Defining Marketing for Personal Trainers: Ads vs. Marketing

Ryan Farrell

Last week we defined and discussed the importance of marketing. This week I wanted to expand upon the idea that your advertising should be a very small percentage of your strategy. Advertising should take up such a small part of your overall marketing effort because it is a blanket and obvious attempt to get people to spend money. With an ad you are simply asking them to spend their money with you. There is no development of trust.

Creative marketing says, “Welcome”. Advertising says, “Spend.” Creative marketing cleverly brings curious and open-minded prospects to your door. Advertising brings you people who are carefully guarding their purses and wallets.

You may be asking yourself, what else is marketing? Place the pro shop in a location where inventory can be displayed with outside window visibility. That’s marketing. Invite a celebrity to work out in your club while he or she’s in town. That’s marketing. Make Friday “Free Guest Day” and send Free Friday invitations to every local newspaper editor. That’s marketing. Offer free blood pressure checks once a week in the local mall. That’s marketing. Conduct research surveys in the parking lot of the supermarket and offer a free visit as a “Thank You For Participating”. That’s marketing. Tell people about your business in casual conversation. Yup! That’s marketing too!


Sure, your ads can be a worthwhile investment, but they also bring with them inherent risk. Sometimes the timings not right. Sometimes you’re hitting the wrong market. Ads get old, they become outdated. They may be ineffective with poor placement or they may even be overshadowed by competitors’ ads. Inspire people to walk inside your front door, to schedule a consultation for your services or to examine your product. That’s successful marketing!

My intention here is not to suggest that you don’t advertise. Advertising can and should be a valuable arm of your marketing attack. The ideal business, however will be one in which a profit can be shown without need for excess expense. Brainstorm some practical things you or your club can do to market in your community. What are some things you can try?

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About Ryan Farrell

Ryan Farrell started working with the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) in 2012. As NFPT's Marketing Coordinator, Ryan is responsible for aiding company reputation by building brand awareness and establishing strong working relationships among NFPT, its affiliates and industry partners. He also manages NFPT's social media and communication channels such as The NFPT Blog and the corporate e-newsletter. Ryan attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He graduated with a B.A. in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations.

2 thoughts on “Defining Marketing for Personal Trainers: Ads vs. Marketing

  1. Hi Ryan,
    I noticed your article on marketing vs. advertising. You made good points. Along those lines, I have an idea for you (since you asked for suggestions to try). MemoryMinder Journals publishes a deluxe 12-week workout log, BodyMinder Workout & Exercise Journal. One of the great things about it is that the cover has room to add a nice embossed logo (or other info) to the durable leatherette cover. So instead of handing out keychains or pens, etc. to get your name out there, you can hand out something that will actually apply directly to your business! Your prospects, students, friends, (and you, too) will love using it. You can see more information at or call (800)888-3392 and ask for Frances or Kayla. (It’s a $15 journal but the price can go as low as $6.95 for the right quantity.)