So you’ve got your school up and running and now it’s time to do some Martial Arts Advertising. If you want to grow a Martial Arts School, you need to do some form of advertising. Don’t rely on word of mouth. It’s easy to rest on your laurels and expect your name to spread, simply because you know how good you are! The trouble is, no-one else knows who you are. Your prospective students probably have never heard of you, or even your style of Martial Arts in most cases. Your reputation is probably not as prolific as you like to think, so unless you do some advertising to raise your profile, you could find your numbers dwindling.
Martial Arts Advertising
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of Martial Arts Advertising, and look at some proven methods, let’s first look at your school. The reason for this is that you can spend a small fortune on advertising. If things aren’t right in your school, you will lose students. You will be literally throwing money out the window if you’re paying for advertising to send people to a failing school.
What are your retention rates like? Do you retain students for the long term? Your retention rates should tell you something about the consensus of opinion on how students like your school. People leave for all kinds of reasons and a natural fall off is guaranteed from any school. However, look into your syllabus, grading system, school location and any other variable.
Your Martial Arts Classes
How do you organize classes? Do you place senior students in charge of beginners? How are the retention rates from beginners courses or first time classes? Do your students believe in you as an instructor? Do you believe in yourself? The answers to these questions should help you come up with better ways of retaining students. Remember, you are in charge and so you can change any element of your school to help retain students over the long term. A simple way of doing this is to ask people who have left for some feedback. Students who remain are likely to be biased and also may not want to openly share any doubts about your school’s shortcomings.
What is your business model? Do you charge per class or a monthly recurring payment. Ideally you should charge a monthly recurring payment either by direct debit or standing order. If you are resisting this ask yourself why? Most companies use this model. The reason: it works. Instead of giving your students the opportunity to come whenever they want, and save money by not coming to classes, you are motivating them to come regularly to classes. This doesn’t have to be an extortionate amount and should represent good value for those who come more often. The system of charging a monthly membership has a couple of great benefits:
- You motivate people to come to classes. Whether they come or not they are still paying, much like with a gym membership.
- People get better and your build on your skill base much more quickly.
If you are still offering pay per class lessons this might be a way to incentivize students to come more often, since they get classes at a discounted rate. It also reduces the number of students who want to ‘drop in’ every month or so. This kind of student does not help your classes, selfish as that sounds. They are forever playing ‘catch up’ and never grow in their skill. A class with good retention has a good number of skilled students. No-one wants to come to a class full of beginners, not for long anyway. They don’t keep learning and getting better.
Your business model should also have a number of ‘back-end’ sales or extras which help your school generate revenue and keep it afloat. These can be things like weekend camps, seminars and private classes. You can also sell merchandise like hoddies t-shirts and sweatshirts with your club logo on. This is more important for when you come to start your advertising campaign, as you will see.
Advertising Your Martial Arts School
So let’s say everything is in place. Your retention is good, people are loving your classes, you have a range of other products and services to offer your students. Now it’s time to start advertising your school. There are many forms of advertising for you to choose from.
Ideally get yourself a banner and put it up near or outside your school. This is especially useful if you have a busy road nearby or you share a location with other Martial Arts clubs. You can pick up a steady flow of students just from passing trade and it’s a nice low cost form of advertising your Martial Arts school.
Google Places offer a free business listing for local businesses. You should definitely use this because you will pick up some free business from this over the long term. It’s free and increases your presence on the internet. Simply head to Google Places and create a place listing for your business. Once you have created your listing Google will send you a postcard to your business premises with a PIN code in it to prove you are at that address. Verify your listing with the PIN you receive.
Paid Advertising Online
One of the best ways to do martial arts advertising is with paid online advertising. Many business owners shy away from paid advertising online but this is because they don’t understand it properly. With paid advertising and the internet, you can target very specifically where you want your adverts to show, and who you want to show them to.
With Facebook, for example, you can target a radius around your club and specific an age range which fits best with your school. Imaging how much time you would waste dropping leaflet door-to-door, just on people who are completely inappropriate for your classes. Facebook advertising can cut through a lot of the pain and help you ‘lazer’ target your ideal students.
Google’s Adwords platform can work in a similar way. You can focus your adverts only on people within your specific target area. With Google you can target specifically what keywords you want your visitors to type in order to show you adverts. Be careful not to use “broad match” when choosing your keywords.
Use phrase match or exact match so your adverts only show when someone in your area specifically is looking for a Martial Arts School. Broad match can have your adverts coming up for people searching globally for Martial Arts films, DVD’s, and all kinds of things you don’t want to pay for. It’s worth getting educated in both Facebook and Adwords advertising to properly grow your school.
Return On Investment & Customer Value
So many small business owners are afraid to try paid advertising. Mostly this is because they don’t understand how to use it properly, and they don’t think about it in the right way. Initially you can expect to spend money in testing and measuring your adverts. By targeting your local area and the age range of your ideal students, you can maximize the potential of your adverts.
Many business owner try paid advertising once, don’t see a return, and then never try it again. But this is a mistake.
Return On Investment
Knowing the return on investment on sending a student to your school gives you a lot more confidence in pay per click advertising. Suppose a student comes and joins your school. They sign up and become a loyal member. They train for 3 years straight. How much has that made your school?
Let’s say your monthly membership is £50. £50 x 12 (months) x 3 (years) = £1800 in school fees over 3 years. That’s not to mention any camps, seminars and merchandise that student has bought from you. So if the average student stays just 3 years and brings in at least £1800 in that time, how does this affect your advertising budget? Are you still limiting your budget?
There is a lot of power in online advertising. You can follow your website visitors with ‘retargeting’. Retargeting lets you place ‘cookies’ on your site and ‘follow’ prospective students on the internet and advertise directly to them. This is very powerful and cost effective. It can give you a huge presence online for minimal cost. Both Facebook and Google’s Adwords offer retargeting.
Testing and Measuring
The real power of pay per click advertising can be seen after a considerable amount of testing and measuring. By cross testing adverts besides slightly different variations of the same advert you can ‘tweek’ your campaigns for the most desirable results. After testing all the variables of your target audience, advert title, images, keywords etc, you are in a position to target highly focused adverts at a super targeted audience.
When you are in this position you can scale up your advertising simply by adding more budget. Once a campaign is created it can simply be left to run and you can move on to other advertising methods. By doing this over and over, you can gain a large amount of traction and build up your martial arts advertising portfolio.
Other Forms Of Advertising
Ideally test and measure each form of online advertising until a profitable campaign is running. Then move on to the next one. You can take this same approach with advertising in magazines, newspapers, radio and any other medium. However, the important thing to remember is to test and measure. Each advert should be able to be tracked so you can change elements of the advert and observe the change in results. Only by doing this can you become better at every form of advertising and grow your school effectively.