When I first started this software business I had no idea how to market and sell stuff online.
I'm naturally an introvert, so building a product to sell online was attractive to me. I seriously thought I could just create a good product, put it up on a website and hide behind my computer screen and watch the happy customers rolling in.
Turns out I was wrong. Seems obvious now, but it took a few years to realize that just because my business was online didn't mean I didn't need to develop personal relationships with potential clients.
To make Training Tilt work as a business I needed to convince my customers to purchase subscriptions to my software and to do that I needed three things.
To be known
To be liked
And to be trusted
First my customers need to know me, then they need to like me and finally, they need to trust me. Without those three things, Training Tilt would never survive as a business long term.
If you are trying to grow an online aspect of your coaching or fitness business you will also need those three things to be successful.
So how do you go about being known, liked and trusted by your potential customers over the internet whom you've never met?
For me, It's been a long process and I'm finally starting to get the hang of it.
Here are my top tips for getting people to know, like and trust you.
Warning: There are no shortcuts or hacks here, just hard work over months and years not days and weeks. There is also no guarantee of success. Which brings me to my first tip.
1. Always give more than you expect to receive without any expectations. Help people.
This is a little counter-intuitive in business because if you are always giving more than you get then how will you ever create a profitable business? Well, this might sound a bit fluffy but that's where Karma comes in. Karma is not only real, it's extremely practical.
Always give more than you get without expectation. Sooner or later everyone gets what they deserve. Most people won't take this advice because it seems too difficult, unfair or unlikely to succeed.
2. Share everything. One person's common knowledge is another's revelation.
As an expert, it's easy to assume that a lot of the knowledge you have about your profession is common. The reality is your audience and potential customers will find that same knowledge enlightening and extremely useful. Share all the knowledge you have to build more trust.
3. Put yourself out there
For people to know, like and trust you, you need to put yourself and your stuff on display. There is no point just being known and liked by a small circle of existing customers. You will get some new business from word of mouth as your existing customers tell their friends about how great you are, but that's a very slow burn and putting yourself out there will accelerate any existing word of mouth.
By now you've either gotten the idea that I'm suggesting you give a lot to your audience for free or you've stopped reading. If you are still with me let me suggest some practical steps to take to start getting known, liked and trusted by more people.
It's simple really, just produce a lot of content that helps more people more of the time.
If you still need convincing, you can read more about my thoughts on giving away free content here "How much content should coaches give away for free". Otherwise, keep reading.
Writing blog posts is a great way to help people while building trust. Write posts that answer common questions your potential customers may have. Blogs are great because they are easy to consume and easy for Google to find and index and in turn send organic traffic to your website. Currently, that's the main advantage of the written word over video and voice but as technology advances and Google get's better at indexing video it won't have as much of an advantage.
Video Logs (Vlogs)
With today's smartphones and internet connectivity, it's faster and easier to create a 90-second long video and publish it online than it is to write a blog post. Most coaches are reluctant to create video-based content for a number of reasons. 1. They are perfectionists so are overly concerned with the quality and production of a video and 2. They just don't like being in front of the camera.
The first problem is a simple one to solve, just get over being a perfectionist. It's the message that counts, not the production values. Your audience will appreciate any video that answers a burning question they have or solves a problem for them. An off the cuff personal video will actually lead to you being more trusted and liked not less. It will show that you can express your knowledge without a script or hours of video editing. The main advantage of informal video is the sheer volume of content you'll be able to create in a very short period of time. You'll notice endurance coaches doing these videos more and more often now so don't get left behind because your editing standards are too high.
The second problem is more about confidence. I myself dislike any attention and have been avoiding making my own videos even though I know with 100% certainty it will help grow our business. If you, like me, are uncomfortable in front of the camera you can work your way into it step by step with practice.
Here are some things I've been doing to make the uncomfortable a little bit easier. Just practice.
1. First I started recording videos and sending them to my partner instead of texting or emailing her.
Here's one I made, sometimes it's good to invite a friend to help too. To be honest she found it a bit weird, to begin with, but loves our two Tonkinese boys so doesn't mind.
2. Replying to clients with video instead of email
After that, I started replying to client questions or support emails with a combination of video, voice and screen video. This was great and helped me in more ways than one. Firstly it built confidence in my ability to appear on camera, two it was a lot faster than typing emails and capturing screenshots for answering questions. The third and most valuable side effect is that it made my responses a lot easier to follow for the clients at the other end. And all my customers who've been getting the videos seem to like being able to put a voice and face to my name.
What sort of content should you create
You should put out as much content directly related to problems you can solve or questions you can answer for your potential and current clients. This type of content is great because first and foremost it helps people, and secondly, if you publish this content online Google will direct your potential customers to your content if it answers their questions or solves the problems they are Googling. More traffic (the right traffic) to your content and your website will result in more business. You can read more about how that works on my blog "2 Simple steps to get more traffic to your endurance coaching website".
Let's focus on ideas for video content ideas.
We'll use a triathlon coaching business as an example, however, these ideas can be applied to any sort of coaching business.
Ideas for video logs for a triathlon coaching business
1. Swim stroke analysis
Take a common problem with swim stroke and create a video that analyses that problem and breaks down some potential solutions. We all know that this is never a one case fits all solution so make sure you include a couple of solutions based on the different variables involved. Always include at the end of the video about how to get in touch to get more help from you.
2. Random training thoughts and motivation
As a coach, you'll often come up with some interesting thoughts on training and/or motivation either through your own experiences or interactions with your athletes. Record this ad-hoc as the idea formulates in your head and publish it live online to Instagram/Facebook etc. Don't worry about scripting just keep it impromptu as it will appear more genuine. If you don't like it you can always delete it later. It's these types of things that can really take off and go viral in a short period of time. Most won't but it's a numbers game and you have to compromise on a bit of quality and get more valuable content out there.
3. Bike/run/swim course preview
Take a popular race like an Ironman that is either local to you or you have in-depth knowledge of and break it down into sections and do a preview of it for athletes that are new to the race. You can go all out and drive/ride/swim the actual course and film it or you can just
4. Athlete Interviews
Either at training sessions or at races, take a minute or two to interview your athletes about their race or their training. This will help you both get to know your athletes but will also let your audience know the type of people you've helped and how. Make sure you include a good cross reference of your clients not just your fastest/fittest.
5. Favourite Training Sessions
Either at live training sessions or just described on video let your audience know about some of your favourite sessions. Some coaches want to keep their sessions secret but in reality, the coaches skills are around how to put the sessions together in a training plan so giving away individuals sessions will help to build trust and business. Don't get caught up in worrying about IP of individual sessions.
6. Equipment and Clothing Demonstrations
Take a couple of minutes to review or demonstrate any equipment or clothing you use. It doesn't need to be the newest fangled kit because remember a lot of your customers will be new to the sport so just need to know what they need/don't need and how to use it. You could talk about racing flats vs training shoes, race wheels vs training wheels, disc brakes vs rim brakes. wetsuit swims vs non-wetsuit swims, different types of swimming goggles. The important thing is not to get caught up in all the trends and BS around products. Stick to the practicalities of different equipment. Your audience is already bombarded with the marketing of products so practical impartial advice will be well received.
You now know if you didn't already the importance of becoming known, liked and trusted by people that aren't yet your customers. Creating content online is the go-to tactic for achieving this in today's connected world. It's easier than ever to build your presence online and personally reach out to thousands of people with a single piece of content.
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