UPdate 2/27/20. If you are a personal trainer, my guess is that whenever someone brings up Planet Fitness, you probably laugh and tell jokes about them. Maybe you even recount a story of someone who set off the “Lunk Alarm.” Well, I'm here to say you should not laugh at Planet Fitness because they are eating the lunch of other gyms – and for good reason. Planet Fitness IS different and you can learn from their success to grow your own personal training business. To prove it, here are 5 marketing lessons personal trainers can learn from Planet Fitness.
Don't Be Everything to Everybody
You've seen the Planet Fitness commercials where they proudly tell you that “we're not a gym: we're planet fitness.” Planet Fitness is not marketing to the people who want to go to a gym and work out. They are marketing to ALL THE OTHER people out there who don't want to go to gyms to “lift things up and put them down.” They are going after a specific population of people.
Marketing Take-Home Tip: Narrow your focus on who you market to. If it's bodybuilders, great, then direct your marketing efforts only to bodybuilders and those who want to be bodybuilders.
If its women, trying to get in shape for their wedding, then market only to them. By narrowing your focus – and learning all you can about the people you are marketing to – you will soon start to be known as “the trainer who works with….”
Some personal trainers try to be all things to everybody. They want to work with overweight people, bodybuilders, do basketball conditioning, etc. There's nothing wrong with being a “general practitioner” fitness trainer, but I think you will make more in the long run as a “specialist.”
For example, when I wrote my Craigslist ad, I told people who I specialized in. By telling people about my areas of expertise, I was also telling people that I'm not an expert in, X, Y or Z. This helped me better zero in on who I want to work with.
Planet Fitness is very consistent with their message of who they are trying to attract (the general population in their case). They are so focused on this that many people reading this have heard stories of those who were asked to leave Planet Fitness because they looked like weightlifters – or even because they were personal trainers – or looked like personal trainers. By kicking people out of their facilities, Planet Fitness is basically passing those people on to other gyms, who are better able to accommodate them.
Marketing Take-Home Tip: If you happen to get a client who is not within your specialty, give him/her away to another trainer. I know, giving away clients sounds like blasphemy but it really isn't.
The person who you give the client to will remember you – forever. You will likely be the ONLY person who ever gave them a client. If they ever have a client that they need to pass on to another trainer, YOU will be the first person they think of.
Think Outside The Box
Most people roll their eyes at Planet Fitness giving out Tootsie Rolls and having pizza night, but it's an example of out-of-the-box thinking. When you do things that fit with your target demographic – yet are different than others are doing, people will start to talk. The more they talk, the more other people hear about you.
Heck, CrossFit thinks so much outside the box that they actually call their gyms “boxes!”
Marketing Take-Home Tip: What can YOU do that is different than all the other trainers out there, to spread the word about how great and different you are? For example, in my 101 Personal Trainer Marketing Secrets book, I recommended trainers to start free neighborhood walking clubs to get clients. How many trainers do that? None that I know of.
Planet Fitness is the only big-box chain gym I've ever seen that has massage chairs for members to use. They also have tanning booths too.
Personally, I don't like tanning booths because of the skin cancer connection. I predict Planet Fitness will eventually take these out of their facilities.
They also offer FREE personal training to members! This is another example of the outside of the box thinking. By adding value, you give people more reasons to stay around.
Unfortunately, I don't think many trainers working in gyms think this way. They go through the motions, training everybody the same. Heck, I've even seen trainers texting while training! This is not only bad training, but it's also a sign of personal trainer burn out too.
Marketing Take-Home Tip: Add value to your training sessions. The more value you give people, the longer they stay around and the healthier they get. The longer they are your client, the more money you get.
Create Your Own Terminology
Both Planet Fitness and CrossFit are very good at making up their own gym-languages. With Planet Fitness they have “Gymtimination” and the “Lunk Alarm” If you don't know what these check out this funny Planet Fitness video. With CrossFit, they have “WOD” or Workout Of the Day.
They also have “Pukey The Clown” which is a reference to Rhabdo which I've discussed previously.
This idea of making up words to help you stand out is nothing new. I well remember Body By Jake doing it in the 1990s when he referred to the buttocks as the “battissamo.”
Marketing Take-Home Tip: By creating your own words or phrases, you help create a sense of community and indoctrinate people into your philosophy of fitness.
These are not the only marketing ideas we can get from Planet Fitness – heck, we haven't even touched on how all the machines display the Planet Fitness colors – but I hope it gets people thinking about how they can better market themselves so that they can get more clients, make more money and keep doing what they love – helping others. In the end, that's what's important.