EPISODE 9: WHAT'S YOUR W3 AND WHY DOES IT MATTER? WITH RODNEY J. MORRIS
One way for any service provider to focus their marketing efforts is to get very specific about what they do, who they do it for, and why it needs to happen. It’s called the W3- and it’s one of the big takeaways from the first week of the Techstars Future of Longevity Class of 2021, a 12-week program that focuses on innovative solutions to address the unmet needs of older adults and their caregivers- and MyFitPod is honored to be included this year.
On todays episode we sit down with MyFitPod Chief Operating Officer Rodney J. Morris to learn more about the experience thus far, and to talk about why and how defining and refining your W3 can be a critical step toward your success as an independent fitness pro.
- Techstars Future of Longevity Class of 2021
- Levers: The Framework for Building Repeatability into Your Business by Amos Schwartzfarb
- Independent Fitness Professionals Forum
- MyFitPod Academy
James Brown (00:42):
Welcome Rodney, uh, for those who might be unfamiliar, what is Techstars and why did you apply for the program?
Rodney J. Morris (01:15):
So the Techstars accelerator program is a program for startups that focuses on teaching founders, critical business fundamentals, while providing them with direct access to high level mentorship and all of these things together. And they will them to dramatically accelerate the launch or scaling of their businesses. So ClassPass for example, is a Techstars alumni company. So for me personally, for MyFitPod, you know, the access to resources, the access to network, the access to relationships and really guidance around these fundamentals is so critical. So it's really exciting to spend time with you today and to be able to share, you know, some of the critical tools and the lessons learned already in the program with a larger audience of fit pros.
James Brown (01:58):
What is the biggest takeaway thus far that would benefit, uh, fitness entrepreneurs?
Rodney J. Morris (02:04):
You know, it's interesting. So, you know, right after the first couple of weeks of the program, we had spent a week in DC, uh, doing some pre program work. I actually came back immediately and presented at the Dallasmania fitness convention, CW fitness education, and did a talk around really understanding what it takes to launch grow and elevate your business. And I can definitely say I was already heavily influenced by some of the learnings that had occurred, you know, in the first week with Techstars. And one of the things that came through clearly and strongly that we talked about at that convention with fitness professionals was about something called the w three. And it actually comes from a book called Levers. Uh, one of the primary authors of that book, uh, Amos Schwarzfarb is actually, uh, affiliated with the Techstars program and did a session with us two sessions.
Actually, we got to speak to him directly. Um, and the W3 is really to put it simply, you know, understanding exactly who the first w your customers are. Uh, secondly, what it is they actually buy from you. But the, the part that really blows most folks minds when you dig into it is the third w which is why and the why. Isn't really just the idea of why they buy, but really what is the value that they take away from their interactions with you? So, you know, in the context of the session that we did at Dallas mania, it was excellent because we had about 25 fitpros in the room that were all across the spectrum. Literally some who were just about to launch their own independent business, some who were in the process of growing the business, others who were pretty well established, and then people who really hadn't launched yet, but they were just kind of curious, you know, about where to start.
Um, and what's great is that, that conversation and the process of unpacking the W3 was absolutely relevant to every single participant, meaning everyone benefited from hitting the pause button and taking a step back and challenging their assumptions. The first being the, the who, you know, a lot of fit pros and honestly, any startup, which is, I think why, you know, the techstars program puts so much emphasis on it. You know, when you're starting to promote yourself and your services, it's easy to become a victim of the customers who show up first, meaning, you know, the first few people who show interest or for us fitness instructors, you know, your loyal fans in the front row is easy to build a solution, a business, or a concept around what's most readily available without first understanding what you really do that makes you not just unique, but really makes you resonate and makes you come across as being incredibly valuable to a specific type of customer and not just a demographic, but, you know, in, in the book, I encourage everyone to read it.
You know, they introduced this concept of, for the who you're a hundred percent customer. So everybody close your eyes and thinking about this for a second, you know, what does your customer look like? Where 100% of the time, when you have the opportunity to interact and engage with them, you're successful at converting them. And if you had to take a step back, it lists all of the attributes. So now keep in mind when you do this, you might end up with a profile of a person that seems super ultra specific, but they actually teach. That's one of the core fundamentals of building a sustainable business. You've got to start with a clear understanding of customers that you can actually win on a consistent basis, and then build the infrastructure of your business around that. And for me personally, I can just say it was mind blowing because, you know, in our own business and other endeavors, I've been a part of in the past.
It's been very easy to try to service everyone in every way. And I either think about the fact that there are times when in retrospect I can think about customers I've interacted with that were far beyond or outside of the 100%, but because they were there, we may be over-indexed or took too much out of the feedback they provided. And it actually derailed the business. We spent time building things or doing things that didn't get us towards our core customer. And that first principle and the W3, the who absolutely mind blowing mind blown.
James Brown (06:27):
Okay. So you talked about the who's. So can you tell us a little bit more about the what and the why?
Rodney J. Morris (06:33):
Uh, absolutely. So, you know, the, the brilliance of the what and the why and the W3C is that they're exactly what they sound like. So the, what is really taking a step back and listening what it is that you actually provide, and this is coming from your perspective. So, you know, if you think that you provide a particular type of modality or a specific service, or you provide people, if you are a personal trainer, you know, with nutritional guidance, nutritional plans, um, those types of things list those down, uh, according to what you think, you actually provide your target, your ideal customer. And, you know, that list may be long, but it really is, you know, the nuts and bolts of your offer. You know, if you were a business, it would literally be your product, whether it's a platform, whether it's, you know, a physical, tangible product that people can interact with, or maybe it's something digital or virtual, but what you offer is that, so if I'm an independent Fit Pro and I'm offering omni-channel experiences, you know, a part of my, what, maybe my last, my live streaming or my video on demand or my in-person sessions, uh, but there could be other, you know, let's say intangible what's as well.
Now, the, the why, and this is why this is so critical is that the why is actually not from your perspective is from the perspective of the actual customer. So in order for your why and the why being, why they buy, like what they perceive that they're getting, and then how they know that they're getting, it really requires you to have a bit of a two way communication with your actual customers and the audience so that you understand what it really is. They take away from all the stuff that you're offering them, right. And the stuff that you provide them with. So give you a really good example. You know, if I was an independent fit pro and personal trainer, I might provide a nutritional program. I might provide structured workouts, you know, for my client, but the reason that they buy there, why is this feeling of safety and security that they have with me because of the nature of my training style, or it could be that they feel accountable because I am organized and disciplined.
Um, and for all practical purposes, relentless, you know, am I follow up? Am I encouragement of them to consistently participate, you know, in my workouts and do their independent workouts outside of their time with me. So what I'm getting at is that the Y often crosses over into a higher sense of an emotional takeaway or emotional value, but there also could be some intangibles that are offered by you, that you might not even realize that you're actually giving. So for example, if I am working with my personal trainer and we're doing, you know, a variety of strength, workouts, and other types of programs, one of the wise for a customer of yours, especially if they are in a longevity, you know, ready demographic, meaning maybe they're aging, maybe they're starting to lose mobility, um, some of their core function, um, and maybe one of their wives does that by working out with you, they're able to maintain their independence because they're able to walk and stand and sit and bend and do things that allow them to live, you know, independently.
Um, and depending on who your target customer is, your who, you know, some of those whys might be consistent with a larger group of people. So, you know, the goal is that once you've done this activity and you've gotten the feedback, so validate, you know, the why's, uh, of what your customers are actually buying from you, then you're able to string these things together and have the beginning stages of an actual marketing and an acquisition and customer, uh, conversion strategy, but just take a step back and think about it for a second. If you didn't really know who your customers were, if you didn't really understand what it was you offered, or you didn't really understand why the heck they even would buy, can you start to see why perhaps, you know, your ability to consistently attract, activate and retain customers might be somewhat flawed. And, and that's really one of the core principles and premises that the Techstars program, you know, tries to teach startups. And we're trying to pass on to our audience today, which is, you know, before you build, you know, a castle, we gotta make sure the foundation is really strong.
Absolutely. So let's talk about first, you know, the, the, the, the who. So this is the part of the activity where I encourage you to take out, you know, a pen and paper, or if you've got a computer and you're a typer, you know, literally start by going to town. So think of all of the things that, that particular customer, and if you can think of someone specific that you believe that when you interact with them, you're always, almost, almost always going to be successful at earning them as a client. So it's the modality that I'm teaching is yoga, and I'm working exclusively with aging adults. You know, one of the first things is that my target customer probably fits into a specific age range. So I would identify, you know, am I primarily looking to work with people who are 40 plus 55 and over 65 and over et cetera.
Uh, and then from there, really kind of break down what that audience looks like, is that audience primarily male or female? Is that audience professional, or is that audience retired? Are they working in suburban or rural or urban areas? Um, do they have other habits, activities or affiliations that, you know, are consistent between the groups? So maybe for example, in this group, they've already started to participate in some type of mobility management and or longevity focused, uh, type of training. So maybe they're doing things like Tai Chi, maybe they're doing functional training to help them maintain muscular strength and endurance. Um, maybe underneath that, um, they also have a certain level of financial affluence, and that may be a yes or no or affiliation with community centers or participation in other, uh, active aging groups or, uh, uh, community affiliations. And once you whittle that down and you have those attributes, that's really who your who is.
And you validate that simply by those types of engagement. So in your local community, if you're interacting with people that check all of those boxes, and you're able to validate that your ability to get them interested in your services and to convert is at a high rate. This is the beauty of the, the Omni channel world that we live in now. And if anyone listened to Maria Turco's podcast with us last week, you, you hear the connection because once you understand that that, that nucleus of your potential customer base think about all the ways that technology will allow you to communicate with and connect with and build relationships with more people who look, sound, walk, talk, and act just like that primary customer demographics for you. And that's where the magic, you know, really starts to happen. So that would be an example of your, your who, you know, the what really then depends on what you offer.
So that's your modality, that's the different, you know, um, channels through which you offer your services. If you have any particular expertise, you know, be it in something more clinical, uh, in terms of like therapy or rehabilitation or meditation, um, or even, uh, coaching all of those fall into your what, and then the Y is that two way validation, you know, where you understand for that audience, that, you know, they really are working with you because they're able to maintain their independence because they're able to build a sense of community with people who are similar to them. Um, you also offer them, uh, support and nurturing and restoring their self-confidence. Um, that would be a quick list, you know, of a W3, the what, sorry, the who, the what, uh, and then the why.
James Brown (15:24):
Okay. So what are some of the common pitfalls of starting a new business and working through the W3?
Rodney J. Morris (15:31):
So this is actually, uh, an assumption that I have that I'm going to qualify this and say, one of the best takeaways of our entire experience thus far was just a simple notion of identify what assumptions you have about your business and which ones are critical about your business, and then be conscious of whether or not those assumptions are unvalidated, or if they've been validated. And what that means is if, for example, you believe that in order for your business to be successful, that people really want to take underwater basket weaving classes, you know, in the evenings. And you've not validated that then building a business around that premise, you know, opens up all types of potential, just drama, trauma, and risk, right? But if you have this psychology wired to where you're always thinking about, is this assumption validated or invalidated, it lets you do two things, reality text test and check yourself, but also figure out where you need to collect data and information from people, from followers, from customers, maybe from those who didn't convert as customers, or maybe fell off as customers so that you can make really informed data-driven decisions about how to move your business forward.
Rodney J. Morris (16:44):
So that's a long way of me saying the biggest, most common pitfall that new businesses have is that they make critical decisions. They make critical assumptions without any attempt or awareness that these assumptions are validated by data. And on, in addition to that, sometimes they lack the courage to, to have the hard conversation with themselves to recognize that big assumptions that they made actually were not based on that and potentially we're wrong. And what then happens is that rather than collect the data to actually validate or invalidate those assumptions, they then fall victim to confirmation bias. And they look for one or two examples in a sea, like a sea of examples of situations, that data that prove the exact opposite, but because they can find one or two examples, you know, that support their preferred perspective assumption, they, they double down on that and underneath all of that, which is a completely different conversation, you know, is a really, really inflated ego, um, that prevents that professional for really seeing the forest for the trees, um, and understanding and accepting, you know, what's truth. And what's fact versus what's a story that they're telling themselves either about their business, about their customers, or maybe even about themselves.
James Brown (18:07):
How can fit pros best go about validating or invalidating their assumptions about who their best customers are or why they are, or aren't buying?
Rodney J. Morris (18:16):
You know, this is the part where, you know, some of us may be at a bit of a handicap here, but the good thing is that, you know, overcoming that is not very hard. So if you are, I'm going to start with, I would call a grow pro or an elevate pro. And what that means is you've gotten established client base. You've been doing business for awhile. You know, you have a history, you have, you know, access, you know, to people and to, you know, whether they're currently active with you or they've fallen off. The best thing to do is to go back to those people and to fill in the gaps. So go to the people who have previously, um, been customers of yours and re-engage them and the simplest thing. And it's time-consuming, but it's really effective is to reach out to them potentially via bone and have a conversation, a targeted conversation to really understand their perception of your W3C.
So, you know, make sure you document the demographics around them as a customer. So, you know, list those things out and start tracking those with that customer base, then, you know, ask them specifically, you know, what are the types of services or the, the specific things that were offered, you know, by me, my company, by my product, you know, that you saw value in that you directly engaged in and then ask them on the back end of that, you know, after having worked with me, you know, what exactly, you know, did you ultimately feel like you took away most from the interaction and relationship? That's the first part, then the second part, especially for people who have not stayed with you and you've not retained them. And this is the hard part, because I think a lot of us really avoid this. And this is the confirmation bias part where you then need to ask them the question of, Hey, you know, can you explain or share with me some of the reasons why you chose not to continue with my services?
And this is the part where you need to be prepared to shut up, shut up and listen and document every single thing that they say, knowing that potentially some of the feedback that you receive, it maybe may not come from the best place or even be usable. But the, the task here that the target here is to collect enough volume of data so that when you step back from it, you can see trends. So once you've done that, you know, with a larger section of your customer base, maybe it's 20 people, maybe it's 30 people, maybe it's 50 people. And of course you can use technology. You know, if you're able to send surveys and get responses for people to use that, um, and if get feedback from your customers, you can do through an index, those a pull out keywords and key phrases. Um, but this is going to be best step because once you have the data on those targeted points, then you can go back and see where the trends are.
And more importantly, where the gaps are. And that's going to give you an idea of which of your assumptions about your business are validated through the data or invalidated, or maybe some of your assumptions were completely and totally wrong. Hey, I thought my ideal customer was between this agent, this age, looking for ABC and D. But when you do that data, you find that the customers who not only stick with you, but refer friends and family to you are of a different look, shape, size, and feel that is powerful data, because that can literally prevent you from wasting months or years or tens of thousands of dollars chasing behind clients that you really should never have. What is also going to do too, is help you look at that collective feedback that you're getting and not over-index on feedback from customers that actually aren't in your target.
That aren't a part of your a hundred percent because they're looking for things and services and outcomes that probably are a mismatch for what you have to offer and knowing confidently that that feedback, uh, doesn't have to be fully integrated. It can also be a huge, huge saving. So on the other end, if you are newer and you're just launching, you know, you, you have the, the, the challenge of not having, you know, a library, so to speak of resources and customers to go to, but you can get really smart about how you set up engagement and how you initiate and collect feedback from your customers out of the gate. So the simple act of sending, you know, a satisfaction survey, you know, to your customers, you know, immediately after they have a session with you, their first session, their fifth session, the 10th session, if you start doing that, it won't take very long to start to build that library.
It starts to see those trends. So the kicker there is you may be willing and, and need to be willing to pivot quite a bit, you know, as you're learning and kind of narrowing down on who the target customer and the target, you know, features and the target, you know, uh, takeaways for them are. But the key here is in both situations, either access and interpret your data, or start to build and collect the data and doing that, you know, whether it's through direct phone calls, through surveys, uh, through, you know, in, uh, indirect interactions either, you know, during sessions or after sessions or feedback before sessions, all great ways, but the net net is get the data, get the data, get the data.
James Brown (23:29):
What other resources would you suggest for a fitness entrepreneur to learn more about this topic?
Rodney J. Morris (23:35):
Uh, so the first and foremost is just go straight to the book Levers, by Amos Schwartfarb. Uh, the, the book is actually a really easy read. Um, and what's great about it is as you're going through is designed to be done and to be read in blocks. So literally read a chapter. This is a series of activities, step away, go do some other activities to validate and then come back. So for the independent FitPro that may not have, you know, a block of time to spend a half day or two days or three days, it's a great tool to use to kind of like build it as you go, which is awesome. Um, and spoiler alert, you know, for those that don't like to read, there are also some pretty amazing, uh, videos available on YouTube, uh, where he actually breaks down the critical concepts, you know, of the book, you know, into a video format and the videos have literally about 10 to 15 minutes each, and that's a great place to start.
Um, the other thing to think about is, you know, the outcome of all of this is that as you start to build your W3, what you're essentially doing is starting to build out something called, you know, a customer persona. And that's really, you know, a visual that includes attributes and characteristics of what you need to do to attract, to convert that, to retain a specific type of customer. And, you know, I can't underscore the point enough, you know, it doesn't matter if you've already launched a business. It doesn't matter if you've been in business, you know, for, for, for, for years, you know, this is a process that you need to continually do and challenge and refine because, you know, conditions in the university, you know, in the marketplace are going to change. Technology will change. Heck COVID changed everything. And when those critical events happen, it's probably a good trigger for you to take a step back and rechallenge your assumptions around who your customer is around, what they need from you at around what value they'll take away from it, because you might find some really amazing gyms in how you can pivot, um, not necessarily your whole product, but maybe some of your offerings or how you present and package your offerings to have a higher yield, uh, and a higher conversion of your target audience.
James Brown (25:44):
Okay, great. Thank you so much for being here today, Rodney. I think that's going to help a lot of fit pros.
Rodney J. Morris (25:49):
Absolutely. Thank you. It's been great.