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By Laura Poburan 

More Personal Trainers than ever before are getting certified every single year, making it harder and harder for you to fill your roster consistently and stay in demand. You feel like you are becoming a dime a dozen and I know how frustrating it is every time you see a new bootcamp gym getting built, or you walk by A board advertising for £10 personal training sessions at the gym. You know you can’t compete with these big organizations diluting your local market with their false promises and cheap rates.

They have the attention, they have the traffic, and they have the numbers. It feels like a losing battle trying to stand out in a crowded room as they undermine the real impact you’re trying to have in the World. You wonder how you’re supposed to compete with a marketing budget like theirs…or how will you stand a chance when your sessions are 5-10 times more expensive than what Joe Bloggs is charging?

Getting Off The PT Burnout Hamster Wheel

I know how you feel as you collapse on the couch at the end of an exhausting day. A day that started at 4:30am, already cracking your first energy drink when a text came through. It was Sally, your 5am client cancelling again because her daughter was up sick all night. You feel too guilty to charge her, so you drive to work anyways frustratedly sipping your liquid energy, 3 protein bars stuffed into your pocket that will need to last you for the next 12 hours.

Your life exists like this on repeat, switching between mild anxiety attacks every time a client cancels, hoping you’re doing a good enough job to land a couple referrals this month, and shamelessly plugging yourself to your mum’s friends while they are on their 10th bottle of wine.

I know the feeling well of getting handed your payslip from the gym you’re employed by and calculating in your head how much more money you would have made if you just had the time or the energy to make a go at this thing for yourself.

You feel trapped by your schedule, like you’re years away from ever being able to take a real holiday …terrified of getting sick because that would mean missed sessions, missed income, and surely lost clients.

In the following article it’s my goal to show you that not only is gaining more attention than Joe Bloggs possible for you, it’s also far more simple than the gurus want you to believe it is. 

Most personal trainers have no idea how to get their name out there in a way that makes their product or service more appealing than the £10 sessions Joe is selling. I want to explain to you the importance of building attention, where all the sources of attention are that you aren’t even thinking about (and how easy it is to steal the spotlight), and ultimately how to future proof yourself in an industry that is becoming more saturated than ever before.

What Attention Really Is And Why It Matters

There are two mistakes that most Personal Trainers make that ultimately determine whether or not you are building a business or working a job. The first is that most Personal Trainers almost entirely rely on referrals to keep food on the table – an easy one to fall into because intrinsically this is very rewarding. Nothing feels better than your clients gushing about you to their friends. And this works for a little while, too…until it doesn’t. 

And the second is that you have failed to protect a designated amount of time each week to business development. This happens most often because either (a) we would rather feel busy than sit at our laptop and have no clue what we should be doing, and (b) we’re addicted to the push – the constant hustle of the personal trainer hamster wheel life. Even though we’re tired, it makes us feel significant – our industry does a really good job of glorifying 15 hour days to the point that it has become almost a measure of status and success.

Without the attention of new people on you or your “thing” (your product or service), your ability to make more money, get out of your 5am to 9pm grinder days, or take a holiday without first calculating how much money you’re going to miss out on…is slim to none.

When you’re scaling attention, what you’re really doing is creating a pool of people who you can influence, market to, and impact without competing for sales in the bigger market. So instead of trying to grow bigger inside of the ocean of Personal Trainers out there, you should be digging yourself a nice little pond for yourself. In other words, create an environment where you are the big fish instead of hoping and praying that someone (anyone?) clicks your link in bio, fills out your application form, and tosses you over their credit card.

When I ask you what you most want in your life, the standard PT answer is that you want to help as many people as possible – I know, I know, you would coach for free if you could! But the truth is that you’d really like if you didn’t have to pre-calculate money lost before booking a trip, or have enough energy at the end of the week to maybe see your friends, go on a date, or take a yoga class without falling asleep in Savasana.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to become a big fish in your very own small pond. In doing so you will naturally reclaim choice, time, energy, passion and freedom into your life. You will no longer rely on mom’s book club friends for referrals and you can refocus that into living bigger without worry of burnout. Sound fancy? Let’s dig into how to start doing exactly that. 

The Three Types Of Attention

There are three types of attention you can begin to scale – organic, partner, and paid sources. The lack of understanding about how each of these works both independently, and in synchronicity with each other, causes most personal trainers to avoid 95% of them all together. As you will soon see, simply posting on social media is only one small part of one of these sources (organic)…likewise is relying on referrals (even if you do happen to have employed a referral generating system – which most of you likely have not). My aim here is to illuminate all of the ways that you could be getting in front of your ideal clients more consistently and predictably than you currently are, and to get you thinking creatively about how might like to begin exploring and experimenting for yourself.

A. ORGANIC ATTENTION: this leverages your time. This is where we want to start because when we’re in the early stages of growing a business we have more time than money to invest in our growth. Examples of organic attention might be: 

  • Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, SnapChat, Twitter
  • SEO (Website)
  • Blogging
  • Youtube
  • Podcasting
  • Facebook Groups & Online Communities
  • Email marketing

Take note of where you are showing up consistently right now, where you have dabbled, and where you have avoided entirely. I would wager that 99% of you are currently on one or more social media platforms, and that over 50% of you are falling into the common “post and pray” type of behaviour simply because you feel you dont’ have the time or energy to do much else.

 In other words, you toss up a post every couple of days and say a little prayer that it doesn’t fall on deaf ears…bonus points if by some miracle someone actually takes enough of an interest to click the link buried in your bio. If this is you, keep reading because we’re going to dig into why this is not enough.

B. PARTNERSHIP ATTENTION: this leverages other people. You want to think about combining partnership with organic for the best results. Neither should stand alone and are intended to complement each other. Some examples of partnership attention might be:

  • Joint lives on IG, FB, in FB Groups
  • Speaking at events, talks, workshops, seminars
  • Guest podcasting
  • Guest blogging, writing
  • Referrals, testimonials
  • Any form of collaboration with another industry leader
  • Attending events & creating connections
  • Partnerships with gyms, businesses, facilities

The reason this is so powerful is because it takes us out of our small pond and plops us into someone else’s small pond. In other words, it places us in front of the audience of another person or business, shifts their attention to us, and positions us as an authority to them since we carry the authority of the person we partner with. 

The reason you don’t ONLY want to focus on partnership in isolation is because when you capture the attention of someone else’s audience you want to have somewhere to direct them so that you can transfer them into your sphere of influence and continue to build the relationship from your own pond.

C. PAID ATTENTION: this leverages money and is the last of the layers because until you have fully committed to mastering your organic and your partnership avenues, leveraging a paid option in the early stages is the least effective. When you’re still in the early stages, you have more time than you do money (even if it doesn’t feel that way). So you want to do what you can with the time you have to really get the organic and partnership wheels turning before you go ahead and dump a bunch of money into paid advertising.

This is a big mistake that happens a lot, so here it is. Until you are clear on your offers, your messaging, your audience, and their biggest pains and desires…stay out of the Facebook Casino and work instead to open up gaps of time where you can dedicate to creating relationships with your audience and with other people who have your audience.  

Examples of paid attention would include:

  • Facebook Ads
  • Google Adwords
  • Youtube Ads
  • Instagram Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Affiliate marketing

Now that you know where all the different sources of attention are at in the market, and you have a pretty good idea of where you fall into each of the categories, let’s move on to the exact process we suggest every personal trainer move through to fully capitalize on the attention they already have and the best way to begin to scale that attention in 3 easy steps. (By the way, at the end of the article you can download our 30 Day Marketing Warplan that will walk you through all of this step by step, don’t worry! We got you)

The 3 Steps To Scale Your Attention

STEP 1: Capitalise & Monetise Your Existing Audience

This step is often skipped over entirely, yet it is the fastest way to generate your next 5-10 clients without having to do anything other than talk to the people you already have the attention of.

Yes, everyone has a pool of leads right under their nose that they’re completely oblivious to. The trouble is that most people think of this first step as black and white and miss out on amazing (and easy!) opportunities to grow.

Your existing audience is going to come from:

  • Current and past clients
  • Past leads that didn’t convert into paying clients
  • Your professional network (ie: if you work at a facility)
  • Phone contact list
  • Your inner circle of friends and family members, past colleagues, schoolmates etc – think no more than 1 degree of separation here
  • Social followers and past conversations on social platforms
  • That creepy dude in the gym…(kidding, sorta)

When you start to compile your list, this is where you need to start thinking beyond who you can immediately sell (aka who are your prospects) and start thinking creatively about who you know who has a circle of people you can sell (aka who are your allies). How can you begin to infiltrate (using partnership strategies outlined above) the networks of the people you already have the attention of? If you spend some good time here, you will likely be able to create a list of 100-200 people from all of these categories combined. 

Once you have flushed out your list, it’s time to monetise that list through connection and conversation. Remember this: Connection + Conversation PRECEDE Conversion.

If you aren’t creating any new connections or conversations every day, week or month and you are not generating any new leads, there’s no wonder why. You cannot sell new clients if you do not initiate a connection with them first. Every week you should be having as many conversations as humanly possible and create awareness around what you’re doing and what you offer. Never assume that just because someone knows you that they know what you do. I still have to explain to my parents what it is that I do every time I see them!

STEP 2: Diversify Your Attention & Scale Your Audience

After we monetise our existing attention, we need to expand that attention, so we can grow our income (in other words, it’s time to start digging your pond). Step 2 is where you begin to apply what you learned when we talked about the 3 sources of attention – organic, partnership, and paid. 

The idea here is not to attempt to implement every strategy that was listed – often when we try to do too much all at once, the quality of our efforts is watered down and we end up burning out faster and getting no-where.

The point, then, is to understand that if you are relying on one single source of leads and you were to remove that source as an option – what is going to happen to your business?  We want to diversify and scale where we are gaining attention this year so that you are futureproofing yourself in a quickly evolving industry. In the early stages, you must learn to recognize the opportunities around you and not only view your sources of leads as one-dimensional. Remember…

More attention → More connection → More conversations → More conversions

STEP 3: Create Your Sphere Of Influence

This last part is intended to support and amplify what you’re doing in Step 2. Getting in front of other audiences is great, but we must be able to pull your new audience somewhere where you can deepen the connection and allow for conversations to unfold naturally. Only 3% of your audience are ready to buy from you at any given time, it’s up to you to bring them into your world and warm them up until they get to this point. We can do this a number of different ways, but the most common modalities are via an:

  • Email list
  • Text list
  • Messenger chat
  • Facebook groups
  • Events, workshops, seminars, lunches

How to get them into your sphere of influence is usually done by giving them something for free that they find valuable or that they believe will solve one of their core problems (things like a guide, a challenge, a checklist or a cheat-sheet are often used). Remember this, freebie or a lead magnet is not intended to make you money on the front end. Its job is to pull people into your sphere of influence so that you can deepen the connection → create conversation → harvest the 3% → repeat. 

30 Day Marketing Warplan

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