By Cody Sipe, AFS Community Expert
The growing aging Boomer population is huge, affluent, well-educated and looking for trainers that can safely and effectively improve their health and fitness. In essence, they are the ideal client group.
However, many fitness marketing messages and strategies that work well with younger adults are ineffective with older adults and may even repel them. It takes more time and effort to move them through the sales process but once they make the decision to train with you they are loyal clients that stay with you for a long time.
Follow these five keys to improve your marketing and sales efforts.
1. Don’t Call Them Seniors: Even though they might be over the age of 65 and therefore technically “seniors” they don’t identify with the label as it is associated with old, frail and unhealthy stereotypes that the Boomers don’t want to have anything to do with. It is best to avoid age-related labels (e.g. older adult, mature adult, Boomer) at all or even the classic references such as “silver” or “gray”. Instead of calling them by any name or label it is better to speak to the values, needs and interests to which they closely identify.
2. Define Your Avatar: The older population is extremely diverse and should not be targeted as one big group. Do you want to train male or female; frail or fit; healthy or diseased; still working or retired; etc? What is their economic status, marital status, interests and hobbies? Where do they live? What charities do they support? Where do they volunteer? All of these factors, and more, are important for knowing where and how to reach them. Dialing in the type of client you want very specifically enables you to speak to them effectively though your blog posts, newsletter, emails and ads.
3. Become a Trusted Authority: Older adults respect authorities – those with specialized expertise in an area. And they are especially eager to find authorities on topics of personal interest to them. By positioning yourself as the “go to” authority on functional aging (a topic they are VERY interested in) you will create a high level of respect and recognition that can be leveraged in many ways. Several ways to become the authority is to publish a book, give presentations, appear on the local news and write articles. Of course, when you have these opportunities you must deliver original high-value content that demonstrates your expertise.
4. Build a Relationship: Relationships come first and they greatly enhance the sales process by creating trust. Mature adults don’t want to just know how great your training is they want to know you. What makes you tick? What is your training philosophy? What have been your struggles and successes? What are your values? Speak to them authentically and transparently like you would a friend. Be patient because like any relationship it takes time.
5. Sell Them What They Want: Six pack abs and skinny jeans pale in comparison to what most Boomers really want out of a fitness program – to feel better and move better; to be able to improve their health and function so that they can continue to enjoy life. Selling aesthetics and body image will provide limited results because these are not their primary concerns. Yes they want to lose some weight and look their best but they don’t have any aspirations of looking like a 20 year old model. As they have gotten older they have started to experience some more aches and pains and are starting to become concerned with their future well-being. Your fitness program is the solution to their concerns but you will need to communicate that to them in language and terms that they understand and can identify with.
Cody Sipe, PhD is the co-founder of the Functional Aging Institute and a leading authority on exercise and aging. For more information on training, marketing and sales go to www.functionalaginginstitute.com.