Have You Looked at LinkedIn Lately?

It used to be that LinkedIn was very, dare I say, boring. Great for connecting with businesses of interest, possible employers, or employees. During that time I built a LinkedIn (let’s go with LI) group that was of good use for discussions, but that was about all that I used LI for.

linkedin-1024x248Lately, if you look at it, it looks much more like Facebook without the “here’s what I ate for lunch” posts. According to LI, “LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional (here’s where they try to differentiate from social) network with hundreds of millions of members, and growing rapidly. Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” That said, people (well, professionals) are sharing articles, ideas, and content in general that relates to their industry… for the most part.

Recently, I decided to push into LI more and reached out to many in the fitness industry in an effort to have some more varied conversations than what I was finding in various groups I was a member of (even my own) about our industry (I’m connected to a lot of international fitness professionals.). So, far it has been very interesting.

Indeed, what I’ve found is more specific professional content that I can consume and then pass on to others. Sure, there’s still self-important individuals trying to sell you stuff, but I feel that it’s far less than other social media sites.

So, what I’m saying is that, as you choose where you are going to spend your time, you should take another look at LinkedIn and see if there’s something there for you.

 

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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.

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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.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Why Did It Go Viral?

Have you been challenged to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge yet and did you complete it? The media is swamped with videos of groups and individuals dumping ice water over themselves. Why did this event catch on like it did? Over 3 million donors gave during this challenge and, according to the ALS Association, they have collected over 100.9 million dollars in donations compared with 2.8 million at this time last year. Amazing response to say the least. Why??? Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is not the leading cause of death in the United States. It’s not even in the top ten. Why this cause? What prompted people to do this?

Here are some of the reasons that I believe it has been such a success.

1) This movement struck a chord with the public that allowed them to be part of something important. It created/is creating a greater awareness of this particular disease and with that awareness comes understanding for those afflicted with ALS and an increased likelihood of money being donated to help find a cure.

2) The act of dumping a bucket full of icy water is silly. This allows people to have fun with it and get creative.

3) It has a direct challenge to specific people. It’s a little like when you learn CPR. You never just call out, “Someone call 911!” Everyone assumes that someone else will act and nobody does. You need to say, “You! (pointing your finger at a particular person) Call 911!” They now know that they have been chosen to act. This is not a call out to the masses. It’s a call to “You. (state their name)”

4) Social media allows ideas to spread like a, oh, I don’t know… a virus, maybe! You do the challenge and call out your friends. Your friends do the challenge and call out their friends. Your friends’ friends do the challenge, etc.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has all of the elements to make it the successful campaign that it is.

Why am I writing about this in a fitness business blog? We, as fitness professionals, are in the business of helping people become more healthy. It is within our scope of interest to champion a health issue, align ourselves with a charity. How can we use the elements of the ALS Challenge to bring light to the charity of our choice? One thing that I’ve done in the past is run Zombie Boot Camps on Halloween to benefit the local food pantry. Now I need to think of how I can go bigger with it (and I have an idea…).

Are you doing something to benefit some cause? Let us know about it in the comments below.

By the way, if you would like to donate to the ALS Association, click here.

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TOP 10 TRAITS OF SUCCESSFUL PERSONAL TRAINERS: #7

#7 Successful Personal Trainers Know How to Market Themselves
According to Wikipedia, marketing “is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and creates value for their customers and for themselves.” My own definition is more like “seeking out, connecting with, sharing who we are and how we can help solve a problem for your target audience.”

First, of course, you must know your target audience. Who is your niche market? Where do they hang out? Are they meeting at conferences, senior groups, clubs, churches, schools, community or other organizations? Or are they connecting with others using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Youtube, etc.?
Note: I’m not going to ignore the use of Direct Mail or more “traditional” marketing techniques. Well, actually, I am going to ignore them in this article (for some, they do still work). But they don’t directly connect you with your audience and successful Personal Trainers know that the best way to build rapport and trust is through interaction.
So now, you’ve done your homework and found your market, what do you do from here? You need to find a way to join in their conversations. Connect with the group leaders and see if you can… join the group, volunteer with the group, or present to the group a topic that would be helpful to them. Like selling, your first priority is to be of service to them. You must create value, trust, confidence in you as a resource before you ask for anything in return.
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Social media works the same way. Find which ones are used by your target audience. Facebook, Twitter,  Google+, Pinterest, blogs, etc. are all means of connecting with others. Create a presence by offering helpful information to your audience. If the content is interesting, they may then share the content you presented with their friends. Their friends share with their friends, etc, and before you know it, you have a large audience of potential clients.
Obviously there are a lot more specifics, but the essence of marketing in this day and age is connection and conversation. Only after building rapport and trust, will an offer for your services be well received. Seth Godin does a great job explaining this in his book, “Permission Marketing

Successful Personal Trainers know how to market themselves by actively getting involved with their target market, whether it’s face to face or using social media.

How are you establishing your presence?

Check out the full series.
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #1
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #2
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #3
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #4
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #5
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #6
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #7
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #8
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #9
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #10

P.S. Also, follow my Business of Personal Training page on Facebook.