Guest Post by Cabel McElderry
We all spend a lot of time talking about email marketing, Facebook, YouTube and all kinds of wonderful online things that allow you to push buttons from the comfort of your home and generate clients. It’s great but what if you don’t have an email list or a big list of Facebook friends and fans?
Believe it or not there was a time, not that long ago, when these online things weren’t as accessible as they are now. That’s what today and this article is about. Today… it’s time you remember how to hustle.
If you don’t have a big audience and/or a big pile of money to spend it’s going to be tough to become an overnight training sensation. So let’s talk about your local legend and getting you “offline” to build that audience and email list with something you most likely have an abundance of in the beginning of your business…Time.
Here’s five things I’ve done offline to develop “legend” status in any new neighborhood.
1) Write two articles, find the contact for your local newspaper and send them the articles with a compelling email like the following:
“Hey (editor’s name), I’m a local personal trainer committed to improving the lives of the people in our community. I wrote a couple articles that I thought could benefit your readers if you’d ever like to publish them or discuss a regular contribution. I’m just looking for more opportunities to help people.”
Prior to submitting your articles you may want to try to contact someone in the editing department and ask for the style guide. If you are unsuccessful in this regard, two basic tips are: a) Make sure your article doesn’t contain questions, re-phrase every question to be a statement. This is preferred by every print publication I’ve written for. b) Most critically do not mention anything about your own business or services that could in any way be interpreted as solicitation. Instead, truly make it as much about giving and teaching (just like you would to a client).
2) Volunteer at active events. In particular, right now we’re heading into spring and summer. It’s the season of outdoor active fundraising. By volunteering for the community run/walk charity event you will likely find yourself in front of the organizer who just might approve of you leading the event “warm up.” What a great way to position yourself in front of the whole audience as the local fitness expert.
Make sure you bring your “buddy passes” to hand out to volunteers and even participants after they cross the finish line. The other day a coaching client mentioned he arrived at an event late, like as they were just beginning to tear down. I asked if he walked around and congratulated everyone on the success of the event and handed anyone a buddy pass as appreciation for the work they’re doing in the community. Remember, volunteers run events like these. Make them feel valued and you might find yourself with more customers and referrals.
3) The Lunch and Learn. Yes, it gets talked about a lot but I don’t see it being applied as much as it should be. Make a list right now of 40 local businesses and contact a minimum of 10 per week. Offer your services as a speaker to come and educate their staff on aspects of exercise and nutrition; stuff they can use right away. Never ever pitch your services. Instead, ask for emails in exchange for sending handouts and materials of more value. Furthermore, don’t just stop at businesses; reach out to community and social groups as well. They always have lunch meetings and they’re always filling them with speakers. Volunteer organizations and schools (for staff development days) are other places you might also consider contacting.
4) Waiting rooms. If you have an online newsletter how about printing ten copies for any place that has a waiting room. The goal here is material that people can take home, and an even bigger goal is using something that is regularly updated as it gives you a reason to keep going to that location. Each time you go you should thank the business or organization for letting you leave your materials there. It also helps on repeat trips to leave them small gifts whether it’s a coffee gift card or a buddy pass for a free workout. The point is we’re using subtle repeat visits to build relationships that lead to further cross promotion opportunity.
5) Your own public award. Here’s the big secret to becoming a big deal in your community; declare yourself one. Sure you save someone from a burning building and you’ll probably receive some praise and a few high fives but I can promise you if you declared yourself a hero before you did it you’d receive a lot more. Like it or not that’s how the world is. Don’t wait for people to endorse you; endorse yourself and it’s more likely to catch on. Now for the award.
Pick organizations in your community that fall in line with your beliefs and philosophies as far as helping others; recognize them for their great efforts. Create an award certificate, frame it, and deliver it with a couple matching certificates awarding key staff or customers with something to be redeemed for a free trial of your service.
Present it to an organization, take a photo with whomever you present it to and post them on your website. Encourage your customers to visit those organizations whenever it makes sense to do so. Even if they don’t use your services right away, these interactions will immediately elevate you to expert status as someone proactive in your community.
The key in any offline situation is to continue to spread the word, increasing the number of people that know about you. Any time it makes sense to do so always have a good (subtle) reason to ask for people’s contact information. The key is to use these situations to kick off your email list. These are just a few ideas. There’s a lot more you can do, it just takes a little hustle!