Part 5: The Barrier to Entry
There needs to be friction to get in, a barrier to entry. It needs to be a little (or a lot) difficult.
Not easier. There needs to be a doorman, a bouncer.
Your gym needs to be positioned as a unique opportunity that is different from all other gyms.
Otherwise there’s just no (or very little) perceived value. It's just a commodity.
Saying you offer a better version of the same thing everyone else is doing is like being the nightclub on the next block down from the popular one. It’s easy to get into.
There’s no line. You just waltz right in. Drinks are cheap.
But it’s empty, other than a few drunks and a handful of losers with no cool-cat friends.
It’s a completely different dynamic.
There’s a difference.
There’s an order of magnitude difference.
There are world class gym consultants and marketers saying you should make it easy to get people into your gym.
They say to remove all points of friction. Give them free classes. If you can, give them free weeks of highly valued membership, it's the new Gold Standard.
No. Not even close.
You’ll get more traffic, no question.
That’s a 100% inevitability.
And if that vanity metric is important to you (you know, bragging rights and all?), then removing all friction points is what you should do. Totally. lol
You’ll get people coming in to your gym for free stuff at warp speed. Way faster than what I do.
But is that what you really want?
Case in point:
A little while back I partnered with another gym owner to help him grow his gym. I did this for free to help him out.
Behind the scenes he insisted the campaign started with an "free week offer".
(I love this gym owner to bits. But I almost didn’t participate because of this.)
I'm good at getting people to show up, so TONS of people showed up to his gym for a free week.
He bragged to all of them how much better his gym was than the gym they came from or the other gyms around him.
(What's interesting is this guy probably is one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated coaches I know. He is passionate AF.)
Most of them came for the initial class and didn't come back.
When the free week campaign ended next came the enrollment/sales process.
And I was pretty sure what would happen. I’ve seen it a hundred times before.
Most of these people clearly didn't value the experience enough to pay for $175 a month membership.
He was left in the dust.
All those leads meant absolutely nothing. Not a damn thing.
In the end I think he scraped together maybe 3-4 new members out of the campaign, which I still think was a bloody miracle.
And he has to give them a discounted continuation offer to continue,
I'm not sure how many of them stayed on for a full priced membership after.
I have a much higher barrier to entry in my gyms campaigns. But they reach hyper-targeted and hyper-responsive people.
It's not uncommon for me to enroll 20-30 new members in a two week period for a 12 month continuation commitment beyond their trial.
I literally have to turn this campaign off after a couple weeks because we will have capacity issues if we keep going.
Did I mention I have them PAY for the trial?
Did I mention they pay MORE for that trial?
Did I mention our average member lifespan is 15 months?
Did I mentioned they sign up for ALL our upsell in-house programs and offers? (Things like challenges and supplement promotions)
What's crazy is I'm surrounded by gyms run by much more popular trainers with huge advantages over me.
Better locations. Better equipment. Better looking members. More certifications. More accolades.
I even charge more money than a gym that took a team to the CrossFit Games a couple years ago (who had a HUGE name in the local surrounding fitness community).
Small win for the little guy. lol.
So what should the barrier to entry be?
Short answer — it depends.
Everything I do and teach is very strategic.
I don’t believe in the “paint by numbers” BS. The just give ’em the f#king fish mentality.
I teach people how to fish. There’s a reason for each piece in the puzzle.
Each piece creates context for the next.
The journey we take a prospect on creates context for them to join your gym over others.
(Or, in the case of this hybrid presell you’re reading now, creates the curiosity and pre-sell; which then becomes the barrier to entry.)
But in most cases a true dream member journey will terminate with an offer for them to join.
Giving the prospect an opportunity to demonstrate their level of commitment.
It doesn’t sell anything directly.
And for me, at this point, most people reading the last page will want to know more.
I would have earned a level of trust, and in return, their attention and a signal of commitment.
(Notice the completely different dynamics of the setup; a frame which I control, and which creates curiosity. It's not an accident.)
Which is why it’s not uncommon for 70-90% of people who hit the last page, to also add themselves to my list...
- Everything before the barrier-to-entry is about establishing a journey which you earn a dream member by presenting a new opportunity. Not a better version of the same thing.
- The barrier-to-entry almost always creates a new prospect with a higher lifetime value and refers more of their friends..
- Creating friction for the prospect is good (a requirement). Not making it easier. Not a one-click subscribe to your newsletter. Not a Free Week of classes. Not fewer hoops to jump through… More. Harder.