Marketing is a Lot Like Going Fishing

Two common mistakes I see fitness professionals make is refusing to narrow down their target market, or deciding on what their market is, and also a lack of marketing or lead generation. The latter is a lot like fishing…let me explain.

Late last year, I went fishing off one of the local piers with my father and brother-in-law. The night prior, we went down to the local tackle shop where we bought some bait. Now
I’m certainly no fisherman, and in fact it was at least 15 years since I had cast a fishing line off a pier, so I was happy playing follow the leader.

I asked my brother-in-law what bait we needed, and he replied confidently that we should get a few different ones to catch some different fish. So, we ended up purchasing four different types: white bait, squid, mussels, shrimp, and we also used two diverse artificial lures on the night.

So, as the sun was setting on a mild Melbourne evening, we started to prepare our fishing rods. We all bought two fishing rods each on the night and used different bait with each rod. As I cast my first rod into the water, I turned around and asked my father, who was acting like a 10 year old in a Thomas the Tank Engine store (he loves fishing), what we were trying to catch. His response was loud and clear…“anything we can!”

We had our six fishing rods spread out over about 15 meters along the pier. Surprisingly, not too many people were fishing that night. After what seemed like an eternity (2 hours) without a single bite, I started to regret what I said the week earlier, something about bonding more with my father and brother-in-law.

I had noticed that the elderly couple next to me had caught three decent size fish whilst we were there catching nothing but a cold. The gentleman couldn’t have been more than five meters from me, so I decided to find out what bait he was using as he reeled in his fourth fish of the night with a proud grin on his face.

“Shrimp,” he said with a stern European accent. I then asked him whether he had caught all four of his fish with shrimp. His response was, “Best bait for salmon is shrimp!” I assumed that the four fish in his bucket were all salmon. Upon speaking to him further, I soon confirmed that they were. I also realised he had the same amount of rods in the water as we did (six). This is only added to my frustrations!

Our strategy was to use six different types of bait to try and catch anything that was swimming with a tail.

Result = No fish…mild cold!

The strategy that my new European friend beside me was employing was simple. The same bait for his target fish (market).

Result = 4 fish…happy days!

So, what has going fishing with my father and brother-in-law got to do with marketing? In a word – everything!

Let’s briefly start with target market. The most important element of any marketing campaign is the target market. As a fitness professional you must tailor and deliver your message to the right target. All great marketing campaigns start with a very clear and specific target market.

Once you truly understand your target market on a
deeper level, it’s time to start to market to them. I recently started working with a small club that had two genuine
lead generation strategies in place as part of their overall marketing plan. They knew their target market and were getting about 10 – 12 leads per week, whilst their actual target was 16 – 20. They knew their target market very well, but didn’t have “enough” lead generation strategies operating as part of their overall marketing plan to hit their weekly targets.

The 10 X 10 Marketing Machine Systemâ„¢

I went into their business and helped them recreate their marketing plan and deployed what I call, “The 10 X 10 Marketing Machine System™.” The 10 X 10 system is simply choosing 10 different lead generation strategies that each account for approximately 10% of your total marketing effort. The idea here is to maintain 10 lead generation strategies for your fitness business at all times and test and measure their overall effectiveness. After a period of time if the strategy is not performing (bringing in prospects), you replace it with a new strategy and test and measure the result.

Back to my fishing story momentarily. By the end of the night, we had caught a big fat zero, and the couple next to me had reeled in seven good-sized salmon. They knew their target market, and they had enough rods (strategies) in the water to be able to walk away feeling content. Now I didn’t ask either one of them, but I am 100% sure they didn’t catch all seven fish from the one fishing rod. They would have caught the fish with at least four and possibly all six of their rods. What this means in marketing parlance is that instead of having only one way to generate 100% of your members, you find ten ways to generate 10% of your members. So if one particular strategy is not performing or completely bombs, then you have another nine as part of your Lead Generation Machine. This is by far the easiest way I know to have a steady flow of new leads coming through your door week after week.

What Should a Lead Generation Strategy Achieve?

Your lead generation strategies will depend on where you want your fitness business to go. It forms a part of your overall business plan, goals and marketing objectives. The following are examples of what your overall business aim might be through deploying your lead generation strategies.

1. Bring in new members
2. Get existing members to spend more (to increase your average dollar sale)
3. Introduce new products and services to your existing members (increase transactions)
4. Increase your market share
5. Increase overall sales
6. Improve client/member loyalty (retention marketing)

It goes without saying that the process of catching clients is very similar to the process of catching fish. If you are going “fishing” for clients, doesn’t it make sense to apply the same logic to the process? Know your target market and what you are fishing for, then put multiple fishing rods in the water. If one rod in not reeling any fish in, then I’m sure the next one will.

Frank Smarrelli