Pre-suasion; a Book Review

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini, PhD is a fascinating book on the science of how, what people experience before a message, influences their receptiveness to that message.

presuasionWhat it presents, in essence, is the use of priming techniques to get the consumer (whether it is a product or consuming information) to respond in a in a particular, predictable way.

I found this book to be enlightening as to how individuals and societies can be influenced and how, if you look for them, you can see pre-suasive techniques being used in the world around you. In example, it explains those endlessly long landing pages that show success stories, show successful images, use success terms, etc. before asking you to sign up and if you’re not ready, they continue priming you before they ask again. You can even see how this came into play in last year’s election if you look at the different campaigns.

Cialdini says that the hope for the book is that its information is to be used for good and not evil (OK, maybe those are my words, but it is his sentiment). But, obviously, when you set out to influence people, it could be for your own personal benefit or for theirs (hopefully both).

This book is well worth your time and, if you are intrigued by this topic, I encourage you to read his other book , Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s another book based in behavioral science of how we can be and are influenced.

Is That Music I Hear?

There’s quite a bit of research that touts the benefits of working out with music. It can make the experience more enjoyable, easier, and people tend to work harder. Naturally we want these benefits for our clients and members. But, there may be some legal issues that you may not have considered.

I think we are all pretty aware that we can’t record an artist’s music and resell it. That would be piracy. That also applies to playing it for customers. Recently, I had a conversation with my ASCAP rep (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and we discussed how they represent the artist and how any use of music of the artists that they represent, for the purpose of entertaining members, customers, or clients must also compensate the artist (even if you are simply playing a radio channel in the background). This is true for  fitness clubs and studios, as well as airlines, amusement parks, bars, restaurants & nightclubs, colleges & universities, concert presenters, music venues & clubs, convention & trade shows, hotels, local government entities, radio & television stations and networks, mobile entertainment, websites, retail stores and the list goes on.

ascaplogoWe, as business owners, compensate the artists by paying a licensing fee through their representative agency. ASCAP is one of those agencies and they have over 600,000 artists that they represent. But, they’re not the only agency in town. There’s also BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc) and SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, although they now handle all types of music). bmi_logoYou are required to pay the appropriate licensing fees to cover all artists music that you play in your space. This amounts to about $300/year to each of these organizations. Now, you could hand select music to play at your facility that is all from one agency, but that’s pretty labor intensive. My recommendation is to pay each of them and cover your bases.sesac-logo185

If you want to use music for projects other than within your facility, such as an online or streaming video, these organizations offer separate licensing agreements for that type of music usage.

As much as we may have music as a part of our lives, free of charge (for us) on the radio, Pandora, at stores, the gym, etc, it was produced by artists. Like any product that has value, they should be compensated for that. It is our responsibility to pay the appropriate fees to them via their agencies. Think of the licensing fees as a thank you to the artists for sharing their creativity and talent.

Meeting Your Target Market

In my last post, The Best Marketing Medium is Personal, I discussed the importance of getting out into your community to meet your target market (desired member or clientele). Of course you first have to define who that is. If you run a T-Shirt company, your market may be any organization or business that wants a fun way to create brand awareness. If you are running a senior fitness program, you should be seeking to connect with seniors that want to improve their quality of life (and let’s face it, that’s most seniors). Once you know who you want to reach, you can start to plan ways to connect with them.

My wife, Heather and I, moved to a new town a little over a year ago. We opened a private fitness facility that offers personal training and group fitness. With fitness, our market is anyone who isn’t already on a fitness program and even some who are. So, our goal is essentially to meet as many people as we can. Get to know them. Let them get to know us. Build a relationship so that they know, like, and trust us and, when they are ready to begin a fitness program, we will be the people they go to.

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For us, meeting people means getting involved in almost anything. We are probably more social than we have ever been. We go to local theater, concerts, benefits, gallery openings, belong to the local business association, volunteer for civic events. We’re out meeting people, helping people, and having a ball doing it. It’s a win/win scenario. At the same time, we also know that it helps in creating a positive feeling about us and our company.

What if your target market is seniors? Volunteer at the local senior center or another senior program. Maybe there are programs at your church that you could help with. Attend events that seniors may also attend and strike up conversations with them.

If you want to work with first responders, you could offer to volunteer at their events or offer to give a presentation on tactical fitness. You could create a challenge between the EMT/Paramedics, Police Officers, and Firefighters (i.e. fitness, weight loss, obstacle course).

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No matter who your target market is, you need to find the venues that will allow you to get to know them. The quick and simple guide is:

Locate and get out among them.

Volunteer with their various organizations.

Donate prizes to organization benefit events.

Create and/or host benefit events of your own.

Build relationships with them…

and when they are looking for the services that you offer, you will be the one they come to.

 

 

 

The Best Marketing Medium is Personal

At a conference last year, I was asked what I thought was the most effective marketing tool. Having presented at other conferences on social media marketing, I was pretty sure they wanted to know what the next hot social media app was and how to use it. My answer was probably a little surprising. social-media-mobile-icons-snapchat-facebook-instagram-ss-800x450-3-800x450

If you are a business that relies on the local market, i.e. health clubs, personal training and/or group fitness studios, the best marketing is getting out and getting active in your community. Remember that what you are really marketing is you. Yes, this includes your expertise, but also your demeanor, your caring, your sense of humor, etc.

They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That is because the extra layer of sensory engagement that a picture offers tells us a lot more. Video gives us the ability to hear as well as see and creates even more engagement. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that real-time, face to face interactions give others the greatest sense of who you are and what you are about. When you meet someone in person, you note their eye contact (or lack thereof), their smile (or lack thereof), the grip of their handshake, the tone of their voice, all in an instant. Nothing is truer than that. Others will walk away feeling like they have a sense of the kind of person you are.

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Now, taking that meeting and turning it into acquisition of a client or customer requires more. You need to build a relationship first and that takes time. This is where social media apps can be particularly effective. After meeting someone in person (I’ll discuss how to seek out those opportunities in my next post.), immediately send an invitation to them to connect on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. This allows you to follow-up on any conversation that you were having, helps you remember them, and them remember you. With each additional verbal interaction, their initial face to face impression of you will be reinforced.

Of course you can still make initial contact and build a relationship through social media. However, it will rarely be as strong as meeting in person. If you first connected online, find an opportunity to meet in “the real world”. Your relationship will only become stronger because of it.

 

 

 

 

What’s In A Name?

So, I’m in the midst of writing a chapter on creating your business plan, and I realize that you should really have a name for your company picked out by now. But, it’s not as simple as you may think. Choosing a name should take some careful consideration.

nametagThere are a couple of different ways of naming your business:

Using your name in the business name. I could name my club Nutting’s Gym. There are many examples of this in the fitness world, from classics of Gold’s Gym, and Vince’s Gym, to the more contemporary Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, and Parisi Speed School. When your name is part of your business name, it is a constant reflection of you personally, so you must live your philosophy. You should also consider that if you want to sell your business, the buyers will most likely want to continue to use your business name and the reputation that it carries. If your end game is to build a business to then sell, how will you feel about selling your name?

Name by location. Whether it’s 72nd St. Fitness or the 92nd St. Y, these names make it easier to locate them. Easier to find is always a good thing. However, what if you need to move or add other locations? All of the name recognition that you’ve built will be lost if you change your name, and you would want to change your name. 72nd St. Fitness now on 34th St. would be very confusing.

Choose a name that says what you are. For me, this is the best bet. Come up with a business name that speaks to your target market. i.e. if you are targeting the baby boomers, you may choose “Forever Fit” or “Fit Again”. Or, you could name it based on your training philosophy as in “Full Function Fitness” or “Hard Core Lifting Club”. Of course you want something that is unique. Watch out for existing names or one’s that are very similar.

Once you choose a name, claim it as a web domain and register it with your county clerk or with your state.

I’d love to hear what you’ve named your business. Write your business name in the comments section below. Happy naming!

Making Resolutions for Your Business

Starting to work out, eating better, or taking better care of yourself are all personal resolutions you hear proclaimed every year. Let’s put them aside for now and talk about your business. What resolutions have you made for it? We should be going into the new year with changes in mind to better our business.

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Not unlike personal resolutions, these should not be a simple wish list, but a list of what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Hmmn? Kinda sounds like creating a S.M.A.R.T. list of goals, doesn’t it? That’s really the key in a nutshell with the added layer of how you’re going to accomplish them.

Just like any goal, these need to be defined as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound. So let’s take a goal that you may have. Let’s say you want to increase the profitability of your boot camps. Let’s define that

Specific: Increase the profitability of your boot camps by 25%

Measurable: Through use of a Profit/Loss worksheet

Attainable: Yes (let’s assume)

Realistic: Yes (again, let’s assume)

Time bound: By the end of the first quarter, March 31st, 2015

This is where the real work begins. We’ve defined our goal. We know precisely what it is, but how, again specifically, are you going to get there?

Can you define the reasons your boot camps are not doing as well as you’d like? It could be lack of space, equipment, or instructors. Let’s, for the sake of an exercise, say its lack of space. Your class is at capacity for the size of the room. What options do you have to increase profitability?

1) Charge participants more for the class

2) Reduce the overhead:

-what you pay for the space

-what you pay the instructor for the class

-what you pay for the equipment used

3) Increase the capacity of the class so you can take more participants by:

-Be more efficient in the use of the space that you have

-Rent a larger space

-Take it outside in a park

Which of these suggestions or combination of suggestions can you implement that will get you to your profitability goal? If you choose to increase rates for participants by $2/class, negotiate a lower facility rental agreement, and increase capacity by using activities that require less space, would that get you there? When will you implement by to reach your goal?

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This is the process to create real resolutions vs a simple wish list. It is your game plan for building your business for the upcoming year. Spend time on this.

I’d love to hear what the top resolution is for your business in 2015. Please share what it is in the comments below.

The Secret Sauce of a Fitness “Cult”

If you look at what’s happening in fitness industry, you’d be hard pressed not to have noticed the “cult-like” following that surrounds some brands such as CrossFit and Zumba.

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CrossFit is “Forging Elite Fitness” though constantly varied, high intensity activities that includes everything from Olympic Lifts to kipping pull-ups. Zumba, on the other hand, wants you to “Ditch the Workout and Join the Party” a Latin dance based workout system. Could these two styles of training be further apart? While they are very different (and Crossfitters even make fun of Zumba participants), what they have in common is the blind devotion of their followers. How does that happen?

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In The Power of Cult Branding authors Matthew W. Ragas and Bolivar J. Bueno present the Seven Golden Rules of Cult Branding:
1. Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different.
2. Cult brand inventors show daring and determination.
3. Cult brands sell lifestyles.
4. Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists.
5. Cult brands always create customer communities.
6. Cult brands are inclusive.
7. Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from enemies

Think about CrossFit and Zumba.
1. They are very different than other modes of exercise.
2. The creators were committed to their way of training.
3. They are absolutely selling a lifestyle through various branded products, and shared experiences. Zumba even has a magazine called Z-Life.
4. The participants feel a part of the organization, feel like they are appreciated and are encouraged to spread the gospel.
5. Crossfitters and Zumba enthusiasts are all about their community. This may include their own language (WODs, poods, and ”Uncle Pukie” in CrossFit) or outfits, bags, and other apparel as can be found in the Zumba store.
6. Both are inclusive. Everyone is welcome to drink the Kool-Aid, including kids and seniors.
7. Both CrossFit facilities and Zumba classes are as different as the instructors. They are free to structure them as the individual instructors see fit. Differentiation from the competition is often an integral part of the marketing plan. “We are not…”

This type of community can be yours too with whatever type program you offer. Think about how you can utilize these rules to create your own fitness cult.

The 80/20 Principle and Getting Things Done

The 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto principle, states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Whole books have been written on this. It’s applied to every conceivable scenario and the concept is simple. We all waste a lot of time and effort on things that are unproductive. If we can focus on those few things that create the greatest results, we will achieve so much more in less time. A couple of tools I find useful are as follows: In his book, “First Things First”, Steven Covey describes a grid of four boxes. In one box are those things that are urgent and important (must be handled now and is important for reaching my goal). In a second box are things that are urgent and unimportant (the typical things that pop up day-to-day that, because of it’s urgency, we feel like it must be important, but it won’t help us reach our goals) You’ll be amazed how many actually fall into this category. These are the real life-suckers that can leave us too fatigued to do the meaningful stuff. A third… not urgent, but important (envisioning your future and how to attain it or maybe planning/taking some down time to recharge your inner batteries). A fourth… not urgent and unimportant (wasting time).

Quadrant

Write out your list of things to do and label them as fitting into one of these boxes. Then stick to the two “important” boxes and either delegate or toss out the rest. (I love this exercise.)

Take that one step further with a tip from “The 4-Hour Workweek”, by Tim Ferris. It discusses the inefficient use of our time and how multi-tasking helps us work at many things and finish none of them. Ferries believes in locking yourself away from distractions and working on only one task at a time until that task is finished. (I’m a big believer in this one.)

Now go to your lists in the important boxes and prioritize them. Gather all of the information or things you will need for the first project and lock yourself away until it’s done. If you can’t get it all done in one sitting, then schedule a meeting with yourself each day until you do finish. If we can set our minds to attacking and completing the 20% of things on our list that are really important , we’ll attain the results we’re seeking sooner than we could have imagined.

Good luck, Mark

No Man (or Woman) is an Island

I know that many trainers get certified and head out into the world believing that they have all of the answers. They may see other trainers as competition and choose to keep whatever knowledge/information they have to themselves for fear of giving away something that will give others a business advantage.

islandThis is a trap that will hold you back from becoming the best trainer that you could be. The times change, the science changes, and you need to change and grow with them.

I have been a personal trainer and in club management for 35 years. I have acquired a great deal of information over the years and have much to share. That said, every time I get a chance to talk with other professionals in the field, I come away with new insight. Sometimes it’s something completely new and sometimes it’s an affirmation that I am on the right track. I example, I just got back from an executive roundtable for fitness directors. Everyone on the roundtable disclosed everything from financials to best practices and I believe I speak for the group in saying that we all came away with new ideas and a better understanding of how to become more successful.

While this example is larger scale and you may not think it is applicable to you, it is. I have had similar discussions with fellow trainers in our club and even with trainers from competing clubs. The key is that almost 70% of the US population is overweight or obese. We sit too much. We eat too much. We are an unwell society. There is no shortage of potential clients.

So go talk to other trainers about their training and their business and talk to them about yours.

You cannot be your best if you isolate yourself.

Share, listen, learn, and repeat.

Service With a Smile?

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? It’s incredible to me how often I see people in the service industry that just don’t get it. How many times do you walk into a store or restaurant and can’t seem to get anyone’s attention or, if you do, you’re obviously interrupting something very important (like an inspection of their nail polish or a conversation they’re having with a co-worker) because they genuinely seemed ticked off that you’re there. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone cared enough to even fake caring?
For me, it’s like Roy Scheider’s portrayal of Bob Fosse in the movie “All That Jazz”. Fosse wakes every morning up after obvious hard nights, throws some Visine in his eyes, takes a couple of uppers, and says to himself in the mirror, “It’s show time, folks!” and puts on his I-must-deal-with-the-public face.

While that may be an extreme example, the point is that every interaction that you have can make or break someone’s day. It’s no different with Personal Trainers. I always talk about it being “show time”. You need to leave everything that’s bothering you outside of work. Remind yourself you have the power to create positive experiences for others and that’s a wonderful thing. Enjoy that power. Even if life is hard outside of work, you can choose to focus on the positive effects you have on others while at work.
So, smile and pass it on.