Help First: How to Make Being Generous a Business Strategy

Help First

Chris Cooper: 


Hey everybody, it’s Coop and you got into this business to help people. I get that. I even wrote a book called “Help First.” And today, I’m gonna talk about how to translate this need to help and give and be generous into a business strategy that will actually grow your gym.

If you like this podcast, please hit subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. It’s Chris Cooper here. Welcome to Two-Brain Radio.

Several years ago, in 2017, I wrote this book called “Help First,” and it’s my philosophy for marketing and sales. Several years later, a lot of people tell me that is the best book I’ve ever written. It’s the one that gets quoted to me. It’s the one that people carry around and it’s the one that they hand out to other entrepreneurs in their gym. And that’s really flattering to me.

But today I want to talk about what help first means. And I especially wanna talk about the first part, because I see a lot of people who are very generous, who got into the fitness industry because they wanted to give and they wanted to help. And they wanted to just change the lives of as many people as they possibly could. And some of those people are producing content and some of those people are giving away scholarships to their gym.

And some of those people are setting their pricing because they want to just bring in as many people at the lowest price possible, right? They want to help.

But today I’m gonna tell you what help first actually means as a strategy and how to actually make it actionable, to bring people into your gym, to build a thriving community.

That’s gonna last for at least three decades and will help you help people in a meaningful way. So first off, help first is usually an invitation to aid someone.

Sometimes it means that you’re doing something for free in the beginning. Sometimes it means that you’re teaching somebody for free in the beginning, but there’s always a purpose to what you’re doing. So for example, I might offer to do a free seminar for a client who runs a financial brokerage, or I might offer to invite that client in to give a financial seminar to the people in my gym.

I might publish a free guide called how to train a hockey an- or how to feed a hockey animal on my website that parents of hockey players can refer to when they’re trying to decide what their kids should eat and, you know, hint, keep them off the monster energy drinks.

I might publish a free blog post on Two-Brain Business about how to make more money with affinity marketing or something like that. But the truth is that there is always an intent here.

And the intent is not a slimy one. The intent is to give you enough help to get you started so that you can get some momentum, get a couple of wins, say, yes, I can do this.

And then sign up for the service that will really help you. The free stuff, the free seminars, the free downloads , Gym Owners

These are little, 1% incremental wins that stack up over time to produce high value. But eventually I want you to sign up for coaching, whether that’s coaching at my gym, Catalyst, or coaching at Two-Brain Business, or coaching through some other provider that I talk about. I want you to sign up for coaching because that is what will actually change your life.

The help first mentality starts with this. You introduce your somebody by helping them first. And that often means helping them for free, but it’s not a help always for free strategy because the point is that until somebody is paying you for your expertise in your coaching, they are not receiving the full benefit of that expertise in coaching.

And they’re probably not getting enough from you to meaningfully change their life. Now, social proof is really, really important, providing examples of your expertise and establishing authority.

These things are really important and that’s why you do things for free. But the truth is that you can’t do this for free forever. And I don’t want you to. In the past, we have been asked by various agencies like CrossFit HQ to help out different gym owners . And the request usually comes in the form of, can you give this person a scholarship?

In other cases, it’s been a franchise, for example, who has said, look , I’ve got this struggling gym . We’ll pay for them to go through mentorship. And in other cases, even we’ve had banks and lenders come to us and say, this person just can’t make their mortgage payment, or they can’t pay off their equipment loan. We think our best investment is to put them through mentorship, to get them profitable so that they can pay off that loan. And that’s awesome, right? What a noble generous gesture and a great investment.

But the reality is that if the person isn’t paying for coaching, they’re not likely to take it seriously enough.

Think about the times in your gym when you’ve offered a free scholarship to somebody, how does that typically work out? Even with really amazing agencies like Steve’s club, there are lessons to be learned here about giving too much for free giving too much for free. Actually doesn’t get the person results. So you’re kind of wasting their time.

So when you’re setting up the help first strategy, you wanna be intentional. You wanna say, I am going to produce this free podcast. I’m gonna give away free information on health and fitness to improve people’s lives in my community.

But ultimately I know that unless they sign up for my coaching, they will never achieve their full potential. So when you’re setting up your free podcast, I want you to think two steps in advance after somebody listens to this podcast.

Number one, how do I want them to feel? I want them to feel good about themselves. I want them to feel like they can make it. Step two. What do I want them to know? I want them to know one thing that will get them some momentum that an easy win that they can, they can establish and feel right away.

And number three, I want them to know what to do next. So if they want more help, if they’re ready to take the next step into fitness, I want them to do this thing next. Here’s an example. If you’re listening to this podcast, I want you to feel like, oh, I’ve got some clarity on how I can use this. I want you to know how you can use help first as a specific example of your generosity to build trust and authority, but ultimately build your business.

And the next step that you need to take to grow your business is to go to Gym Owners, which will lead you to our free public Facebook group, where you can get more specific, helpful resources and guides and worksheets.

And we’ll probably start a conversation through there. And that conversation might lead to an invitation to talk to my team. So we’ve thought this through in advance, if I’m doing this for my gym, my help first strategy is going to be free YouTube videos. And we’ve got a new YouTube channel for my gym. You can see what we’re doing. It’s called The Catalyst Method.

On these videos, I’m talking about lifespan and healthspan and how I want to change the health span of people in my local city. And we’re talking about how we’re doing that with metabolic training, using heart rate. And we’re talking about the sickness, wellness, fitness spectrum. We’re giving information, but we’re also very careful to tell people the next step, which is if you want to take the next step in your health and fitness, you can subscribe to our email list.

From that email list, we give people a little bit more detail. We help them for free. And there are people who stay on that email list for a few years.

But ultimately I know that unless they come to Catalyst and receive coaching, they probably won’t get much further. The free information is there. And a small percentage, maybe 5%, can take that free information to GoodLife, the big global gym up the street. They can follow that information. They can use that to improve their nutrition and they’re so self-motivated that they can just kind of take the information and run with it.

A lot of gym owners are like this, and we assume that other people, our future clients are like this too, but it’s not true. So the next step we want people to take at Catalyst is to book a No-Sweat Intro. And so our email list talks about booking a No-Sweat Intro so that our coaches can have a conversation about your goals.

Do a quick little assessment to see your starting point and then prescribe the best program for you. And we’ve thought this through with intent . And so if I say to a client, Hey, I’d be happy to come into your workplace and talk to the other people on the accounting floor about eating healthier and reducing stress.

Then I’m going to think about how much value can I give this person in 30 minutes and their staff. I’m gonna think about what is the next step that I want them to take. And then what is the step that will get them to my gym? So when I’m going out there and I’m doing this seminar, and we call it like a brown bag seminar, and I talk about reducing stress in the workplace and I talk about nutrition, and then we do a Q & A and answer questions.

And I end up by saying, look, guys, I love talking to you . I would love to have you on our email list so that we can continue this conversation, go to Catalyst Gym .com . And you’ll see this box pop up . And you can just put in your email address and I’ll keep giving you this free information. And that will keep us in touch. And that way, if you need me, if you have more questions, you think of something later, or there’s something you didn’t wanna ask. You can just respond to that email and ask me anytime you want.

And if I had a free public Facebook group, that would be the step that I take, but we use emails at Catalyst. And so from there, that’s it. I’m not saying book a No-Sweat Intro. I’m not saying here’s our pricing. I’m saying just take the next step closer to the No-Sweat Intro. Now the job of my emails, once they’re on that list, is to get them to a No-Sweat Intro. And so each step of the marketing process or each step down the marketing funnel has one specific goal. And that is to move them to the next step.

Now some might say, oh, Chris, you look like you’re being generous, but you have this hidden motivation to get people into your gym or sell them something. And here’s the truth. Help First doesn’t always mean help for free.

What I’m helping somebody do at that seminar is answer the questions and learn to trust a local health expert. That’s me. I’m helping them for free by establishing rapport in a relationship and giving them somebody that they can come to when they have a secret burning desire or a question or a problem with their health, that they don’t know the answer to. I am giving them that for free.

Then I am giving them access to free information on my email newsletter, which is like my blog. Then I’m giving them the opportunity to come in and talk to a coach without heavy sales pressure to ask questions in person and to see if this is right for them. Because sometimes my coaches will tell them it’s not.

And then I’m giving them the opportunity to sign up for the program that is absolutely right and tailored for them. The problem that we all have as coaches is that we sometimes confuse generosity with no money. You can be generous and charge money for your service. Sometimes the most important thing that you can do or say, or the advice that you can give to a client, is how do you wanna sign up? Because once they’re inside your program, their whole world will change. I know you’ll change their life and you can’t do that if they’re not in your gym, and you can’t get them into your gym if they’re not doing a No-Sweat Intro and you can’t get them to a No-Sweat Intro, if you’re not talking to them online or through your email and you can’t talk to them there, unless they trust you. And that’s what help first is all about.

Now, there are several people who publish, published, published for years and years and years, and they never ask anybody to sign up. And that was me. If you look back at the original blog that I did about business, Don’t Buy, I didn’t have anything to sell anybody. I didn’t have a reason for people to sign up. I didn’t have anything to sign them up to.

And so for three and a half years, and for about 350 blog posts, I just published and people liked it. And I would get these comments once in a while, once every two weeks, I’d get an email back. Thank you. That was really helpful. Or thank you, but it didn’t make sense or whatever. And we had this conversation going, but the reality is that nobody read Don’t Buy, turned their business around from reading that, and now they’re successful today.

What actually happened was this a woman in New Jersey said, how do I hire you to coach me? And I said, I don’t know. And then she said, well, here’s what my yoga mentor charges me. And so I charged her the same amount and we worked together and she changed a lot of things about her business, and bam. Results. Interesting.

Once she was inside my program, which was really built around her, she got results that she wasn’t getting from my free content. And so, while you think that you’re producing a lot of content because you’re building trust, the reality is that your job is to get people results. That’s why you’re a coach. And you can’t do that unless they’re inside your program. So forget your hangups about selling.

Forget your hangups about asking people to take the next step. If you really care about the client, you have to have them take the first step. You have to have them take the next step and you have to have them sign up and pay for your coaching so that you can help them.

Help First is the first step in establishing a relationship with people. It’s a warm introduction. It might be a strategy that we call Thank Up, which is a great way to introduce yourself. Hey, you don’t know me. I’m just reaching out to say thank you for this.

Helping my client, being a great community partner, helping our town. Whatever that is, Help First is a great way to introduce yourself and establish your expertise by speaking for free, by publishing blog posts, by publishing YouTube videos or your podcast, Help First is a great way to establish your authority in your local market, because nobody else is producing content or going out and speaking, or running a fun birthday party for one of the kids in your kids’ class, whatever that is, but it’s not help for free, always because you cannot change a life just with free content.

Think about the amount of content that you’re bombarded with every single day. And in saying that, I’m gonna wrap this podcast up really quickly. There’s so much of it out there that it’s now kind of hard to figure out who to trust, but the person who will take you by the hand, lead you to the next step and say, here is the clear path to progress. Here is the fastest route to your goals. Here is clarity. Here is a model to follow. That person should be rewarded, right? That person will probably earn your thanks. They will eventually earn your praise. They will have your trust already, and they will give you amazing value for your money.

So Help First means doing something to establish the relationship. It means guiding people to the next best step and then guiding them to the answer. And that answer should cost money. You should have a plan that leads from Help First, all the way to sign up for my program, where I can help you more.

And that’s really what the book is all about. So if you’re practicing help first, don’t use it as an excuse to just do everything for free all the time. Don’t use it as an excuse to undervalue your service. Don’t use it as an excuse to quote-unquote, “build authority” by publishing a ton of content that never leads anywhere. Use it to meet people, use it to start conversations, use it to give them the help they need until they’re ready to take the next step, but always use it to help them take the next step and sign up for the thing. That’s right. I hope this helps you.


Mike Warkentin: 


For more helpful content just like this, be sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. See what we did there, huh ? Help first. Now here’s Coop one more time.


Chris Cooper: 


If you aren’t in the Gym Owners United group on Facebook, this is my personal invitation to join. It’s the only public Facebook group that I participate in and I’m in there all the time with tips, tactics, and free resources. I’d love to network with you and help you grow your business. Join Gym owners United on Facebook .

Thanks for listening!

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