Gift cards aren’t just for birthdays and holidays anymore. Now, in the world of personal training they are for generating leads.

Just about every trainer has tried the old trick of offering “the first training session free” to draw in new clients. The problem is, the success rate isn’t that high. With a “free session” promotion coupon there are only two outcomes. Either they use it or they don’t. Unfortunately, for every 100 free sessions you offer, only a handful of people are likely to respond.

Using Gift Cards Instead of Coupons

Producing and distributing gift cards in the image of your business creates the illusion of putting money in the hands of potential clients. A gift card is an actual tangible thing.

What happened the last time you received a gift card? You probably used it. I know I recently received a gift card to a restaurant I don’t even care for. That piece of plastic floated around in my purse burning a hole in my pocket until I felt compelled to use the darn thing. Why? Because it was actual money!

Even if the recipient doesn’t ever plan on using it, they aren’t going to just shove it in the old coupon bag and forget about (like a discounted training session flyer). Best case scenario- they give it to someone who will use it; in that case, “Bingo” – a new client. Worst – case scenario – they trade it on Craigslist or Facebook. In that case –”Double Bingo,” free advertisement and a new client!

The bottom line – give someone $100 and it won’t go to waste. If you get a bunch of $100 gift cards made with your business logo on them, and pass them out with your business cards, you will have a good chance of creating new leads. Now all you have to do is figure out how to creatively get those cards in the hands of potential clients.

Creatively Distributing Branded Gift Cards

Here is where a little market research will come in handy. Having gift cards manufactured won’t cost as much as other traditional marketing efforts. However, it will still cost money and you might as well put that money to best use. So, passing them out to every Joe Schmo on the corner probably isn’t going to be your best use of time, or money. Plus, just giving them away kind of takes away their attraction, which is for others to “see” their value. You don’t want gift card recipients to know that they came directly from you. This is where we get creative.

Here are some ways to use a stack of plastic cards to generate leads!


The possibilities here are endless. Donate your cards to be auctioned off at charity events, or to be included in gift bags at local events. Give them to the owners of local businesses to give out as rewards to loyal customers. Remember, you want to give them away in a fashion that still makes the recipient feel like the card has value.

Client Sales Power

The best part of this is that your client will actually be paying you for generating new leads for your business. How you ask? It is actual fairly simple, and a win for you, your client, and your new lead. Here’s how it works.

Sell a gift card to a client at a discounted price under the assumption they will give that gift card to someone who would be interested in your services. Tell your client that if the gift card is redeemed within the next 30-60 days, you will then credit their account for the full amount of the gift card they gave away. Your client will be motivated to help you get new clients because it will get them discounted sessions. The person receiving the gift card will be motivated to use it because their friend spent money on it. Now, you have a motivated sales force for just the pennies it cost you to make the card.

And, you could even add an extra bonus by jumping on board with a fitness trend of 2012; number four being – social exercise. Make exercising fun. Offer your client and their friend a group training session.

Online Promotion

Use social media and craigslist to give them away. On social media you could hold different contests with a $100 card being the prize. On craigslist you could even sell them at a discounted price. Again, give them away without making the recipient feel like they are “free,” but instead – make them understand their value and perceive them as “cash”.

Really the possibilities are endless! Do you use gift cards to increase business? How do you do it? We would love to hear from you!