With a strong background in digital marketing. Amanda Tress recognized an opportunity in the fitness marketplace to do things differently. The result is FASTer Way To Fat Loss, a business Tress started in 2016 and has grown from $1 million in revenue to $65 million in just two years. I saw down with Amanda to talk about her journey building FASTer Way, what is next for the business, and why micro-influencers are the most important strategy for marketers today.
Dave Knox: How did you make the leap from being a trainer to an entrepreneur with FASTer Way to Fat Loss?
Amanda Tress: I started my career in digital marketing around the time that Facebook came onto the scene. However, I also had a side hustle, which was personal training where through college I trained clients. The reason that I did that is because I personally struggled with my own health issues. I had high blood pressure as a 17-year-old, was on blood pressure medication, and had blood sugar issues. My doctor told me I’d be on medication for the rest of my life, but I decided to take matters into my own hands, take ownership and educate myself regarding how to reverse that particular curse put on me at such a young age. When I was able to transform my own health, I became a trainer and started working with other people, but my expertise was really in marketing.
After several years of working for a company I decided, or really was made aware, that I was unemployable. I’m sure many entrepreneurs can relate with that. I was not great at taking orders. I decided to create my own reality and step away from that full time job. I started a marketing agency for women in wellness. I worked with women from all over the world who had fitness businesses and helped those particular women ramp up their companies. What I realized is the clients who I was helping through the agency were becoming better at marketing and getting eyeballs on their content, but they were not fantastic with programming. I was helping these clients get the word out about their program on social media, leveraging the power of live video, using lead magnets and click funnels and the like, but unfortunately the clients going through their programs were not seeing tremendous results. So I said,” You know what, let me take my passion for health and wellness, create the best program on the market and then turn around and create a certification that my agency clients can go through so that they can run my program with their clients.” So that is what I did a few years ago to launch FASTer Way.
Knox: When you made that switch and started FASTer Way in 2016, you did so with 11 clients and now you have worked with well over 150,000. How have you been able to scale that business without losing that personal touch that is so important?
Tress: I feel that we have grown very quickly, but we are still on the verge of scalability. We have done our best to continue managing growth, but we are still in a situation where we cap registration. We do not have rolling admission. We close the signup form and shut down the ability for people to buy on a very regular basis, because we want to be sure that we have significant touch points with each and every client. We are working towards scalability. Technology will be a way that we can solve some of those scalability issues and problems. We are on the verge of something much, much bigger than 150,000 clients. We will be in the households of millions of people in the coming years. But right now it has been a fast growth phenomenon. We went from about 1 million to 65 million in gross revenue in the past 24 months or so, which is very exciting. But as a visionary entrepreneur, I continue to tell my team that we are just now scratching the surface, we have just started and there is a lot of work to be done. And getting the scalability is my main goal over the next several months.
Knox: The best entrepreneurs are really inspired by that personal story like your own personal challenges around health. When you built FASTer Way around concepts like intermittent fasting and carb cycling were those because you discovered them in your own journey first?
Tress: Intermittent fasting six years ago was still a very new concept, and in fact, it was considered extreme. However, I was working with clients in the gym who were hitting plateaus after eating healthy foods, trying a paleo lifestyle, and working out with me in the gym a few times per week. I was just as frustrated as my clients were that they were not seeing results with an eat less, exercise more strategy. So I decided to do my own research. I always offer myself up as that guinea pig perspective when it comes to any new strategies. About five and a half years ago I started trying intermittent fasting on my own after reading about the many health benefits, including fat loss. I felt fantastic and was able to shed just a little bit of extra baby fat that I was not able to rid prior. I started testing it with my in-gym clients as well. And within weeks, clients of mine who had been in plateau were shedding the fat with the fat was just melting off their bodies. we weren’t changing up the food log but we were simply switching up the feeding window. Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It is simply an eating schedule. And so we implemented a 16 / 8 protocol with my gym clients those years ago. And when we saw how well it was working, I knew I had to get the word out for my virtual bootcampers. In January of 2016, I launched the FASTer Way to Fat Loss with 11 clients, as you mentioned, and the rest is history.
Knox: You were a coach yourself and coaches are vital to the foundation of the program. What is the process for finding the right people to become coaches in the program?
Tress: We have a very exclusive coach community and process. We enroll new coaches into our program and company about three or four times per year. We actually just went through a coach enrollment process this past month, we had over 8, 500 people on the waiting list. We did a series of interviews and asked for recommendation letters and referrals. We ended up selecting and enrolling 300 new coaches. These particular coaches actually pay for the certification, they become certified, and then if they’re rock stars we can turn around and hire them to work one on one with clients coming through the community. We look for people who are passionate, who are generous, who are willing to pursue bold action. We want women and men who are going to be professional about how they interact. They need to be a good representation of the brand as well. This is not a network marketing company, it is not an MLM. We are very, very strategic and particular in who we bring into the exclusive community and we’ll continue to be that way.
Knox: While many competitors rely on celebrity endorsers, FASTer Way has instead turned to micro-influencers. What led you to that direction?
Tress: From a marketer’s perspective I believe that micro-influencer marketing is the most powerful form of marketing for the foreseeable future. Many advisors told me early on that I needed a celebrity to endorse the program, but I said, “Listen, my client is the celebrity of the story. My client is the hero of the story. I don’t need a fancy celebrity to put his or her stamp of approval on this particular program.” In fact, we’ve had celebrities join with fake names and love the program, but I don’t even necessarily promote that because I would rather that my micro-influencers who are promoting the program and spreading the word about the FASTer Way to Fat Loss are highly relatable. What we have done is we have empowered bloggers all over Instagram and Facebook and YouTube, and now Tik Tok to share their results. We do not comp micro-influencers to join the program, we actually require that they pay. Once an influencer goes through the program, if they’ve had great results, they have the opportunity to apply for our micro influencer program. If they are accepted into the program, then they will receive a commission when one of their social media followers, family members, or friends joins the program, but we keep that particular program very exclusive as well. I do not want everyone talking about the FASTer Way to Fat Loss online. We do not need that. We have been very specific and strategic about who we bring into the fold. And we try to be valuable in our influencer community and coach community with how we empower those individuals to share about the program. For example, just this morning, I finalized a marketing roadmap with simple steps for success to share with our certified coaches and our influencers with daily posts, with graphics and different ways for them to generate leads and then convert clients.
Knox: What advice do you give to other brands to follow that micro-influencer strategy?
Tress: I think the biggest mistake I see brands make is that they go after the influencers with one million social media followers. You don’t need someone with one million social media followers to promote your program. I love our micro-influencers who have 10,000 Instagram followers who are a little bit more relatable, who are down to earth and frankly who aren’t too cool for the influencer program and expecting who knows what XYZ compensation to do one shout out on social. We want people who believe in the product and who are willing to speak about it consistently. I’m going to generously compensate those individuals, but I want people who are truly in line with my values as well. So don’t simply look for the influencers who have tons and tons and tons of followers. Look for those more micro-influencers. We also have what’s called a one tier affiliate model. Our micro-influencers are able to solicit for other influencers to be in a tier, a child tier under their particular account. And so they earn passive revenue when that child affiliate brings clients to the table. And so that has been a really wonderful way to align incentives with our micro-influencers. And again, it’s a one tier affiliate model. It is not network marketing or MLM. That is the wrong way to approach micro-influencers.
Knox: The growth of FASTer Way has been nothing short of remarkable. What is next on your journey?
Tress: We are working on a very exciting FASTer Way fit kit, which will be similar to a Fit Fab Fun Box, but better. We are going to combine the best of nutrition and fitness in a subscription box for our clients. We are also working on meal kits for the community. At the moment, we have many, many thousands of membership clients, and we would love for them to be able to look at their app and see the meal plan for the week and order those particular meals right to their doorstep. 99.9 percent of my clients are female, and we are looking to launch our men’s program in a big way in the coming years as well. And as we go through 2021, we are going to be leaning into digital fitness, digital nutrition, and digital functional medicine. We have a team of health coaches who will be prescribing at home lab testing in addition to supplements if and when applicable for our clients. We could not be more excited about what lies ahead.