The Broke Gym Owner’s Guide to Marketing

Picture of Chris Cooper with title text reading "The Broke Gym Owner's Guide to Marketing."

Andrew (00:02):

Too broke to even think about marketing? Think again. Chris Cooper is here with the Broke Gym Owner’s Guide to Marketing. This episode of Two-Brain Radio will give you a low-cost, high reward strategy to generate revenue without spending cash you just don’t have. Now here’s Two-Brain founder, Chris Cooper, with a host of tactics to increase revenue without breaking the bank.

Chris (00:20):

Most gyms are missing a few pieces and one of those pieces is marketing. Great gyms have longterm marketing plans. Those plans include referrals, recapture campaigns, blog posts, and Facebook ads, but building a marketing plan takes time and then it takes money. What if you can’t pay for any of those things? Don’t worry. I know a guy. It’s me. I was there too. I started a gym with starry eyes and empty pockets. I gutted it out for a few years before I was stretched to the breaking point. Then I found a mentor, turned things around and now I enjoy a very profitable gym that runs without me being there. But most gyms aren’t so lucky. Our mentoring team at Two-Brain Business takes almost 60 free help calls every single week from gym owners who want help. Almost every gym owner knows they need a business mentor and thankfully most would like that mentor to be one of us, but some can’t even afford the small fee to get started.

Chris (01:18):

So this book is for the gym owner who’s caught. You know you need marketing help, but you can’t afford to pay a professional. You’re actively seeking ideas, but you know that most of the free advice you find online is overblown outdated or just plain wrong. This book is what I would do if it was 2008 all over again but I had the tools available to me that I do in 2020. So take these ideas, execute them verbatim. You can literally copy and paste them and leverage your returns. Hire a mentor with the money you make from this book. Don’t throw this new money down the same dark hole since 2008. When I started writing about the things that were going right and wrong in my gym business, I’ve had one goal: to help the people who are helping other people. That’s you. You’re in this for all the right reasons.

Chris (02:07):

You’re just missing a couple of pieces. Luckily, you have a friend in the business. Now you and me we’re in the relationship business. We sell a coaching relationship with three types of clients, our current clients, our former clients and our future clients. Conversations with these groups is called sales. Convincing these groups to have a conversation with you is called marketing. I’m reading from this book called the “Broke Gym Owners Guide to Marketing.” And we wrote this book because it focuses on acquiring new clients. But if your real goal is probably more revenue, so we’re going to start off with sales here. Now you can download a copy of this and follow along with me from the link in the show notes. And I hope that you do, because I’m going to get really, really tactical here. I’m going to be reading emails out that you can just copy and paste verbatim if you want to.

Chris (03:02):

And so you should download the guide from our site. I’ll post the link in the show notes and just follow along or take the tactical step-by-step stuff and apply it in your own gym, or, you know, swipe our emails, whatever it takes to make you successful, just do it that way. So let’s start with selling to your current clients, who is the person most likely to be your client next month? That’s an easy one. It’s the person who is your client this month, the sale doesn’t end when a new client hands over their credit card, a client has to be convinced or resold. Every time they enter your gym, the sales process never actually ends. Your current clients can also upgrade their memberships or packages. Clients’ needs change over time. Meeting with each client quarterly will give you the opportunity to alter their plan and keep them around longer. From our data about 34% of your clients upgrade their plan value by an average of 37% during a goal review that you do with them quarterly.

Chris (04:07):

So that’s an opportunity to boost revenue 9% just by doing the best thing for your clients, which is quarterly goal reviews. So the first tactic in this book is begin scheduling goal review sessions with your current clients. Here’s how to sell to your former clients. So I just said that the person most likely to be your client next month is the person who is your client this month. But who’s the next most likely person to be your client next month? The person who has been your client in the past. This person already knows you likes you and trusts you. But when they left, you thought they were gone forever. After 22 years as a coach, I promise you very few cancellations are permanent. And a returning client usually stays much longer on the second go round. So here’s how to talk to former clients and how to get them back.

Chris (04:59):

Number one, start with a very simple email to your former clients. A small percentage of your former clients are simply waiting for an invitation. Of course your door was never really close to them, but they need a tiny bit more from you. So this email that I’m going to share is literally 10 words long, but it’s been worth hundreds of dollars in recurring monthly revenue to many Two-Brain clients. So the subject line of the email is quick question and the body of the email is just 10 words. This is it. You’re going to write. Do you still want to improve your fitness this year? That’s it. There’s no sales pitch, no call to action. You’re simply restarting the conversation with the former client. So copy that verbatim, avoid the temptation to make it longer and make sure you leave the question mark on the ad.

Chris (05:44):

That’s really important. If you have a hundred people on your email list, this should start a conversation that brings back one to three former clients. Second, there are others on your email list who are still interested in your service, but they’re looking for something slightly different, email them, a special offer, like a reboot program or a nutrition challenge, something a little bit different from what they did before. There’s a link in the show notes to an example from my gym Catalyst. Now, again, these people already know you like you and trust you, but they’re not excited by your main program anymore. So changing one piece of the puzzle is pretty compelling. They get to do something new without making the social leap of entering a new gym. Third, still other people are paying attention, even if they’re not paying you money. So use a campaign of love letters to keep the conversation going.

Chris (06:36):

Now, the experts at Two-Brain marketing would call this lead nurture. Send an email to your entire list every day, not spam, but answers to the most common questions you get and repeat yourself with these same answers every month or so, or answer the same question in a different way. I wrote a lot about the love letters topic here, and there’s a link in the show notes. Email marketing is powerful. These strategies will yield a far greater return than anything that you do for free on social media. But the thing gym owners need to understand really comes down to two words, come back is an easier case to make than come here and see what I’m doing. So the second tactic in this broke gym owner’s guide is to send that 10 word email to all of your previous clients. You don’t need to give them a discount or another incentive to come back.

Chris (07:25):

You just need to call them home. Now let’s talk about selling to future clients. So when you downloaded the book and you started listening to the podcast, you’re looking for strategies to attract and recruit strangers. And that’s what I’m going to talk about. Now. Good marketing focuses on the clients who are most likely to sign up, pay full price and stay a long time. But where do we find those clients? By looking first at your best clients, and then making a plan to duplicate them. We call this affinity marketing. And it’s all about building relationships because every gym owner knows it. Word of mouth advertising is the best advertising. In fact, even Facebook marketing companies prefer to get their clients through referrals from other clients. Instead of through Facebook clients who are brought in by other clients have a preformed bond with your brand.

Chris (08:18):

They have built in support when things get tough and a strong, emotional reason to stick around, it’s a lot easier to go to the gym when you know, your friends will be waiting, right? And since every single stick to your workout article published online since 1994 includes the advice, find a training partner, our clients already know that they should exercise with a buddy. So why aren’t your clients dragging their spouses, coworkers, and best friends into your gym? Because they’re not salesmen. The customer referral process in most gyms 99% around the world is too passive. If we wait for our clients to do our marketing for us, we’ll starve. As entrepreneurs, we can’t afford to wait for our clients to talk about us. Affinity marketing is the process of turning client referrals from passive to active. It’s a point by point strategy to take control of the conversation, help your clients bring in the people they care about and serve those people best.

Chris (09:17):

Here’s the process. Basically gym owners work to attract the right clients. The new clients already have a strong bond with your current clients so the process doesn’t feel like selling anything. And the process also makes your current clients feel great. Those are our goals of affinity marketing, and that’s what makes it a win for everyone. The gym owner, the coach, the client, and the client’s connections and friends. If you care about your clients, you have to care about what happens to them outside your gym. That means you have to care about what they eat, where they work and what they do in turn. That means you have to care about their environment, their family life, and their workplace. Taking greater care of your clients means broadening your care to include all of those places and people and expanding your care means expanding your business. If you follow the process in this guide, let’s talk about affinity marketing loops.

Chris (10:12):

OK? So picture a bullseye. A bullseye target is made of concentric rings. In affinity marketing, each ring or loop in that bullseye represents a new audience for your service. The closest rings, the smallest, you know, the closer you are to the center of the bullseye, the more affinity you have because you’re banking on a stronger personal connection. You could also call this like a warmer audience, the closer you are to the center. So we’re going to start from the middle in the bullseye and work outward. And these are the official affinity loops. So first is the axial loop. These are your best clients at your gym. Not every client that you have, but your best, maybe the top five, if you don’t have any clients yet, this is yourself. You’re the center in your own target. These are the people around whom the entire business pivots.

Chris (10:59):

If these people in this dot decide, they don’t want to do barbells anymore, then your business should refocus on what they want to do instead of trying to force your business on them. The next loop out from that center is called the affection loop. These are the people who are closest to your best clients, and these are the people who are next most likely to sign up. So it’s their spouse, their parents, or their kids, right? It’s probably the people they live with. The third loop is the activity loop. These are the people who work with your best clients or your own coworkers. This loop could also contain complimentary service professionals. So for example, if you’re a personal trainer, your occupational loop could include nutritionists or physical therapists. These are people with whom your best clients share an activity. It could also be a recreational activity like the midnight pickup basketball league.

Chris (11:54):

The fourth loop out from center is the acquaintance loop. Now the audience is starting to get colder. Now you’re really talking to strangers. There’s more than one degree of separation here. And the acquaintance loop is like friends of friends, people with whom your clients have one degree of separation or more, they might not know them directly, but you have this one person in common. Then the fifth is the attention loop. So these are future or past clients who aren’t currently using your service, but they are still active on your email list. Or they’re in another conversation with you like a business owners group. They’re not paying you money, but they’re still paying attention to you. The next loop is the awareness loop. So these are people in your neighborhood or in a similar niche who are aware of you, but they aren’t exactly sure what you offer or how your service works.

Chris (12:44):

They probably don’t know anybody actively using your service. Then you have the audiences loop and we’re starting to market to strangers. Now these are colder audiences. These are people in your target niche who aren’t yet aware of your service or how you can help them. And then around the outside of the target, you have what we call the ambient loop, which has every potential client for your service, who isn’t disqualified or filtered out. So if you perform surgery in Idaho, the people in your ambient loop would include anyone who would drive to your location for surgery can afford the surgery, needs the surgery, or know someone who does disqualified candidates would be people who don’t need the surgery. People that have access to a better surgeon or people who can’t afford your surgery. So now I’m going to focus on the first few levels of affinity marketing, because these strategies are free higher levels of affinity, marketing, like awareness and audiences and ambient loops.

Chris (13:39):

These are paid lead gen strategies. You’ll eventually need these and you’ll get them tailored to your gym in our ramp up program. But for now, work the lower layers of affinity marketing really, really hard. Leverage your most precious asset, which is your time, and learn to effectively convert strangers into clients. Practice your intake process on warm audiences before you start marketing to strangers. The good news is that improving your sales conversations will make your paid lead generation strategies far more powerful later. So let’s start at the center of the affinity marketing bullseye and work our way outward.

Chris (14:18):

So let’s start with the affection loop. These are the people who live with or are otherwise closest to your best clients, right? We said spouse parents and kids, once every month actively encourage your clients to bring a friend. This is called, bring a buddy day. We find that running a free like community workout or free trial workout every week is overkill. But novelty and urgency of recruiting, a friend is lost, but it’s still an effective strategy when you sparingly. So once a month or once every two months choose a partner or a team workout that doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge, double staff, your coaches for bring a buddy workouts, your clients will help their friends, of course, but the purpose of this tactic is to sign people up and the coach will need help to sign them up. Newcomers should sign waivers that include their email address and phone number for follow-up later.

Chris (15:09):

And after class, someone should be on hand to sign newcomers out for your on-ramp program. Now your coaches might be slow to ask these new folks, are you ready to sign up? But remember they came into your gym because they wanted help. They know what CrossFit is kind of, and now they know they can do it. They’re literally waiting for you to ask them if they’re ready to start the day after their visit, call them, ask what they thought. And if they’re ready to get going after that, email them the same questions and keep those who don’t sign up on your email list to nurture them for later. The fourth tactic is to give five free personal training gift certificates to your best clients, one each. So identify your five best clients. Give them each one, free personal training gift certificate. And you’re going to invite somebody in their affinity loop to a two on one PT session as a thank you.

Chris (16:06):

Like the bring a buddy day, a free personal training session can be a warm welcome mat for a future client, but it must be used sparingly to retain its value. If you’re handing these things out all over town, then people will realize that it is not actually valuable, but they can do it anytime and anywhere. The private session that you do with these clients should start with a discussion about the new client’s needs and the workout should be tailored to the new client, not used as like a skill upgrade for the existing client. They should do the workout as partners instead of racing. And the coach should over-explain each part of the session, the newcomer must understand how training with you will solve their problems. It’s not a showcase for your technical knowledge or your equipment or how intense you are or how amazing your programming is.

Chris (16:53):

It’s only an opportunity to show the new client how you will solve their problems. So present these to your current clients at a goal review meeting. Hey Mary, thanks for being such an amazing client. I know your friend Trudy has been trying to lose weight. Do you think a one on one session would help her feel welcome here? Make sure that the gift certificate that you give to a client spells out the value of the session and includes an expiry date. And I’ve got an example, in the show notes here, if you download this guide. So the fifth tactic, we start to move out to like the friends of your current clients now, and we’re talking about the activity loop and this tactic is called wine and WOD wine and WOD event is a fantastic way to grow your membership base and reward your current members.

Chris (17:41):

Now, if you don’t want to bring alcohol into gym, I totally get that, you know, call this coffee and WOD something else, right? But just make it a social event. And you, you can only do this about quarterly at the most, twice a year is probably ideal. The idea came from Dani Brown at CrossFit 78, and has been copied thousands of times from other gym owners. When it’s optimized a wine and WOD can gain dozens of new faces when it’s not the event just gets you a bunch of drunk members. So in this guide, I’ve got the step by step plan for a successful wine and WOD event, including pre event logistics and event plan, and some follow-up info from Dani Brown, who did this successfully several times and shared it with thousands of other people. I’m not going to go step by step through the wine and WOD, because I just want you to understand, like having a bigger social event like this is effective, but only when you have a clear plan to convert people who show up for it.

Chris (18:39):

It’s not enough just to run the event. The event is just to bring people in to start the sales conversation with them. If you don’t have that conversation, if you’re not saying, how can I sign you up? Or are you ready to sign up, then wait until you’re comfortable having that conversation to do an event like this. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve run like free community workout or bring a buddy day or, you know, bring your entire staff in. And then, you know, spent two weeks planning, maybe purchase some supplies or a case of beer for this thing. And I said, OK, we’re going to have a lot of fun. We’re going to take a fun picture after how’s everybody feel fantastic. Great. So good to see you high five. And I’ve made a dozen new friends and no new clients because I didn’t do the one thing that the whole event was set up to do, which is sign up new clients. And the reason was entirely my own fear.

Chris (19:33):

I couldn’t get over my fear of the client saying no, or just, you know, my own feeling rejected. And so I’m going to pause from the script here for a moment. And I’m going to talk about the very moment in my life when I became a good salesman. I was actually in Minneapolis and I was visiting the city because my nephew was in a hockey tournament. So my wife and kids and I, we flew to Minneapolis to watch a few games. And we were staying at a Sheraton. I liked the Sheraton because on the top floor, they’ll have like a private kind of lounge where I could go and it would be quiet and I could do work while the kids went for a swim or had fun with their cousins in the pool, whatever went to the mall. And so every single day during this tournament, I would spend a couple of hours in the lounge working and there would always be snacks there.

Chris (20:22):

And the only other people who were ever in the lounge with me was this elderly couple. And they were there because the husband was going to lose his leg to diabetes. He was severely overweight. He walked with a walker and a couple of times a day, he and his wife would slowly creep down the hallway to this lounge. And he lean up against the high counter and she would go in the snack fridge and she would get him a can of Coca Cola and some corn chips or pretzels or whatever it was. And I’d have a little conversation because the lounge wasn’t huge and you couldn’t avoid eye contact, you know, so we’d have a conversation. That’s how I found out why they were there. And after three or four days of this, I started feeling more and more compelled to say something like your diabetes problem is probably caused by what you’re eating.

Chris (21:17):

You know, you’re going to sacrifice your leg, but you’re not making any changes to avoid it here. And that really rubbed me the wrong way. And I, you know, I would say something to my wife and you know, both of us are private people. We’re pretty introverted. So stepping up and saying something to this couple was definitely not in our nature. And finally, on the fourth day I was there. It was the last day of the tournament. And a couple of walks into the lounge. Again, gets a can of Coke, again, some corn chips or you know, something else. And I’m looking at them and I’m feeling completely torn inside. Like, you know, these are great people. They’re probably somebody’s mom and dad, and more than likely somebody’s grandparents and this guy’s going to lose his leg. He’s going to leave Minneapolis without a quarter of his body.

Chris (22:09):

Maybe it’s because nobody’s ever told them here’s what’s causing your problem. And so finally, I had asked myself, Chris, do you care enough about this human to overcome your own bullshit, your own fear of being rejected, your fear of embarrassing themselves and yourself, and actually have a conversation about diabetes. And I walked up to them and I finally realized that, you know, my care for these people was greater than the fear of being rejected or mocked or embarrassment. And so I just made eye contact and I said, you know, I’m a fitness coach. I couldn’t help but notice you guys here. I know you’ve told me, you know, why you’re in Minneapolis. How are you feeling? And just started the conversation from a place of care. And finally, I said, has anybody ever told you about, you know, high fructose corn syrup and sugar? And they said, yeah, you know, the doctor gives us pamphlets and we’ve tried putting him on a diet, but you know, it’s tough.

Chris (23:14):

And everybody in his family gets diabetes and blah, blah, blah. And so I knew that I didn’t have to argue, that I didn’t need to win the conversation to help them. What I said was right now, the things that I see you eating and drinking are probably making your condition worse. This is embarrassing for me to have this conversation with you, but it’s worth it for you to know these things. And they thanked me and they went on their way. And this isn’t about how I made myself feel, I didn’t need to win to feel like I had won here. It was all about caring enough about the human to tell them exactly what to do in case nobody had ever told them that before. I never saw the older couple. Again, I don’t think I saved this guy’s leg or his life, but I might have planted a seed.

Chris (24:07):

And that’s enough. When you bring a new client into your gym, you have to care enough about that person to say the thing that makes you feel awkward, that makes you vulnerable to rejection. You have to overcome your own bullshit and your own ego and say, are you ready to sign up or to say, here is the price, to not project your budget onto them, to not guess at what they can afford, to not assume they will want a discount and say, like the coach that you are, here is the answer. Would you like to start? That was a complete break from what I’m supposed to be talking about here. But that moment made sales easy for me. And after that moment, you know, when I went back to my gym, we would put me in the no sweat intro and I would come in and talk to a client.

Chris (25:05):

I would just ask them questions. And I didn’t know what motivational interviewing was at the time, but that’s kinda what I was doing. I would just care enough to keep asking deeper questions. Why do you want that for yourself? Why is that important to you? How will that make you feel if you’re successful? All right. So when that would happen, I would ask these questions to the clients and then I’d just say, well, OK, here’s the answer. And if they said, how much would it cost? And I would tell them, and most of the time they would just say, how do I get started? And after one of these interviews, and this was really not too long after my encounter in Minneapolis, I brought this guy in named Jim, and I’d never met Jim before. Jim sits down in front of me and we’re talking about his job.

Chris (25:53):

And he is in law enforcement. He’s an undercover. So I can’t give you the specific details. And he was talking about how long he spent sitting in his vehicle, waiting for somebody to do something wrong. He would be on stakeouts all the time and how poor his health was getting and how he felt about that. And then why he felt that way, why he was worried, why he, you know, he was worried about having a heart attack during a chase. But more than that, he was worried that he was overweight. He didn’t want to take his shirt off, back at the station, the dressing room in front of all the other cops. And he knew his job was making him that way. But he also knew that nobody besides himself would fix the problem. So we talked about fixing the problem. And then I asked him, what did he do to occupy his mind on stakeouts?

Chris (26:39):

And he said, read books. I said, what do you like to read? He gave me a few titles and I said, Oh, you know what? I think I’ve got a book you’d love. And while he was sitting there, I went on, Amazon ordered him the book. And then I said, all right, Jim, well, look, here’s the answer. You need to do a diet and you need a workout plan. Would you rather do your workouts one-on-one with me or in a small group? He said one on one. I said, fantastic. When can we get started? And he said, Friday. And then I said, OK, great. The price is 398 per month. And you can just bring that with you on Friday. And he said, that’s great. Thank you. I was worried this would be a sales pitch. The key is your clients don’t want a sales pitch.

Chris (27:23):

You don’t want to make a sales pitch, have a conversation instead, really, really care. Ask them questions and then tell them the answer, because that’s what they’re for. The next step, the next tactic to get back to our guide is to run a nutrition challenge for non-clients. Now Two-Brain members, gym owners, who are in the Two-Brain family, get a couple of free nutrition guides that they can run. And once you’re in the ramp up program, we’ll give this to you. But if you run an online nutrition challenge or you want to, and you’ve never done it before, then go to Two-Brain and you can get what we call the virtuosity 28 day challenge. And that includes a nutrition challenge, a mindset challenge, a workout challenge, and a sleep challenge. So you can run all of those things.

Chris (28:14):

If you want to run one online, that includes mindset and nutrition. You can also download that from our free tools page. And I’ll link that in the show notes. So now we’re going to start relationship with strangers and that doesn’t mean paying for Facebook ads. The seventh tactic is to take coffee to your neighbors. All your neighbors should join your gym. All the businesses that are, you know, next door, down the street, all of their staff should be joining your gym, not just the owners, but the staff and you know, local homeowners too. So these businesses should also be your greatest fans. You know, when Sally’s having her hair done at the salon, across the street, she’ll look out the window at your gym. And her hairdressers should say, that’s the best gym in town. So how do you create this black hole of raving fans around your business? Generate referrals and relationships by going to meet them by having a conversation and asking how you can help them.

Chris (29:09):

Now coffee’s a great conversation starter. So every Monday morning, pick up four extra cups of coffee on your way to the gym. Cause I know that you’re stopping. I’ve done it for 20 years at 8:00 AM. After your first couple of groups are done, you’re fired up. You’re awake. Walk to your neighbor’s front door with the coffee, put the coffee on their counter and say, hi, I’m Teresa. I own the gym next door. Thought I’d bring you guys some coffee. How’s business? The goal of this first conversation isn’t to close a sale or make a pitch. It’s just to break the ice. You want your neighbors to have a friend in the business, someone to turn to with question, The easiest and often best clients who walk through the door at Catalyst ask, Chris, I need to lose 30 pounds. And I don’t know what to do.

Chris (29:52):

Can you help me? They’re not asking me about my rates or about CrossFit or the zone diet. They’re asking me for the answer. And that’s because they know like, and trust me, they know me. The more people who know me, the more people I can serve. Taking a warm premium coffee to your neighbors will get you new friends and your friend should come to your gym. Why do you have to do this? Why does it come down to you? Because nobody else will. We’re becoming a closed society, especially after the COVID pandemic in early 2020. We’re not used to talking to other people, right? Nobody wants to go first. But the people who do go first are leaders. They are the connectors. They are the friends, they’re the center of the group. And if that is you, then everybody will be looking at you.

Chris (30:42):

Everybody will want to talk to you more. Everybody will talk about you and they’ll refer their friends to you. When I published “Enrichment Through Exercise,” which was actually my first book, I thought it would be popular around town. Like I thought, Oh, local author becomes hero. But instead it seemed to get really popular everywhere but locally. We had Skype calls with South Africa, Europe, Boston, Texas, but not in our city. So we asked a local physiotherapist if we could bring his staff a coffee and a copy of the book. And then that discussion turned into lunch. And our first referral from them was worth $19,000. That’s the first referral. And that was eight years ago. And we’re still working with several of those referrals. That lunch cost me just under $200 for sandwiches and coffee for his entire staff but has generated over $150,000, pretty hard to beat coffee for an ROI.

Chris (31:36):

What’s a coffee worth? If you want to have conversations with other businesses, take them a coffee. If you want to apologize to somebody, take them a coffee. If you want to introduce yourself around town, take a coffee, set the context, then establish value. Price comes later. You’ll like the results. I’ve got to tell you about the one time that I failed to take coffee to a neighbor. And it created this antagonistic lack of relationship for five years. So we had moved from our first location above this little tiny greeting card store to our second location above this women’s clothing store. And they were just selling women’s clothing. It was like, you know, very fancy knitted vests for teachers. Like my mom would probably have loved this place. And on our very first day, I had this teenage client named Nick and we were all set up and we had our bumpers moved over from our previous gym.

Chris (32:28):

And we were doing this workout for stamina. Nick was a sprinter and he was doing just a bunch of high rep power snatches. And after his last one, he drops the bar and I thought, cool. The problem was that even a light bar, like the one Nick was using caused this massive echo through the whole building. And it caused all of the track lighting in the ladies clothing shop below us to fall out like it fell out of the ceiling and crashed on the floor. Right? What a great first impression. And the funny part is that I had planned to take them coffee the next day, introduce us and create this bond because a ton of their clients probably wanted personal training. Instead I soured the relationship by waiting too long to go first and start the conversation. And we had this antagonistic battle for the next five years throughout the extent of my lease.

Chris (33:25):

The eighth tactic in affinity marketing is to run a free seminar at your client’s workplace. So think about where your clients work all day long. They’re surrounded by people who make the same amount of money they do, work the same hours and go through the same kinds of stress. These people need you when a client mentions a stressful period at work, jump into help them. Hey Bill, I know you’re managing tax season really well. You’re still training three times a week and you’re managing your cortisol levels with good nutrition and sleep. How can I help your coworkers? Do you think they’d benefit from a short seminar on how to survive stressful periods? I can come in for a half an hour on their lunch break, give them some tips and an eating guide. Would that help? And then show up with five clear bullet points and a call to action.

Chris (34:10):

Make sure you capture everyone’s email address and phone number to follow up with them later. You would call the action should be something like this. I really enjoy working out with bill. You guys know how much fun he is. I told him I would do my best to help all of you. So here it is. If you want your questions to get asked in private, you can book a 15 minute coaching call with me. My card is on your desk and tomorrow I’ll send you the link to my calendar through your email address. Now, these clients don’t know you yet, but they might require a bit more nurturing before they book with you. But if Bill is anything like some of my clients, he’s already been raving about your service around the workplace and merely putting a face to your name will help. Some people take the next step.

Chris (34:53):

There are people that we use this strategy with in 2006, who are still clients at catalyst. Mike used to go to these neighborhood banks and actually run workouts Tuesdays and Thursdays for half an hour in their lobby, right after they closed. It was hilarious. It was amazing. He would just show up with like PVC and mats and sometimes some stretch tubing. And some of those people are still catalysts clients today. The next loop of affinity marketing is called the attention loop. So in this section, I’m going to focus on starting a conversation with people who are paying attention, but not yet paying you money. Your goal is to maintain a conversation with them until they sign up. This is called nurturing a client and digital tools make these conversations easier. When a client’s on your email list or in a Facebook audience, we can share helpful information and ads with them more than once.

Chris (35:44):

But when they see your picture on a billboard, it’s impossible to know who they are or what they want. So I’m going to focus on digital engagement and to be the most helpful I’m including links to our custom videos instead of texts. And I’ll post those links in the show notes. That way you can follow the instructions step by step and see examples of real live ads in use. So the ninth tactic in this guide is to set up a lead magnet to some custom content that you create every day. You could have hundreds or thousands of people viewing your website while any visitor to your site should find a ton of free content. Only those willing to trade their email address should get your most valuable content. This is where having a lead magnet can really help your business. Click the video in the show notes, to learn how you can add five to 10 email subscribers to your list every day with lead magnets. You can use your content.

Chris (36:37):

Blog posts, recipes, workout videos to create digital assets and resources for your prospects. We call these lead magnets and with these digital assets, you can leverage them to generate more subscribers, leads and potential customers for your business. Once you have your lead magnets created, you should give these away to your prospects in your audience for free, and you can create online posts that promote your offer and highlight the benefits of your free resource. In order to do that, you need to send that post out on all of your social channels. So you can, you can watch a video in our free guide to learn the best way to generate new member intros using lead magnets and social media. So free content leads to new subscribers, which equals new leads to nurture the 10th tactic in the gym. The broke gym owners marketing strategy is to open a media department because no matter what service you provide, you own a media company.

Chris (37:32):

Most of the people listening to this podcast are gym owners, but 10% of you own some other kind of service based business. It doesn’t matter what kind of service you provide. You own immediate platform, and you have to use it 30 years ago, Proctor and Gamble on one of the biggest media machines on earth. Today, you have a larger media machine in your pocket. 10 years ago, gatekeepers controlled who got to see your message. You had to buy time on TV or get interviewed on the radio, or you had to pay for column inches in your newspaper or buy the biggest ad in the yellow pages or beg editors to approve stories about you. And today, none of that is necessary. There are no gatekeepers anymore. You own the media. You can publish your own newspaper. You can record your own radio show. You can go live on camera.

Chris (38:20):

Anytime you want. You don’t just own the means of production. The distribution is free too. So why aren’t you using it? Usually the answer is I don’t know how to get started, or I don’t know what to say. So here’s what to do today to get your media machine rolling. And I’m going to go through this by the phase of entrepreneurship that you’re in. “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” was my last book. If you’re not sure which phase founder, farmer, tinker, or thief you’re actually in right now, you can take a test on our site Two-Brain forward slash test. If you’re in the founder phase, your goal is to make yourself famous. So your tactic is to put yourself on stage, use videos, to answer questions and establish authority in your niche. Your tools are going to be Facebook live and YouTube. The topics you’re going to cover are the most common questions asked by your clients and future clients.

Chris (39:12):

So if you’re at a barbecue this summer, and somebody says, I’m trying to keto diet to lose weight, think about how you feel about the keto diet, and then talk about it on camera. Pretend a person has asked you, how do you feel about the keto diet? And then answer that question. Interview yourself. If you’re in the farmer phase, your goal is to make your team famous. So your tactic is to put your staff on stage, use videos or podcasts to establish their authority in your niche. Your tools are live videos, recorded videos, Apple podcasts, blog posts, video, and your topics are the frequently asked questions that pop up in your business, interview your staff all the time. If you don’t know what to ask them at first, say what brought you to coaching? What made you want to work in fitness? What is it about this job that you love?

Chris (40:00):

Just interview them. If you’re in the tinker phase, your goal is to make your clients famous. So your tactic is during goal review or client check-in sessions, ask your clients to share their story, to inspire others, share it on social media and then YouTube. Add your client’s origin story, brag them up your tools, our live videos, recorded videos, social media, and podcasts. And the topic is, tell me your story now. When I was—I go out and visit gyms whenever I travel, and I travel a lot. Once I was visiting this fantastic gym, it was late morning. We were sitting on a couch in their coaches lounge or whatever. And one of the coaches was doing a personal training session. And the owner was telling me about the client. And you know, she’s a doctor, she’s referred a few people to the gym in the past, but she really loves doing their type of workouts and following their diet plan.

Chris (40:55):

She’s a fan. And I said, well, why isn’t she on your website? And the owner said, ah, she’s not going to give us a testimonial. Like she’s a professional. She can’t really do that. And I said, I don’t know about that. So, you know, five minutes later, they walk this client out. The trainer was with her, that the owner of the gym was standing beside me. And I said, you know, these guys were just telling me your story and how amazing you are, you know? And she kind of blushed. She was like, Oh, I just, you know, I love this. It’s changed my life. And I said, what would you say to helping other people change their lives the same way? I think you’ve got a very inspirational story. Would you share it with other people? I think it could make a huge difference.

Chris (41:38):

And she said, OK, well, do I have time to check my hair? I said, no. You know, here comes the camera, hold the camera hit record. And she gave the best testimonial that I’ve ever heard. Hi, it’s dr. Julie. I’m an MD. I recommend that all my patients come to this gym. Here’s what it’s done for me. Step by step. And the testimonial went on for six minutes. People want to feel famous. You have a media company, nobody else in their life does. Being on the internet is to them like being on TV, they’re going to brag about it. They’re going to tell their friends about it. They’re going to be proud about it. Given that opportunity to be in the spotlight. If you’re in the thief phase of entrepreneurship, and very few of you listening to this podcast will be, but your goal is to make your cause famous.

Chris (42:25):

So your tactic is to write inspirational blog posts, download white papers, recorded talks, podcast, journals, books, audio books, webinars, courses, write books, produce documentaries. Your tools are like the TEDx stage, audible, Amazon, Barnes and Noble courseware. And your topics are like mentoring others to do what you’ve done now Two-Brain. We publish every day. We write blog posts. We send you love letters. We produce YouTube videos and podcasts. We educate and inspire, but we’re far from perfect. With media as with everything in your business, consistency is more important than anything else. Hit publish. If you want to see a great example of this, you can go back to the first blog post that I ever published about business in 2009. And you’ll see, these are not great. You know, go to don’t buy If you want to see the first ones, they kind of ramble.

Chris (43:18):

There’s no clear point. There’s definitely no like clear directive, do this action like we do now. And when I was writing that blog in 2009, I had already been publishing content for nine years, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that I had some answers that would actually help people. And I had experience of doing it wrong. And I could share that I was, I was close to my readers pain Two-Brain Business. The original book was published from just, you know, a collection of these blog posts. It didn’t have a table of contents. It didn’t have page numbers. I hand drew the first cover and it’s the single best-selling fitness business book of all time. It is the least perfect book you will ever find on Amazon. Like try and find a worse book, but people say it changed my life. They send me pictures of themselves with the book at the beach all the time.

Chris (44:09):

You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to care a lot. And when you care a lot, then you care enough to feel compelled, to share your message, to help people every day. Now, after you go through our ramp up program, our mentor team can help you set up your YouTube channel, your blog, your RSS feed, your podcast, your social media, even publish a book. But no matter what you create, you need to publish frequently. So I’ve got a whole bunch of free guides, that you can click on through in the show notes, then pick the best media platform, which is like the one you’re most comfortable with. And don’t worry about it. Just start producing, start getting your voice out there and start helping people. So the big loops around the outside of the bullseye for marketing are the awareness audiences and ambient loops.

Chris (44:56):

OK? And really here, we’re talking about people who are barely aware of you. They might interact with you on social media. They might have seen your sign. When they drove past your gym, they have no connection to your business. Your number one goal on social media is to get people off social media. You want people to stop scrolling and click on your thing. To get more information, start a conversation and book an appointment. More likes, more comments, more shares. Those don’t actually help you. They mean nothing. Those are indicators of which of your content is popular, but they’re not indicators of success. If a picture has a thousand likes, but none of those people take any action toward paying you. It’s ineffective. It’s a waste of your time. I’ll give you a great example. There are other fitness business consultants in this space, and there are fewer now after COVID because a lot of them, their gyms went out of business.

Chris (45:54):

But if you find some of them, look at their Facebook pages, Instagram, Twitter, whatever social media you want, they probably have more followers and likes than Two-Brain does. But Two-Brain is the biggest mentorship company in the world with hundreds of clients worldwide, a team of 48 certified mentors because people take action on our content. You’ve taken action just by listening to this content. And if you sign up for our email list, we’ll send you a daily directive, like one action to take every single day to make your business better. You can act on that. There’s no big sign up now, if you want to hear the next 10 directives, all you have to do is just stay on the email list and read the emails every day for the next 10 years. The key though is that we’re really good at getting people to take action.

Chris (46:45):

You know, I don’t have the best Instagram. I’m good at Twitter, but I am really good at getting people to take action. And that’s what makes them successful. And that’s what makes Two-Brain successful. So tactic number 11 on social media is to message your viewers. So if I was really desperate, really desperate to start conversations with strangers and I had a paralyzing fear of taking people coffee, then I would start by focusing on my Instagram stories because that channel allows me to see and instantly message my viewers. I would add Instagram messages, because they’re still rare enough to be novel and easy enough to be scalable. So, you know, add your Instagram post to your Instagram story. They’ll stay there for 24 hours, then follow steps. Number line, click on the viewed by link on the bottom left. Number two, click the eyeball to see who those viewers were.

Chris (47:39):

Then click the little paper airplane next to them to send them a message. Third copy and paste this into the, write a message bar. Hey bill, thanks for watching our story today. Are you interested in getting more fit? So think of this first message as the first domino in a long chain, always finished with a question mark. It’s like a fishing hook for your curiosity, then paste the message into the next viewers message box and keep going. So again, this is very time consuming, but I’ve heard if I was absolutely desperate to have more conversations, this will get me more conversations. There’s a lot of value in starting and having conversations. Sales takes practice. It takes care. You need to get your reps in. Don’t get discouraged. Think of every conversation as a step towards saving somebody’s life.

Andrew (48:25):

That’s Two-Brain Business founder, Chris Cooper on Two-Brain Radio. To get The Broke Gym Owner’s Guide Marketing in PDF form along with a host of other resources, go to That link is in the show notes, click it now for Two-Brain Business’ best resources, all for free.


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