As far as I’m concerned, referrals should be at the core of any good fitness pro’s marketing system. The only problem is that using the same referral strategy over and over can get stale fast – so here are five ways you can keep the referrals coming in without sounding like a broken record.


Fitness Referral Strategy #1: Make it a Condition of Doing Business

Description: Make it a mandatory part of being your client. I know – it sounds easier said than done – but hear me out.


This is especially effective if you have an in-demand service.


State from the onset, as a condition of working with you, that clients each need to refer 2 friends. Obviously, you have to be tactful about it.

Here’s an example of what you could say:


“If I do everything I’ve promised and you lose those 20 unwanted pounds, will you provide me with 2 referrals of friends, co-workers or family members that could use the same benefits?”


So, at the very beginning, your clients will know what they’re in for.


Fitness Referral Strategy #2: Your Community’s Best Businesses

Description: What you do is compile a list of other types of businesses that also serve your ideal client. After you’ve developed a comprehensive list of these types businesses, search through your database of clients, friends, and contacts for people that operate businesses in these categories. If there are business categories that you have no contacts with, look for a mutual friend that can serve as a liaison to a successful professional in that category.

Now rank the professionals in each category as to which you’d prefer to affiliate yourself and your business with most. Send the “Tier 1” professionals a letter suggesting that you’d like to invite them to be a member of “Your Community’s Best Businesses” and receive referrals from several of the other premier professionals in the community. Let them know that your goal is to create a network of the best local professionals in hopes of best serving each member’s customers or clients and providing high quality referrals for the members.

This group would meet once a month and you would serve as the host/leader (another way of subtly enhancing your perception among group members). Each member would be able to present for 10-15 minutes as a means of educating the group about their business and how it would be of benefit to their customers/clients. Each member can make special offers to customers/clients of fellow group members, do endorsed mailings, etc. To increase the perception of this group, you could launch a website (, do a newsletter, or provide testimonials from all of the happy, cross-referred customers.

This involves a little more work than most fitness referral strategies, but done well, it could easily provide you with more business than you could ever handle.


Fitness Referral Strategy #3: “Thank You” Gift Cards

Description: After a meaningful moment during a client’s time with you – perhaps after they’ve met a goal or finished a 12 week program – hand them 3 plastic gift cards and say…


“Here are 3 gift cards that you can give to friends, co-workers, or family members that would like to enjoy the same results that you have. It entitles them to get $100 off our (name of program) program as a gift from you. And as a way of saying thank you for being such a great client I want to give you $X off of your next program as well.”


Fitness Referral Strategy #4: “Thank You” Postcards

Description: Similar to the “Thank You” gift cards – after a meaningful moment during a client’s time with you, hand them 2-3 pre-printed and stamped postcards that detail a special offer and say…


“Here are 3 postcards that you can address to people important to you that you’d like to see benefit from changes similar to the one’s you’ve made. It entitles them to get $50 off our (name of program) program as a gift from you. Simply address each postcard to someone important to you and sign them, and I’ll be happy to put them in the mail. And as a way of saying thank you for being such a great client I want to give you $X off of your next program as well.”


Both of these “thank you” strategies can be very powerful, but make sure that your client gets the credit for the gifts they give. If they don’t get something out of giving the gifts, they’re highly unlikely to give them. So when a gift card comes in, be sure to ask who provided the new prospect with the card.


Fitness Referral Strategy #5: Send a Gift To Work

Description: This is a great method to use, especially if your client has just graduated from a program you offer or achieved a specific goal. Send a big bouquet of balloons to your client’s work congratulating them on their success. The balloons don’t need to have any logo or writing on them… they just need to have a card congratulating the client on their success.

What will happen is that everyone at the client’s place of work will ask who the balloons are from. The client will tell everyone about you and how much you’ve helped them. The balloons act as a talking point about how happy the client is with their trainer (you).


By Pat Rigsby

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