3 Keys to Building Your Fitness and Wellness Brand Online
In a world where there is so much competition in the fitness industry, your brand can make or break you. Add in a global pandemic.
You’ve had to distance from your staff and clients and move to a virtual offering. When you’re used to the personalized, social and emotional aspects of your fitness classes, it feels like an uphill battle to attract and retain new and current clientele through only a screen.
So what is a brand anyway? According to Forbes:
“Your ‘brand’ is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name. It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your name brand offering—both factual (e.g. It comes in a robin’s-egg-blue box), and emotional (e.g. It’s romantic). Your brand name exists objectively; people can see it. It’s fixed. But your brand exists only in someone’s mind.”
In our recent webinar Building Your Brand: Telling Your Story in the Time of COVID , learning and development manager Matt Garfinkle spoke about the importance of crafting compelling messages to help you stand out. (Watch the full webinar here). He identified three keys to growing your audience so your brand outshines the competition during and after the COVID pandemic:
- Use storytelling to engage and inspire your audience
- Use your videos to build community
- Actually meet people where they are
But what do each of those things actually mean? Let’s dive a little deeper.
Key 1: Storytelling to Engage Your Audience
The story you tell your audience will make or break whether they stay with you or go somewhere else; especially after COVID.
When you’re thinking about your brand, it really boils down to the story you tell about yourself and your business. According to Matt, both process and content for virtual classes are important.
The content of your virtual classes, including your background, your preparedness, and the connection from class to class tell a story about you. In a world where many of us are filming from home, we have to be that much more aware of the perceived story we are telling:
- Are you organized or messy?
- Are you motivating or tired?
- Do the attendees feel like you are talking to them, or talking to a screen?
Before your next video, follow these quick actionable steps:
- Clear out your background so that it is organized
- Prep for your class beforehand so you know your plan
- Mix in some actual stories.
“Storytelling is really about taking people out of the now and transporting them to somewhere else. You can use it to engage and inspire your folks to push them harder or to learn more about you and your approach. Regardless of how you do it, storytelling makes your program more interesting.”
So what types of stories should you mix into your classes?
“Short, sweet, to the point, would be first...If you tell that short, sweet, to-the-point, impactful story in one session, you can reference it in subsequent sessions. What that's going to do, is it's going to provide more of a hook for people that are there who've been to your previous sessions.
If you [told an] impactful story in one session, you can reference it in future sessions that you hold. What that's going to do is it's going to make people feel like they're part of the community because they know ‘the joke’; they know the story.
It's going to keep people coming back for more because it's not a standalone thing. It's part of a larger process.”
Key 2: Building Community Matters
Make people feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
In today’s virtual world, the thing that gets lost immediately is the true personal connection with other people. As an instructor, you have the ability to change that by building and maintaining a community.
“Make people feel that they're part of something that's bigger than themselves. This is actually going to get them to work harder because they don't want to let down the group.
So the biggest thing that you can do as an instructor to get your people there, keep them there, and to keep them coming back, is to help weave their identity into being a part of your group or your class.
So, the more people feel connected or internally obligated to attend your sessions, the more your audience numbers are going to go up.”
So in your next class, think about what it feels like to teach an actual audience. Picture the person on the other side and ask them how they’re feeling. You may not receive a response, but the viewers are going to feel your message a lot stronger.
Key 3: Meet People Where They Are
Your focus on the people will set you apart.
Matt spoke about how, in his experience, fitness instructors are masters of their craft, but can lack the connection with their audiences at times. In meeting people where they are, instructors build credibility and relatability.
But in order to do it, instructors must realize that most people are not in the same mental or physical shape that they were 10 months ago:
“Chances are when [people] show up to a virtual class, [they’re] not feeling as great as [they] did 10 months ago. The fact that you've got diverse people in the class means that you have people of all physical abilities and strengths and being able to be flexible with what you're saying [will help to] meet them where they are.
People are hurting and they're missing all of the connection and the simulation, and they've chosen to be with you to get their exercise. If you can find ways to trigger their thought process, as well as their bodies, they're going to become, for lack of a better word, kind of addicted to going to your classes, and that's what you want.”
So What Can You Do Next?
Running a fitness studio or building a wellness practice is no small feat. Running your business during a global pandemic is that much more difficult. But you can navigate and excel in this on- and off-line world if you utilize three things: storytelling, building community and meeting people where they are. Doing these things will not only give you a new voice, but also, one that is loud enough to resonate with clients and keep them coming back, with or without a pandemic.