I don’t have to remind you that the fitness market is incredibly saturated.
The business model for trainers has shifted, and more trainers than ever are focusing their efforts on online training. I mean, the reach of clients is exponentially greater through the internet than in your town.
Hop on Instagram and you’ll quickly see the flood of fitness brands trying to make a name for themselves online. Do a quick Google search, and you’ll get thousands of hits of companies doing exactly what you are doing.
This business is not easy.
But you entered this field fully knowing that. Despite this obvious challenge, you know you have what it takes to stand out amongst the competition. I respect the hell out of that.
It’s going to be incredibly difficult to convince this gigantic market to buy what you are selling. There’s simply too many options out there for the customer to choose from.
That’s why it is so important to find your fitness niche.
Quite simply, when you focus on a niche, you are narrowing down your focus to a specific population. Whether it’s yoga enthusiasts, powerlifters, pregnant women, it doesn’t matter. You’re taking the entire population and focusing your energy on one specific group.
Niche marketing reduces the amount of competition you are up against and instantly transforms you into an expert within the demographic you are targeting. But we’ll get to all that.
Let’s look at a real life example. Check out the girls over at Tone It Up.
They’ve built up a successful business as well as a very large and loyal following online. Obviously there are a lot of factors that contribute to their success. But one very obvious reason is how they have successfully targeted a specific audience.
Clearly they are targeting females, that’s a given. But knowing that is still a huge population, they are focusing more specifically on females that want to look good in bikinis. If you browse through their site, most of their images are geared toward the outdoors and beaches. I mean, just check out their different workout programs.
It’s very clear who they are targeting, and they do a damn good job of it. The language they use here is also very important. “Toning” is typically a phrase used by women who are relatively new to the fitness world. I won’t get started on the term because it’s a hot button for me. However, any woman looking to “tone” her stomach in anticipation of summer is going to find herself right at home on this site.
You have a real, quality example to turn to. But now let’s explore a hypothetical situation to dig a little bit deeper.
There’s a man out there who is offering online coaching. Let’s call him Kevin.
Kevin wants to create a workout program and sell a PDF to earn some passive income, so he starts writing his content and taking photos. It’s a full-body workout, done three times per week. He builds this 7-page PDF with a beautiful cover and he’s psyched about it. He is very proud of the content, and he’s prepared to sell to anyone who wants a solid workout.
The title of this program is “The Full-Body Program For Anyone!” Kevin doesn’t want to alienate anyone, so he makes sure it is applicable to people of all fitness levels.
He puts his program up for sale and blasts his email list and social media audiences with the link to buy.
He gets a few hits, but not nearly what he was expecting.
He knows his content is awesome, but people just aren’t biting.
The problem here is that it’s impossible to appeal to everyone. A more advanced lifter doesn’t want to buy a workout program that is applicable to a novice. Likewise, a beginner is turned off to the program because Kevin is in amazing shape, and they disregard the title and assume that Kevin is too hardcore.
Clearly, he needs to rethink his approach.
Let’s change things up and take this same situation, but with a specific niche in mind.
Kevin’s personal transformation has been very impressive. Most notably, he turned his skinny chicken legs into massive tree trunks. Having struggled with tiny calves his entire life, he now struts around defined, well-developed calf muscles.
Instead of creating a generic workout program, Kevin creates “6 Weeks to Bigger Calves For the Genetically-Challenged”.
Kevin knows that there is a rather large population of lifters out there who struggle to grow their calves. He knows that genetics are a major blame here. Having overcome this issue himself, he sets out to help others with the same problem.
Using the same approach of email blasts and social media sharing, Kevin puts his program out there, but this time speaking directly to the tiny-calf market.
Side note- I’m a part of this market. If anyone knows how to beat horrible calf genetics, please let me know. I’ve yet to find a solution.
Kevin found a niche and tailored his content directly for them. Because of this, his sales skyrocket, and he quickly becomes a calf-building expert.
This doesn’t just apply to online training, either.
Planet Fitness positions themselves as an anti-gym, and their marketing directly targets non-lifters and those who are intimidated by “normal” gyms.
Does alienating advanced lifters hurt Planet Fitness’ membership sales?
The opposite, actually. Planet Fitness is wildly successful operating as a true “no judgement zone,” and their audience is huge. They’re not missing a thing.
So, how do you find your fitness niche?
- Personal trainers: Look at your past clients. Is there a specific demographic that you enjoy working with the most? If you find a lot of success training teenage males just starting out, then focus your attention there. If you are a middle-aged mother and seem to attract other mothers looking to get into shape, then become a trainer for moms looking to get into shape!
- Gym owners: You want your gym to be a “gym for everyone”. That’s nice and all, but you realistically cannot expect to reach the entire population. If you truly want absolutely anyone to join your gym, then you need to at least find what sets you apart. Does your gym have some of the best cardio equipment around? Do you offer powerlifting options that most gyms don’t? Cardio movie theatre? There is something that makes you unique, and you need to make sure everybody knows it. Once you know what it is that sets you apart, you can market yourself to the population that cares about it! If you truly cannot figure out what makes you unique, then you need to re-evaluate what you are doing here.
- Fitness brands: You want your brand to stand out amongst the competition, but you’ll be hard-pressed to try to become a leader in the industry by trying to appeal to everybody. Take what ROGUEAMERICAN does. They sell fitness-related clothing and accessories, but check out their mission statement: To be the leading brand of high end, fashionable apparel recognized by the elite Military, High Threat Security Professionals, Law Enforcement and Extreme Sports communities. They found their niche, and tailor their products to that market. I appreciate their products and find myself interested in what they are selling, and I certainly do not fit into any of those three categories. Focusing on one specific market doesn’t mean you’re ignoring everyone else, it just means you have a clear focus. Find your market, and attack it head-on.
The absolute most important thing here is to focus on the market that actually resonates with you.
Don’t focus your attention on where you think the money is.
Again, do not choose a niche based on where you THINK the money is. This is incredibly important.
When you are truly passionate about what you are doing and who you are working with, the money will find you. Choose your niche based on your passion and values and be true to yourself.
Not to throw LA Fitness under the bus… but I’m going to. In my opinion, that is a franchise that is only focused on making money. They do not care about their members, who joins, or how they behave. All they care about is money. (Sorry if I offend any LA Fitness employees out there. I’ve had a few very bad experiences with them and I know I am not alone)
People know if you are full of crap. Your customers & clients are not stupid. Stay true to your values, do not chase the money, and people will take notice.
A genuine love for what you do and what you are selling is always going to reign supreme.
Not only that, but if you focus on the audience that you actually know a thing or two about, you’ll know how to effectively sell to them.
Take it from me. As a web consultant & designer, I could have tried to reach for the entire world. I mean, the internet is a pretty big place.
But I am passionate about the fitness industry and happen to know a lot about it. That’s why I am giving it all of my attention. Am I missing out on working with super rich surgeons, investment bankers, and lawyers? Sure, but I know nothing about their businesses. I know a thing or two about fitness.
If you’re currently targeting a specific market, great! That’s a step in the right direction. However, you still need to evaluate how you are actually marketing to them.
It’s one thing to say “my company sells motivational fitness apparel” but that is not a market. Everybody wants motivation.
Who are you actually targeting?