I recently posted a status on Facebook and asked everyone what they would like to see on this blog in the future.
Quite a few people responded with “how about some train the trainer tips” so I’ve decided to do just that.
But instead of giving you some corny training tips (yawn) or a workout you could have come up with yourself, I decided to show you how you can grow your business.
And apparently more than a few people were willing to push pause on their game of Angry Birds to check out my post about self promotion the other day.
It’s crazy, but in the past few days it seems like I’ve been bombarded with emails, Facebook messages, and tweets from people asking me to post more clever tips which show you how to ‘get your name out there’ and market yourself and your business online.
Anyways, I’ve since decided to write a bit more about online fitness marketing, and hopefully I can teach a few of the tricks that I’ve learned during the 10 years or so that I’ve been online.
Today I’m going to talk about one of the most popular but virtually untapped strategies that many of the ‘gurus’ out there use to drive tons of traffic to their sites and build their business online. Some of this stuff you may already know…some stuff you may not know.
Either way, I hope you can learn at least a little something here today.
In case you don’t know anything about my background…and are wondering why the heck you should listen to me…I have a BS in Economics as well as an MBA and I’ve been working full time online primarily in fitness for almost a decade. Yes I’m a nerd lol. And as a former gym trainer myself (no I don’t work in a gym anymore) I know that the hardest thing in the world is to gain clients and build your business.
With literally millions of trainers on Facebook and Twitter all competing for the spotlight…how the heck can you separate yourself from the noise and establish yourself as “The Man”? (Or the wo-man)
It’s actually quite simple.
I’ve been in the fitness industry for a long time, and what separates the successful people from the people who are struggling to stay above water all comes down to marketing. If you’re a trainer…the trainer that makes two times your salary probably isn’t a better trainer than you…and if you are a fitness model…that girl or guy that books every gig probably isn’t that much better looking than you…if at all.
So what gives?
What’s the secret?
Here are the three main problems I see when it comes to fitness marketing…
1. Most people don’t want to invest any greenbacks into their online business.
2. Most people have no idea what they’re doing online.
3. Most people are a combo of all of the above.
Many peeps, especially trainers are conditioned to think that if they want more clients…and do more business that they have to do expensive postcard mailouts or newspaper print ads. Yawn. Really? Sure this stuff works if you do it right…but let me ask you this…
1. What’s the ROI on your newspaper ads?
2. How many leads did you generate from mailouts?
3. What is the cost per lead?
4. How do you actually know if the campaign is effective?
You have NO IDEA do you…
To me, old school advertising like this works much better for large companies with deep pockets because they can afford to throw money away on “branding”. Unless you own Coke, McDonalds, Walmart, or Starbucks, your money is best used in a more efficient manner. You need to measure results down to the last cent, and the best way to do that is via direct response marketing.
With that being said…here is one of my biggest online pet peeves. I’ve seen a ton of websites in my day and most of the unsuccessful sites in the fitness industry all seem to have this one weird common bond.
They all have a links page with a bunch of their friends banners on them…
A links page?
First of all…nobody in their right mind ever checks out your links page…not to mention this is an awful backlinking strategy…
Second of all…most of these sites that you have your banner one have very little traffic (why else would they offer the free advertising)…so your banner is practically useless on that site anyways…
Third…by having a bunch of banners on your links page you’re probably linking to a bunch of terrible sites that are making your own sites ranking go down.
Until now, I bet you have probably been wasting a ton of time creating social networking accounts, posting tons of free classified ads, posting in forums, maybe writing articles, and working like a slave only to see just a tiny trickle of traffic.
If you get lucky, you may get a few hundred visitors on a GOOD day…maybe even a blog comment lol…but here’s the thing…the ‘gurus’ have an alternate traffic source that they use that doesn’t involve Google or any of the other free traffic techniques that are listed above.
Becoming a fitness marketing rockstar does not mean slaving away spending hour after hour working on your computer, tweeting and status updating, commenting, and kissing ass online (aka networking) in order to kick serious ass online.
One of my favorite ways to make the competition cry online is by using paid media (also referred to as display advertising or media buying). The numbers are crazy and the traffic is virtually untapped.
So instead of throwing your banner up on a useless “links” page on some terrible website with no traffic whatsoever, why not pay a few bucks and place the same banner on a high traffic site or place it on an ad network?
Now before we even get started on what paid media actually is…don’t let the fact that it says “Paid” scare you because you can definitely be successful using this technique without breaking the bank if you just get a little education about how to use it.
That’s what separates the ‘gurus’ from the drowning hens…an online marketing education.
So listen up bro-cha-cho.
Media buying (paid media) is just a fancy term used for purchasing banner ad space on a website, ad exchange network, or website network.
Pretty simple stuff right?
The cool part is…it’s now the dominant form of traffic generation online with over $50 billion spent annually!
However, most people (who haven’t been lucky enough to find this blog yet lol) still spend hours using nothing but Google, essentially becoming ‘wage slaves’ for free traffic.
Now don’t get me wrong…free traffic is great if you’re just getting started but if you are a serious website owner who wants to see more traffic, more sales, and gain some market share, free traffic should never be your primary focus.
By solely relying on free traffic and/or free advertising, you waste valuable time and effort on traffic generation that is neither scalable nor consistent, and this is never a good formula for making massive amounts of sales or generating traffic.
Plus…many times if you add up the hourly earnings most people spend trying to generate free traffic that number is far below minimum wage.
Here’s the thing…Google is the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to online marketing…BUT… Google Search makes up for less than 20% of the total ad inventory available, and there are much better traffic options out there for online business owners than Google.
That means that the other 80% of the traffic is out there waiting for you to capitalize on!
Paid media is MUCH larger than Google and it encompasses non-Google pay per click, Tier 2 search, CPV networks, text links and ads, contextual traffic, email list rentals, domain networks, pop-ups, and large affiliate networks.
And with literally millions of blogs and pages coming online constantly, this increased supply means lower ad prices that can be significantly more cost effective than Google.
Media Buys/Paid Media Benefits
- Low cost of entry
- Massive traffic
- Brand building
- Market share
While Google is great, don’t get me wrong, its drawback is that it is restricted when it comes to certain targeting parameters and Google can only deliver ads based on search volume. However, there are literally billions of clicks, impressions, and unsold banner slots up for grabs on thousands of sites not owned by Google.
Paid media is a virtually untapped and little used method that allows you to drive massive amounts of traffic profitably, on an entirely self-funded basis and that’s the main reason the big guys in the industry love it. Plus, the problems you would run into with platforms such as Adwords and other PPC services never happen with media buys.
If you have wasted hundreds of dollars with pay per click advertising you know exactly what I mean.
The only drawback to paid media is that it can get pretty expensive and it can take an investment of few grand before you ever see much of a profit. However, don’t let that discourage you. There are several cheaper “work-a-rounds” that may be of interest to you.
I’m sure you’re already thinking…slow your roll Jamin…this sounds friggin impossible…how the heck am I supposed to pull this off?
Don’t worry I got you.
Here’s the strategy:
1) Do your research. Do searches on Google, MSN, and Yahoo using keywords that are related to your own website. (fitness, fat loss, health, nutrition, fitness modeling, etc) What you’ll want to do is find websites that rank high organically for the best paid search keywords.
You can also use the Google Ad Planner tool for this purpose. (If you use Ad Planner be sure to sort the results by the “comp index”) Target the websites with the highest comp index.
2) Spot a winner. From that search, look for sites that have banners, adsense, or various other types of ads running. It is a plus if you can buy banner space above the fold (meaning you can see it without having to scroll down) so check to see if they might have space available.
3) Contact the website. Look for a contact form or an email address for the website owner on the website. If you cannot find that information anywhere on the site you can go to http://whois.domaintools.com to see if you can find it there.
Here is a template that you can use when contacting the websites:
Dear sir or madam,
I am a direct response advertiser based in the United States and I am interested in purchasing banner inventory on your website. Based on my research, I think that your site would be perfect for a campaign that I am running. I would love the opportunity to be able to build a win-win advertising relationship with you so if you are interested, please email me back with your pricing options at your earliest convenience. I can also be reached by phone at (222)-222-2222. Kind regards. (Insert your name/company name)
Many times you will not get a reply but don’t let that discourage you. You don’t need to advertise on every site. If you have a 10% response rate that’s good, if you have a 20% response rate that’s great!
Most of the time, website owners are just bombarded with email (trust me I know this from personal experience) and it may take them a while to get back to you so if you want to speed up the process, just pick up the phone and call them.
4) Negotiate with the site owner. Profit margin should be your main focus so your goal here is to try to lock in the best rate you can (unless you can find a sucker who will let you throw your banner up there for free, or if you work out some sort of trade which is rare). The lower the rate, the more profit you will be able to make if you are offering products for sale such as eBooks or training packages so when the website owner gives you a price, try to negotiate it down, regardless of how great that price may seem.
You can get creative when you try to structure pricing deals with website owners, but a good tip is to ask for a cheaper rate in exchange for giving them more money up front.
Tip: Always start out with the smallest possible bid they will allow you to make, and if that price seems to be a bit high for you, ask them if you can do a “test buy” first. The most important thing here is just to be yourself and be 100% honest with the website owner. If the price is too much for you, don’t try to act like you’re all big time, just be up front with them. Besides…if you were big time your media buying team would be making the call for you anyway so just keep it real. If the website owners feel they can trust you, they will be much more flexible with you when negotiating terms.
5) The IO (Insertion Order) Once you have negotiated a price that you feel comfortable with, the next order of business is the insertion order.
This is basically just a contract which lays out all of the terms of the agreement. I strongly recommend you include a frequency cap, demographic targeting, day parting, an even clause, and a 24 hours out clause.
Frequency Cap: This is the number of times your banner is shown to the same IP address over a 24 hour period.
Demographic Targeting: This lays out which demographics you want to target. This is often done based on the IP address.
Day Parting: This lays out which hours of the day you want your banner ads to show. If you have lower profit margins during certain times, you will probably not want your ad to show during those times.
Even Clause: If you are doing a small media buy you really don’t need this one, but if you are doing a large media buy, this essentially means that your ad delivery will be evenly distributed each day.
24 Hours Out Clause: This clause allows you to opt out of the media buy within 24 hours if you are not satisfied with the results. So if your media buy is an epic fail you’ll have no need to worry.
Keep in mind that you won’t always get 100% of your money back, but you will get what you paid minus the cost of running your ad for 24 hours.
TIP: Be careful when using the 24 Hours Out Clause without the Even Clause for this one simple reason. Let’s say you decide to opt out of your media buy via your 24 Hours Out Clause and the website owner knows that you aren’t using an Even Clause. What some of these sites will do is put your banner up for long periods of time so that you’ll spend all of your money within that 24 hours. They really hate refunding money! By having an Even Clause though, you won’t have to worry about this.
6) Your Banner: If you are decent at graphic design you should have no problem creating your own banners to use for your media buys…but if you have no design experience whatsoever you can try putting in a request at www.elance.com or try downloading a 30 day trial of photoshop at www.adobe.com and browsing some online tutorials, then trying to create your own banner that way.
If you’re a hot chick though you can probably find a sucker to create one for you for free so just ask around
Keep in mind when creating and using banners that you’ll want to have a good click through rate because the more clicks you get the more potential profit you can make and the more traffic you’ll get. So banner optimization is very important.
Here are some banner optimization tips:
- Be bold, shocking, loud, and creative
- Use images of people, icons, food (even fast food)
- Use different headlines to increase CTR (click through rate)
- Use blinking arrows and text if you can
- Use blue underlined links (looks like it can be clicked)
- Start with a white background (test other colors later)
- Test gradient backgrounds
- Split test 5 different banner sizes
- Emphasize the benefits of your services
7) Reach ninja level: Once you have gotten your feet wet with small media buys you can now venture out and test the waters with the Ad Networks. I love working with the Ad Networks because they give you can literally get thousands of hits per day on your website and if you sell a product…you can potentially make thousands of dollars PER DAY depending on what products and services you’re advertising.
I have some friends who are making thousands of dollars per day using Ad Networks (yes I hate those bastards and you should too lol)! While making that much money may sound pretty awesome, the bad part about working with Ad Networks is that you have to spend a few thousand dollars before you will ever see a profit.
Yeah…its hard to reach a level 20 ninja…
So if you don’t have deep pockets to start out, you shouldn’t even waste your time with the networks because the amount of money it will take you to optimize your media campaign to where it is profitable could be substantial. You will lose money before you see a profit.
Besides…you will want to learn more about campaign optimization before you even think about testing those waters…trust me I know from personal experience
Buttttttttt if you want to start forming relationships and doing large buys with the Ad Networks here are a few of my personal favorites you can check out:
Recommended Ad Networks
Tip: Don’t join a large ad network if you are just getting started, many of them will want you to spend $5,000 or even $10,000 so I suggest you try using ad exchange websites or contacting websites directly. If you contact websites directly you can save yourself a bunch of time and likely get a flat rate or discounted price.
Keep in mind that if you are paying for traffic using paid media you don’t want to just pay for traffic and have those people leave your website without taking a specific action. You could have the #1 traffic website in the world but if it doesn’t make your business money what’s the point?
With that in mind, be 100% sure that you start building an email list of prospects, clients, etc TODAY and begin sending them amazing emails that are so loaded with content that they will be embarrassed to read them without paying you. Seriously!
If you have a website and you aren’t collecting email addresses on that site I really question your desire to become successful and cringe with every lost lead that you have. Think about it…I’m sure you are on a few ‘gurus’ mailing lists…and chances are they send you emails filled with content and value, or send you to buy a product, to their blog, to a partner website where they make a commission, etc.
Think about it.
Now act on it.
The two email services I recommend with the highest regard are GetResponse and Aweber. Neither is really better than the other it is just a matter of personal preference, but both programs are very good. Just make sure you sign up for one! (I think that you can sign up for Aweber for just $1)
In the highly competitive fitness industry you need to take more responsibility for your success AND your failures. You can’t get mad and complain when you see others around you becoming more successful and more popular. You can’t just read this post, click the ‘Like’ button or post a comment and then just go back about your day and never take action.
You can’t just sit on the sidelines and wait for “destiny” to kick in…then wait around and a year from now your business is in the same position it was last year or worse.
But since you made it to the end of this post I can tell you’re different. I know that you want more out of your modeling career, more out of your fitness business, and your life. I know that you want more freedom, more time, and more money. I know that you want to LIVE LARGE.
All you need to do now is take action.
Now go get it!