Right now I see so many fitness professionals who are great at what they do struggle to build a loyal community of clients who become true advocates for their business.

So what I wanted to do was to give you a primer on how you can build your own Tribe.

Now, be forewarned, this will probably get into things that we don’t often discuss – but it will be worth it.

So here we go…

First off – here is my definition of Tribal Marketing– The technique of using associations, clubs or groups to turn ordinary customers into loyal, raving fans due to a shared set of beliefs and ideals.

Think about this quote:

“People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, never prove them wrong, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies” ~Blair Warren

So how do you use this in business?  You create an environment that…

  • Allows people to belong to something bigger than themselves.
  • Give them something to believe in.
  • Creates an environment for their growth.
  • Gives them social significance.
  • Gives them peace of mind.
  • Allows them to connect with a philosophy.
  • Provides them with a feeling of prestige.
  • Provides them with a unique experience.
  • Gives them something to be ‘special.’

There is plenty of overlap in those statements so you get the picture.

In short – you’re trying to move people from basic members or clients to Members of your Tribe.

Customers care about products & services. Members of your Tribe are concerned with the human connection that comes with a certain product or service or philosophy.

So I’m going to ask you to think about situations where you’ve considered yourself to be a member of something rather than just a customer…and member isn’t the best word in our industry due to health clubs, but I’m going to use it since it’s broad.

That and because people who see themselves as “Members” buy 66.3% more than people who just see themselves as customers.

So answer these questions:

  • What Groups, Teams or Associations Have You Joined in Your Life?
  • Why did you join?
  • What’s your most vivid memory of your membership?
  • What did you or do you like most about that experience?
  • Did you feel like you belonged to something unique?  Special?

For me – some sports teams and coaching organizations have provided that.  A couple mastermind groups have provided that. A feeling of belonging to an elite club where members were ‘special.’

Some memories from these teams and groups have lasted for decades. You want to have that type of impact.

So how do you make this part of your business…here are the Key Components:

The Story – There has to be a backstory to why you exist. The more personal a connection you have with the ideal client or member – the better.

Your story should:

  • Answer the question of why this business came to be.
  • Give people a reason why they should identify with you and not your ‘enemy.’
  • Possibly create a bond between your business and your target market.

Your Philosophy & Mission – Hopefully this mirrors what your perfect client naturally believes in or it should at least strongly appeal to them. At the same time it should repel people who don’t fit.

This should be what guides your business, the standard against which all action is taken. It let’s people know what to expect from you and embodies not only what you are today but what you aspire to be in the future.

Your Rituals, Habits and Culture – You should have your own rituals, things that people connect with.  You should have your own culture.  You need to establish your own types of common behaviors.

How do you cultivate it?  It has to be done every day.  You’re creating a unified front and a set of behaviors that people not only adopt, but that become important to them.

Your Enemy – Every strong brand has a common enemy.  Apple vs PC.  Starbucks vs Dunkin Doughnuts.  Republicans vs Democrats. Without Evil there can be no Good.

Your enemy could be anything that takes focus away from you or runs opposite to your philosophy…but you need to name them.  Health clubs, trainers that think ‘getting tired’ and ‘getting better’ are the same thing.  You pick.

Your Language – All great brands have this and using it well tells others you’re one of them.

The Leader – People want to be led. This also makes second comers “me-too” copy cats.

How do you position yourself as the leader:

  • You communicate through stories, personal and others. Success Stories.
  • Invest heavily in your education.
  • Walk the talk.

Blending all of these cultivates true fans. Putting all of these together creates believability, which causes people to want to belong.

If that seems overwhelming – just go item by item and try to decide what you want your business to be.  Before long you’ll have something that truly stands out.

And here are a few other tips:

  • Quit trying to be like everyone else.
  • What is your unique story – how can you blend it in?  Why would it be important to your prospects and clients?  Tell it.
  • Create a language of your own
  • Stand up for what you believe in and stand against what you don’t.  Middle of the road = weak.
  • Celebrate the things you want to be part of the culture.  People will catch on.
  • Create some simple differentiators – CrossFit naming workouts was simple.  At Starbucks, Venti is simple.  Having a unique way to finish every session is simple.  Add up a few simple differentiators and all of the sudden you’re perceived as different as a whole.

I know this is a different way of thinking… but I have the feeling your wheels are turning.  If not – re-read it.  There are any number of businesses that have built loyal followings that generate word of mouth and referrals, are impervious to competition and have become part of their client’s identity.

Why shouldn’t your business be one of them?

Because if you get this right it will change everything.

Written by patrigsby
Father. Husband. Entrepreneur. Coach. Author.