I was watching the news this evening and squealed in delight at this example of a targeted niche. A local personal trainer developed specific exercises to pinpoint that tricky area of the body known as "back fat."
As soon as I heard that, while I was stuffing a cupcake in my mouth, I reached back and pinched the pesky blubber that has crept onto my once taut back from two pregnancies, no exercise and too many late-night blogging snacks.
As a member of this guy’s target market, all I knew is that I have back fat and this guy knows how to get rid of it.
The great thing for him? Of course he works out every part of your body, just like every other trainer in the area. But he developed a specific differentiating hook, and because of it, people will be lining up outside his door to work with him. Not to mention that his timing for press was excellent: half past Halloween (where kids eat 1 pound of candy and parents eat 5 in their attempt to "save their kids’ teeth"), a quarter past Thanksgiving with the obligatory 12 pieces of pie and 3 quarts of gravy, and 2 minutes to Christmas where 5 pound See’s Candy boxes appear on your doorstep from neighbors you barely know.
Can you see how much more compelling this hook is than "lose 15 pounds and feel great!"?
How can you turn your boring, generic marketing into back fat?
As one of the personal trainers who responded that it’s impossible, I have another reason why the pitch wouldn’t work with me. One of my personal pet peeves is people who I feel are insulting my intelligence. So, this kind of marketing approach is guaranteed to turn me off!
😉 Whether he really dissolves back fat or not, I have to say, it is so unusual it caught my attention right away. While I might not was concerned with my back fat, I could not help but pondering if it is something I need to work on! It’s a great marketing tool.
I also find it so interesting so many personal trainers responded to how impossible it is to actually do it! This post reminds me when I was teaching public yoga classes, my senior teacher once in a conversation winked at me and said: “A quick business tip for you. Don’t call your workshop backbends, call it heart-openers. It will attract more people.” Sometimes, it’s only a matter of wording to get people’s attention, like back fat! Now I am going to have those 2 words stuck in my head for rest of the day 😉
In response to audall’s comment above: “how does one create a niche by being a jack of all trades?”….
There are many ways to specialize. The ‘back fat’ example is an example of specializing based on the problem being experienced by the prospect. (This is one of my favorites because it’s customer-centric.) However, one can also specialize based on your attributes: such as, in your case, being a ‘one stop shop’, IF that’s something that’s very important to your customers and is somewhat unique so you can stand out.
Here’s a list of ways to specialize, continuing the personal trainer example:
1. by customer problem (ie, back fat)
2. by product (ie, the only personal trainer offering home sessions; or a unique cardio interval solution)
3. by geography (ie, the personal trainer in Wiscasset, Wisconsin)
4. by benefit to the customer (ie, this personal trainer specializes in reducing joint pain)
5. by characteristics of the customer (ie a personal trainer specializing in clients who are women 50+)
6. by some combination of the above.
Either way, I agree with Pam: specializing is probably the most powerful thing you can do to get business. Hope that helps.
Great insight Liz! Thanks for sharing.
Great post!! You’re right that he created a great hook. This hook is what got him on the news!
This is especially pertinent to me as I am launching a niche personal training business next year. It will be in-home kettlebell training for the lgbt community in central San Diego.
Thanks to Michael Katz for the book recommendation. I will check that out!
As an aside, did you ever see the Janeane Garafalo special where she talks about her backfat? She said that she was actually going to star in “Backfat” the movie, but then the script got rewritten to something about firefighters. Then a Baldwin got involved, etc.
Great post–and it raises an important question for me. I would greatly appreciate any ideas from others. Niching is essential–particularly for new businesses like mine. We all get scared that we’ll lose out on that big customer right around the corner if we suddenly say we don’t work in the area they need. But in the end, reaching all those obsessed with their back fat across the country can be a far more lucrative and sustainable business niche than, as Pam said, offering an indistinguishable message.
So here is my question to anyone/everyone: in our business (consumer product sourcing company), one of our strengths is being able to help companies that work with a wide range of products. We don’t focus on any one kind of product and have valuable experience with a wide variety. We can benefit customers, who need help with a wide variety of products, by being a one-stop sourcing company. We save them time and effort.
So how does one create a niche by being a jack of all trades? I know it’s possible–I just have to get the message right and make sure I go after the people who want to hear it. If anyone can help me wrap my mind around this more–I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.
I was a personal trainer for five years. I had the reputation in my little circles of changing people’s bodies, while some other trainers in the same gym did not. My “secret” was education, specifically, debunking the kind of marketing approach this guy is using.
Instead of creating dependence, I taught my clients to understand their bodies. I had short-term clients and LOTS of referrals.
One client showed me a series of videos, each one targeting a specific problem (“If you’re thin but soft” vs “if you’ve got a fat butt, but your arms are OK” and so on.)
Honestly I think it borders on unethical — like a doctor targeting “smoker’s cough”!
Back fat indeed!
I agree with you Pam. He is hitting his market at the height of the “season” (thanksgiving/xmas/new year) and I would bet that he will be overwhelmed with clients come the beginning of the year.
While you can’t spot reduce, I’m certain that his clients doing “anything” to increase their level of physical activity will “rid themselves of back fat”.
With that back fat reduction they will be happy and he will say, his exercises worked.
Good for him good for his customers.
Sure, finding a niche is great.
I’m not sure that marketing something that ISN’T TRUE is actually a great deal.
You can’t spot reduce. You can make muscles you have bigger and stronger and you can lose body fat. But it’s not a body part specific thing.
Good point Noel. I totally agree with not lying, since that is just bad business and bad karma. No one wants to be a sleaze bucket.
This guy may be treading a line with his assertions that he can spot-reduce back fat. But I think in general, he is zeroing in on a problem that many in his target market face. If they work with him, doing many exercises and overall conditioning, the back fat will go away and they will be satisfied.
Thanks for weighing in (pun intended) 🙂
A bit off topic, but I have been wondering for a while where you get the pictures you associate with your blogposts? Do you take them yourselves? Buy them off a website? Find them free on the web? Just curious…
I get virtually all my photos from istockphoto.com I really love the source, and feel strongly about paying for the rights to use them (my Dad is a professional photographer, so it is in my blood!). It is cheap – less than $1 a pic, when you buy in bulk.
Good luck – I have been really happy with them.
Back fat? Oh no, another thing to worry about. 🙂
I think finding a niche is great, but if it’s only a marketing strategy as the first commenter said and he can’t truly deliver then that dishonesty might catch up with him in the long run.
I hate to relate to this post, but I do. I don’t think I have heard of men talk about back fat, but it is one of those annoying little things women notice. BTW, if the women in the picture has back fat, it appears to be well camouflaged.
Marketing to a narrow niche is on the mark. This can be a frustrating exercise. It is so hard to narrow down your market until it is a spec of what you feel like you have to offer. Your point about how the trainer still trains for total fitness and not just back leanness is what most business owners that struggle with the niche issue do not realize in the beginning. This trainer could easily run this campaign right before summer too… hrmph bathing suits.
I’m not sure I have back fat (I can’t see back there and my wife, bless her heart, isn’t talking), but I agree all around with the concept of owning a niche.
One of my favorite niche books is NicheCraft by Lynda Falkenstein (http://www.nichecraft.com/store.htm). She’s a niche-ing maniac and her book explains why it’s important and how to do it.
As a personal trainer in training I know that it is impossible to target “back fat” and it is simply a marketing tactic.
It is impossible to spot reduce fat, in order to reduce fat in one area, you are going to have to burn fat, period. You can not simply pick and choose where you want to lose fat.
However, I know you mention this in your post but I wanted to elaborate just a bit. But good for him on his marketing, he will probably have more business than he can handle (I hope not because that is when they may get sloppy).
Great points Miles! As a former exercise-aholic, I realize that too, but was struck by how effective it was to hear such a targeted term. It moved me from thinking “I really must get in shape next year” to “I need to get rid of my back fat NOW.” Good marketing!
Good luck with your training. I am such a fan of personal trainers – I had two stellar ones that really helped me to stay on target with my exercise plans. It is a great profession that has so many positive benefits.
All the best,
Great post – It’s what I think about all the time. BYI -I’m going to look at that promo – maybe something for ab fat!Rosalind Joffe