Pretty much the entire world looks to a personality of some sort to explain why they’re here, what their purpose is, and how all of this came to be.  Some call it God, Buddha, Mohammed, and a variety of other names.  People identify religions by a specific deity.  It’s the same in sports; you can typically identify a sports team by one or two or three superstars on the team.  Think of products with mascots or personalities leading the way: The Geico lizard, Orville Reddenbacher, Dave Thomas, Papa John, and others.

In a world full of fitness businesses, to really separate yourself from your competition, you too should create a face for your business.

If you have an honest demeanor (or can fake it) you can be the perfect spokesperson.  If you come across more like the  owners featured in used car commercials where the owner says he’s “slashing prices” or acting silly, don’t even try it.  If you try to be something you’re not, it might come across as entertaining and memorable, but likely not in the way you intended, and certainly not in a way that builds sales.  There are no doubt talented business owners out there who have great communication skills and look like someone who can be trusted.  But that might not be you, so be smart and recognize that you can’t be good at everything 😉

So if the face isn’t yours, think of a manager or trainer who is incredibly loyal and who would do a better job.  You obviously need to be certain they have your best interest at heart…or at least be willing to pull the plug on them if you find out that they don’t.

On the same token, you can use a loyal member who has become a huge success story and spokesperson for your business (Think Jared from Subway).  You could even have a small group of loyal members become the “faces” for your business.  Feature the “Rockstar” or the “Dream Team” on your website, in your advertisements, on a billboard, indoor signage, etc.  But again, if you start to feel the loyalty of this person or group begins to falter, make your change quickly.

You can also go with a fictional character.  Perhaps a cartoon character similar to Mr. Clean or Aunt Jemima or Trix Rabbit.This takes a little more creativity on your part, but if your character is unique enough, people will begin to identify with the character and start to take notice of your unique advertising using the character.  You can get someone on or to create an animated character that you can use in your advertising.

You can also have someone dress up as a character or hire a local drama student or actor to do it.  An amateur local actor will probably charge you a couple hundred dollars for an afternoon of pictures and video footage or a public appearance.  Think about the crazy “Grant Money” guy from the infomercials, or the Maytag repairman or a sports mascot.  This person can dress in a funny outfit, or wear a certain shirt, or paint your body green, or anything else you can think of to be memorable.  My buddy BJ Gaddour created the personality “Interval Man” a couple years ago where he dressed up as a musclebound caped crusader and went up to unknowing people on the street to challenge them to do interval training to compare it to traditional sustained heart rate exercise.  He posted the videos on youtube for a while and they were really funny, and really memorable.

Your pet is another solid option.  As you know I love my dog MJ and he made regular appearances on FitBiz TV (oh how Imiss that show).  If you have a pet, you can use him in all your advertisements.  Slap a branded gym t-shirt on your dog and put a little conversation bubble next to his picture that says things like “I have to exercise twice as hard as you with four legs!” or “What do you mean you’re too tired to take me for a walk??” or he can say his favorite quote, or something weird and crazy like the cat at the bottom of all the groupon deals.  Or use Metro Fitness Club as an example.  They have an entire page dedicated to their canine mascot, with a link directly from their homepage here.

The point is that having an identifiable person or character in your advertisements will help people recognize your brand.  Even if they don’t join now, when it does come time for them to find a fitness provider, they’ll have a better chance of remembering your character than they would your logo.  So when someone asks their friend, “where’s a good gym in town?”…the friend might respond, “How about the one that always uses _______ in all of their ads.”  They will remember your _______ much better than they’ll remember your “No enrollment” special, or your “Try us for a month” promotion.

Feel free to leave any thoughts, questions, or snide remarks below!