As a personal trainer you are not selling a product, you are offering a service. Marketing a service is a much different beast than marketing a product. It has many benefits and difficulties. In these next couple weeks I want to discuss the differences between them, the challenges associate with marketing a service and give you some helpful ways to utilize these differences and challenges to your benefit. This week I want to discuss the challenges associated with marketing a service.

Tangibility, or a Lack Thereof

Services are intangible. A consumer can see and feel a car, but cannot see or feel the new lifestyle and goals you will be helping them obtain. This makes it a harder sell for some people. If they can’t see the working parts and experience it first-hand, they are less likely to buy the service you are selling. Let’s say a consumer is interested in a new computer program and their friend already has said program. They can try this new program on their friend’s computer or they can have their hand at a trial version of the program before they fully commit to buying it.


Products tend to fill a customer’s need or want. It is selling a customer a product, and that customer leaving until they want to buy something else. A service is more about selling a relationship and the value of that relationship between the buyer and seller. People are more skeptical of this type of thing. The challenge for you as the marketer is you need to make sure potential clients see the value of the service. Which can be a very difficult thing to get across.

Quality Comparisons

It is very easy to give a product a certain amount of stars on Amazon’s rating system and add comments as to why you gave it such a score. Take a product like a type of car wax. It either works or it does not. It is objective; facts. A service, on the other hand, can be a tricky thing to measure in terms of quality. It is subjective; opinions. A service provider can provide the exact same service in the exact same way to two different people and one could think it was great while the other thinks it was subpar.

Time Commitment

When a consumer is purchasing a service, it comes with a certain amount of time commitment. This can be a challenge to get people to commit to because their time is usually very valuable to them. You need to be able to market to them and show them that your service is worth their time.

No Returns

Piggy-backing off of the idea of time commitment, there are no returns when it comes to services. Sure, if someone feels they had an absolutely horrible experience, you could give them their money back. But you will never be able to give them back the time you consumed. This is just another challenge that you may have with marketing your service.

It can be a tricky thing marketing your personal training services. There are many challenges associate with it. But, there is hope. There are ways to turn these difficulties into strengths for your marketing efforts. Check back next week when we’ll discuss turning these challenges into positives.

Ryan Farrell

Ryan Farrell started working with the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) in 2012. As NFPT’s Marketing Coordinator, Ryan is responsible for aiding company reputation by building brand awareness and establishing strong working relationships among NFPT, its affiliates and industry partners.