Free trials at your gym? Get rid of them. They’re old school and they erode value. Chris Cooper is here to tell you what’s better than a free trial. Listen, and learn how to create value and get your clients to take action.
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Hey, everybody, it’s Chris Cooper here, and I have been talking and writing about value a lot recently. So today I want to talk to you about the value of free. Many gym and studio owners still use a free trial as part of their marketing strategy. And this is still true in a lot of CrossFit gyms. We also work with boxing gyms and yoga studios, personal trainers, martial arts. And this is really common across all disciplines.
So 15 years ago, like the free trial was actually pretty effective. But today I’m going to give you something even better than free. First. You need to understand the relationship between price and value because they’re not the same thing. So let’s say that you’re owed buying paper for your printer and you go to the paper store and all the paper looks the same to you. One brand of paper is on sale. So you pick that brand and that brand has the best value because it’s the cheapest, right? If two things look exactly the same, the only way that you can decide which has more value is the price. Now, if you were a paper expert, you would be able to tell the difference between two different reams of paper, or if you were like an artist or a graphic designer. In other words, if you were an expert on paper, then you would be able to discern the difference.
But I can’t. So to me, the value is the lowest price option. Now let’s say that you’re buying soap and you go to the store and you see like 50 different kinds of soap, but one kind of soap reminds you of your grandma’s house in the early spring. That kind of soap is a bit more expensive, but the memory of grandma, every time you wash your hands with that soap, it’s worth it. The value that you’re paying for here is the memory. Most people would pay a bit more for that value because this soap is different. So even though the ingredients are almost identical, they’re almost exactly the same as every other soap that’s on that shelf, what makes this soap more valuable is the context. I have the context that this soap smells like my grandma’s rose garden and not everybody has that same context.
Someone else might find the pumpkin spice soap smell a lot more valuable because they have a different context than I do. But what creates the value that makes me want to pay for, you know, the rose garden soap or the pumpkin spice soap is the context that I have. When I don’t have context, I don’t understand value. I don’t have context over the paper. So I’m going to take the cheapest option. So offering a free trial at your gym will give you a way to sign up the people who were about to sign up anyway. And you might have some of these in town, especially when you first opened. And 15 years ago, that was enough because these people were already sold when they walked in the door, they were looking for something new and you had something new. They had read about yoga, and you’re the first yoga studio.
They have always wanted to try jujitsu. And you are the first jujitsu school. They have read about CrossFit somewhere. And like, they’re so excited to have a CrossFit gym in their town, but that’s gone now. Now you need something better than free. You need to actually create value and value comes from putting your service into the client’s context. We’ve been doing a free consultation at Catalyst since well, since before there was a Catalyst. I think I did my first free consultation in 2000, but this is different from a free trial. So back then I had this binder with clear plastic sleeves inside and in each sleeve, I’d place a sample training plan or a picture of an athlete who had trained with me. And I remember that on one page, I had this sample yearlong macrocycle for a sprinter. And I used to talk about linear periodization during the consultation.
And it took like an hour and the client saw a lot of graphs. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but my close rate was very close to a hundred percent. Not because of the graphs, but because I would say here’s how this is going to help you. And they didn’t understand the graphs. They didn’t have context on what a macrocycle was, but what they did understand was that I said, you are going to have a plan like this, that I will tailor for you.
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Now back then also. So 21 years ago, we had a lot of big commercial gyms in town with real salespeople and they were trained in sales. And one of my roommates actually got a job at one of these gyms and they were giving him all kinds of sales tips and training and stuff. And he was taught how to cold call people, which he hated. His targeted close rate at this gym was like 20% or 25%. And he was closing at 20% and he was struggling to get up to 25% so that he wouldn’t get fired. And meanwhile, across town, I was closing very close to a hundred percent all the time. And I was selling packages that were like 700 to $1,200. And this was 2002. So yes, I had the advantage of a good reputation. I was publishing a lot of content even back then and getting most of my clients through referrals.
And that’s still a massive advantage today, but he was selling a $30 a month gym membership, and I was selling expensive personal training that costs 25 to 30 times as much. And I was closing with clients five times as often as he was. Why? Well, I couldn’t have told you at the time, but I was creating value when I met the client and he wasn’t. He would let people come in and do a free personal training session or attend a free spin class or give them a free three day trial to use the gym. And 20% would sign up at 30 bucks a month. I would meet with people and talk about their goals. And then I would show them a plan and say, I’m going to create a plan like this just for you. And they would sign up for 700 to $1,200. He was giving free, but I was giving value and value is better than free.
At Two-Brain, we teach the prescriptive model. The no sweat intro, which is like our free consultation, where we provide value. It’s one step in the prescriptive model. The average Two-Brain gym earns $90 per month more for every single client they have than non Two-Brain gyms. And they keep the average client seven months longer. That means that every client at a Two-Brain gym is worth about $630 more than a client at a non Two-Brain gym. So how do we do that? We teach gyms how to create value for their clients, and what is valuable to their clients? An actual plan that fits their life, a journey that’s written just for them. In other words, context. Now, one of the most common questions I get at Two-Brain is why do you give away so much stuff for free? And as I say, this, we’re handing out free marketing courses in our public Facebook group, Gym Owners United.
So if you join that group, which again is a hundred percent free, you can get a ton of stuff for free, like a Facebook marketing course. We had about 32,000 people on our daily email list, thousands on our YouTube channel. And there are about 7,000 of you listening to this podcast right now. My books with step-by-steps instructions cost about 20 bucks each. And that’s like the most expensive thing that we produce. So with all this stuff, then why do we have thousands of gym owners who sign up for mentorship every year? Why would anyone choose to pay for mentorship when they can have all this stuff, all this knowledge for free? Because value is better than free. The average ROI on our growth phase right now is double the cost. So if you invest a dollar into growth phase at Two-Brain, you’ll get two bucks back.
We track this stuff and we optimize for this stuff. I want you to get an amazing ROI. Now, obviously that doesn’t account for all the support that you get from your mentor and your new ideas, and having an objective third party look over your metrics with you and like all the mistakes that the mentor stop you from making, that’s not reflected in that ROI number, right? This is just a dollars in dollars out ROI measure, two bucks back for every dollar that you put in. And of course the value of mentorship compounds over time. So if we track that out over a year, instead of just like immediate, the ROI would be even larger. Now these clients getting a great ROI inside our program are getting some of the same info that we publish for free. Yeah. We share deeper data. We go way deeper on step-by-step instructions.
We have office hours and they have one-on-one calls with their mentor every single month to keep them on tracks. And yeah, we give them templates and blog posts and social media pictures that they can just swipe and use. Like in some cases we do a lot of the work for them, but they create the value by taking action. Knowledge doesn’t create value. Action does. We certified four new millionaires last month, these people aren’t using different strategies than what’s in my books. They’re just applying them to their context and executing on them over and over and over because that’s what a mentor does. A mentor creates value that way. And that’s why we’re a mentorship practice. Sometimes I get on calls with people who want to sign up for Two-Brain mentorship. They can recite parts of my book back to me like stuff that I’ve forgotten that I wrote, but they’re not getting any results from the books.
Meanwhile, there are people in my programs who haven’t even read my books, who haven’t been through our entire Growth ToolKit. They don’t even show up in our private Facebook groups very often. Instead they were guided to a strategy by their mentor in Two-Brain. They executed consistently on like that one or two things. And bam, they’re getting amazing results. The difference between the people who are millionaires and the people who are just kind of starting out is not a different level of knowledge, is a different level of execution and a different level of consistency to iterating over and over until it works, right? The people going from being broke to like literal millionaires in 30 months, they might have a deeper understanding of what we teach, but we’re not giving them radically different knowledge because value comes from action. And it’s a mentors job to create action.
So think about it here. If you’ve been listening to this podcast or other business podcasts and reading books, reading blog posts and not measurably improving your business, the knowledge is not your problem. Action is. Mentors create action by understanding your context. And that’s how value is created through mentorship. Now, I’ve also got to mention this because this is important for you and your gym business too, is that people who pay for mentorship are way more likely to take action. That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t afford mentorship. When I got my first mentor, I wrote a check for 500 bucks that probably should have bounced. But because I knew that I couldn’t afford it, I knew that I couldn’t afford not to take the mentor’s advice. And so I hustled, I did stuff that I did not want to do it stuff that made me uncomfortable, like asking for people to pay for their sessions in advance, but it worked.
And then that’s how I paid for the program. And then I just kept going. And in my past with Two-Brain, we’ve given two scholarships to help gyms who quote unquote really needed it. Right? One was a request from CrossFit HQ. One of their quote unquote flagship gyms was actually really close to bankruptcy and one was a personal sponsorship. So I paid out of my own pocket for another gym to go through the Two-Brain mentorship program. And guess what? In both of those cases, their results sucked because they weren’t invested. Literally it was free to them. So back to you. You’re a coach, it’s your job to create action. There’s more than enough knowledge on the internet, right? Nobody can out-think the internet. Your clients have watched videos. They’ve attended free classes. They’ve read all the diet books and they’re still not fit.
Knowledge is not their problem. Derek Sivers said, if more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs. Free trials are just information. You need to bring value. You need to charge whatever it takes to get the clients the results they want to have. You to charge whatever it takes for you to do your best work, because you need to be valuable, not free.
Two-Brain Radio airs twice a week, and features all the info you need to run a profitable gym. Subscribe so you don’t miss a show. Now here’s Coop with an invitation.
Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. If you aren’t in the Gym Owners United group on Facebook, this is my personal invitation to join. It’s the only public Facebook group that I participate in. And I’m there all the time with tips, tactics, and free resources. I’d love to network with you and help you grow your business. Join Gym Owners United on Facebook.