How to break clients and lose money

TL: DR – Fear is a shitty thing to instil into your potential clients just to desperately bring in a sale. It leads to unrealistic expectations, bad status relationships, bad marketing, scammy sales and unhappy clients (and trainers). Being there for the itch, with marketing stories that move emotion, ready to deliver what they want the way they want it is the only way to keep a decent price and make sure you are full with clients.

That is the reason why we are breaking clients and losing money.

Let’s start with this, external marketing people keep telling us to create a need and then build our marketing pushing the dangers of not using us!

How often do you read this –
  • Restore your core
  • Realign your posture
  • Correct your dysfunctions
  • Re-align your body
  • Balance your cheese (I mean Qi)

Then the text goes on to say –
  • We will take you through our specific testing to find your dysfunctions and then help you correct them
  • We shall screen your posture to highlight issues and then correct these to help you prevent injuries and pain
  • By assessing your fascial system we will build a programme to make you better
  • Correcting your alignment by testing you, and then using our unique techniques
  • Putting random machines, rollers, vibrating toys and sticking pins in you randomly will make you feel great (when it all stops). Come to me and I will hurt you in creative ways so you feel better when it stops.

Apart from the lack of evidence to support the majority of these claims (that is a whole new rant of a blog post), this is also not what people want.

If the whole industry is pushing this narrative and you need clients, then what can you do. It is a dilemma because if you sell with fear you can create problems for clients that they don’t have. (see Biopsychosocial 1 and Biopsychosocial 2 to learn more). However, if you don’t do this then how will you sell sessions?

The clients seem to want these solutions too, they have an idea of you as a fixer, so if you don’t tell people you can fix them then perhaps they will look for people who do say they can fix them. As a client, it is really difficult to find the trainer you want as well. If you believe their marketing then you are often set for a fall, unless you like the trainer enough that you just stick with them, whatever. Some clients wish for the days when a trainer just provided a fun workout, and not a seminar, repeated lectures on food and fashion tips.

To find clients, trainers are turning to social media, producing videos, photos, quotes and trying very hard to shout louder than the crowd. It is becoming more pressurised to produce unique and quality content. Staying in peak physical condition, travelling to get great scenery to perform a yoga in front of, finding a white wall to talk against and finding things to get angry about, takes you away from your business. That is not to mention the hours of saying ‘O’ slowly to get the right face, and having your mate or partner perform gymnastics and climb scaffolding just to get the right shot. As a trainer, time is precious and so your product so anything that drags you away from clients needs to be bringing you, clients.

With more personal trainers in gyms, on social media and working from parks and homes, it is getting important that you get your message right. Plus with new courses and techniques being launched online, and certificates in everything from stretching to smashing your skin with a hammer, the pressure to keep up is out of control. If you are based in the US then you even have Physical Therapists thinking that they are trainers now. By the way, some people now sell sticks with training programmes on using the stick!! Seriously it makes me want to cry.

At this point, some might think it is a good time to just get out of the industry. If you have to make up claims without evidence, and techniques that amount to crawling and squatting yet take on the names of different animals just to make them more palatable, then this might be the time to go. You can hang up your camera, no need to be doing pull-ups in ruins in Rome for your holiday, and instead take the holiday you want. No more photos of food that you dare share, no more pretending to fix a posture you cannot see through skin and tissue, with techniques that have a lower intensity than opening a window in a Skegness caravan.

On reflection, I could be making a big deal of this. However, it pains me when I see people I have helped, making good money, but more importantly loving their training, their clients and the ease of building content for sales and marketing. The problem is really this –

Create a pain then solve the pain = sales

This is the outdated way of selling and is irrelevant as the benefits of Personal Training are already known and so making extra claims and scaring your potential client will not help you or them.

Furthermore, if you are claiming to fix posture, prevent injuries, cure pain through muscle balancing and any other claim where you have not read all of the science and can prove your message, then you are just scamming people. When they work it out then you are in trouble.

What you really need to do is to get in front of clients and get them to enjoy your story, to feel good about what you showed them, to empathise with the protagonist of the story and to want to replicate that feeling by training with you.

Your goal is to deliver –

What the Client wants – Requiring psychology to find that our, integrity to only deliver what is in your scope of practice and scientifically possible and integrity to only deliver to the skills you have as a trainer.

The way the client wants it – So you need to know how to move a clients emotion, in a structure that develops a story, every time you train them.

In order to sign new clients, you need all your current clients to understand their own story and be able to show it. You also need to tell a lot of stories and often to allow the potential clients to virtually feel the process and enjoy the experience, through your marketing at first, so they can replicate this by signing up and experiencing your programming live.

The stories you tell need to also be reflective of your character, they need to celebrate the character traits you have, that cause conflict with your presumed trainer character traits. Doing this makes you human and loveable.

Finally, you need a strategy to be in front of the right people, with the right product, when they have the urge to buy it. That requires a lot of consistent content, planning and a group of other people to promote and share your message when you release it to the social media world.

When you have followed these steps and people are seeing, reading and listening to your emotionally moving and consistent stories, then you will start to attract clients who want you to be you and deliver you to them. Your price will not be an issue and the number of clients you get through a referral campaign will shoot through the roof.

Your clients will be so happy with you, glad that you delivered what your marketing promised, pleased that they have an experience every session and driven to help you and your business be successful.