Whether as a short-term survival option or a long-term future-proofing strategy, many clubs are offering more monetized virtual training options, from premium on-demand content, to live group classes, to 1:1 personal training. Most of these services are being offered as included features of premium memberships or as adjunct services to regular memberships.

However, we’re seeing more clubs offering or experimenting with 100% virtual memberships as a way to attract members who aren’t interested in returning to a physical gym in the near future, and also as a possible way to limitlessly expand the geographical bounds of their revenue potential.

One hesitation in offering virtual memberships is that they typically come at a lower price point, and there is concern about cannibalizing revenue from physical memberships. A counterargument to that may be if your competitors are offering a virtual option and a member wants a virtual option, you’d lose that member eventually anyway. Also, you might more than offset any of those losses with gains in members who you would otherwise never acquire.

A second hesitation is with uncertainties about execution of content, delivery, pricing, policies, etc. This is a new frontier for many clubs, but here’s where you can take a chapter from the modern software development playbook by developing an MVP (Minimally Viable Product) and performing strategically targeted pilot offerings. Here’s how:

  1. Develop a basic product you know you can deliver on in a short timeframe. Keep it simple–stick to the minimum basics you need to have.
  2. Decide on two price points: one at the minimum that makes sense, the second at the point you think may be a stretch. A third price point will be one squarely in the middle.
  3. Identify a list of members with a status of Cancelled or Pending Cancel who identified a cancel reason as Coronavirus. If you’re an Easalytics user, see the steps for obtaining this list below.* These are your best candidates for a pilot test as a) they are the most likely to be interested in a 100% virtual offering and b) you have nothing to lose with this group.
  4. Start with an email blast about your offering to this list. To test pricing, start with the highest price point. This will both test the viability of the price point and keep the number of initial adopters low, giving you more chance to work out any glitches in your delivery. Subsequent email offers can experiment with lower price points later.
  5. If the email doesn’t generate much response, refine your list to a smaller number of former members who previously spent on Personal Training and target them with phone outreach. They may be already in the market for virtual PT services, so it’s an opportunity to make a virtual PT sale as well as get direct feedback about what would make a virtual membership attractive.

By targeting your MVP to this targeted list of low-risk former members, you get a chance to test your product and pricing without cannibalizing any current member revenue, and any new adopters of your fledgling product become revenue you wouldn’t otherwise have acquired. Plus, you’ve also reunited these lost members with your brand before they became loyal to a different one.

The lessons you learn in this pilot will help inform how, when, and whom to best market this new product to. Even if this exercise ultimately leads you to determine that a virtual-only offering isn’t a good fit for your brand, at least you’ll know the reasons why.

*For Easalytics users:

  1. Access the Member List dashboard
  2. Set Member Status filter to Cancelled and Pending Cancel
  3. If targeting PT spenders, set the Discretionary Spend filter to Personal Training and adjust the amount slider to the desired minimum
  4. Click the Export Data option
  5. In Excel, sort on the Status Reason column in ascending order
  6. Members with Coronavirus recorded as a reason should appear at or near the top, delete any other members

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