How To Write A Personal Training Business Development Plan
The first thing you should do to own your fitness business is learn how to write a personal training business development plan. Even if you’re still working on becoming a certified personal trainer, that’s okay. A business plan is the foundation of your future fitness career- whether it’s working for a gym or running your own company. Most personal trainers will skip this step, making a longer road to success. A personal training business plan starts with drafting your market positioning and knowing who your target market is. This helps build a marketing strategy and marketing plan down the road. You’ll consider how your services will solve a problem for them.
The process is easier than the average trainer thinks. And it’s the key to getting more personal training clients, coaching customers, and building a profitable business. Follow this step-by-step guide to unlock answers to how you’ll structure training prices, sessions, and packages to get more clients and scale your fitness business.
Step 1: Identify Your Target Market
Every part of marketing stems from knowing the problems your product or service will solve. More importantly, it’s about knowing who you’re solving the problem for. The “who” is your target market. Specifically, a target market is a particular group of consumers at which a product or service is for.
Broadly, you know you’ll offer personal training. Therefore, “defining your target market” might seem like a waste of time, since everyone should workout and eat better. But, how you end up talking to prospective clients and gaining their business varies. Start by taking it piece by piece or, persona by persona.
A marketing persona is a brief description of someone who shares the same interests, priorities, and concerns as a specific buyer of your business.
Soon, you’ll be reading about the problems your target market has and how you solve them. Knowing this, means it’s important to define the different buyer personas you’ll have. For personal training, we’ll look at two common personas who seek help with their fitness goals. Read here about all the different types of personal training clients.
‘Ready — For — Action’ Major Weight Loss Goal Clients
This persona has a fitness goal of losing at least 50 pounds. Maybe it’s closer to 100. They may have a recent health scare or don’t want to be on medication anymore. These weight loss clients are different from others who physically fit the profile. They know, want, and are committed to losing weight. Their fitness motivation is on point. This is critical to know, so if someone uses words like “my doctor wants me to lose weight” or “I really should lose weight” you can see they don’t fit the profile.
Instead, this client persona uses phrases like “I’m sick of being overweight and ready for a change” or “I’ll do whatever it takes”. What’s great about these personal training clients is they need your help, and you can help them see drastic changes. Money might be an issue with them,, but the commitment outweighs the financial investment. The two of you will need to work together to build the weight loss program that works best for both parties.
Currently Active And 10 – 20 Pounds Overweight
This persona already dabbles in fitness and nutrition. They aren’t experiencing a life scare but know they could shed a few more pounds. Since they already know the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating, you don’t have to convince them of this. Instead, you might find that the objection is about money or a pre-existing “understanding” of what they should be doing.
This persona is likely in the age range of 25 – 40 and middle income. They might have done other forms of group training or fitness classes before but didn’t stick with it. For this persona, you’ll find a lower price point package with value they don’t already have works best. Rather than slashing prices, you’ll find something that’s lower touchpoint and likewise more cost friendly. For example, they can register for an online fitness challenge you host or opt in for program oversight to get the fitness accountability they need.
Remember, there are so many more personas than the two we have here. You can also develop the profiles for personas such as active seniors, muscle gainers (hypertrophic clients), race runners and more. We’ll use these two personas for the rest of this reading assignment as examples.
Step 2: Define The Client Persona Problem
Before any new business owner sells a product, they need to know the problem they’re solving for. This puts a value on the product or service they offer. Your new personal training business is no different. Again, it might seem simple enough to say the problem is “excess weight”. However, the more you can dig into the specific problem of a persona, the better you’ll be able to communicate and cater to them. Further, knowing the specific problem will also help you find differentiation among your potential competitors. Differentiation is a specific detail about your business that sets you apart from others.
Let’s explore the problems of our two personas. Of course, marketing is often generalizing, we know that. Not every prospective client will have the same challenges. Over time, you’ll be able to refine your marketing and positioning. It will help you get all of your marketing efforts more targeted.
Problems For Major Weight Loss Goal Clients
People who have 50 plus pounds to lose need more than just an exercise plan. They might have years of unhealthy habits they worked on. And, their support network is probably similar. They tried to lose weight before,, so they’ll be worried they’ll fail again. Likewise, there will be other barriers preventing them from healthy habits. For example, maybe they’re overworked and under stress. This leads to poor sleep and then further bad choices. Or, their family isn’t on board with their fitness goal and the potential client isn’t good at prioritizing their personal health. Over time, you’ll be able to refine your persona as you see more patterns come up. For this example, we’ll say the primary problems a major weight loss client faces are:
- A track record of attempts and failures
- A lifestyle with interconnected, unhealthy habits.
Problems Active, Minimal Weight Loss Clients
We said these prospective clients already know a little about healthy eating and fitness. However, they’re always chasing a different or better version of themselves. Even though they try living a fit lifestyle, they seem to only fluctuate a few pounds at a time. And, it’s still not getting them to where they really want to be. In part, it could be because of trending diets that get them “in shape” for a specific event. However, the weight quickly comes back.
We can also assume they’re bought into the journey. It’s possible that money is an issue for them. But the question can be, is it really money that’s the issue? Or, does this future client feel like they have what they need and therefore don’t need the additional support from a fitness professional. Some problems you might have to overcome are:
- Proof or guarantee of your services with other clients
- Flexible packages with different features and price points.
Step 3: Create The Solution
Next up is how your business will solve the unique problem of the customer persona. Thinking things like personas, problems, and solutions will make your marketing on point and give you direction as a new business owner. People make buying decisions based on how it will improve their lives. If a person really wants to lose weight, they’ll find a way to lose weight (or try to). But they can find a gym, group fitness instructor, or personal trainer anywhere. What’s more, most people can learn what they need to do for free online. Your solution should be something that your customer will pay for you to solve. Further, it should be something that makes the experience better. Let’s solve for our two personas.
Solutions For Major Weight Loss Goal Clients
If these individuals worry about failure. And, they see the process as an unenjoyable uphill battle. Your personal training business offers:
- A guarantee of success (fitness goal attainment) with compliance
- Small easy changes that make a big difference
Solutions For Active, Minimal Weight Loss Clients
The minimally overweight person values fitness and nutrition. But, this client wants to know they’re getting something unique they can’t find at their local gym. Similarly, they want a personal experience- almost concierge style. This is because they know about diet and exercise. You’ll have to create a better experience for them. Therefore, you need to solve these problems in how you run your personal training business. Your fitness and nutrition services offer:
- No commitment packages with flexible pricing
- A fully personalized program
- A fun and challenging experience
Step 4: Finalize The Positioning And Product Description
Next in developing your personal training business plan is positioning this together to communicate your differentiated service. Your positioning statement is a short description of your target market and how you’ll solve their problems. At this point, it should be easy. You’re simply coming up with one to two sentences on whom you’re helping and how.
Positioning For Major Weight Loss Goal Clients
“For the client who wants to lose 50 pounds or more, our personal training company gives you a piece of mind knowing that we guarantee your results. We make sure getting healthy is something you can stick to over the long haul. We help you make the small changes that make a big difference in the long run. Feeling fit has never been easier.”
Positioning For Active, Minimal Weight Loss Clients
“For the person who loves to work out and knows they can take it a step further, our personal training business offers the most personalized and engaging program. And we’re so sure you’ll love our challenging but fun experience, we offer no commitment and flexible package pricing.”
With the high level marketing strategy complete, you can start drafting the business plan. Too many new certified personal trainers start training without even developing a business plan to begin with. Writing the actual business plan now will give you the momentum you need to have a personal training company become a profitable business. You’ll augment your marketing positioning plan to include:
Step 6: Projecting Conversion Rates & Projections
Initially, you’ll get most of your leads and prospects from doing follows and unfollows on social media. This will be the fastest way to start growing your online clientele if you’re planning on starting an online personal training business. In a hybrid model, you can do print marketing and other forms of outreach to work with clients online and in person.
Approximately 1% of the people you market to, whom you have no initial relationship with (top of sales funnel), will transform into paid personal training clients in one to four months, with most of them converting at six weeks.
For simplicity purposes, the breakdown looks like this:
- Market to 100 people through print or social media marketing
- 10% will follow or contact you, leaving you with 10 new leads
- 50% of those leads will show interest and convert to a trial client, giving you 5 new qualified leads who “try before they buy”.
- 50% of those qualified leads will actually follow through with the low stakes service you offered, therefore about 3 are highly qualified and interested buyers.
- 30% will opt into a paid personal training package
For every 100 people you reach out to, 1 person will convert to a client.
If you reach 1,000 individuals in one month, you can expect a return of 10 paying individuals to add to your client base. That will lead to $3,000 — $5,000 gross revenue per month (depending on your package pricing)
Again, this is a very conservative estimate. By doubling the time you spend on marketing (reaching 2k people), you can see $6,000 — $8,000. This can be done with 1,000 social media follows and 1,000 canvassed homes.
Step 7: Marketing To Customer Segmentation
You already have a profile of your target market, including a persona description, the problems they face, solutions for them, and how to describe your service to them. Now, you need to prepare for exactly how you will find them. We’ll look at both examples for social media marketing and print marketing.
Social Media Customer Segmentation
As you start embarking on following others to get the reciprocal follow, you need to be strategic. Following anyone does not help your business when they follow you back. If you are catering to people who want to lose a moderate amount of weight (20 – 50 pounds), look for people who:
- Are friends with someone you personally know or have a connection with and represent as similar to the persona. This can also be someone who asks you for fitness advice.
- Have a variety of posts, not specific to healthy eating and exercise. Someone who is posting meal prep Sundays or workout of the day likely has a good relationship with fitness and food and doesn’t necessarily need your help.
- Have other similar interests to your persona sketch. For example, if you’re looking to help moms regain their confidence and health, you might look for people who post images of their younger children.
- Somewhat healthy habits and a positive outlook. For example, maybe they post images from hiking or walking. Or, maybe they show a medal from a 5k run they completed. This implies they’re open to a healthier way of life.
- Follow the other like-minded businesses like a local fast casual restaurant.
Print Marketing Customer Segmentation
In these cases, you’ll send out promotional mailers, leaving advertising material in local businesses, or flyering (canvassing) a neighborhood. In these instances, it’s harder for you to gauge a person’s interest. However, you can gauge certain demographics. More importantly, you should ask yourself these types of questions:
- How far am I willing to drive?
- What zip codes include my target market?
- What are the cross streets of locations I need to market to?
Step 8: Designing The Customer Relationship
When you think of your customer relationship, again, you have to be exact to the target market. You need to think about the entire customer experience this segment will have with you. For example, if the market you’re working on are the moderately overweight moms with a touch and go fitness relationship, ask yourself these questions:
- How will they first hear from me? Will it be from social media or marketing?
- What types of content will they want from me? Will it be motivational or expert advice? Will I include nutrition information or keep it specific to fitness?
- When do I expect to have them follow me back or contact me?
- What “trial” product will they be most interested in?
- When do I expect they’ll opt in for my “trial” product or service?
- How will they reach me? Will it be by phone or online?
- Will they receive a quote over the phone or by email?
- After their trial service, what type of relationship will they want from me? What will be most valuable for them? Will it be a follow-up and newsletters?
- How will I interact with them during our first encounter? For example, will you explain how online or hybrid training works when you connect, or will you send them this information? Will you explain to them what will take place during the training session and the ongoing relationship? How and when will you ask for payment?
- When will they hear from me again? Will it be through a monthly email newsletter? Will it be through social media or a follow-up phone call?
Certain aspects, like email marketing, you don’t know yet. However, this is a working plan you can go back and revise as you learn more about running your own business. For now, it gets you started and allows you to advance to the next step and plan.
Step 9: Listing Key Customer Acquisition Activities
Now that you detailed more about your target market, it’s time for you to give your future self a plan of how to grow your client base with existing clients. We’ll use the target market example of moderate weight loss. To plan your social media and canvassing marketing, ask these questions:
- How many hours do I want to spend marketing to this group?
- Which type of content will be good for them as a whole?
- When are they most active on social media platforms?
- How frequently should I promote?
- When and how will I follow up after the first contact?
Once you answer these questions, you can develop an “execution plan”. You’ll look ahead to the first month and plan your calendar around when you’ll market toward each segment.
Is a profit of $3,000 enough to sustain you for the first operational month?
If you follow the lead conversion projections listed in Step 6, you will reach 2,000 people through social media and print marketing in one month. With a 1% conversion rate and financial projections, you are estimating to make $3,000 — $4,000 per month 30 – 45 days after this big push.
The number of existing clients you have will ramp up in your second operational month of business. However, you need to ask yourself if $3,000 can get you by until that 30 days has passed. If the answer is yes, great. Continue through the activities on your business plan.
If this is not enough, or if you want to ramp up faster, you’ll need to do more social media marketing or canvassing. The leads and conversions are a numbers game. As you get better at identifying your target market and reaching them on the right medium and with an offer they can’t refuse, the accuracy of these numbers will improve.
Step 10: Putting It Together Into A Personal Trainer Business Plan
This last step is the easiest. You consolidate all the business planning into one place. This type of business plan is heavy on a marketing plan and execution. It is intended for you to be the only person initiating the business, rather than pitching it to investors or buyers. This can happen once your business is profitable and scalable. For now, use this business plan as a map to your future in the fitness industry. Follow this sequence in your business plan.
- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Here, use three to four sentences describing your business (using your marketing positioning statement), how you’ll find and market to potential buyers, the general customer experience, and the financial expectations.
- TARGET MARKET: Here, use the buyer persona, problem they face, and your product solution.
- POSITIONING STATEMENT: This should be one to three sentences and summarize what’s special about what you offer. Include key differentiation from other competitors.
- CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION: Here, explain your customer segmentation and where you’ll find them, how you’ll attract them, etc.
- EXPLAIN THE CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP: In a few sentences, describe how the customer will interact with you before and after the purchase.
- CUSTOMER ACQUISITION ACTIVITIES: Now, include the details you listed in Step 9. Include the exact activities you’ll be doing on a weekly basis, the expected conversion, rate of return, and revenue projections.
As you can see, a business plan doesn’t have to include unnecessary details. It has to be useful for whoever is looking at it. If you plan to work in a gym or boutique fitness center first, this is fine. The activity will help you get more clients working for someone as you start as a new personal trainer. It will give you the practice you need for when you’re ready to branch off on your own and take the steps to starting a personal training business.
If all you’re waiting for is to get your personal training certification, EMAC CPT makes learning about fitness easy, fast, and fun. In addition to knowing how to conduct comprehensive fitness assessments and develop workout programs, you’ll learn about the art of coaching. Knowing the art of coaching includes education, motivation, and accountability- a recipe for guaranteed client success. This is your differentiator.
Enroll in the EMAC CPT today and earn your certification in as little as 30 days. And if you want the complete step-by-step guide to starting an online coaching business, enroll in the supplementary EMAC Online Coaching Certification.