Here's a harsh fact: you can't sell to everybody. It's impossible.
If you try, you'll inevitably find yourself unable to grow, stuck in a descending spiral of mediocrity. Every failed sale creates desperation, leading you to widen your sales net until you'll take any client that walks in the door. You'll discount when asked, you'll compromise your value proposition, and you'll create vague, undifferentiated solutions that speak softly to everyone (and loudly to no one).
You'll be unheard and unprofitable.
In this article, you'll learn to avoid this downward spiral, targeting clients precisely to grow revenue. We'll create unique offerings that spur growth by attracting a very specific demographic to your business. We'll do so without compromising your reputation or lowering your average client value, and we'll go through three steps to get there:
Step 1: Creating Target Profiles
Step 2: Assembling the Building Blocks of a Compelling Offer
Step 3: Finalizing the Offer
Each step builds on the one before, leaving you with a rock-solid strategy for getting new prospects and selling gym memberships.
By the end of the article, you'll understand how to:
Evaluate target opportunities
Create programs and offerings that speak directly to your (very specific) prospects
Build landing pages that will capture their information and get them in your door
A quick tip: as you read along, keep a piece of paper close at hand to record potential targets and offers, with an eye toward implementing what you learn right away. This article will help you build your business, but only if you act upon it. Read on.
Step 1: Creating Target Profiles
Every client type has nuances and needs, non-transferrable from one to the next. We'll start by mapping our desired clients in detail, zeroing in on the intersection between their needs and our expertise, and leveraging their unique desires to create new sales.
Begin the target identification process with your existing client base. This will allow you to target prospects with high demographic similarity to current members, conferring a higher-than-average close rate. Implicit in this idea: people want to belong to groups that are like them, and the presence of their peer group in your business serves as strong social evidence that they're in the right place. Press this advantage.
To begin, list out three to five general client types in your current client base. This will become your target list. For example:
High School Varsity Athletes
Then, list out one or two client types you don't have currently but would like to target:
Small Business Owners
Next, we'll create a detailed profile for each, allowing us to speak directly to their needs. We'll use the High School Varsity Athletes as our example from here on out, but realize that we would apply the same profile creation process to any target we might like to acquire (new or existing), and you'd be well served to create a profile for every potential target you identify.
Creating the profile is necessary for later steps; building compelling offers and translating them to your website requires full and robust profiles. While every profile won't lead to a new program at your gym, the mere act of creating them will help you evaluate the opportunity inherent in each target.
Each profile contains:
Total Addressable Market
Client's Pain Points and Fears
The Total Addressable Market (TAM) is a rough estimate of the number of people that could join your business from any given profile/demographic. If the number is too low, we may want to target another profile. If it's too high, we may need to narrow our profile further before proceeding.
Continuing with our varsity athlete example, joining a local gym:
In my city (Wellesley, Massachusetts), there is one high school. A quick Google search shows that there are about 600 to 650 Juniors and Seniors at Wellesley High at any given time, and 36 distinct sports teams with a Varsity level, playing across three different seasons. Assuming that every sport is available to both genders and there are 20 athletes on a team, we arrive at a Total Addressable Market of about 480 student athletes per season:
36 Sports / 3 Seasons = 12 Sports Per Season
12 Sports Per Season * 2 Genders * 20 Student Athletes = 480 Student Athletes per Season
This is most likely an overestimation, as some sports are 100% male (football) and some are 100% female (field hockey). Further, students may engage in multiple Varsity-level sports in different seasons, and we cannot count a prospect twice.
Accordingly, we'll assume that 25% of Varsity Athletes play more than one sport and two of our sports are gender-specific, reducing our Total Addressable Market by 160 athletes, leaving us with 320 unique prospects during any of the three sports seasons:
480 athletes per season - (480 athletes * .25 multi-sport athletes) - (20 athletes per team * 2 gender-specific teams) = 320 athletes
Once we've made the TAM estimation, we need to apply a close rate multiplier to evaluate the possibility of this target contributing to revenue growth. I like to use a small number here. Assuming we get 5-8% of the market to purchase a gym membership, we'll get 16 to 25 new clients in the program for any season:
320 athletes * .05 close rate = 16 athletes
320 athletes * .08 close rate = 25 athletes
If the target demographic provides fewer possible prospects that we'd hoped, we might simply abandon this target and pick another. At this stage, remember that you cannot run a specialized program for every target you listed above. You'll want to pick one or two targets maximum; the TAM exercise will allow you to pick the most promising. In this case, the Wellesley High School Varsity Athlete clearly presents a good sales opportunity for the small gym, and we'll continue.
Next, we want to articulate the client's goal(s). We want to understand why the target would come to us and what we might therefore promise as a result of their membership. Create the goal list for your potential targets by putting yourself in their shoes.
Ask yourself what motivates the target on an emotional level: what is the best possible outcome of joining your gym for them, and how can you speak directly to that motivation?
In the case of our Varsity athletes, they have several goals:
Making the team
Improving year-over-year performance
Becoming (or staying) a starter
Becoming a star athlete/captain
Receiving a college scholarship
Receiving the accolades and social influence that come along with those accomplishments
When we create our website copy (the last step in this article), we'll speak to some or all of these goals directly. Having them laid out in bullet point form greatly aids this process.
Next, we'll use client pain points to turn the goal-setting process on its head to create more talking points. What are the things that might prevent our target from achieving their goals? What consequence(s) does the target most fear from failure?
In the case of our varsity athletes, they might experience pain from:
Becoming de-conditioned and less able to perform
Not making the team
Not starting their Senior year
Losing social standing/friends from the team
A weaker college application/scholarship opportunity
Just like the goal list, we'll use these pain points (explicitly or implicitly) in our forthcoming website copy, and we'll reference them during our in-person sales process. Between the pain point list and our goal list, we've created a deep arsenal of talking points, speaking directly to the hopes and fears of our target client. This creates a strong foundation for creating high-conversion sales copy, as you'll see in Step 3.
Step 2: Assemble the Building Blocks of a Compelling Offer
Once we've got our target identified and profiled, it's time to get them in your front door. To do this, we need to build a compelling offer that creates urgency and action (while quelling any distrust the potential client might harbor).
This step uses four additional building blocks:
Understanding and Overcoming Client Objections
Creating Exclusivity and Urgency
A Free Offer
All targets will have a common set of objections, regardless of their goals. You can apply the list below to varsity athletes, business executives, marathon runners, or any other target you've selected. In your final offer, it's critical that you address each objection fully, leaving your prospect with minimal questions and enough confidence to act on your offer.
Time objection is a blunt statement of the required time commitment. We want our target to be aware of what the program requires so that there aren't any surprises during the in-person sales process. We want to put a time parameter on both our Free Offer and the ongoing program.
Convenience objection requires that we show awareness of the potential client's schedule, and have altered our own accordingly. We are demonstrating empathy and accommodation, and assuring the client that this program was designed for them and their lifestyle.
Ease of joining demonstrates that the client can try out the program with little or no risk.
Expertise of the provider assures the client that our instructor is appropriately qualified to provide the program.
Cost objection assures the client that the price is transparent and a good value. We'll be blunt and to the point, simply listing the price. This ensures that prospects are "qualified" and prepared to pay before they ever take you up on your Free Offer. This enables you to spend your time on the most promising leads.
When determining price, we'll want to choose a number that increases our Average Revenue per Client per Month (ARCM). To learn more about this key metric, read: "Growing Revenue in the Gym: The Power of ARCM Levers".
In addition to overcoming objections, we want to create exclusivity and urgency. In the case of a specialized program, this means we'll want to limit enrollment numbers as well as the enrollment window, prompting the potential client to act on the offer immediately (for fear of missing out).
The free offer brings prospects into your facility at no charge. This provides you with the opportunity to close the sale in person, a scenario in which most gym owners are highly effective. You might offer a free group session, a one-on-one meeting, or even a group seminar based around the needs of the client.
The free offer needs to be carefully calculated. It should offer real value, even if the prospect never signs up. Ask yourself if an attendee would learn enough to improve their athletic performance over the long term, even if they never trained another day in your facility. If so, you probably have a solid offer. If not, reformulate your offer until it meets this criteria.
The call-to-action is an explicit statement of what the prospect needs to do next. This is an inbound marketing technique. We want the prospect to give us their contact information in exchange for our free offer, so we'll make it immediately obvious how they should proceed.
Once we've identified our target profile and the building blocks of our offer, it's time for the final stage. We'll translate our notes into in bullet points and then into website copy.
Step 3: Finalizing the Offer
The Offer is a concise, easily understood overview of the program, designed to get the prospect to take us up on our free offer and enter the facility. It is bound by the goals, pain points, and objections we developed above. Once the offer is finalized, it will go on our website, ready to capture prospect information.
For an education on capturing prospect information on your site, read "Inbound Marketing for CrossFit Gyms: 5 Steps to More Clients".
To finalize the offer, we'll list out:
a name for the program
a statement of its target
what it will achieve (client's goals/pain points)
why it works
bullet points overcoming each objection
a description of the free offer
a call to action
You'll have to get creative here. Transfer the most impactful of your goals and pain points to this list, as well as a statement that overcomes each objection. In the case of our example:
Name: The Varsity Prep Program
Target: Created for Current and Prospective Varsity Athletes
Goal 1: Excel as a varsity athlete
Goal 2: Make the team
Goal 3: Become a starter
Pain 1: Avoid becoming de-conditioned
Pain 2: Avoid poor year-over-year performance
Why it will work: An intense program that brings up your strength and conditioning so you can compete successfully at the highest levels of high school competition.
Time Objection: Eight Week off-season program, five hours per week. Starts June 25th.
Convenience Objection: Morning and Evening Sessions available
Ease of Joining Objection: Try your first week free, with no obligation to continue
Expertise Objection: Jon Gilson has over a decade of experience making athletes stronger and faster. He is a USA Track and Field Coach and a USA Weightlifting Club Coach, and holds CrossFit's highest training designation, CrossFit Coach (L4).
Cost Objection: Program is $399 per participant.
Free Offer: The first week is free, and open to all athletes.
Call-to-Action: Use the form on this page to register for your free week.
Now we have the bullets we need to create a landing page for our website. Creating landing pages is an art, and the final step to getting prospects to give us their contact information. We'll use it to get them in the door and close the sale.
The landing page should use a natural voice. Avoid marketing-speak and the overuse of superlatives. Imagine you're speaking directly to the prospect, and the bullet points above are your talking points. Let's give it a shot, beginning with a strong headline and quick description of the program's value proposition:
The Varsity Prep Program
For Current and Prospective High School Varsity Athletes
An intensive, eight-week, off-season program designed to help high school athletes dominate on the field of play.
You'll train under Head Coach Jon Gilson to develop the strength, speed, and conditioning you need to compete at the highest levels of high school sport.
Whether you're a junior varsity member looking to make the varsity squad for the first time or a Senior ready to make your last high school season count, the Varsity Prep Program gives you the physical power you need to improve your performance.
We'll use individually tailored weightlifting, sprinting, and conditioning drills to ensure that you arrive this fall in peak physical condition: stronger, faster, and better able to compete. While your opponents are suffering the de-conditioning that comes with a summer off from training, you'll be getting better every week.
The first week is FREE for all athletes (with no obligation to join)
The Program is entirely off-season
Eight weeks of training, five hours per week
All training sessions conducted in our Wellesley facility
From June 25th to August 25th
Morning and evening sessions available
$399 per Athlete
Sign up for your FREE week below. You'll join us from June 25th to July 2nd to see if the program works for you.
Click the button below to learn more and to register for your free week of the Varsity Prep Program. Only 40 spots are available. Registration ends June 1st.
Questions? Email us at email@example.com.
Jon Gilson has over a decade of experience making high school athletes stronger and faster. He is a USA Track and Field Coach and a USA Weightlifting Club Coach, and holds CrossFit's highest training designation, CrossFit Coach (L4). He lives in Wellesley with his family.
This landing page is highly targeted aimed at high school varsity athletes and prospects while alleviating the concerns of their parents (who will actually pay for the program).
The price point is set to increase or maintain our average revenue per client per month, and in total the program will bring in almost $16,000. In addition, it's likely that some of our high schoolers will want to continue to train at the gym once the program is over. We'll follow up the Varsity Prep program with an in-season maintenance program to encourage them to stay.
We create targeted offers because they grow revenue faster than the undifferentiated alternatives. Rather than target the general public (and acquire a commensurately small piece of the market), we're looking to dominate a niche population, building reputation, expertise, and market share in sub-communities.
Take a moment and think about the origin of your largest client gains. Odds are they came from small sub-cultures: teachers, nurses, entrepreneurs, triathletes. Your strongest historical client gains likely came from groups that are ripe for targeting. We're simply recognizing this phenomenon and putting it to work.
Begin by profiling your potential clients today, enacting the system outlined in this article. Estimate market size to determine feasibility, and elucidate the target's goals and pain points. Then, address each of their potential objections, create urgency, and build a free offer that will compel them to act. Translate it into solid copy on your website, using a call-to-action and information capture to get them in the front door, and then do what you do best. Close the sale.
Inevitably, you'll acquire more clients, creating strong revenue growth and a more robust business.
If you'd like to learn more about targeting clients in a competitive environment, consider a Remote Consulting engagement with Gilson Consulting. We'll help you to create a sea change in your business: better systems, solid culture, and a bright line to growth and profitability. This is super-affordable, and perhaps the best thing you can do to get on the right path. Click the button below to learn more.