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The Power (And Danger!) Of Offers In Marketing Your Fitness Business

By Sean Greeley

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One of the most powerful tools in marketing your business is your offer.

Making the right offer, to the right person, at the right time… is WHAT drives response in marketing.

Yet most fitness business owners get this WRONG.


They are either using the same old tired offer that hasn’t gotten response for many months.

Or they’re incorrectly structuring their offer to bring in the wrong type of customer for their business.

The results are the same.

They are failing to strategically grow their business with clients that will stay with their business for the long term.

You are likely making the same mistake and don’t even know it.

Here’s the test:

If you’re NOT generating a steady flow of fresh leads each month OR you’re bringing in customers on a discounted front end offer and less than 50% are converting into long-term clients (in many cases I’ve heard of people converting only 20% and think they’re doing well with this!) then you’re doing this WRONG.

I’m guessing most people reading this will be making these mistakes. So don’t feel bad – you’re not alone.

Let’s just admit things aren’t working so we can start at the beginning and move them in the right direction.

Two Types of Offers

There are two types of offers you can use in marketing:

  • Free Offers – generally used for list building with free information in exchange for sharing your contact information OR to move forward in a simple sales process.
  • Paid Offers – can qualify a prospect better for a larger sale, or discount an existing product or service offering in order to generate response. Demands “skin in the game.”

There is power and benefit to using both free and paid offers in marketing.

The key is to take the time to craft the right ones, and match the offer you’re using to your goals and strategy.

In either case, taking time to craft good offers will have a tremendous impact on your marketing and sales results.

This is one of the BEST places to spend time THINKING about your business.

Engaging and delivering value with good offers to the right prospective clients you wish to serve WILL explode the growth of your business more so than any other marketing activity you can do!

Using Free Offers in Your Marketing

There are many types of free offers you can use in your marketing. Here are a few of them:

  • Case studies – Offer your prospects a chance to review examples and stories of people just like them that you’ve helped solve a problem or achieve a goal. Video and print are both powerful media to use here.
  • Guides or reports – The days of offering 50 page e-books are past. Keep it simple and specific in the benefit of a report or guide you offer someone to download.
  • Cheat sheets or handouts – I love cheat sheets, because they are easily consumable and deliver value quickly (generally in one sheet of paper).
  • Toolkits – A toolkit is generally something interactive your prospect can use. This can take many forms in terms of a digital interactive or digital tool (trackers or calculators are common), a spreadsheet, or some other type of file type.
  • Free trials – Free trials are simple and have little resistance. This is ok for low transaction items like an inexpensive membership or very low-priced group training program. But generally these are structured in less than 7-day free-trial formats and not my favorite, as it’s tough to establish a strong value proposition in such a short period of time and therefore not ideal in selling higher priced packages of services (which is generally my recommendation for the clients we work with).
  • Free workshops – Workshops are awesome and a go-to favorite of mine. You are positioned as an expert, deliver great content on a subject matter related to your services, and when you are a good presenter, you’ll always have people coming out to learn and be a part of what you have to share with others.
  • Quizzes or surveys – Can be great tools where you deliver valuable information (or fun entertainment) to your prospect in return. Everyone likes to test their knowledge, see how they stack up against a test, and the like.
  • Assessments or tests – Assessments establish value in that you get to determine the scope of a need. There are many types of assessments and tests you can use, and generally if they are going to be a free offer, they should be kept simple (i.e. the old skool offer of get your body composition tested free).
  • Consultations – Consultations (when done right) deliver value in the sense that they allow a prospect to come out with an understanding of their true needs (something that most won’t have a clue about before going into the consultation).

There are many more types of free offers that can be used in your marketing, so by no means take this as a full list. Test and explore new ideas. That is where breakthroughs happen.

Let’s continue…

Using Paid Offers in Your Marketing

There are also several tried and true paid offer types you can use in your marketing. Here are a few proven winners:

  • Trial – Paid trials are where you can get it right or get it very wrong. But they (generally speaking) hold the GREATEST potential to attract great long-term clients for your business. I’ll cover this in more detail in a moment.
  • Workshop – Very common in the sports and athletic arenas, half-day, full-day, or multi-day workshops (generally involving skills training of some kind) are excellent for bringing prospects through your door.
  • Assessments or tests – There are many paid assessments that deliver incredible value in the health and fitness community. And this is where we have many partners with great systems that function incredibly well in establishing a value proposition for a longer-term program. This includes CHEK assessments, the FMS screen, One Percent Change, OPEX assessments, and many more.
  • Complimentary products or services – This strategy involves offering something related to what you sell now. For instance, many of our clients use the Take Down Challenge 4-week nutrition program system to bring in new prospective clients and then they transition them to fitness services on the back-end.
  • Product or service flip-flop – Selling services? Try offering a physical product on the front end as a way to move prospects forward in the sales cycle. We’ve seen many do this well with books, DVDs, equipment, supplements, and the like.

With so many offer types, you’re probably asking yourself… what types of offers should I be using? What is best?

Here’s my advice:

Use free information offers for simple list building, and always have a good paid trial offer to advance high quality prospects into your sales process.

Why Trial Offers are So Powerful

Paid trial offers have the greatest potential to advance prospective long-term clients forward in your sales process.


Well, think back on recent sales consultations you’ve had.

What was the biggest resistance to your prospect moving forward and saying yes?

The biggest resistance is always FEAR.

You may have a great prospect sitting in front of you that you know you can help.

But the problem is:

  • They don’t believe in themselves.
  • They don’t trust themselves.
  • They lack confidence to make a commitment they feel they can follow through on (the anxiety and friction is too great for them to say yes at this point).

When you become aware that THIS is the battle you’re fighting (the battle the prospect is fighting within themselves), take a step back.

And make it easier for them to say “YES!” to a shorter-term commitment they can then build on.

Four Keys to Crafting the Best Paid Trial Offer for Your Business

The best trial offers don’t just get your prospects to make a purchase (which is the mistake most people make in thinking about offers).

The best trial offers acquire and build great long-term clients for your business.

Here are four keys to crafting the BEST paid trial offer for your business:

  • Select the right term – For most service businesses, a short-term time frame (between 21-30 days) is ideal. Shorter than that means the trust building and value creation phase is very rushed for your prospect. Longer than that and you’ve moved beyond a trial period and into a long-term relationship. And the trouble with that is you’ve then lost the opportunity to transition your prospect into a longer-term commitment while everything is still exciting and brand new for them. Human nature is fickle. You’re only “new and exciting” for a short period of time.

HINT: There are many fitness professionals selling 12-week programs as their front-end “offer,” and offering weekly payment options in some cases. If your goal is to turn over clients every twelve weeks (and this may be the case if you’re offering short-term body-transformation type programs) then this is fine. But if your goal is to have long-term clients in your business, then I recommend using a 21-30 day well-engineered trial offer and then converting your prospect into a 6, 12, or an 18-month longer-term commitment.

  • Price it right! – This is essential. You’ve got to get the pricing structure right. The most common mistake most fitness business owners make is to use a heavy discount in their offer. They get response, but then struggle in converting the trial buyer into their normal pricing structure at the end of the trial term. Between 50-75% off your normal monthly rate is fine. Don’t go any lower than that if you want to attract the right clients and establish the appropriate value proposition for your regular service offerings.
  • Use appropriate positioning and messaging – Very, very important to get this right. Most newbie marketers make the mistake of promising the world to their prospect with overhyped claims. This reeks of mistrust and lacks authenticity, which is EXACTLY what you’re trying to build and establish with the right prospective clients. So, be honest instead. Set appropriate expectations to meet your prospect where they’re at and help them build a foundation that they can build on when the trial period is over.
  • Design an awesome onboarding path – You should in fact START with this, then work backwards through the other items. The most important goal of working with a trial offer buyer is to CONVERT them to a long-term customer. Otherwise, it’s really not worth the hassle for all the work that goes into bringing them into your business. So… ask yourself how can you best build an awesome long-term client in 21-30 days? Who would they need to become? What would they have to do? How can you engineer and guide them through this journey? This is a longer subject to explore for another post… so I’ll just let this question sit here for now.


Sales and marketing are skills to be learned and developed.

And just like all skills, they are acquired and honed through your investment of time and energy.

Stop looking for things to be simple or easy.

Instead, get REALLY clear about the target market you want to work with, how to engage powerful messaging that speaks to them (and separates your business from the competition), and focus on DOING THE WORK needed to acquire clients that will be with your business for the next decade… not just the next few weeks.

The journey of mastery isn’t easy, but it is always worth it.

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