Personal Trainer Marketing Ideas From Stephen Holt

One of the first fitness marketing books that I ever bought when I got into the field was a collection of interviews done by some well-known trainers. One of those guys was Stephen Holt. Before all of this internet marketing and blogging madness, my goal was to be a “Personal Trainer of The Year”, Stephen had achieved that.

We finally met at a seminar not too long ago and have been in semi-regular communication through facebook and twitter , typically about how I HATE his Duke Blue Devils. I figured it was finally time to get him to spill the beans on some personal trainer marketing ideas. Here we go.

1) You’ve won numerous personal trainer awards and most often, they may have nothing to do with the results your clients achieve. Now that’s not a knock on you, it’s more a recognition of how good of a trainer that you are. What are some personal skills that allow you to connect with your clients on such a good level?

No, problem. I’m used to petty jealousy . When trainers ask about my awards, I remind them the judges don’t have much to work with – IDEA has the longest application at four pages. It’s really is “Who you know” and, more important, “Who knows you.” It’s vital to let people know who are you are and what you’re doing.

(Not me! Nii Wilson and Stephen Holt..cause the world needs more Nii)

You need to go to live events like IDEA, Perform Better, IHRSA, and Club Industry, then stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Connecting to clients comes from listening. It’s that simple. People who know me well will tell you I’m a prime example of using my two ears and one mouth in proportion.

I work on showing clients they’re important to me as people. Every new client gets a handwritten thank you note I send immediately after they sign up. Every current and past client gets a birthday card. I make sure I know all family members’ names and ask about them frequently. Simply show you care about them as people and not just pay checks.

Continuing education is a big part of connecting with clients, too. When a client has a question, I make sure they understand the work I put into finding the answer for them. Even when I know the answer off the top of my head, I’ll preface it with, “I was reading the other day …” or “At the last seminar I went to … .” That shows you truly care about giving your clients the best available information to help them reach their goals.

2) New trainer starts out and they want to build a good rapport with their clients or community. What tips could you give them?

There are two parts to this: 1) improving your interpersonal skills (and, yes, this can be learned) and (2) showing off that you’re the Approachable Expert.

You can start on developing interpersonal skills by reading the classics, Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and Maxwell Maltz’s “PsychoCybernetics.” “Influence” by Robert Cialdini and the follow-up, “Yes!’ are also helpful when it comes to positioning yourself as an expert in person and on paper.

Approachable Expert means not only that you know your stuff, but people can feel comfortable asking you questions because they know you’ll give them the right answer AND in an understandable form.

Unapproachable Experts talk down to people and make them feel stupid for even asking the question.

Work on being able to communicate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it on a fifth grade level. (Remember, newspapers are written at a fifth grade level.) A great technique is to use the technical term then explain exactly what it means and why it’s important. Analogies work best.

[Tip: I’m a left-brain-dominant engineering major, so I’m not great at creating analogies. When I hear a good one, I write it down and practice it.]

Using technical terms reinforces your advanced knowledge – you’re not just some meathead counting reps – and the explanation shows you care about empowering them with useful information.

3) How you market yourself like the true pimp that you are?

This is perfect timing for one of my top tips! I’m comfortable giving this prime advice away for free because: 1) most people are too lazy to do it and, (2) I already have MY trophies.

Ready … ?

Get nominated for a Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

[I know you’re thinking, “Don’t I have to be a personal training god to win?” Well, yes. Yes, you do.]

But you don’t have to actually win it. Or even stand a chance of winning it.

You simply have to be nominated.

And it’s not that tough since you can get a friend (yes, just some random friend) to nominate you, and in most cases you can even nominate yourself.

Then you get to tell everyone everywhere you’re up for XYZ “Personal Trainer of the Year.” Send out press releases (key!), tell all your clients and prospects, put it on your business cards, in your email signature, whatever.

Since most people never take action even on simple yet effective techniques like this one, you’ll have a huge competitive advantage over ever other trainer in your market – which means you’ll attract more clients instead of having to chase them AND you get to charge more. Isn’t that what we all want?

Check out and learn more from big Stephen at

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