Ask SUCCESS: How Do I Build a Clientele?

Ask SUCCESS is your place to get questions answered about how to market more effectively. Each month, marketing expert Bob Serling is joined by another expert to answer your questions. Have a question you’d like answered? Just email it to [email protected].

Today’s question, submitted by Tony Williams: What is a good way to build clientele as a personal trainer?

Bob Serling: While this question refers specifically to generating clients as a personal trainer, I get similar questions from people who want to build all kinds of local businesses. My guest expert this is month is Joe Polish, who excels at marketing locally and has quite a bit of experience with it.

Joe Polish: First, I’m going to make the assumption that if you want to build a clientele as a personal trainer or as any service provider, the service you’re providing is superb. You can’t be lousy at what you do and expect to build a clientele because so much of it is built on being referable.

If you’re starting off with no clients, the very best thing to do is to start educating people in a selected target market. You have to identify who exactly you want to serve. Do you want to serve moms? Do you want to serve people with injuries? Select a specific target market. Then once you’ve identified who your ideal clients are, educate those people.

One of the best ways to sell is simply to teach people why you are different than any other personal trainer. What makes you unique? Why should someone do business with you? Because the No. 1 question in all consumers’ minds is, “Who can I trust?” And your job as the business owner is to establish trust and rapport by showing people how to select the best personal trainer.

For instance, I’ve taught thousands of service businesses how to market themselves and one of the categories that I’m well known for is the carpet cleaning industry. I teach carpet cleaners how to educate consumers to do business with them instead of their competitors. By sharing consumer awareness information such as free reports, videos and pre-recorded messages, these small-business owners teach their prospects how to make an informed, intelligent decision when selecting a carpet cleaner.

Next, you want to create an irresistible offer. When someone sees what you’re offering, it should be nonthreatening and compelling. You could offer a free personal training session, where you evaluate his or her fitness goals, teach how to achieve them and walk them through the first steps. Then, if they like that, you’ll give them a quote on a package that you offer.

Before they show up, make sure you educate them. Put together seven questions you should ask a personal trainer before you ever hire them. Or six costly misconceptions about hiring a personal trainer. Eight mistakes to avoid when hiring a personal trainer. Things like that. It doesn’t matter what the number is; it just has to feature your knowledge.

Then post it on your website, Facebook page or wherever you want people to see it. The key is to have an irresistible offer and to educate people on how to make a decision. By providing that information they will have trust in and rapport with you.

Don’t worry about your competitors copying you or knocking you off because most of them won’t even understand what’s being done. Secondly, this is the most ethical, nonthreatening way to offer services to somebody—to simply teach them how to buy and just perform a great job. Make sure people are happy and to orchestrate referrals.

Bob: Great! Let me elaborate on what you said, Joe, because I agree with you 100 percent. Let’s say you’re a personal trainer and you want to work with employees of area businesses. One of the things you can do to generate a lot more leads is to reach these people in a group, rather than individually. For example, you might say two of the common problems people have, and a major reason they want a personal trainer, are to avoid having back problems and knee problems.

So you could offer a free session to a group of these people. Go to a business in your area and say, “I’d like to come in and do a free training session for all of your employees and show them how to avoid back and knee injuries. And that means they’re going to be on the job more often, miss fewer days, and do a better job because they feel well.” Then you do exactly what Joe said: Give a free training session, but now it’s going to be with a group of people.

Then at the end you can hand out your free piece on “Seven questions to always ask before you hire a personal trainer,” as Joe suggests. And of course, that piece will have your contact information on it.

That’s a method that expands on what Joe teaches, where you can reach groups of people at the same time, rather than just dealing with individuals. You can do this with health clubs in your area, with businesses that have fairly large groups of employees, with your local chamber of commerce, and so on. There are all kinds of groups that you can do this with and anyone in any service industry can do it.

Bob Serling helps business owners and entrepreneurs generate more traffic, make more sales, and do both more often. Get his free ebook of interviews with 30 leading experts, including SUCCESS Publisher Darren Hardy, at

Joe Polish is the president of Piranha Marketing and founder of The Genius Network Mastermind. Read more from Joe Polish in “Is Selling Evil?” on


Bob Serling is the founder of Profit Alchemy. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs increase their profits with no cost and no risk. Get his free eBook to discover 42 no-cost, no-risk ways to double your profits at

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