• Founder of Athletes Authority
  • Marketing Maverick
  • Business Strategist
  • Newsletter Publisher

Rich Men North of Richmond

It’s crazy how quickly things can go viral when a message really taps into the conversation that the market is already having inside its head.

No better example of that than Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond.”

Two weeks ago, no one knew this guy.

Today, he’s trending on Twitter, being interviewed by Joe Rogan, and his debut hit has skyrocketed to the top of the charts with over 50m views on YouTube.

The left wing of American politics is calling him a right-wing fanatic.

The right-wingers of American politics are calling him a left-wing fanatic.

All that tells me is the silent majority in the middle are lapping it up.

You can listen to it here… you’ll quickly hear what I mean.

The business lesson in all of this is as old as time:

You can’t create desire in the market.

All you can do is channel the desire that is already there.

Meaning, you have to meet your customers where they are, if you want your marketing to hit home.

Making this practical for you doesn’t need to be complicated.

Just listen.

What is your market saying?

What are they hearing?

How are they feeling?

How can you curate a marketing message that connects with that?

How can you, with your solutions, meet your market where they are, right now?

If you want to take it a step further — go ahead and audit your current marketing message. If it ain’t hitting, compare it against these simple questions.

What would you change?

How would you like to change it?

My two cents? The closer you are to the customers, the more you already know what you need to change.

– Karl Goodman

Height vs Depth

There is a big difference between something that grows up and something that grows down.

And interestingly, the higher you want something to go, the deeper the foundations that must be dug.

Many of you will already know that Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. And for those that didn’t, me saying it now has probably jogged the memory bank.

But what about the deepest building in the world? What goes the closest to Earth’s core?


No one talks about that. While digging out foundations is hard, brutal and time-consuming work, there are no accolades for going deep…

I can only assume that’s the case because we’re never hard-wired to celebrate the things that no one can see. 

But you know who is obsessed with depth?

The people responsible for building skyscrapers.

Before the guys that build skyscrapers build up, they build down

Engineers, architects, risk assessors…

The people with something to lose are far more interested in the building, not toppling over, so they become depth-orientated.

And in business, so should you.

In business, depth takes on the not-so-frequently-discussed:

– It’s the documentation, measurement and tracking of your operations & processes;
– It’s your safeguards that prevent you from becoming bloated and inefficient as you ‘grow’
– It’s your financial modelling and engineering so you don’t topple over when the economic cycles change direction
– It’s your client satisfaction and LTV to make sure you’re building — not taking away — your market goodwill.
– It’s licensing your systems (because it forces you to get your own house in order)

Depth is pretty much everything that the goo-roos don’t talk about.

All the ‘boring’ stuff (pardon the pun… I suspect not everyone will get that if you’re not an Elon fan)

But the reality is, someone needs to tell you this stuff, otherwise, the pursuit of scale will kill you.

In this month’s alley-oop, I go over all the frameworks that constitute the “infrastructure” of your business.

Solutions for pipeline management, continued client education, reputation management, centralised communications, documentation and staff/client onboarding.

Yeah, the “boring” stuff, that will make you a tonne of money, regardless of whether you’ve got a big team, or whether you’re operating solo.

Plus, it’ll show you how to automate the majority of this stuff with software like getgymini.com, so that you can keep the focus on what matters — delivering an exceptional client experience so your goodwill expands over time (rather than detracting).

If you want to get your hands on the edition, you can subscribe here:

– Karl Goodman

The (not so) secret strategy behind Apple

Just about every business goo-roo online will give you advice on how to gain new customers.

“More leads.”

“More sales.”

“More customers.”

But how many make retention an emphasis?

Very few… and that’s probably because keeping customers is nowhere near as sexy as gaining customers.

Interestingly, the best businesses in the world put retention as a higher-order priority over acquisition…

And Apple is the king of it.

I’ve only bought a non-Apple product once since I was 18.

It was a Sony phone… and it sucked.

I felt so out of place with my Sony that it only took me six months to walk back into Apple with my hands outstretched like Oliver Twist:

“Can I have an iPhone, please?”

Have you ever wondered why Apple puts retention way above acquisition?

Once you see the numbers, it just makes sense:

It costs 5-25x times less to keep a customer, than it costs to gain a new one.

In my case, it costs Apple exactly $0 to keep me as a loyal customer. 

But to convert a diehard Android user? A tonne of money would have to go into sub-conscious, un-conscious, and conscious marketing to get a PC guy across the line (the only thing more diehard than Apple users are PC users).

See what’s going on here?

The chances are, though, we’re approaching this in our own business the opposite way.

We’re putting 5-25x less effort into keeping our customers, than trying to gain new ones.

Bit arse-backwards if you ask me (and I say so from experience of making the same mistake).

One of the best ways of getting retention back on the scorecard and putting it in focus is with automation.

And there are heaps of easy ways to leverage it, too. Like:

1. Using automation to ensure onboarding is thorough and personalised so you don’t have hiccups that leave a bitter taste in the customer’s mouth.

2. Using automation ensures you follow through on your brand promises and do what you say you’ll do. No trust? No retention.

3. Using automation to implement customer feedback loops, like the Net Promoter Score, which is widely accepted as the ultimate question to gauge customer satisfaction (if you’re interested, the creator of NPS Fred Reichheld, has a book on the topic).

4. Using automation to roll out a ‘continued education program for onboarded clients’. This ensures your customers continue to understand and believe everything required to continue to see the need for your service.

5. Using automation to capitalise on social proof  by broadcasting your success stories to your current client base on a regular cadence.

6. Using automation to leverage reciprocity. When a client has a win, associate that win with your product by asking for a Google review.
 Easy enough to do, rarely capitalised on.

7. Using automation to leverage referrals because a referring customer is a customer that has the highest personal satisfaction with you. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it certainly gives you a taste of how automation can save you tens of thousands of dollars in marketing costs by not having to pay for acquisition.

Because, after all, a customer saved is a customer gained.

– Karl Goodman

The unconventional Roman approach to scaling

You can learn a lot about scaling a business by looking back at history and seeing how civilisations became empires.

And no better example comes to mind than the Roman Empire, which, for a long time, ruled the world. If there was ever a definition of ‘scaling’ an empire, they were it. 

As the civilisation sprawled throughout Europe and Mesopotamia, Rome encountered a recurring problem. The Aqueducts, which supplied clean water for their great baths, and the bridges that linked trade were collapsing within minutes of the scaffolding being removed. The superior workmanship and quality control that built the famous ‘Roman Empire’ had been eroded with speed and size.

The faster the Empire expanded, the more the quality suffered.

The Roman governors, realising that the speed of their growth was outpacing the rate at which their infrastructure could support it, implemented a ruthless (and genius) upstream solution.

The architects responsible for the design and construction of the infrastructure had to stand under the archway as the scaffold was removed.

Rather than watching it collapse from a distance, they had to be underneath its grand arches during the ‘moment of truth’.

It was a brutal way of ensuring they had ‘skin in the game’, and it also ensured that speed never again outpaced quality.

The result?

Bridges and aqueducts stopped collapsing (funny that).

Most of us as gym owners get this wrong when we start to think about scaling.

We ‘add’ members to our community, ‘add’ to our offering, ‘add’ to our marketing efforts, and ‘add’ to our staff without ‘adding’ to the infrastructure that will support the growth.

So things break.

This is how it looks in practice:

  • You go from being able to easily manage your leads with high conversion rates to being overrun by low-quality leads that won’t pick up the phone. And even if your leads do pick up, they are much harder to convert.
  • The quality of your product goes down — more things go wrong, more mistakes are made, and your customers become less forgiving.
  • As you try and patch up the holes in your product fulfilment, other things slip, and no matter what you try, you always seem to have more mess than what you started with.

Because quality, lead conversion, and resources are dropping, none of your original projections, growth assumptions, or expectations are playing out in practice.

All of this is costly and, more importantly, a waste of time…

Because once it’s broken, you have to rebuild it again, anyway.

I speak from experience here.

This is why your infrastructure can’t lag behind the intended growth you want to have. You always have to build for what you don’t need (yet), rather than building infrastructure once you do (by that time, it’s already too late).

When I talk about infrastructure, I mean automation systems.

  • A system that nurtures leads for you, so even when you don’t have time to call them, they feel like they already know what you’re all about…
  • A system that continues to educate new members well after they sign up (which happens to be the time you typically stop calling/following up with them)…
  • Consolidates all communications into a central hub, so you can see everything that anyone in your organisation said (rather than chasing screenshots, or getting your wires crossed by doubling up on steps)…
  • A system that tells you what marketing campaigns are actually working (and what are wasting your money)…

You’ll resonate with the above if you’ve already tried to scale.

And if you haven’t tried to scale but ever intend to, then it’s arguably even moreimportant to get right (if your goal is to save stress, cash and hassle in the future)…

In this month’s Alley-Oop, I’ll be talking from first-hand experience about the do’s and don’ts of automation so you can ensure you don’t have to rebuild your whole marketing, sales & fulfilment process because it broke when you tried to scale.

It will be valuable for everyone who’s ever felt like scaling something didn’t turn out as first predicted.

Plus, there will be an insane offer from the guys at getgymini.com to trial their new all-in-one gym lead software that makes everything I talk about a breeze (we’re using it ourselves and couldn’t rave more highly about it).

You can sign up for the Alley-Oop here:

– Karl Goodman

The dark side of recovery zones

I remember the day when we decided to invest in a recovery zone.

It was 2018, and a day would not go by without someone discussing compression boots.

Many of our athletes paid $50-70 per week (on top of our membership) to go to recovery centres, where they’d sit in boots and have a sauna.

They’d been asking us for months to do it ourselves (and even said they’d pay for it just because it’s more convenient).

So Lachy and I eventually got rubber-armed and invested in three pairs of boots and two massage guns. Back then, it was about $10,000, plus the cost of reclining chairs.

While we saw it as a huge opportunity to add value to the athletes, we didn’t think we’d come out as the real winners.

But we did…

Because our first recovery zone gave us something we had never had.

It gave athletes a reason to stay, well after their training session was finished.

Athletes would train, boot up, and then study or hang out for 2-3 hours, often alongside other athletes.

Friendships were made.

Bonds were formed.

And if memory serves me correctly, there were even a couple of recovery ‘dates.’ 😏

(Lachy and I joke that you know you’ve got a strong community when the members are bangin’… but that’s a story for another day.)

But in all seriousness, outside of the intangible benefits to the community (which I can’t understate enough), there was a heap of measurable improvements too:

– Athlete attendance nearly doubled (even in-season).
– It allowed us to increase our prices, adding over $100,000 in yearly recurring revenue (for what cost about $15,000). 
– It attracted new athletes into our facility; one of our members Jules (who is still training with us four years later), came in to use our boots… and loved it so much she never wanted to leave.

So when we had the chance to move to our new facility (the one we’re in now), we naturally assumed that more would be better.

We spent $180,000 on a spa and ice plunge pool (most of which were the building costs to create a custom wetroom for the beast of a thing).

And, instead of following our proven formula and putting the boots in a high-traffic area, we tucked it in the corner away from everything else, not realising that the biggest drawcard of recovery rooms is the sense of connection it creates (so it can’t be at the periphery; it needs to be at the ‘heart’).

While we didn’t know it back then, and despite investing over $200,000 in our new recovery services when we upgraded facilities, the net utilisation of recovery decreased.

Interesting, huh?

Despite all the fancy gadgets and despite the appeal of a custom icebath/spa set up, our recovery zone lost it’s ‘edge.’

With that lesson learned, we took a different approach to our Melbourne facility and we went back to the proven formula:

1. We placed the recovery room at the ‘heart’ of our facility. We ensured it was the main artery that shot off to our physio rooms, staff offices, the gym floor, and bathrooms. We made sure it was the main thoroughfare so it could take advantage of the incidental connections and touchpoints that made our first recovery zone great.

2. We ditched the expensive plunge pools (that have since cost us tens of thousands of dollars on repairs, maintenance and upkeep) and returned to what are tried and true – boots, guns, sauna and portable ice baths that use… ice (not expensive pumps that breakdown all the time).

3. And, we ensured everything we chose was low maintenance, reliable and easy to use.

The take-home lesson?

The size and cost of your recovery room do not correlate with your return on your investment.

In fact, the opposite is true: the more expensive it is, the greater chance it will be a pain in the arse and a cash-eating monster.

This is why I’d tell anyone who wants to:

– Create a revenue stream for your gym using recovery services
– Add a tonne of value to your athletes and members, and;
– Create a strong community bond…

Consider seriously dropping the ego and making a smart investment in things that will actually move the needle.

Boots, portable ice baths, guns and rollers. A sauna if you want to (it’s certainly optional).

And these days, not only will it cost half as much as it cost us the first time around, but our recovery partners in the Recovery Project use ZipPay, meaning you can get all the gear, make that price change immediately, and be cash flow positive on day one. 

When I did the numbers, you can get a similar set-up to what we have in Melbourne for around $90 bucks a week (yes, less than the price of one full-paying gym member per week).

And, because I told Pete (the founder) that I’d only send this email if he went over and above, he’s even promised you a personalised 30-minute Recovery consultation to help you build out all your digital recovery assets, too.

He’s got a PhD on recovery, and my golly, is he a wizard.

You can find out more here:

– Karl Goodman

This is why I wouldn’t ever buy a franchise

One of my rather peculiar habits is watching old adverts.

And while the reason why is a story for another day, I stumbled across an ad that reminded me why franchises (especially in our industry) are something I wouldn’t personally recommend.

This is off the back of UFC Australia going arse over tit and entering voluntary administration last month after leaving their franchisees high and dry with enough unrealised promises to knock you senseless… 

Add this to the growing list of fitness franchise failures, and you start to see a pattern.

I thought you’d like the lesson, too, so here goes:

So earlier this evening, as I watched old ads, one from Midas (the car repair company) stopped me and reminded me why I’d always warn a prospective franchise owner to tread carefully.

It starts off with a golden talking hand approaching some dishevelled guy in his home (presumably representing someone poor), asking the guy why his car isn’t in the driveway.

The guy says it’s at the mechanics, but he doesn’t know when he’ll get it back because it’s costing him an ‘arm and a leg.’

So, this talking hand says something like this:

“Damn, should have gone to Midas. We would have told you what you can get away with leaving till next time, so it costs you less.”

The guy responds: “Yeah, I’ll go to Midas next time,” and they hi-5.

Now, the ad seems harmless at first…

But it’s not.

Because it’s a case in point of why many franchises end up selling you something completely different from what’s on the marketing brochure.

The funniest thing about this ad is that some rookie in corporate probably thought this was a great marketing idea.

But before you agree, take a second to imagine being a franchise owner and seeing this launch for the first time. 

Every whinger, tyre-kicker and cheap skate would be turning up to Midas wanting to repair their car for pennies on the dollar.

And while they may no longer have a leads problem (some would say the marketers have done their job), they’ll be attracting the type of customer that wants to wring the franchise owner dry of every last cent of operating profit.

Which is a quick way to race to the bottom.

A problem for which the franchise owner would have had no recourse for doing anything about.

And it’s for that reason that I would never invest in a franchise or turn AA into one. 

Because behind all the marketing assets franchisors use to put mayonnaise on the business model, franchises typically defy a fundamental business principle that I’ve had to exploit the last month and a half.

And that principle is adaptability.

When you operate a franchise, you have little to none of it.

Instead of being able to flex to changing business conditions, franchisees are often at the mercy of their franchisor overlords… and that’s not a game I would want to play.

Because with the business seasons so temperamental at the moment (we’ve personally gone through a tonne of change, which is why I’ve been quiet on the email front), the last thing I’d want is to be a puppet of some moron at the head office running some marketing campaign that attracts the wrong type of customers… to no ones detriment except my own.

And in times like this, I’m bloody grateful that the only person who is responsible for my own success or failure… is myself.

Take from that what you will.

– Karl Goodman

Karl Goodman

  • Founder of Athletes Authority
  • Marketing Maverick
  • Business Strategist
  • Newsletter Publisher
“I knew that Karl was good… but I didn’t realise he was this good. He is changing the game... and you know I don’t say that lightly!”
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Woodford Sports Science Consulting
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Lift3 Gym & Physiotherapy
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Swift Movement Academy
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TNT Ignite
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