came out with the first telephone book, and he said, you start the telephone call with “hello.” Marketing is that. It is figuring out the best way to say hello to somebody. And very often we can think, I don’t wanna bother someone and we won’t say Hello. Dr. Laurie Santos of Yale University runs a very popular course called The Science of Happiness. And one of her tasks is to get people to say hello to strangers on the commute on the L or in your local Starbucks. And everybody thinks nobody wants to be disturbed, but what they find is everybody is begging for you to start a conversation with them. So it is your object objective, it’s your obligation to start saying hello to people. Thank you.
Thanks for listening to “Run a Profitable Gym.” Please don’t forget to subscribe. Now here’s a final message from Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper.
Chris Cooper (29:24):
Hey, it’s Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper with a quick note. We created the Gym Owners United Facebook group to help you run a profitable gym. Thousands of gym owners just like you have already joined. In the group, we share sound advice about the business of fitness. Every day, I answer questions, I run free webinars, and I give away all kinds of great resources to help you grow your gym. I’d love to have you in that group. It’s Gym Owners United on Facebook, or go to gymownersunited.com to join. Do it today.