How to use free trials to expand your fitness and wellness business

The fitness industry is beginning to boom again. However it can still be challenging to find new members when there is so much competition around you. Don’t let this discourage you though, because there are always ways to find new customers. One tried and tested way to attract new members and grow your business is by offering a free or a discounted trial.

How will a free or discounted trial benefit you

Once they gain some traction, free and heavily discounted things tend to help market themselves. You will still need to start that wheel turning, so some people know about your new amazing offer, but those people who take you up on it are more likely to tell their friends and family if the offer is amazing. This means you won’t need to spend as much on marketing to get the exposure and sales you want.

Offering a free class or trial is unlikely to convert those who aren’t interested in fitness or wellness, but it might just be the nudge you need to get those customers who were already on the fence. And it will almost certainly help attract those who were already interested in joining a gym or studio, but were unsure which one to choose.

Offering free trials

The hardest part of getting a new customer is getting them in the door for the first time. A free trial can be very effective in bringing in new people because people are always more inclined to try something if it is free. Once the customers are in the door, it’s then over to you to show them that your service is worth paying full price for.

It’s also possible that you may attract some people who will only attend the class because it’s free, and they will never convert to paying customers. However they will make your business seem fuller and more popular, which will help you attract more customers too. And, while not everyone who signs up to a free trial will convert into a paying customer, some will as long as your offering is right for them.

Offering discounted trials

Discounted trials are another effective way of attracting new customers. You will likely get less people trying a discounted trial than you would a free trial, but your chances of turning these people into customers who pay full price are much greater. This is because the customers are better qualified, showing that they are interested enough in your services to pay some money, even if they’re not sure if you’re worth the full price – YET!

Once you have these customers through the door, you will have a chance to show them that you are worth the full class price, as well as their time. If you use any robust fitness scheduling software, you should be able to create class packs or memberships with discounts built in for first time clients, or alternatively you should be able to create discount codes to achieve the same goal. Once you’ve set this up, your system should manage this process for you automatically.

How long should my trial last for

This question mainly comes down to whether you think you can wow a potential customer so much on the first visit that they will convert, or whether you need a little longer for them to develop a habit and start seeing results. The latter will always be more effective, and is a really useful tool for a new business with no customers. However it may cheapen your brand value, and you may see it as too much to give away if you are an already established business just trying to boost numbers.

It might be worth considering a combination of the two. You could offer a first class for free, followed up by an offer of the first month at a discounted rate. This way you can capture the most amount of people through your door and onto your mailing list, and then you can help those who are interested in becoming full priced members develop a habit and see the results they can get with you over a month.

What about my existing clients?

Your existing clients might become annoyed if they are paying full price while potential clients are getting sweeter deals. To avoid this, you can make sure that your potential customers can’t abuse the system, and can only have one free trial each, and that your existing customers who are paying the full rate, don’t see the discounted offers you are providing to new customers. If you’re using any fitness scheduling software like ClassFit you can ensure that discount codes can only be used a number of times per person, and you can create class packages and memberships that are only visible to new customers, meaning your existing customers will be none the wiser.

It’s also worth considering how an influx of new customers might impact the service to your existing clients. Will their experience become lower touch, and will their wait times, or ability to join classes worsen?  You could manage your marketing budgets and efforts so you don’t get a huge influx of new customers all at one time, which might overwhelm both you and your existing customers. Instead, use a slow and steady marketing campaign, so the new customers keep coming in, but in a way that you can handle. As your customer-base grows you can add more classes, and lengthen your opening hours to accommodate this in the right way. And if you’re still finding it difficult to manage demand, you can use fitness scheduling software like ClassFit to create a limited number of free trials or discount codes each week or month to taper the demand.

When should I run my trial classes?

When customers are considering signing up to a service, you need to work on eliminating their reasons to say no. One reason a customer might say no, is that their schedule won’t let them commit to your timings, and they’re worried they might miss classes and get poor value for money because of this. Offering classes at various times, backed up by Zoom classes which they can stream from home, either live or later that week is a great way to eliminate this reason to say no. And, whenever you do hear a no, make sure you get the reason why, as it might be something other people are thinking, and it could be something you could fix relatively easily.

You can set up your schedule, whether for in person classes, or Zoom streaming classes on your fitness scheduling software, and once completed it should work automatically in the background for you. By having this in place, you’re also giving your customers a clear way of checking your schedule, so they know exactly what they’re getting into, which removes another no – uncertainty.

How should I market my trial?

Placing ads on Google is great if you think people are searching for your type of service in your area. And because you only pay for clicks, and clicks only happen when people are actively searching, this can be a great way of getting new qualified leads. However if you are trying to convert those who aren’t necessarily looking, but could be tempted, then social media like Facebook and Instagram will be your best bet. Most people decide if they will click on something within the first three seconds, so make sure that your ad is eye-catching and draws the viewer in immediately. If the good stuff can only be found after three seconds, you’ll likely miss out on a lot of opportunities.

When should I market my trial?

Timing matters. We all know that the guilt of over-eating at Christmas drives a lot of people to fitness come January, and that there is a surge in the months before summer for those who want to get swimsuits ready for their vacations. However it’s also worth considering offering other themed classes throughout the year such as at Halloween. They’re often seen as less serious and more fun, which could entice new customers who otherwise wouldn’t have been as open-minded about trying you out.

What happens if I don’t see results immediately?

Keep going!

Not all free trials are successful launches, but that’s not to say they won’t work next time. As with anything in life, if something doesn’t go to plan, you should evaluate what worked well, and what didn’t, so you can create a new and improved plan that will work better next time.

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