Books, Blogs & Business – Installment 1

The best thing about working at Cressey Sports Performance is my daily interaction with ambitious professionals who are hell-bent on mastering their craft. 

One of the ways that I take advantage of this environment is by consuming as much knowledge as I can from Mike Reinold.  Mike treats patients at CSP on Monday afternoons and has recently come to be a good friend of mine.  This past week I asked him for some advice relating to my personal website and blog, and he proceeded to hit me with a brain-dump of epic proportion.

During our conversation, Mike emphasized the importance of maintaining a predictable and consistent editorial calendar.  In my professional career, I’ve made a habit of identifying and emulating the habits of extremely successful individuals, so I’m not about to ignore this valuable advice from Mike.

Moving forward, I’ll plan on rolling out material every Thursday, including a bi-weekly segment titled Books, Blogs & Business.  Welcome to the first edition!

In each issue of BB&B, I’ll hit you with a book-report of sorts, outlining a few things I’ve learned and how I’m applying it to my strategic endeavors at CSP.  I’ll also share some of my favorite business-specific content from around the web.  Hopefully you’ll find that I help to expose you to some entirely foreign material and a refreshing new way of processing it.

Book Report - All Marketers Tell Stories, by Seth Godin

I realize that the majority of my readers have already identified and consumed Tribes, or Purple Cow, so I decided to get my hands on one of the lesser-known pieces by Seth Godin: All Marketers Tell Stories.  In hindsight, the entire text can be summarized in a single sentence found on page 13. Seth states, “The best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.”

Here are three of my favorite messages from the text, and what they mean to my business and me:

1. Niches are waiting to be identified

Godin explained that there are certain small markets that are being completely ignored at any given point in time.  These small pockets of the population can often have immense value.  “They can turn a small market into a cult, into a movement and then a trend, and finally into a mass market.”

During the fall of 2007 we (CSP) identified an under-served population of the athletic community when we began targeting baseball players in particular.  If Godin were to review the competitive landscape at that moment in time, he likely would have categorized baseball players, and pitchers in particular, as an “ignored” population. 

In just over 8 years of operation, CSP has played a significant role in turning this small market into a cult of strength training enthusiasts, into a movement of pitchers who have decided to question the efficacy of “running poles”, and ultimately into mass market status.  There was a time when embracing strength training during an off-season would qualify as a distinct competitive advantage for a ballplayer.  It is far more mainstream to do so today.


2. “Authenticity is more important than getting noticed.”

What’s worse than booking a vacation at a resort featuring a website full of exceptional visuals of tropical landscapes and impressive nightlife, only to arrive and find an overpriced dump with a trash-covered beach?  This is where the “Traveler Photos” section of trip advisor comes in handy in exposing disingenuous visuals available in the “Management Photos” portion of the site. 

Unfortunately, fitness consumers can’t always track down client photos of the gym their considering visiting.  This is exactly why it is extremely easy to generate leads and bring someone through the door of your gym once.  Retaining those clients for the long-haul, however, is far easier when you’ve presented yourself in an authentic manner on your website and social networking platforms.  Assemble a team and a training space that you’re proud of…not one that requires stock photography to bring leads through the door.

3. "If I knew what you know, would I choose to buy what you sell?"

This is the question Godin says ALL consumers should ask themselves.  As I read this, I can’t help but ask myself, am I prepared to answer this question with a definitive YES?  I most certainly am.

All fitness facility owners and personal trainers in commercial gyms should make a habit of preparing themselves for consumers to actually hit them with Godin’s very important question.  Someday a potential client is going to ask me if I’d pay for my own son to acquire our services to ensure that he is less at risk for injury and increasingly athletic over time.  I’ll be able to say yes, and mean it.

An article from outside the fitness industry that made me think...

Smaller Craft Breweries Are Drinking Up Sam Adams’ Market Share

Article Link

Photo Credit -

Photo Credit -

This one struck a little close to home because it reminded me of the pitfalls that come with creating a niche and growing it beyond “small business” status.  The first sentence of the article says it all:

“One of the original craft beer pioneers is in trouble from the movement he helped create.”

We helped to create the baseball-specific strength & conditioning movement, and competition is popping up at a rapid rate.  In some cases, we’re even assisting the competition by preparing CSP interns to enter the market with a comprehensive understanding of the unique services and training methodologies we offer.  If we don’t have a paid position available on our team for a rock-star coach with aspirations of working within this niche, we have to accept the idea that we’re shooting ourselves in the foot on some level.

This is not to say that I would ever like to see a former intern falter, or be anything other than successful and influential within the fitness industry.  The lesson for me is that we need to focus on staying at the cutting edge of our field.  This is why I wrote $2,000 worth of continuing education reimbursement checks to my employees over the past week.  You've got to spend money to make money, and I'm spending some of mine on keeping my employees ahead of the curve.