Sales: How to Use a Trial Membership Effectively

Many gyms and fitness centers advertise trial memberships allowing prospects to try the gym free for three days, seven days or more. Most of these facilities report minimal results, and many of them dislike the whole concept of a trial. Some feel a money-back guarantee should be enough to get a prospect to sign on the dotted line, but often times it isn’t — and why not?

Well, everybody knows that signing and paying is a form of commitment. It just isn’t the same as letting a person try before they buy. If you trust your fitness business is the best and delivers results, then back it up with a trial membership you push all year. However, in order to make this trial campaign successful, you need to follow a few fast and simple rules.

Rule number one: Make the trial 30 days, and make them pay for it. Giving it away for free often brings in a different kind of prospect to your gym than you desire. If you charge for it, the consumer will understand they are going to be like any other member, but only for 30 days. At the end of the trial, they can decide whether or not to commit to a longer membership.

Rule number two: Make the dollar amount roughly 50 percent of whatever your basic membership costs. For example, if you charge $39 per month for a single, simple-access membership, make your paid trial $19. “Thirty days for $19!” will be your marketing message for your trial membership.

Rule number three: Use both staff and members in your marketing photos. Take a few pictures of your members working in small groups or team training. Take a group picture of your staff. Find at least two testimonials and take their pictures. For print marketing, I recommend using Hip Gym Fitness marketing. They have pre-made templates and do not charge you extra for creating pieces. Also, e-mail me at for a free marketing guide.

Rule number four: Avoid bullet points on your marketing pieces. Write a short paragraph about how you change lives. If people try your gym or fitness center and don’t like it, then you don’t deserve to have them.

Rule number five: The follow up is key. Doing all of the things I listed above is not difficult. If you follow the rules above, with the emphasis on pushing this message, you will see traffic increase. But in order to sell a membership to over 50 percent of those who take advantage of your trial, you must have a consistent and solid follow-up process. You have to be organized.

One way to execute is to get a binder to hold all of your information on your paid trial members. Yes, it is old school, but hard copy is easier for sales people, leadership and other staff to inspect. If you already have a system in place, or are creative enough to come up with one, that is great. If not, I’ve got you covered. I have an effective eight-step process that yields results. All you have to do is send me an e-mail at The subject line should read: “Eight step follow up.”

Trust in the trial membership, make it a paid one for 30 days, follow-up consistently and sell more memberships so you can keep changing lives.


Jason Linse is president and founder of The Business of Fitness, a consulting company. He graduated from Minnesota State University with a degree in public health and corporate wellness. He started working in the fitness industry in 1995. In 2005, Linse started with Snap Fitness at its headquarters, helping them grow from 14 locations to 1,100 locations by October 2010, when he left to start the Business of Fitness. Linse also owned a gym for two and a half years before becoming a consultant. He also owns a personality assessment company called People Plus+ Fitness. He can be reached at or at 612-310-1319. Visit

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