By Trent Rentsch
It was intimidating, walking into a gym for the first time in God knows how many years. I remember hunting around for a place where I’d feel comfortable (read: where they wouldn’t laugh at the chubby man using the kiddie dumbbells), but still wanted to actually be making progress. I checked out several in the area, and one in particular seemed like a good choice… until I talked to the General Manager.
“So, you’re gonna join Steel Bod Fitness today?” (Name changed to protect my vital organs, should they catch wind of this column)
“Well, I’m thinking about it, but I have a few…”
“Dude!! Quit thinking! Grab a pen and let’s get STARTED before it’s TOO LATE!”
“Heh, well, I don’t think I’m that out of shape…”
“Come on, Man! You’re a heart attack waiting to happen! And those Man Boobs? Dolly Parton would be jealous!”
“You know, I don’t think this place is for me…”
“OF COURSE We are!! Dude, we have trained Regional Finalists in Body Building Competitions... REGIONAL FINALISTS!”
“I don’t know about all that, I just want to work out…”
“And Dude, CHECK IT OUT!” We won “COOLEST GYM WITH THE HOTTEST BODS” 3 years running in Muscle Blog Daily!”
“Well, that’s, impressive, but really, I just want to get in shape.”
“Man, that’s what we do!! We just bought a ton of gear… a TON! Nothing for Rookies, but Man, the Trainers LOVE IT!”
“Heh… yeah. So, anything for a “Rookie” like me?”
“Dude, we’ll think of something! Listen… I gotta deal with something quick… you just sign the papers while I’m gone… oh, and don’t forget to write a check for the setup fee… 500 bucks should do it…”
It was at that point that he disappeared. It didn’t take me much longer to do the same, without signing up. I noticed he was hitting on the young lady at the front desk as I left. He didn’t even see me walk out the door.
I’m sure in his mind, I was no great loss… just another fat loser he might have gotten some money out of for a couple of months until I got tired of paying for a membership I wasn’t using. What he didn’t take into account was that it would have taken so little to make me feel comfortable about working out there… just give me a few compelling reasons why this would be the place for me and I might have plunked down my monthly fee for a couple of years… as I have done at my current gym.
It’s a dangerous mistake so many businesses make; they’re so obsessed with themselves that they forget to tell the potential customer what’s in it for them. How often do you produce ads for a business that brags about all their awards and certifications, yet never make the link back to what that means to the customer? Or perhaps your station promotes the fact that they play “The Greatest Music Ever,” or some such nonsense. The “Greatest Music” as decided by, who? Unless the listener is made to feel that it is THEIR Greatest Music Ever, it’s only words.
We live in a selfish society. I say this without judgment; it’s simply the way things are. To engage people, you have to give them something that’s worth their while, whether you’re selling a gift shop or a weekly countdown show. Unfortunately, because we live in a selfish society, it’s easy to become enamored with ourselves and how “wonderful” we are… even if it means ignoring the potential customer in the process.
I find it very important to add “you” to my scripts… “YOU’LL save up to 10,000 dollars,” “YOUR Favorite Music,” “We are NOTHING without YOU.” I might not use that last line in a script, but it’s true. And unless I give YOU something of value, and make you the most important part of the sell, my words have about as much weight as a certain gym I didn’t join.