If I asked a client of yours to describe you in one sentence and one sentence only, what do you think they would say?
Would they say something like, “A great trainer,” or would they say, “A great friend who helps me train?”
Both of these responses don’t appear to be bad, but which do you think is better?
Honestly, it all depends.
It all depends on who you want to be and, more importantly, who your clients want you to be.
Because who you are, or at the very least, the person your clients think you are, should really be more an aspect of your marketing plan than your personality.
You should be genuine, but you should also be the person you want your clients to perceive. If you behave with a particular personality based on what your clientele will respond to, you will get you more clients and you will get your clients more results.
If you don’t believe me or aren’t sure what I mean, here’s an example:
What comes to mind if I mention a brand like, say, Starbucks? Your mind was probably just flooded with images of roasting beans, the smell of brewing coffee, the sound of espresso machines, maybe even the colors green and brown— you see a complete image of this brand based on your personal experience with them.
But if Starbucks’ PR team has done their job right, you should also instantly think of certain ideologies and philosophies, like community, independent thinking, sustainability, moral and ethical business practices; all these ideals are associated with Starbucks because of who they proclaim to be and the presence they exude within the global business community.
In other words, Starbucks has created a complete brand image, both in and out of their locations, that has been burned into our minds. And this image continues to attract a certain kind of customer.
And I know, drawing a comparison between you, an individual, and one of the world’s largest companies, is a bit of a stretch. But my point here is that it’s possible to create a brand image, a conception of you within your client’s minds, that will make you a more successful trainer.
So how exactly can you apply this principle to your business?
Well, just like Starbucks, you will establish this branded persona in two distinct ways: the way in which you interact with and train your clients, and the way you operate your business.
Let’s tackle the first one.
Say, for instance, you want your clients to see you as a kind, understanding, and motivational guru. Obviously, that’s how you need to behave when you interact with them. If you think your clients would appreciate a volatile, unpredictable volcano who inspires through high-energy encouragement, then never fail to act as that person.
Now, obviously, the best way to go about this is to be yourself and you don’t need me to tell you how to do that. But the reason why I remind you to put on your mask, to adopt your persona, is because you shouldn’t ever compromise your client’s image of you.
Sure, maybe you are a crazy motivator or an encouraging guru, but there will be days when you’re tired, energetic, happy, sad, whatever. But when it’s time to train, you put that all away and you put on your training mask.
Your clients have bought into your persona and your brand, that means you’ve got to be the character they expect with every session, even when you don’t feel like yourself. (Think of walking through the doors of your favorite Starbucks but suddenly finding yourself on the inside of McDonald’s. Need I say more?)
But what about the second way you establish your brand image? The way you operate your business?
Now, with this one, I’m taking a different approach. For this aspect of your brand, it isn’t about who you are or who you think you should be. This, as far as I’m concerned, is exactly the same for each of us: operate your business with absolute honesty, integrity, and accommodation.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve chosen as your persona, you should always be an honest business person. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s a huge aspect of your brand. If you want referrals, if you want positive reviews and a favorable reception within your community, you’ve got to be impeccably honest. It doesn’t matter if you’re Richard Simmons or Lou Ferrigno.
Now, before I’m finished, let’s address the rising anger that might be burning within some of you:
When I asked you what came to mind after mentioning Starbucks, then proceeded to praise them for all their virtues, how many of you absolutely lost it?
I know for certain there were some of you out there absolutely fired up, thinking about how much you can’t stand Starbucks. You were probably dying to tell me about how their coffee is disgusting, how stupidly overpriced they are, how commercialized and fake their corporate image is— none of the positive brand images I mentioned came to your mind.
Now, if we once again extend our comparison from Starbucks to you and I, you might worry that adopting one consistent persona will scare away certain clients, just like those who hate Starbucks. And to that concern I say this: if you hate Starbucks because you hate their brand, they could not care less.
Why? Because for every one person who hates them, there are droves and droves of Starbucks zombies who will still shop there, drink there and eat there every day of every week of every year. Starbucks doesn’t need to make you happy because they don’t need you.
And that is exactly how you should act with clients who don’t appreciate your persona. They don’t matter. You aren’t for them.
Now, you should obviously be certain there are people in your area that will appreciate the brand image you are trying to create. You can’t scare away your entire community and then blame this blog post when you have no clients. But as long as there is a particular market that will appreciate your branding then you will target that market with great success.
So, be the version of yourself that your clients need you to be, operate your business with integrity, don’t worry about those who might not appreciate your persona, and you’ll create an effective brand image that attracts the clients you want and presents you exactly how you want to be seen.
Committed to your success,