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Join for $0 Promotions — Are They ‘Worth’ It?


Screen-Shot-2014-12-29-at-4.43.06-PMIs traffic at your club down, sales not what they should be? Many clubs dig into their bag of promotions and pull out the handy “join for $0” deal to increase traffic and sales.

Oh, the good ‘ole “join for $0” deal. Sure, you will get more traffic through your doors and ultimately more sales, but are these the sales that your club wants? Often promotions like “join for $0” leave club owners looking at their numbers the next quarter wondering why their membership numbers went down.

When you run promotions that offer deals with little or no money down you get a lot of new members who really have no “skin in the game,” because they may have only paid a very small pro-rated fee to join your club. When you look at the member reports a few months later you will find as many as half of these new members have quit or turned into bad debt, because essentially they have nothing to lose (since they paid little money to join).

So how successful was this promotion? A better question should be, what could I have done to keep 50 percent of these new members?

Sure, the “join for $0” promotion gets new members in the door, but as a club owner you must be aware that you are going to have to put some more “skin in the game.” If you want to keep these new members, you have to offer them more than just a discounted joining fee.

For example, a weight loss challenge with a great prize for the winner is a good way to incentivize new members to come to the club and continue their membership. A free group fitness program is also another way to get these new members engaged with other members and the club. If members make new friends at the club they are less likely to leave because of these new relationships.

The lesson learned in all of this is that the “join for $0” promotion does work to gain new members, but you must be prepared with a program or another offering that is focused on engaging the new members you gain. That way, you get to keep them as members of your club.


Donyel Cerceo is director of marketing for Merritt Athletic Clubs.

Donyel Cerceo

Donyel Cerceo is the director of marketing for Merritt Athletic Clubs. She can be reached at dcerceo@merrittclubs.com.

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