When I decided about ten years ago that I wanted to do something in addition to marketing, I was tossing up between becoming a university lecturer or a Les Mills group fitness instructor.
I decided to go down the instructing path. I was already spending a lot of time at the gym and honestly, how hard could it be? You just learn the choreography, get on stage, press play and tell people what to do – this will be a piece of cake I thought.
I had presentation experience in the corporate world, I didn’t have a fear of standing on stage and talking, I was pretty fit and strong, this should be easy right?
I soon found out that it was a hell of a lot harder than what I thought it would be, that saying the right things at the right time was bloody difficult, correcting people’s form was intimidating to do, that talking and exercising at the same time was so much more demanding, I was breathless half the time. At the start all I could manage was just remembering the choreography.
I soon discovered that if I wanted to be a good instructor, it was going to take a lot of practice and a lot of work. So I taught at every gym I could in Sydney, put together scripts, tried to make my technique stronger and thought of a few motivational things to say.
After a while I thought I was getting pretty good. I participated in other instructor’s classes who had been teaching for a lot longer than me to get some ideas. I soon realised these guys were light years in front of me on every front and I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought I was. So again what did I have to do to get myself to a higher standard? Taking advanced courses, learning new skills, networking, getting advice from as many instructors as possible and of course to keep practicing as much as I physically could. It was tough but it certainly made a difference.
To me, instructing and marketing have a lot in common – they both appear to be easy to the untrained eye, but you have no idea of how much work goes on behind the scenes.
It is true that marketing comes down to a lot of common sense but you know what they say – common sense isn’t as common as what you think! And as with exercise, there are always new and improved ways which you need to be on top of (what worked five years ago, may not be as effective now). And with social media playing a major role in marketing strategies, the changes are happening even more rapidly and are dramatically the landscape of how you market your business.
Oh hang on I hear you say, you have done a short marketing course, bought a lead generation book, attended a marketing presentation, read an article on the Web, use social media on a regular basis, so you know everything you need to know. Well like instructing, it takes a bit more than this to be a marketing guru.
Like being a great instructor, personal trainer or sports coach, marketing takes time, experience and research. But just as everyone thinks they are a great car driver, everyone thinks they are a great marketer.
So ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a marketing plan?
- Do you know what you want marketing to achieve for your business?
- Do you have a clear definition of your target audience?
- What are you offering that no one else does?
- What are your members saying about you?
- How are you going to capture the attention of your target audience?
- Do you know which marketing channels are working and what aren’t?
- How do you measure marketing success?
- What are your competitors doing?
When it comes to social media marketing, ask yourself this:
- Do you have a social media plan?
- What do you want to achieve with social media?
- What are the best social media platforms for your business?
- Do you have a strategy for each platform you use?
- Is your content interesting and relevant to your audience?
- How are you getting your fans and followers involved and engaged?
- Are you listening to what people are saying about you and your competitors?
- How would you respond if someone said something negative about you or your business?
- Are you measuring the success of your social media activities?
If you don’t know the answer to these basic marketing questions, then maybe you aren’t quite the expert you thought you were. I find people have a good grasp of the basics, but when I drill down to uncover the details, this is where people tend to be a bit hazy. As one couple recently told me, the more they learn about marketing, the more they realise just how hard it actually is.
It is easy to be a participant in an exercise class, watch the instructor and think, yes I could do that, really how hard is it? But as with marketing, a good instructor makes the job look easy – 90% of the work is done away from the stage.
Marketing is too important and is usually too time consuming a role to do on your own. This is not an activity that should be taken lightly or seen as any one could do it. Marketing is about the reputation of your brand to an indefinite number of current or prospective customers. Be careful who looks after your marketing. A poor PT or instructor can cause more harm than good, just like an inadequate marketing person can damage your brand. Like the fitness industry, there are thousands of self-proclaimed experts out there, but you need a professional who understands your business, knows marketing back to front, and honestly cares about your success.