Dearest Darlingest Blogger,
Who is your audience? Your ideal potential customer? Who do you need to work with?
And do you love her?
I’ve noticed a little virus going around the blog-o-sphere. I’m calling it contempt. Nobody wants contempt, and very few people will buy it.
Let’s use an example: Fitness Bloggers.
(I’ll say it now and I’ll say it later: even if you’re not a fitness blogger, you can apply these lessons to your blog and your marketing.)
Blogger Desperately Seeking A Nice Fitness Trainer, Online
I’m shopping for a trainer or a fitness/lifestyle coach and I can’t find one that I’d like to spend time with - never mind give my money to.
Here’s why: I’ve got high self esteem. I think I’m awesome even if my ass wiggles (in fact, I like the wiggle). Yet fitness coaches and people hawking health online (and everywhere) are invested in shaming me.
I’m not having it – and I’m certainly not paying for it.
Fat is not inherently shameful or shorthand for lazy/fat/stinky/unmotivated/unattractive, and if we had eradicated all other social prejudices and bases for discrimination (and we have not, dammit), then I would say that fat is one of the last “permissable” prejudices in our society. And that’s crap, frankly.
All that being said: I still want a trainer.
I’m a potential client. Someone needs to market to me because I’ve got a goal and I’m willing to spend money to achieve it.
Fitness Bloggers Desperately Seeking Clients, Online
Let’s talk about my profile as a client and how best to market to me.
Hint: shame is not hot or profitable.
I want to get stronger and more flexible, get rid of some bad habits, and ingrain a habit of eating foods that give me energy. If I drop some weight in the process – and I will, it is inevitable – then awesome, but I don’t think that will make me a better person. I think we can all agree that the quality of my character has nothing to do with the number on the scale or my jeans.
Here’s another little thing about me-as-future-fitness-client: I am acutely sensitive to the awful messages society sends women, and I see the link between those shaming messages and eating disorders and of course fat prejudice.
In short, I’m a middle-class thirty-seven year old North American woman who is not as healthy or as “hot” (sigh) as I’d like to be and I’m willing to throw my time, money and effort at the problem.
If you’re a trainer, or a fitness coach, I AM YOUR MARKET and positively ITCHING to give you my money.
How NOT to Market Online (Contempt is Probably Not Your Best Strategy)
And how do I find you? The internet. I google you and then I read your blog. So good on you for having a blog so I can find you and get to know you.
Too bad you didn’t take any time to get to know me, your target market.
Because if you did, and I’m the kind of person you’d want to train, then you’d know that I have a profound political and personal aversion to shame and so shaming me is not terribly inviting, effective or profitable.
But it is rampant. On a regular basis, fitness coaches and trainers – especially ones with women as their target market – blog things like this:
- talking about how disgusting fat is
- talking about going to a kids birthday party and counting every item of food the chubby kid ate
- talking about obesity as a disease or an epidemic
- talking about their fear of food
- talking about kicking my ass
- talking about other people – fat people – being lazy or unfit or lacking in character
- talking about how they’re going to beat the weakness out of me or run me until I puke
These things do not me move. They especially do not move me to hand you my credit card.
Because you don’t even like me and I only do business with people I like and who like me back.
And because I don’t sign up for shame and abuse. There is a very limited niche for that sort of thing and it involves dungeons and whips and no one calls it “fitness”.
How To Market Online: Love Your Customer, Baby
If I could find a fitness coach or a trainer who was about health rather than fat-shaming – and who explicitly made the connection that fat-shaming is political and impermissible – I would be in. All in. Money-and-testimonials-and-glowing-blog-shout-outs-and-downward-dogs in.
So dearest, online fitness bloggers, trainers, and coaches, here’s an exercise that may prove enlightening:
Question: Who needs a trainer and is willing to pay for one?
Answer: Someone who values herself enough to pay for coaching to accomplish health-related goals.
Will shame resonate with that person? Is shaming your client a good a strategy?
Customer Relations: The Takeaway, For ALL Bloggers
Even if you’re not a fitness blogger, you can apply this lesson to your blog and your marketing.
Do you rant about how misguided people are? About how people just don’t get it, or your product? About how your product or service is a ticket to heaven and the rest of us are damned?
Please stop that right now. Love your customers or stop selling to them.
And that is all.
Love (really and truly – if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have said anything at all),
ps. Did I make you feel bad? Did it make you want to pay me?
pps. Since drafting this piece, I found two fitness coaches I like:
Adam Glass – of Walk The Road Less Traveled – who’s all about machismo feats of strength, listening to and learning from your body, and being the expert in your own progress. Adam works his ass off but isn’t that worried about appearance or shame. He’s invested in accomplishment. LOVE HIM.
Marianne Elliott – of Zen and The Art of Peacekeeping – is a peaceful yogini extraordinaire who asked me what my body needed for my 30 days of Yoga. Among other things, I said “lots of smooching, but I don’t think that you can help with that.” She then designed a routine for specifically for me called the “yogic body smooch”. LOVE HER.