Engagement in the Personal Fitness Industry

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dwayne Wimmer, owner and operator of Vertex Fitness in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.  As a personal trainer and entrepreneur in the fitness industry, we discussed the method to his success in driving customer engagement and web traffic to his business pages.

With an Alexa ranking of 15M in March 2017, Dwayne has managed to jump to 3.9M in four months. Dwayne has built an impressive following for his website catering to the fitness needs of the busy professionals of the Main Line area, which is a suburb of Philadelphia.

Aside from running his personal training studio, Dwayne is also launching the Fitness Leaders Alliance. The organization is designed for fitness professionals who want to take their business to the next level. It provides professional continuing education and coaching in the areas of exercise, nutrition, business marketing, professional development, and leadership. It also provides opportunities for fitness professionals to connect and collaborate, and build the kinds of relationships that has allowed Dwayne’s business to succeed.

The Main Line is an interesting place, just a few miles away from the prestigious Villanova University. The folks who live there have means, but very little time. Dwayne’s clients are busy professionals who are willing to invest in their health but have very limited time. But far from being a self-proclaimed guru who promises results in exchange for nothing, Dwayne offers an approach rooted in exercise science and a continuing body of scientific research to give his clients results and better quality of life without being in the gym every single day. In fact, Dwayne himself isn’t the type workout every single day.

The Vertex Fitness Value Proposition

According to Dwayne, “A lot of people in the fitness industry don’t take it as seriously as I do. I’m not that obsessive-compulsive person who has this strict diet and strict workout. I’m more of a regular person who’s trying to become healthier and feel better. Exercise needs to be like brushing your teeth; it’s not all the time. You think about it when you do it, and then forget about it until you do it again. Work hard at it when you are doing it and let your body rest between workouts.

You won’t find most of the stuff that I talk about in fitness magazines. I train the whole body every time we work out, and we do it at most three times a week. Most people do it only one or two times a week, and they get great results without doing much else.”

We spoke with Dwayne to get to the bottom of how he brings his unique value proposition together with some good content marketing practices to support a thriving personal training practice.

Leveraging LinkedIn for Online Engagement

Dwayne: “Basically, my LinkedIn strategy is to connect myself with as many other like-minded professionals as I can, people in the fitness industry that are interested when I post something. When I post, I’m just posting a snippet with a link back to my website. When I post things on LinkedIn, I post it through HootSuite, which also cross-posts to all of the various groups that I’m in, as well as my personal page and business page. So, anybody that’s following me or is in these groups sees these posts.”

Monique: “What’s the automated way that you’re getting comments, or is it engagements or reads, through LinkedIn?”

Dwayne: “All of the above. I can see on LinkedIn how many people have clicked on it, and I can see and manage any comments there.”

Monique: “Do you have the Premium LinkedIn service?”

Dwayne: “I do. My bigger picture for me is to increase my ranking on my website so that all of the local people who would be interested in personal training services will see me before they see other people. I’m not looking to use LinkedIn right now to engage my actual clients, because I’m getting hits from all over the world, not just among my local clientele. I’m looking just to drive traffic to my website, so that my website gets seen quicker by local people who might be searching for it.”

Audience vs. Target Market

That’s what’s so interesting about Dwayne’s strategy. He writes his blog posts with an eye towards his potential clients, of course, because he wants to demonstrate that he is an expert in the fitness industry as well as a thought leader. But he also writes them with an eye towards his colleagues and peers, as well—folks who will never have a need to hire him, but whose web traffic contributes to improving his Google ranking for the folks that will. As a B2C fitness services provider, the vast majority of Dwayne’s clients live within a few miles of his studio. Therefore, local rankings are very important to him, but his global rankings help boost them.

This is the answer to a mistake that many in the B2B space make with their content marketing strategy. Too many folks focus on writing a blog only for the eyes of their end customer. This is regardless of whether or not there is a clear marketing funnel to usher them from blog post to purchase. They ignore large segments of readers who may not be buyers, but could contribute the web traffic needed to get in front of their buyers.

Becoming an SME

Dwayne: “When I place the blog on my website, I believe that my audience will see that and see me as a credible source of information. But when I post it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and anywhere else, I’m just looking to drive traffic for my blog to increase the searchability of my website.”

So, Dwayne’s blogging efforts do double duty for his content marketing strategy by increasing traffic. This increases his Google rankings and allows most of his clients to find him. It also establishes him as a subject matter expert in the fitness industry.

Dwayne: “I just topped 19,000 connections on LinkedIn, so that drives a ton of traffic. I’ve met probably a few hundred of them.”

There are two schools of thought on that. Some marketers refuse to connect with anyone they haven’t met in person. For Dwayne, he treats a LinkedIn connection much as he would a Twitter or a Facebook follower—the more the better, and he asks nothing more than a few clicks on his posts.

Monique: “So what’s your marketing endgame on this? Other than being a SME (Subject Matter Expert) in the industry?”

Dwayne: “I have multiple businesses that I’m trying to create credibility for. One is my personal training studio, where I’m looking to increase my clientele and also attract good trainers to work here. I also have a fitness organization known as Fitness Leaders Alliance. With that company I’m looking to find people who want to come to our conferences and want to buy into the organization as it grows. If I place myself out there as a fitness expert, I should be able to work all of those angles.”

Leveraging Customer Engagement Through Your Personal Network

Dwayne also does a ton of in-person networking as well. He attends networking events, exchanges business cards, and strikes up conversations wherever possible. This has led to not only a wide audience who are interested in reading his writing, but a smaller cohort of engaged individuals who are willing to collaborate with him and share his posts.

It’s also been hugely beneficial for Dwayne to show his face often at industry events as well.

Dwayne: “I also do a lot of things in the industry itself. I go to conferences, and people in the largest conferences in the world know who I am. When I’m connected with them on LinkedIn, they then see the content that I’m putting out. I just had a guy who lives in California who was here to visit his daughter. I connected with him on LinkedIn having no idea who he was, and he came in here today and set up an appointment when he was back in town to talk. We talked about his business, and how he and I could work together moving forward.”

With his network in place, feeding his followers content early and often has been instrumental in his success with customer engagement.

Dwayne: “This past weekend, I have increased my traffic to the site twofold.”

Monique: “What did you do this weekend that triggered it?”

Dwayne: “I posted more often. That’s it. What’s amazing is that I didn’t just get more traffic than usual to those new posts. I got traffic to older posts as well. The people being drawn to the site were sticking around and looking at other things. The whole idea of not posting very often because you don’t want to over-post is crazy.

I posted four different blog posts on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and increased my traffic to my website two-fold.”

The Takeaway

In Dwayne’s strategy, you’ll recognize many of the often-touted best practices of a good content marketing campaign. Posting often, cross-posting to different platforms, and maintaining a large personal network to serve as your audience are all important. What Dwayne does well is to write his blog posts for an audience larger than his customer base. This keeps him at the top of the Google results for local gym searches, which keeps his phone ringing. What Dwayne also does well is to bring his digital marketing efforts into the real world. By face-timing with industry professionals and establishing a presence in his industry, Dwayne ensures that he always has an audience eager to read what he puts out.

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