Just like there are many ways to skin a cat (as my dad says), there are many different ways to market your fitness business.

You can utilize traditional “paid” external marketing, internal marketing, word of mouth marketing, guerrilla or grassroots marketing, and Internet marketing. Like I said, lots of ways.

But what kind of sales model do you have built that complements AND maximizes your marketing efforts?

I advocate what have coined the “Slippery Funnel” model. The theory is simple. Do whatever it takes to get someone in the door, do it.Give complimentary trial memberships away, sell short program memberships, host free events, implement consistent referral programs, become a drop off point for donations. Whatever it takes to get someone introduced to your business, do it.

Your goal is to get them to the funnel, get them to take a step, then make it slippery as hell as they go through your various programs and products. Once someone buys once (and you deliver), they’re more likely to buy again and again.To make sure more of those people buy depends on your sales team. But the goal is to get as many people as possible to buy something…anything. The front end membership sales are obviously important, because that is your forecastable revenue that allows you to cover expenses.

The difference between a break even gym and a profitable gym are the back end profit centers purchased by existing members.

For example, let’s say someone comes in as a friend of a member to work out. You start over delivering right away. Spend some time getting to know them, remember their name, send a staff member or two over to welcome the new guest, provide them a bottle of water, and be sure to ask them to join. If they don’t join that day, be sure to send a thank you card, call them the next day to see how they’re feeling, and follow up with the member who brought them to remind them of your referral incentives.

Maybe they’re not quite ready to become a full paying member.  That’s okay!  Keep the funnel slippery and keep them involved with a special 21 days for $21 or some other smaller price item.

When they do decide to become a member, at the point of sale make sure you offer a special priced one-time-only quickstart personal training package. Give them some complimentary passes to try bootcamp or small group training. If you sell nutritional supplements, give them a trial of something you feel they would likely buy from you later.

It is important to get them involved in other programming right away. The first 30 days of a membership is the most important time to develop their loyalty and commitment.

Not only that, but the sooner you get them seeing results, the more they’re going to feel dependent on their trainer or on their small group, or on their bootcamp as the reason for their success. It will be much easier to get them to pay for these programs long term if they get results.

And don’t forget the fun factor. The social aspect of group exercise is what keeps many people coming back month after month. If someone tries out your bootcamp three times a week for the first two weeks of their membership, they will not want to stop.

You got them into the funnel, made it too slippery to get back out, and they ultimately spend more with you…and they’re happy about it!

Another example would be to allow non-members to buy supplements from you at cost or utilize your tanning beds at a much lower rate than tanning salons in the area. Allow all friends of your members to get a special “Friends and Family” discount from you instead of shopping at GNC, or tanning at the tanning salon up the street.

If you provide smoothies, give them a couple of smoothies. If you sell water, give them a water their first few times in. It will become habit so that when their freebies are up, they’ll continue to purchase.

Though you may not be making a lot of money from the people who first step into your funnel, they are being introduced to your services and are becoming familiar with paying you. Combine that with the fact that their friends and family are already members and you’ll find that the funnel gets slippery very quickly.

These are just a few ways to make your funnel slippery. You have your own various products and programs that you offer. Think of how each can lead to the next and how to appropriately position each so that with each purchase, a member is also introduced to the next tier of service or another product you offer.

Just remember that membership dues are not as important as getting someone involved in your programming and purchasing from your various profit centers. Most gym owners constantly focus on bringing in as many members as possible. And while I believe it is very important to always be marketing your club, it is more important to focus on getting current members spending more money and getting more involved in your programs.


How slippery is YOUR funnel? Do you do a good job of getting members to buy more?