Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What is the Under-Promise and Over-Deliver Concept?

One of the first things I needed to comprehend as a new fitness manager in 2005 was the concept of "under-promise and over-deliver". As more and more young, enthusiastic trainers start up their own businesses--be it Crossfit, outdoor bootcamps, or training facilities--they head into this venture without knowing this powerful business concept.

In simple terms, I can explain the "under-promise, over deliver"  concept by using a party invitation. Have you ever been invited to a party--maybe birthday party or Super Bowl party---and every year its the same group of friends, same routine, and same set-up? But the one time you do go again...as much as you already anticipate the entire night; as you arrive to the party and  there are new people, there's a DJ, a bigger flat screen TV with stereo sound, and it is catered by your favorite restaurant! WOW....! Now,  that is over-delivering!

The concept can be described as the ability to offer the least on certain services or products and PURPOSELY deliver or provide quality that exceeds the perceived expectations by those intended customers/clients. In turn, this will create a "WOW" factor for your clients; differentiate your services/facility; and move you up the ladder (in your client's mind) when recommending trainers to friends.

One of the biggest mistakes I see in new businesses is the way trainers and business-owners market themselves. They go all out. They bring out...not only the big guns, but ALL the guns! They try to be everything to everyone. They try to have a solution for every health-related issue:  poor posture, fat loss, healthier gastro-intestinal health, bigger strength gains, better squats, bigger deadlifts, healthier shoulders  and pain-free knees. That's alot of solutions! And most of the time,  they fall short of delivering on those promises because the perception of value has been raised BEFORE the client can experience the service. The marketing OVER-promises to the client and usually the trainer falls short because of poor business skills, inexperience or low qualifications. 


Here's a really easy way to understand how the under-promise and over deliver concept works in marketing.  Have you ever signed up for a continuing education seminar or workshop and paid well over $300 for? In your mind, it was a hefty price to pay, but you were going to listen to a few speakers and learn a few new things--as well as get some credits. On the day you arrived for the seminar, you were greeted with a cool new bag, T-shirt, key-chain or bracelet. The seminar hosts set up a nice continental breakfast buffet and also sponsored an after-party shin-dig to meet the presenters and other attendees after the workshop. Now, prior to signing up for this, you thought you were going to pay $300 for a seminar and possibly a booklet with slides? But you got way more than you thought. That is smart marketing and business practice. Under-promise, over-deliver. 

When trainers overly promise on goods, they position themselves at a deadly disadvantage. They are painted into a corner. The only way out of it is to deliver results. Some can deliver these results...others cannot. When you overly promise on results, you place your self at the time-table of the client. And that is not a place you want to rest your business reputation on.

So why do most trainers and new business owners want to over promise? There are many reasons why including lack of business know skills. It is hard to understand this concept in people that do not have a background in business because, naturally, you'd want to exploit all your services and market them as the best. But truth is, you are not the best...if you live in a metropolitan area, chances are there are at least 25 trainers within a 15 mile radius of you. You cannot market your services as being the best, you have to market them as being different.

Outrageous claims will attract only a small amount of people--and those people you don't want in your business. If you market your training style as the "fastest way to fat loss", or "lose "x" amount of fat per week", you are placing alot of pressure on you. Suddenly, the client's expectations are high and the risk of losing the client becomes greater. That is why bogus fitness products have a very short shelf-life. They try to attract people with high expectations and that are susceptible to outrageous outcomes.



Most trainers want to be certified in everything under the sun. They want to be experts in fat loss, kettlebells, Olympic lifting, Crossfit, corrective exercise, nutrition, life-coaching, TRX training, club-bells, and endurance training. Truth is...all these things work in isolation. Most trainers fall into a trap of trying to be good at everything, rather than being great at one thing. They fall into the same trap their client does....they try so many different things, that they become unsure which method worked. 

Keeping your expectations of your training methods simple will ensure that you will always under-promise. A sample of under-promising is "simply getting your client in the gym 2-3 per week on a structured program complete with direction, progression, and effectiveness". How you accomplish this, as a trainer, is individual to your style, personality and the client. Keep the expectations high for your clients, but keep them general to avoid creating any type of pressure for you or the client. When expectations get to high, it becomes easier to point the finger of blame. We can blame the client for being lazy or not giving it their all--or the client can blame the trainer for being poor. It is a no win situation for both. Keep things simple and the outcomes will become grand. 

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