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3 Surprisingly Effective Ways To Get New Health And Fitness Clients Today

By John Berardi, PhD

Marketing and Sales

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Every coach worries about client acquisition. Especially new coaches, who just want to get rolling with their first few paying clients. If that’s you, worry no more. Here are 3 simple strategies that work even if you don’t have an ad budget, don’t have a network, and dislike marketing.

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A huge part of client acquisition is identifying your ideal client (see Marketing Made Easy:  A 3-Step Formula For Health & Fitness Pros) and honing in on the hopeful future they can expect in working with you (see The Perfect Elevator Pitch: A Fill-In-The-Blank Tool For Health & Fitness Pros).

Once you’ve done both it’s time to get out there and attract those ideal clients to their hopeful future with you.

Here are my 3 favorite ways for doing that.

Strategy #1: Survey Selling

Survey selling is something I did extensively, and very effectively, at Precision Nutrition. But PN did it in a more complex way and you probably don’t need that level of complexity in your life right now.

That’s why I’m gonna share this simpler way of doing survey selling from my friend Jonathan Goodman of the Personal Trainer Development Centre and OnlineTrainer.com. Jonathan’s strategy involves creating a simple survey that you can post on social media to attract the exact kind of client you’re after.

Step 1:

Begin by creating your survey. (I recommend using Google Forms for this as it’s free and easy to use, with quick how-to tutorials for beginners).

When creating your survey, start with a title, a compelling description, and a few demographic questions. Here’s an example of what you might come up with if you were a fitness and nutrition coach:

Get Clients Survey Change Maker Academy

Here’s the formula:

I’m looking for {number of people}  {gender} ages {age range} who live in {your location} and are looking to {goal}.

If this is you, please fill out the form below. All eligible applications will be contacted by phone.

Step 2:

Once your form is complete, be sure to enable notifications so that you’ll be emailed every time a prospective client submits a completed form.

Step 3:

Next, share a link to your survey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever you prefer to share it) by posting your survey description as follows:

***I’m looking for {number of people} {gender} ages {age range} looking to {goal} that live in {location}.***

I am looking for {gender} who want to:
-{benefit 1}
-{benefit 2}
-{benefit 3}

Spots are extremely limited and I’m only looking for {number of people} who are ready to make a change today. To apply, fill out the quick survey below and I’ll be in touch if you meet the requirements:

===> {link to your Google form}

The benefits you include will vary but they should speak to the hopeful future you’ll provide them with. (Again, more on this here The Perfect Elevator Pitch: A Fill-In-The-Blank Tool For Health & Fitness Pros).

Step 4:

Once you get the message out and people start responding, make sure someone calls them right away to learn more about their goals and expectations and to tell them more about how you work.

Take a client centered approach here, asking questions and focusing on who they are and what they need before talking about what you can do, your fees, etc. Ideally you’ll get in touch within 20 minutes of them filling out your survey, at the peak of their interest.

Step 5:

If you’re able to get in touch with them and you schedule an initial appointment together, fantastic. If not, keep following up, with a friendly check-in, once a week for the first month.

If you’re still unsuccessful, follow up once a month after that until they become a client or tell you they’re not interested in working with you. This is where most people drop the ball, assuming that if someone hasn’t gotten back to them or made an appointment, they’re not interested. This is a bad assumption. Sometimes people are busy, need to think more, or have to talk it over with a significant other. By continuing to reach out in a friendly way, you make sure that when they are ready to get started, it’s with you.

If you decide to try this method, you’ll be up and running with your first post inside of 30 minutes. Most people who try it report getting one to three clients within a day or two.

Even if you think it’s too simple, or couldn’t possibly work, try it anyway. People constantly tell me that they would have never expected something like this to work. But it did, exactly how I said it would.

Strategy #2: The “Tell People What You Do” Challenge

Every year through the Precision Nutrition Facebook group there’s a 2-week challenge. Certification students and graduates are encouraged to do something simple (yet, apparently, radical these days). They are asked to talk to people. You know, like, real people. In real life.

Specifically, we ask them to tell one person a day what they do.

That person could be anyone: the barista that frothed the milk on their latte, the cashier at the grocery store, or the lady sitting next to them on their commuter train. The goal is to develop a “script” about what they do, get comfortable talking about it, and maybe even get a new client or a referral.

If you’re interested in trying it, here’s how it works.

Step 1:

Begin by making sure you can describe what you do without rambling and without boring listeners with irrelevant details. (Again, check out: The Perfect Elevator Pitch: A Fill-In-The-Blank Tool For Health & Fitness Pros).

“I help {kind of person}
to {action/benefit}
so that they can {brighter future/more inspiring benefit}.”

Step 2:

Pick a person (any person) every day to talk to. You can approach folks however you like to get the conversation started. If you’re not sure how to do that without coming off creepy, break the ice with something like this:

“Hey!

I’m doing this 2 week challenge where I have to tell someone about what I do, and you’re who I chose today!

Is that cool?”

Step 3:

If they’re game, lay the elevator pitch—or something like it—on them. If they seem interested, expand on it. The conversation could end pleasantly but without any real interest on their part and that’s okay. You’ll still benefit from the practice.

Step 4:

However, should they express real interest, keep the conversation going with something like:

“Hey, thanks for listening. Mission accomplished on the contest!

Before I roll, you seemed kinda interested in {some aspect of what you talked about} and a really cool resource just popped into my head that I’d love to share.

Could you write down your {email address/phone number/FB page} so I can send it over?

Just so you know, ‘no’ is a fine answer here. After all, we just met.

However, I do think you’ll dig it. And I promise not to bug you beyond that.”

Step 5:

If they share their contact info, wait a day and follow up with something awesome—a cool article, some recipes, an infographic, an inspiring YouTube video—whatever you think will be helpful and is in line with what you talked about.

It doesn’t have to be your own content. Just something that’s high quality and will be genuinely helpful. Here’s how you might follow-up.

“Hi!

It’s {your name], we met yesterday at {place} and we talked about {topic}.

Wanted to follow up with {the thing I promised}, which I think you’ll like.

Here’s the link:

{link to the thing here}

No obligation to {watch it, read it, etc}. I just thought it might help.”

Step 6:

If they follow up and thank you for the link, reply with a casual reference to your services.

“Thanks for the note!

I’m so glad you liked {the thing you sent}!

I don’t know if you, or anyone you know, would be interested in this… but I’m running a program that starts in two weeks.

I’ll be working with {number of people} {gender} ages {age range} looking to {goal}.

Spots are extremely limited and I’m only looking for {number of people}.

Again, if you or someone you know is interested, let me know by filling out this super-quick survey below.

===> {link to your Google form}

Again, no pressure. Just sharing this in case you, or a friend, might be interested.”

So there you have it. A step-by-step guide on how to talk to people and follow up in a non-creepy, not-overly-pushy kind of way.

The point of this exercise is to show you that there are potential clients everywhere. You just need to speak up so they know you’re there.

Strategy #3: Leverage your existing communities

Many of us belong to one group, or a host of them, either online or in person. These are often unrelated to health and fitness, which—in this case—is a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to share what you do with a new audience.

For example, you might be part of:

  • A Facebook group for new moms
  • A Saturday morning bring-your-dog-and-hike group
  • An online forum for people who dig classic cars
  • A faith community where you worship + participate in activities together
  • A weekly online mastermind group of career-change-entrepreneurs

If you do it right, as my friend Carolina did, these groups can be an amazing source of new clients. Here’s how she did it.

Carolina is from Mexico, but currently lives just outside of Toronto. When she came to Canada, she joined a Facebook group for Mexican women living abroad.

She was genuinely excited to connect to this group and took her time getting to know them. She responded to people’s posts, and posted her own successes and woes living abroad as a Mexican woman.

She took note of the tone and “vibe” of this group, and generally just tried to be kind, helpful, and supportive to the other members without talking much about what she does for a living.

After a while, she posted about her coaching work. It was more of a “this is my life story” kind of post, but she also happened to mention that she was an online lifestyle coach and dropped some information about a program she was running that was starting soon.

Not long after she posted, Carolina had:

  • 700+ reactions to the original post,
  • 180+ comments asking for more information
  • 250+ new “Likes” on her personal coaching Facebook page
  • 80+ brand new subscriptions to her mailing list
  • too many private messages to count

To try this method yourself…

Step 1:
Join a group.

Consider the groups you’re currently a member of (online or in person). If you’re not a member of any, consider whether there are any groups you’d like to be a part of and would be good candidates for your coaching. (Remember, it’s better if they’re not health and fitness groups).

Step 2:
Engage with the group in an authentic, helpful, supportive way.

Don’t just joint groups to make your elevator pitch as this is universally frowned upon. Instead, become a real part of the community and only talk about what you do if it’s relevant to the conversations already going on.

Step 3:
Offer genuine help.

If a health and fitness topic comes up, bingo! Help answer questions. Offer support. Send people helpful links, articles, videos, and other resources. You can be subtle about self-promotion by simply linking back to your website or social media profile. Still, hold back on mentioning your services.

Step 4:
Occasionally mention your services.

After you’ve built trust and made genuine connections, mention your services. Have your information easily available if people want it, but don’t be pushy about it. If you need a ratio to work with, for every 10 helpful comments you make, you can slide in one about your coaching.

Want To Learn More? Go Deeper?

Then download this FREE sample of my latest book, Change Maker.

Change Maker shares the tips, strategies, and lessons I learned growing Precision Nutrition from a two-person passion project to a 200 million dollar company that’s coached over 200,000 clients, certified over 100,000 professionals, and revolutionized the field of nutrition coaching.

Whether you work as a health coach, strength coach, nutritionist, functional medicine doc, or rehab specialist, Change Maker will help you discover the right direction to take, the fastest way to make progress, and the practical steps required to build the career of your dreams in health and fitness.

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