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Marketing & Sales

Sales: The Pros of Paid Trial Memberships


I have been a fitness business coach for over 10 years. During that time, I have had more than 1,000 gym owners ask me what kind of offer they should put on their marketing pieces. The first five or so years, I used to steer them toward a free enrollment type of offer or maybe a join for $9 deal. I did this because, at the time, I was, admittedly, one of those folks who would equate marketing with selling.

Now, I tell all of my clients to go with a paid trial offer. There is one that I prefer, and another that I recommend you try once in a while.

30 days for $19

The formula is simple. Take your regular monthly price for a single, simple access membership and cut it in half. Then add a buck or two, or take off a buck or two. For example, let’s say you charge $39 per month for a single membership. Half of $39 is $19. To make it a nice clean offer, go with 30 days for $19. If you charge $49 per month, go with 30 days for $25, $27 or $29.

Odd numbers work better. Don’t ask me why, but I’m going with it.

Okay, why is the paid trial offer the best way to get the phone to ring and the door to swing? Because free has no value. Giving a person a free week, or 14 days, means that they don’t “own” the membership. It is essentially worthless. And folks who are regular exercisers, of which we have less than 10 percent of in this country, typically need a tour, and maybe one workout, before deciding on what gym is best for them.

The rest of the population needs more time. And many of them are intimidated to even enter a gym. Make no mistake, even the 73 percent of the population who has never been a member of a gym knows that sometimes a gym tour involves a high pressure hard sell. They may see a free week pass, and wonder what the catch is. And many of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about.

“You can trade that pass in for a $50 off enrollment fee.”

This is not the best way to attract new customers.

Let them buy 30 days. Let them use the gym for 30 days. And convert a good percentage of them to long-term members.

First, go in with the correct expectations, which is a goal to convert 55 percent or more of your 30-day paid trial members to longer terms before or right after their 30 days expires.

And make sure that all prospects who tour, even ones who are not aware of the 30-day offer, are presented in it.

And follow 8 steps for each member during their 30-day paid trial.

Step one: Thank you card.

Step two: Email.

Step three: Telephone call.

Step four: Email.

Step five: Letter.

Step six: Telephone call.

Step seven: Letter.

Step eight: Telephone call.

Email jason@jasonlinse.com with “8 steps” in the subject line and I will shoot you back a document with specific details on these steps.

Another offer that you can mix in a few months of the year is 10 days for $10.

This offer will only require four follow-up steps. I prefer the 30 day, but because it is nice to mix things up for staff and to see what the differences are in response rates, mix in the 10 day only once in a while.

Keep changing lives.


Jason Linse

Jason Linse is president and founder of The Business of Fitness, a consulting company. He also owns a personality assessment company called People Plus+ Fitness. Contact him at jason@jasonlinse.com or 612-310-1319 for resources on scheduling more tours and personality assessments, or visit www.jasonlinse.com.

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