“How am I supposed to focus on marketing to a single demographic when my business has about five different client avatars?”
My buddy Andy was thinking out loud in the back of the room this past weekend as he and I listened to presenter Adam Bornstein wax poetic on the importance of knowing what problem your business solves, exactly whom it helps, and what makes your service offering valuable. Andy runs a gym we'll call Andy's Gym (AG) that KILLS it with the elite football scene, but he’s afraid of that reputation costing him business with other populations.
The fear of being typecast…
I know it. I’ve felt it.
Back in 2007, my business partners and I sat down to discuss our “growing problem” that football players and lax bros weren’t going to want to train with us because we were becoming seen as “the baseball guys.”
God forbid we veer off of the popular jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none track, right?
As you probably already realize, we quickly dropped that discussion and went all-in on our pursuit of cornering the baseball-specific strength and conditioning market. Had we not made this move, you likely wouldn’t be reading any blog material from me right now. The odds are decent that I would have burned out and left the industry entirely thanks to the frustration that comes with struggling to operate a business in a crowded field without possessing any differentiating traits.
So here’s what I asked Andy…
If you had a football client moving to the Boston area, and they asked you how they were going to survive without AG in their life, what would you tell them?
“I’d tell them to get in their car and drive to CSP.”
I facetiously pressed further…
But you’d hesitate because us baseball guys could never fully understand the unique needs of the football-playing demo, right?
“That’s bullshit. I know you guys would take good care of him.”
Exactly. And here’s the lesson that it took me a couple of years to learn: If you successfully position yourself as “the best” in one particular realm of fitness, you can count on people assuming that you’re far above average in working with most other athletic populations.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered “I know you’re the baseball guys, BUT…”
- I figured you’d be able to take care of my daughter who plays volleyball.
- My son’s tennis coach said you’d be his best bet for fixing his cranky shoulder.
- Someone told me that the work you do with pitchers might translate well to swimmers.
The leads keep rolling in, and it turns out that being pigeonholed isn’t so bad for business. My best advice for Andy relating to brand positioning is to embrace his “football guy” reputation. He should speak directly to that population in his marketing efforts without fear of retribution from the general fitness community.
The middle-aged recreational athlete living around the corner from Andy's gym is never going to say: “That guy who trains a dozen NFL players probably can’t handle the task of helping me get a little stronger before golf season rolls around.”
Master one trade, and people will assume you’re a jack of all the rest.