The Million Dollar Marketing Model

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personal trainer marketing planCan you really market your business without spending thousands of dollars per month? Where do you market? Who do you market to? What advertising mediums do you use? What’s the best use of the money you have right now? If you’ve ever asked yourself those questions, you’re in luck! After over a decade of testing, re-testing, and tracking my results, I have all those answers for you and a couple more you may not have even thought about… Enjoy!

Hi S3 Members!

I wanted to write you an updated post of what I would spend my hard earned dollars on right now if I was just starting out, or I had a few thousand dollars to spend.

Yes, you may start small, but this is actually my MILLION DOLLAR MARKETING MODEL!

The first thing you must do is listen (or re-listen) to the “Getting Started MP3” that you get as a new S3 Member. It’ll be listed under “Resources” I believe.. and as always you can just type the keyword MP3 into the search box on the top right hand column of this Member’s site.

After that you should re-review all of your various marketing options under “Offline” and “Online” marketing. If you don’t, you may not have any idea what I’m talking about below ; )

Alright, I made a promise to a few Smart Studio Systems Members to make the S3 posts a tad shorter so that they could reread everything multiple times quickly… but there’s just so much to say! I will do my best though to keep it concise and to the point.

“Now on to the good stuff!”

Please follow the 5-6 “Steps” below in how to plan your marketing budget and roll-out of advertising pieces.

Of course, I recommend starting starting out small, biringing in some new clients, and then reinvesting in your business.

Most of the CPTs I work with can invest $500 – $1,000 per month in advertising… and the GREAT NEWS is that that’s all you really need to get started off with a bang!

Remember, if you spend $500, it should bring in $500 over the next 12 weeks to at least breakeven – neither one of us are in the business of losing money! This is why you’ll ask each and every new client that signs up or comes in for a complimentary fitness consultation, “how’d you hear about us?

You will then use this and the special offer cards (rack cards, doorhangers, business card coupons, etc.) as a way of tracking your advertising investment dollars. It’s a simple system that won’t steal more time or energy from your day.

Now it’s time to get started!

Step 1: One-Time Start Up Costs

million dollar marketing plan for trainers When you open a fitness business there a few upfront costs that you will need to spend on – these are the ONE time costs that will market your business forever.

The great thing is that although they are a little bit of work in setting up, you can literally “set it and forget about it” after getting them up and running…

You’ll need:

  • An Aframe
  • Car Wrap
  • Lettering/decals on your studio windows
  • Uniform shirts
  • Water bottles


Total Cost: $700 – $3,000 (depending on whether you wrap or just letter your vehicle)

Where to Save: If you don’t have that much money upfront, then wait on wrapping or lettering your car (it’s the biggest one-time marketing expense – although important.)


 Step 2: Low Cost Guerrilla Marketing

497-208-2Guerrilla Marketing is where I literally carpet bomb my city with rack cards.

* You’ll see this full S3 post under Offline Marketing.

I have each personal trainer on my team chose 10 locations they are responsible for. They place 10 cards in each location and check on it once every week to track how hot that location is.

You’ll need:

  • At least 20-30 4×9″ rack card brochure holders
  • 4×9″ rack cards


Return address labels to stick on front of rack card holder so no one takes it, or places their cards in them “by mistake.” I use these holders:

Total Cost: $150 (500 rack cards + 25 rack card holders)

Where to Save: Save $50 by only opting for 100 rack cards


Step 3: Online Advertising

personal trainer marketing planThis is where you can explode your business…


Did I scare you?

Sorry… ; )

Seriously though, right now about 60-70% of ALL of my new clients come from online advertising (mainly from Google Adwords).

10% from referrals, and the remaining 20-30% from offline advertising… So it would make sense that advertising online will bring you the majority of your new clients and it’s the fastest way to bring new people in.

* The ONE caveat to this is that your website must be able to convert online clicks (leads) to sign ups for a complimentary fitness consultation or trial.

You’ll need:

  • Google Adwords account (
  • Facebook and Bing/Yahoo accounts (optional)
  • A daily budget (I suggest starting at $5-10 day becuase the most you could lose is only $150 – $300)


Total Cost: $150-$300

Where to Save: Start with $5/day just on Google. (Set your own budget based on comfort level – I now personally spend about $20-$25 a day combined on Google, FB, and Bing)


Step 4: More Powerful Guerrilla Neighborhood Marketing

personal trainer marketing planIf you live in a thickly settled area, then this is where you begin to build your brand (beside your rack card locations) and get the community to realize you EXIST!

Every 4-6 weeks like clockwork I neatly decorate a 1-2 mile square radius around my studio with doorhangers or 4×9 rack cards on cars (do not do this when it’s going to rain the next day, or if it’s illegal where you live ; )

* Please read my additional S3 posts on doorhangering and flyering I probably decorate 1,500 – 3,000 doorknobs in my city around my studio and it yields a client or two every month or so.

It worked better the first few times I did it because it was NEW and fresh, but by now (8 years later) people know me…

However, Even getting 12 new clients per year using this method is still worth $50,000-70,000+ a year ($400-$500/mo per client fee). So yes, even one new client per month is worth it as long as you can retain clients.

Plus, I have my CPTs do all the doorhangering for me, since it’s building up their business and clientele!

You’ll need:

  • Doorhangers (×11-door-hangers.php)
  • Someone to hand them out
  • Rack cards on cars (optional)


Total Cost: $250 (2,000 rack cards with shipping)

Where to Save: Save $50 by only opting for 1000 doorhangers. And save money ($8-10/hr) by having your CPTs hand out the doorhangers (By the way, in the beginning I handed out all my own marketing, business cards, etc. to save money). BIG TIP ALERT! You can also save a few hundred dollars on design, by simply adding 2″ to the top of your rack card and widening it by .25″ ; )

Step 5: Direct Mail

personal trainer business planWhat if you don’t live in a thickly settled area and you cant use doorhangers?

No problem, you can also send out large oversized postcards using the new USPS direct mail campaign system. B

asically, you mail your cards by zip code and you only have to pay about $.19 (19 cents) per card. And since each postcard costs about 25 cents to make, that means you can budget about 50 cents per postcard to get it directly into the hands of your potential lead!

Yes, it costs more, but it can have an even great return!

I send out postcards about 2-3x a year depending on my marketing calendar, budget, and if I just hired a new CPT I’m trying to get built up fast.

I also only send out postcards Jan 1st – May 31st and Sept 7th – Nov 7th (This is a multi-thousand dollar tip right there – write it down and commit it to memory for the greatest returns on investment!)

* For all of our International S3 Members, you can customize these same tips for your area regarding non-summer/Holiday mailings and working with your postal office for cheaper rate bulk mailing for businesses.

You’ll need:

  • Postcards or mailers (×11-postcards.php)
  • Post office or have print company mail them with their list (costs a bit more, but makes life easy


Total Cost: $300 (1,000 postcards with shipping) + about $190 in USPS direct mail program postage * Once you test your postcard with 500-1,000 mailers and you find it breaks even or does better, then expand to 2,000-3,000 mailings right away!

Where to Save: Save $50 by only opting for 1000 doorhangers. And save money ($8-10/hr) by having your CPTs hand out the doorhangers (By the way, in the beginning I handed out all my own marketing, business cards, etc. to save money)


Step 6: Newspaper & Magazine Advertising

nike_emotionThis is when you want to go BIG time.

And, it should NOT be used when first starting out and definitely not before you’ve found your winning offer that your typical client seems to bite on…

I started out small by doing local newspaper ads. They actually only cost me about $50 per week and did quite well in the beginning. However, it seems that only the same 500 or so people read the local city newspaper and that after about 3 months the ad no longer brought anyone is, so I let it go.

I may retry it at some point in the future, but it did what it was supposed to do. It brought in new clients that are readers of that paper… and it was a short money test I could afford to take a chance on for a month or two.

When you have the money I recommend doing the same – the newspaper will also most likely write an article about your business as well (since you’re spending money with them and you ask nicely as part of the deal ; ) T

he other way of going BIG though is buying an ad in a local magazine or larger newspaper.

These are typically pricey and not something to take lightly. I actually haven’t taken the plunge yet, but I will be this Fall. There is a local magazine in my area that has a readership of over 100,000 people. They publish 80,000 magazines every 2 weeks with a demographic in their 30’s and 40’s. It ‘s a beautiful glossy magazine with interesting articles about Boston businesses and what’s happening around town.

Of course, this type of magazine comes with a steep price tag if you want to do it right (Costs about $2,500 per magazine ad or $4-5,000/mo). By “do it right” I mean not buying a postage size or business card size ad in the back of the magazine – you may as well not advertise as well. I’d want right hand side first half of the magazine (Another multi-thousand dollar tip ; )

I’d also be going with a 3 quarter page vertical ad (this is where the ad takes up 3/4s of the page with part of the article to the left of it in the 1/4 space, so readers are forced to look at your ad!

Essentially, I know what to do, what it costs, and what my ad should say, but the price tag really is preventing me from jumping in – even though I have the money, I hate parting with it! (I’m no different now than I was starting out with ZERO dollars when it comes to guarding my marketing dollars…)

What I can say, though, is that I’m going to spend the money eventually for the both of us. I’m going to test it out for S3 Members and for myself.

It also has the potential of a HUGE return on investment unlike anything else since at least 20,000 eyes balls will see my ad! (I know the company says they have over 100,000 readers, but I like being ultra conservative.

Even if I got .25% conversion rate (.0025), I’d still have 50 new leads coming in for complimentary fitness consultation where we convert about 99%. That’s about 49-50 NEW clients in a month!

That would forever change my business and would equal 400 new sessions a month (2x/week training average). That’s about an extra 35K a month gross and $425,000 a year increase… wowzers.

So yes, there is some big risk, but often times taking a big calculated risk leads to big rewards. Once I stop being such a weenie, I’ll let you know how it goes!

You’ll need:

  • Design a print ad
  • Choose a magazine or local paper


Total Cost: $200 – $5,000 depending on print ad medium * Once you test your ad and it works, you may want to try the same ad in another magazine if desired. Keep in mind I would not run the same ad for more than a month or three, since most people will already have seen it by then.

Where to Save: Start with lower cost local newspapers and then work your way up as desired.


The Million Dollar Marketing Model

million dollar personal trainer businessSo that’s essentially EVERYTHING I do!

Yes, I through in some cool Ab rack cards, coffee cup sleeves, business cards, etc., but I recommend following Step 1-4/5 first. Then you can add in additional marketing pieces after that.

I really hope you enjoyed this Exclusive S3 Post for your private use and growth of your business.

I also hope it showed you that there are no smoke and mirrors, secret “push button” marketing systems, or black hat tricks that are needed to be successful.

We are currently adding 50+ sessions a month (6-10 new clients per month) to our fitness business just using primarily Steps 1-4!

We are absolutely CRUSHING it…

But, when I first started out all I wanted was 1 client a week – AND I still believe DEEPLY in that mindset.

That mindset will make you rich. Very rich…

One client per week = 52 clients per year. 52 clients x $399 = $21,000/month or $250,000/year. (Year 1)

104 clients x $399 = $42,000/month or $500,000/year. (Year 2)

156 clients x $399 = $63,000/month or $750,000. (Year 3)

208 clients x $399 = $84,000/month or $1,000,000. (Year 4)

And this is if you’re only charging $399 a month!

Would you wait 4 years to build a MILLION dollar fitness business?

I would… and I did, it actually took me more like 5-6 years since I was tinkering and didn’t know what you know now in Smart Studio Systems… BUT now that I’ve got my SYSTEMS on lockdown my 2nd location will do 1 MILLION+ by the end of the first year ($84,000+/mo by month 12).

Once I make that happen, I’m going to take a nice LONG vacation ; )

But until then, it’s time to DIG in and MARKET our services to my community and I hope you’ll be doing the same!



How’d I do?

* Does this Smart Studio Systems exclusive post help to tie some of the others together? Do you feel like you learned a lot of REAL WORLD usable material you can implement in your business? Would you like to see more like this one or on other topics in the future? Your feedback drives what I post in this S3 Member’s area

Let your voice be heard – this Member’s area is for YOU!


Comment on this Content

  • Aric Lee

    Quick question Coach,

    How much do you pay per sq foot in Boston? Also, do you pay your trainers a % of each session cost, or a flat rate? Do you increase rate or % based on how much $ they bring in each month/ quarter, etc?


  • Jason Zawodniak

    Great post! I’ve had huge success with the vehicle branding and adwords alone. My quote for 1000 postcards is $663 for print, postage/mailing. I’m not as familiar with USPS option. I’m assuming this is the way to go over the standard options since you only paid $490.

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks and you can definitely drive that postcard cost down.

      I typically get my 6×11 postcards for between 31 – 50 cents per card including shipping (minimum order of 1,000 and maximum of 10,000). This does utilize local USPS direct mail services. Your price of $663 is not bad at all… Especially if that uses a mailing list that meets your demographic specifications.

      Remember, if you just get ONE new client on that $663 postcard mailing it should pay for the whole campaign…

      I’ll be doing a new HUGE mailing this September and will let you know how it goes (I’ll also add that new postcard to the S3 Members’s area once I know it’s a WINNER)!

  • I just noticed that it looks like I failed once again at creating a short S3 Post ; )

    Ha! But, it should be nice to know I literally give you EVERYTHING that I’m doing in my business and not holding anything back!

    Take your time and digest the material and then implement, implement, implement!