Trial Pass Strategies & Techniques


March is Trial Pass month at Dojo Muscle. All month long we will be giving out tips, strategies, and new pieces to help grow your martial arts school.

Trial Passes, also known as VIP passes, are an extremely effective marketing technique for martial arts schools, fitness centers, gyms, and similar businesses. The key to an effective trial pass is to have an enticing offer and call to action in an engaging design.

If you are not sure what a trial pass is, click here to see our trial pass collection. There is no need to waste time convincing you that trial passes are an effective way to grow your business. Just look around at any successful gym and martial arts school, and they are guaranteed to use them, or something similar.

The real point of this article is to list the most effective marketing strategies to use for trial passes. We have broken it down into steps to make sure .

Step 1 - Create an Irresistible Offer

Trial and error may be the best approach to find out what works best for you as there are many different offers, all having some level of success. Here are the top 5 best offers we have seen.
  • Free 2 Week Pass
  • $30 for a 30 day Trial Membership
  • $99 for 6 weeks of Unlimited Classes (some add a free uniform to make it more enticing)
  • Good for One Free Trial Class & personal training session
  • $39 for the first 10 classes
Please remember, though we have listed prices and timeframes, all of them can be adjusted according to your market. The idea is to give a heavy discount making it irresistible to try, knowing they will probably be hooked once they do.

Step 2 - Pick a Type of Trial Pass

Depending on your school, there are two main types trial passes to choose from. Let's take a look at both and let you decide what's best for you.


The 1st type is good all year round and relies on people who see the ad to call and set up an appointment to come in, or to just show up during regularly scheduled classes.

The positives to this is it offers versatility for a potential student's schedule, can fit almost any marketing offer, and also saves money on printing costs over the course of the year since they are good to use unless you change the offer.

The downside to this type is if you are a large school, it makes it harder to track the success of the ad, as well as to be prepared for the potential student's arrival. A potential student may show up to a packed class and not get the attention they deserve. 


The 2nd type is to have a write-on section on the card to fill out with a date and the team member that handed out the card (guest of)

The trial pass becomes almost an invitation. The positives to this approach is that you can properly prepare for the student's introductory class and is also much easier to track and analyze the results. The downside to this type is that team members can fill out the wrong date and they are not good to just leave in local shops without a verified date.

Typically, most schools stick with the first type. Usually, only the large schools interested in tracking data utilize the write-on cards.

Step 3 - Design & Print

Obviously this is easy. Just go to Dojo Muscle and order our cards. :)

However, if you have your own design team, or vendor, here are some tips to create and/or evaluate a good design.
  • The most prominent visual must be the offer - they see this, are enticed, and it leads them to read further.
  • Brand them with visuals/messages for your target market - kids, their parents, fighters, fitness attics, etc.
  • The best size to use is this business card size because they are easy to hand out, place, and still large enough to see.
  • Stock photography is good, but original photos (like we use) guarantee you will stand out in your area.

Step 4 - Distribution

Hand these out (at least 40 or so) to each team member & their families, as well as your current students, parents, and anyone who walks in looking for more information. If someone phones in for more info, make them aware of the offer and invite them in. If you are using a scheduled time, have your team fill out the proper date and their name.

Passing them out in local places like barbershops, restaurants, bowling alleys, health food stores, coffee shops, and anywhere else there is high local foot traffic.

If you want to take it even a step further, I suggest contacting some of these local businesses and requesting an alliance. This is a great way to promote two businesses at once. An example is a mentor and client of ours recently partnered with a restaurant. His student's get a free desert, and their patrons get a special trial offer with every bill, complimentary of the restaurant.

Step 5 - Evaluate & Repeat

No matter which strategy, offer, or design you choose, make sure you take the time to track the campaign and evaluate it's success. This will allow you to create variations to see what works best for your particular market. Each time you variate, you gain more experience to make better decisions in the future, and properly evaluate the results of your hard work.

I hope this has helped introduce new comers to trial passes, as well as add a few tips for seasoned vets. In the comments below, let me know what strategies and offers you have tried. The more we share, the more we can grow together.






Peter Normandia
Peter Normandia

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