Hi and welcome to Martial Arts Marketing 101! If you’re here you are probably struggling to make ends meet with your Martial Arts School. I was there too some time ago. It didn’t matter that I had some 20 years of experience in Martial Arts and believed in what I was delivering, my school was still struggling and I was thinking of packing it all in and going back to the drawing board.
Years Of Training
The years I had put in didn’t seem to matter all that much since it was making me unhappy now, and despite resisting the 9 to 5 working model for years, I was ready to accept defeat. For a good, long time I had turned up to classes to only 1 or two students. I couldn’t remember a time when no one turned up, but it seemed inevitable that it was going to happen at some stage. The only questions were when would it happen and should I keep turning up?
It is very hard to keep turning up to classes which are very poorly attended. Your students can sense your disillusionment, and that’s not good for morale. They don’t want to turn up to a flailing class. They feed off your energy and so you need to pump up the energy. But what else could I do? I was unemployed and had put years into my own training. I was almost at the end when I decided to change a few things, take a look at wasn’t working and start afresh.
My schools were ‘satellite’ schools of my instructors and although this seemed to bring him some new business, it wasn’t working for me. I was travelling for over an hour to get to one of my classes and turning up to an empty room. This was demoralizing for me and it took its toll on my mental health over the years I did it. I decided enough was enough and consolidated my schools into one location. It wasn’t working having two part time schools which were over 20 miles apart. I had twice the advertising to do, a lot of travel and my students didn’t get the benefit of training with each other.
Over the course of a year or so I moved the most distant class towards the other one and finally put all of my classes together in the same location. This did help a lot but my classes were still small. I was still turning up 3 times a week to classes which only had a handful of students. I wasn’t making any money and I was tied into all these classes.
Self Doubt and Disillusionment
Over time this was sapping my enthusiasm. I was beginning to think I was the problem. Perhaps I was. I would be conflicted about doing the class at times and wondered whether I should be doing something else with my life. If I was a bit down it would affect my classes. I needed to be positive and ‘up beat’ in my classes to motivate and inspire students. I wouldn’t pay to come to a miserable instructor who doesn’t want to be there either!
Martial Arts Marketing
During this time money was pretty much a permanent problem. I had enrolled on an affiliate marketing training course from home in order to give myself another income stream. The biggest take away from this was the online marketing training I was getting. I learned how to target Facebook advertising in the specific location where my Martial Arts school was. This was a fantastic form of advertising. If you’re not using it already you should do it. You can target your local area, the age range you prefer and even list interests and other demographics to target your specific target audience. See more on Martial Arts Marketing in this article on how to use Google Adsense: Marketing For Martial Arts.
Martial Arts Marketing – Free Advertsing
I also listed my School on free advertising platforms with Google Places, Bing Places and Yahoo Local Listings. These are all free listing opportunities which can bring in new students to your school. You should definitely take the few minutes it takes to list your school on these platforms. Once you have listed your school and verified your listing, you can benefit from free traffic for potentially years to come. Any free advertising sources you can get are worth the effort, particularly if you can ‘set it and forget it’. I also bought a banner for outside the school. It just sits there and brings me new students from passers by. More about advertising methods on Martial arts advertising.
Martial Arts Marketing – Venue
During all this time I had run my classes at various venues. Some venues were more open to helping with advertising than others. Some, like a football venue, didn’t want to help me advertise, even though they had a huge complex. All their marketing was for their football playing fields and courts. I stayed there for some time before I was pointed to a martial arts ’emporium’ academy.
This was a venue run by a martial arts enthusiast, like me. Someone had kitted out an old mill and started doing various martial arts classes there. This was just what I needed. The price was lower than the football place, and the owner would help with advertising.
Plus, the passing trade alone brought new members in on a regular basis. It wasn’t until I discovered this venue that I realised with hindsight some of the previous problems were due to advertising. I was on my own with advertising. With the right venue, people would learn about your school as a matter of course.