A few years ago I came to a crossroads with my online fitness business. Sales had been growing steadily each year. Profits were up. The outlook was good. But, I thought it was time to bring in an expert who could help speed up the growth process.
I began searching for a business coach who could help me take my business to the next level. Here’s what I came across after a quick Google search:
“Small Business Coach”
“Marketing Coach for Business Owners”
“Online Fitness Business Coach”
Simply by looking at those three descriptions, which coach do you think I hired?
Yes, of course, I chose the coach who specialized in exactly the type of business I was growing – I chose the third coach. She spent all of her time coaching online fitness entrepreneurs.
She knew the industry. She understood the challenges I faced. She got me.
Hiring this coach was a no-brainer.
Are You a “No-Brainer” Choice?
Think about the way you’ve positioned your fitness services. Do you describe yourself in general terms like the first two business coaches I passed over?
Many fitness professionals do this all the time:
“I am a weight-loss expert.”
“I help people get stronger and leaner.”
“I train athletes to perform their best.”
While each of those descriptions offers a bit of insight into what you offer, none of them are powerful like the description of that third business coach I hired. None of them would leave people saying, “This is exactly the coach I’ve been looking for!”
There is a saying that goes something like this:
“People won’t ask for expert advice from a generalist, but they certainly will ask for general advice from an expert.”
Are you marketing yourself as a generalist or as an expert?
If you’re a generalist, chances are you’re always going to have to work a little bit harder to find new clients, a bit harder to close sales, and a whole lot harder to really scale up your business.
You know the saying: “The riches really are in the niches.” It’s true in every industry. So, if you haven’t found your niche yet, now is the time.
How to Build a Profitable Fitness Business by Finding Your Niche
Before we dive into the questions you need to answer in order to find your niche, let’s define what a niche really is:
A niche is a tiny segment of people from within the very large health and wellness market. These people have common characteristics; they have common needs; and are they are interested in common products and services.
So, by this definition, “weight loss” is not a niche. Nor is “helping people get strong.” Even something slightly more specific like, “coaching moms to get fit” isn’t a powerful niche because it’s still quite broad.
What is a good niche? Here are the 3 questions that will you find yours:
Question #1: Who Do You Love?
This step is simple. If you are going to be viewed as a true expert in your field, you have to love working with the clientele in your chosen niche.
Being an expert means more than working with an exclusive group of people. It means immersing yourself in their lives. You need to intimately understand their hopes, dreams, desires, pains, frustrations, and past failures if you are going to become THE expert who can help them better than anyone else.
For me, this means understanding women who are going through menopause. I read about their hormone shifts, I study exercise routines that could be useful to them, I host menopause experts on my podcast to learn more and to spread helpful information. I fixate on this niche and I love helping them.
Your Turn: You need the same passion for the clientele within the niche you choose. Who do you absolutely love working with?
Question #2: What’s the Problem?
Once you’ve identified the type of client you love working with, it’s important to determine the problem you can solve for those clients. Simply determining that you want to work with new moms or businessmen, for instance, isn’t enough. What is the exact value you are going to offer?
Going back to my own niche (i.e. women during their menopause years), this is still a very broad group of people. Some women in that age group may be looking to have a full-body makeover, while others may want help training for a marathon, and some may need help with injury recovery, early onset arthritis, or a host of other medical issues.
It would be impossible for me to be an expert in all of those areas, so I had to narrow my focus even more. I chose to help women in menopause who want to lose just 10 pounds.
Those women who are looking to lose 100 pounds may use my products and services, but I ONLY position myself as an expert in helping clients lose 10 pounds. My ideal clients aren’t far from their ideal weight, but they need a little help to get over the hump. This is a real problem that I can help my clients solve.
Your Turn: Think back to the clients you love working with. What is a specific problem that you see them struggling with over and over again? Can you create a solution to that problem, therefore becoming an expert in their eyes?
Question #3: Is There Room For You?
The final step of finding your perfect fitness niche is assessing its growth or profit potential.
Some niches are so large that they’ve already attracted many well-established experts. For example, if you perform a Google search for “learn to run coach,” you’ll see that this market segment is quite saturated.
Simply because there are professionals already operating in your chosen niche, doesn’t mean it’s a poor choice, but you do need to think about how much “catching up” you’ll have to do in order to be seen as one of THE experts in that area.
The more specific your niche, the easier it will be for you to seize that market, grow quickly, and become very profitable.
It can be scary to focus all of your marketing energy on one small segment of potential clients, but just remember, you don’t need thousands and thousands of fans to run a very profitable business. Instead, you need a relatively small but fiercely loyal group of followers. That’s all.
Your Turn: It’s time to research your niche. How many other trainers, coaches, studios, etc. are providing a similar service? How much room is there for your business to grow within that market segment?
If a niche looks crowded, stay away. It’s almost always better to define an even tighter niche than it is to fight it out in a broader space that’s already spoken for.
People tend to gravitate towards others who “get us.” We want to be known and understood. This is true in personal relationships and it’s certainly true when it comes to client-coach relationships.
By defining who you serve and what problems you solve, you can quickly become an expert in your field. At that point, the clients will come to you and you will experience the riches in the niches.
Dave Smith is a professional fitness and weight-loss coach who was chosen as “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013. He shares health and weight-loss tips through his blog and podcast at makeyourbodywork.com and helps fitness professionals grow their online businesses at onlinetrainersfederation.com.