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The 4 am Report

Dec 4, 2019

In this episode of The 4 am Report, hosts Susan and Will do what they do best - conduct a 19 minute laser coaching session for a business that has their empire built on one social media channel.

If that's you, listen up. Common Ground 416 is a fitness space focussed on personal coaching that is the answer to the large gym chains

⭐️ They have a strong instagram presence with an engaged following - but they wonder if the model-rich content is forbidding to the average person.

⭐️ They have a base website that they'd like to leverage.

⭐️ They have an instinct that LinkedIn will help reach their downtowner audience but they question of they'll fit among the charts and graphs.

See what advice and tactics we have for them to quickly fill a few gaps and take things to the next level. Including:

📖 Using DMs for bookings

🔌 E-commerce and calendar plug ins to automate bookings

😂 Entertainment on LinkedIn to 'stop the corporate scroll'

+ much more.

20 mins. Worth your time if you want more automation digital ROI in your small business.

Here’s the transcript:

Will: So this week we're talking about a classic situation that growing small businesses face. They have success doing a few marketing activities, they see ROI on those activities, but in order to keep growing, they're thinking about expanding that marketing function, but don't know exactly what they should focus on. It's uncharted territory. You only have so many person-hours in a day and so much budget, so trying to decide what's best for the business and what to focus on can be a challenge.

Susan: And our two guests joining us this week are facing that exact scenario. So we wanted to invite them here to chat about the marketing successes that they've had, look under the hood, talk out a few different things that have been working, and maybe help figure out some parts for the future. So this is something that we really like to do with our small business clients, roll up our sleeves and figure out that solution that works because it's never one size fits all.

Will: So it's my pleasure to introduce these two gentlemen. We have Adam McDermot and Griffin Nykor who work for Common Ground 416, a downtown fitness studio, personal trainers, but also they wear the hats of marketers and help promote Common Ground. Adam and Griffin, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, about Common Ground, and most importantly, what's keeping you up at night.

Adam: Hi, Susan and Will. Thank you for having us on. I'm Adam, and Griffin, we both are from Common Ground, we are trainers, and we also manage and promote the business. So we're quite a small business. We've been open for about 18 months. We had a really good start, so lots of Instagram marketing, lots of buzz. And now that we've grown to more trainers, we have more of an issue in getting leads for our business, which has never been so much of a problem before. Most of our marketing comes through Instagram. So it consists of stories, which we post throughout the day, most days and some posts through the actually Common Ground Instagram along with our Instagram posts. So that's worked really well, to begin with. Now, like I said, as we're growing, we want to diversify our marketing and figure out a more efficient way to do that.

Susan: So talk to us, does Common Ground have a marketing strategy in place? I know that often small businesses kind of need to hit the ground running, right, and see what works and really lean into the things that are working. So that means sometimes that strategy hasn't been fully thought out, or that audiences need to be more defined, or somewhere that the brand voice and the messaging can use a little bit of help, or whatever. So talk to us about what's happening with your strategy.

Griffin: So we don't actually have a formal marketing plan per se. Like Adam just said, we use a lot of social media, i.e., Instagram, Instagram Stories, Instagram Ads, but we don't have a specific plan being like, we're going to post an ad on this day for this many days to try and hit this many people. But rather when we feel like we're getting a little slow, or we feel like clients are starting to be able to work out on their own, or go away for holidays, or things like that, we try to ramp up our advertising in order to help keep the business growing, keep the business busy, and allowing us to keep training people and keeping people healthy.

Will: Now when we're talking about, I guess, who's seen this, and I followed both of you guys on Instagram, I've worked out with you guys before, so I find it really impressive that you guys are so committed to that, Instagram Stories, posting workouts, that sort of thing, I'm just wondering if you were to say who your primary audience is, a secondary or even a third, currently who you're talking to, who you do want to be talking to as you grow.

Adam: So when the business started, the business owner definitely had more of a direction towards models that he worked with. So we had quite a big buzz and that's where our original marketing strategy actually went to and a lot of our clients came from, was through links that he made through modeling agencies. And we still use that quite a lot. But I feel like we've probably got to a point where we saturated that in a way. And recently, we've had more people say that they were almost put off by that strategy. So we're trying to diversify from using young, attractive females as the formal marketing strategy. We're open to everyone. We want to train everyone. There's no specific demographic we don't want to aim at. Obviously, that's too big for us, so we're trying to specifically aim more of a say, mothers that have time during the middle of the day, or even financial clients that could come in at any time of the day. They're short on time, they want to work out, they have the money to do so. We haven't yet found a way to specifically aim at them efficiently.

Susan: Right. And I guess that's where that sort of targeting exercise or getting to know who that audience is, not so much necessarily from a who's the demographic and are they 35 to 45, and do they make X amount of money? That's one way to do it, obviously. But I mean, since you guys have been having success with Instagram, that it goes a bit deeper than that, right? It's understanding sort of what are the pain points of these people. So for example, as you chat it through right now, that strategy of putting the perfect body out there might actually have been detrimental. Because, what do you call it? Will and I talk about this often, it's like imposter syndrome, right?

I mean if you're not the perfect body, and if you're out there like, oh, I need to get slightly fitter, and if you see someone who's perfectly fit, that maybe isn't doing it for them, which is why I think in most of our work we tend to focus heavily on what we call pain storming, which is that really understanding the pain points of the people. You're not working out right now, you're not putting some time, money, and effort into it. Why are you not? What is stopping you right now? And maybe potentially speaking to those pain points.

Will: Yeah, and something else I was going to bring up, I know, again, you guys rule Instagram, it's awesome. But if it is kind of someone like me or people who are in the downtown core sitting at their desk, you might want to consider a LinkedIn strategy, talking to those people who do have the money to come for that personal one-on-one training or get fit in at lunch or after work. And LinkedIn is the place to find a lot of those people. So that might be something as you evolve to start taking that genius that you do on Instagram and figuring out how to transfer that to the LinkedIn crowd, showing that you do service the people who have those corporate jobs and it's a welcoming place for those people as well.

Griffin: For sure. Yeah. One thing that actually after having a chat a couple of weeks ago, Adam and I - LinkedIn is actually something that I've been trying to start to use more, not only for Common Ground but for my own personal use. I found it very confusing at the beginning, so it was kind of more like understanding the platform, the social media. I don't even know if you can call LinkedIn social media, but a social media platform and how it works.

Because obviously, it's very, I don't want to say suit and tie, but it is very suit and tie, right? Like, you don't see anyone ever posting about any Buzzfeed videos, right? It's more like ads about how the stocks are doing and how the banks are doing. So I'm trying to figure out a way to implement a strategy, actually currently, on how we could kind of get exposure through that and kind of wiggle our way through the, this stock crashed and this today, and stuff like that so that people can see us.

Susan: Yeah, that makes sense. But I guess my point to that would be there's some power to decluttering a little bit. So when you find a whole bunch of those standard blue graph-filled stock market-based posts, I think if you take it back to sort of the basics of content marketing, which is that you want to be informing people about what it is that you're able to do for them. And the second part, which is often overlooked, is that you want to be able to entertain them. So if you are able to provide content, if you're able to sort of riff off the various aspects of your brand's personality, you've got a fun name, you can already start making a few puns about having Common Ground with people.

We're certainly going to do that in the naming of this episode, right, Will? I don't know, I'm just going to make stuff up right now, like you could make jokes around coffee or whatever, but you see the point we're trying to make about disrupting in a certain space or other de-cluttering in a certain space by entertaining a little bit, right? Obviously, there's a space to sell but there's a space to show up and let people see who you are.

Will: And also too, I would say, there's a lot of people who promote themselves, a lot of coaches, like business coaches, life coaches on LinkedIn who promote themselves very well. And it's almost like I would look at your services in that same vein, providing this kind of mind/body/holistic approach that I think people who are that LinkedIn crowd into their 40s would really appreciate it. I know, Adam, I've told you and I've worked at with you before, that I feel like coming to Common Ground working out with you really does kind of do that, not just work out my body but also it's like a good therapy session as well. So I think there's a lot you could do to speak to that LinkedIn crowd without having to conform and fit to what you think that crowd is, like still being yourself and standing out that way.

Susan: Yeah, we certainly talk about that therapy often. It's like some people go see a therapist, some people go see the physical version of that. But yeah, to go to a couple of tactics that could work for you guys, particularly in your case where there's an option to have videos, and you have good content on something like a video medium. LinkedIn video is a really good way to cut clutter, like post directly to LinkedIn. And you know how social media works, they prioritize the things that are on their platform because they want you to stay on their platform. So if you were to, let's say, have a short snippet of a video that you're already using on Instagram, give that a shot, like a low maintenance sort of version of testing the media if you will.

Will: Now, do you have a website? Are there any other things like that that you're working on at the moment?

Adam: So we do currently have a website, but we're looking to relaunch and rebrand the website a little bit for 2020. It's not efficient enough for us at the moment. It has a little bit about the gym. It has a few Instagram gallery pictures on there. It explains a little bit about what we do, but it doesn't really have any use for us outside of that, so we can't track anything. We don't really have a good email list from there. There's no blog on there, per se. There's no way where you can go and buy anything, we don't have e-commerce. And I know that I've had conversations in the past specifically, obviously, with you when you've been in, Will, about how we can then use the website to build a platform to get out what we're doing to our clients regularly. We don't have any sort of email strategy as it were, so that's something we really want to work on for the next year, and just make everything more coherent and easy to understand, I guess.

Susan: I think as far as a website is concerned, you pretty much hit on most of those points right there, which is that for your particular business, I think the first thing you want to do is make sure that people can actually pay and schedule and book in sessions with you guys online, right? Because if you've already got a following, and you're just making it extra convenient for them, and taking out that piece from the manual dealings of things. So even if someone's actually paying you a different way right now, you could point them towards that. So I'd say for someone like you, e-commerce and just even basically setting up a Shopify plugin on your existing website is like a quick win, right? You've already got something like that and then you plug it into a calendar and you've got bookings coming in. So that's one thing to think about.

The other thing as you said, is that all of this stuff that you're doing at social, there'll be multiple people who will tell you don't do things on social, so it on your own. But sometimes you just get better traction on social. So you're building your awareness there and there's nothing wrong with that, but why not sort of admitted it on your website? So it's good that you have a gallery there, but just sort of think about what you're going to be putting on your website, how you can make people give you their email. Because like you said, email lists, people will tell you that they're not the greatest thing and the people don't read email anymore. But if you have interesting email, people would read it. So it's worth exploring what that can do for you and integrating with email and stuff. So two things, just figure out a way in which you can get that payment system sorted so people can book online. And the second is figuring out how you can make email work for you.

Will: Yeah. And the other thing I would add too is like what she's saying, the email, again, if you look at your Instagram as you're anchoring social promotional property, right? If you could take what you're doing already really well on Instagram and turn that into an e-book, a video series that you host on your site, something that people would want to download, like a 10-day challenge. You guys put up such great workouts and stuff like that, so maybe using that as the inspiration to build out something like a downloadable e-book, or a video series, or a fitness checklist that people would want to give your email, opt-in, and then you've got them there in your email list.

Griffin: Yeah, so again, we're talking about 2020 here as we're coming to the end of 2019. We're working on our company's 2020 goals. And one of those is definitely to be able to have some sort of online marketing/cashflow aspect to it. You can only fit so many people into a gym at one time, right? But when you take away requiring the space, we can have hundreds of people working out all at the exact same time, right? If we sell a video package going over, this is a workout, you have these videos explaining what each exercise is.

Griffin: Two things that I find in fitness nowadays that people hate is, learning, so a lot of people like to just have it in front of their face and just get it done. Hence, why lots of people train because we program workouts for them and they can kind of come in blind-eyed and just kind of work out. And two, I don't have a two. We're going to have to reset.

Will: The hating learning was a good one though, Griffin.

Griffin: I lost it. I had it, then I lost it.

Will: We are so not editing that out, by the way.

Griffin: That was fun. Thanks, please keep that!

Will: That's cool though. What I like what you're saying is that's so true. People who don't want to come out to the gym, like you said, it's a small space, you can only have so many at a time, but figuring out maybe someone wants to come in and see you guys once a month. Then you give them a workout to continue doing on their own as part of a program, and then they come back in and check in on you, or you do online counseling, like through what we're doing now, where we can see you on the computer. I think that's a really neat thing to explore.

Susan: It's kind of like taking the selling one-to-one process, and there's many complicated frameworks for this, but it's basically instead of selling to one person at a time, you're trying to sell to multiple people at a time, exactly as you said. And there's obviously advantages there, but there's obviously advantages to that one-on-one contact and that personalized attention. And part of your marketing plan is going to have to focus in one of those areas. And obviously, for the moment, if your face to face ones are your primary product, then you want to make as much of your marketing sort of funnel into that as possible, right? So yeah, I think exploring a couple of other channels and really showing some personality and letting people be entertained, it's the reason the cat video rules, because people just want a break and they want to look at something that amuses them.

But just one more quick thing that I was thinking about. We were talking about Instagram and potentially taking Instagram to the next level, and the fact that you can only book-in one person at a time or a certain number of people at a time. One thing worth exploring is the FOMO factor. Use Instagram DMs, potentially, to send out to people being like, be the first five to book this and potentially maybe you get a better price or whatever. We live in a generation where people are constantly afraid they're missing out, right? So there's an option to leverage that in a good way. You know that the downtowners need their workouts and they need that mental chill and physical chill, so send out a couple of DMs to pull them in with that.

Will: Do you guys want to talk about anything else?

Griffin: Like Adam was explaining earlier, we do post a lot of models on our Instagram, and either me, Adam, Sopearin, or Kati, or even just on our Common Ground page. I don't want to change our demographic because we love training the models. We love the relationship we have with the modeling agencies, but I want to add to it. I want to be able to make Common Ground look like a space that is welcoming towards everybody. You don't have to be the ideal fitness level, like you don't have to come in and look like that immediately. That's not what we want to portray. We want to make it the most welcoming space possible so that if somebody looks on our Instagram, so let's say someone goes and looks at Adam's Instagram and he has stories, he has client A, client B, client C, they can be like, "Oh, Adam trains a bunch of different people, I want to train with Adam." I want us to try and start diversifying what we post on our Instagram, right?

Will: Yeah. And you know what, Griffin, because I've been there to the studio, I know it's not just all beautiful models, right? It is a nice diverse mix that you have there. But I mean in addition to showing people doing the working out, you could also be showing someone walks in and how they're greeted, little behind the scenes stuff to add to it, right, to make it seem like that welcoming space. The reason I don't like going to a gym is I do feel a bit intimidated. There's lots of people, it's crowded. I don't really know what I'm doing. But when I come to see you guys, it's more than just the workouts, right? It's the personalities. It's the comradery.

Susan: It's the experience.

Will: Yeah. It's an experience beyond just the workout. So figuring out a way to communicate that I think too, would help attract other people like me who've just been turned off by the big gyms of the world that we thought were the only option.

Susan: And maybe the journey as well. It's not a one and done. You didn't show up to the gym one time and get all of your fitness goals achieved, right? So a little bit of the journey of what motivates people to keep doing it and what motivates people to come back, and that kind of thing could be storytelling.

Adam: So we actually have a couple of ideas of that. And one thing we were looking to do, and it's me and Griffin specifically, was some sort of Instagram TV, vlog, or YouTube Channel, or something that documents our day. So like you say, people coming in and coming out, how we treat our clients so you can see that we treat all our clients the same, how we engage with each other throughout the day, and just shows that fun atmosphere of the gym. You can then follow it over time so you'll see the progress of the clients in real-time rather than just when we post a picture every now and then. And I think it'll just get all of that hopefully, in one easy kind of way, which we haven't done as of yet and we're kind of scared to start doing.

Will: You guys got to do it. That was like us with this podcast. We didn't want to do it, we didn't want to do it, then we just did it, and we leaned in and really did give it a go, give it our all. And we've seen great results. I mean we go to events, people comment on it. We've got great traction. We've jumped to number 27 in the Canadian marketing charts, which is amazing. So I think all it takes is you guys seem to want to do it, so you just got to make the time. And I think it's a great idea what you're saying, Adam. That sounds like an awesome idea.

Griffin: Yeah, that idea kind of started as a joke in all honesty, but then we kind of realized it could actually be used as a really good marketing tool. We don't want it to become the David Dobriks of YouTube, right? We just wanted to shine light on how welcoming, and easy-going and laid back we all are at Common Ground. Yes, our branding is all black and white and looks big and tough and scary. I love our branding. I'm not bashing it whatsoever. But as soon as you walk in, you realize we're all super happy. No one is ever really screaming at anyone. No one is ever getting mad at anyone, and that it's a place where people can come get a really good workout in, and become fitter, become mentally, emotionally and physically fitter.

Will: Okay guys, thank you very much. That was a good conversation. I'm excited to see what you guys do for 2020 because you've done a great job so far, so it's only up from here guys. Susan, I think that's a wrap on another episode of The 4am Report. Adam and Griffin, thank you very much for taking the time to phone in and chat with us today.


About Adam, Griffin and Common Ground


Adam and Griffin run Common Ground, a boutique fitness studio with minimal distractions. It provides a comfortable workout environment for exclusive personal training, quad training and small intimate group classes.  Common Ground is a fully collapsible space that is versatile - everything from small intimate yoga & pilates classes, to health/wellness events & workshops.

For more information visit


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