Address this Problem and Increase your Local Search Engine Rankings

Today’s post is short and sweet. But powerful.

Simply add your address and phone number to every page of your website.

If that’s enough for you, don’t read any further and it to your site right now.

If you need a little more convincing or information, keep reading.

I have my address in two places on every page of my website including the footer (see image above) as well as in the right sidebar.

When you’re trying to capitalize on local searches like “martial arts denver”, you need to first make sure you have the right keywords people are searching on your site. If they aren’t there, Google doesn’t know how to rank your site for those keywords.  Not only that, but local geo based keywords should also be in your title tags and also help Google identify your location.

Once Google sees keywords like “Martial Arts” and combines that with your location information “Denver Colorado” you create a potent combination that is like catnip for Google.

Google needs to see your address and phone number to help identify where you are located to help preset your website whenever people search for a martial arts school in your local market.

Having your address on one page of your website isn’t enough.

You should have your address and phone number on every page as each page is treated differently in the search engines. By placing it everywhere, you increase the chance of getting more searches to your site on local based keyword terms for more of your pages.

Google extracts your area code, prefix, zip code, city name and more to help them target your location. Do this and you won’t be sorry when it comes to local search engine optimization for your martial arts school.

Do this right now so you can begin capitalizing on this simple but powerful idea.

Seriously, stop reading and do it already!

Should You Post Your Martial Arts Class Schedule on Your Website?

Recently I received an email from a martial arts marketing association that claimed you will have a 34% drop in response by posting your martial arts school’s class schedule.

So, should you believe the hype or not?

In one of my posts Top 8 Pages Every Martial Arts School’s Website Should Have, I suggest you post your martial arts class schedule on your website and obviously think it’s a good idea. My take is that it can help prequalify prospects before they call you and is  a good customer service feature.

However, not every thinks so.

There seems to be two sides on the issue:

  1. Show Your Schedule
    Posting your schedule can be good customer service because people can pre-qualify themselves. Those that contact you will have one less thing getting in between getting them to sign up. It can also demonstrate the variety of classes you offer and how convenient your schedule is.
  2. Don’t Show Your Schedule
    By posting your martial arts class schedule, prospects might disqualify themselves even if they have the time and won’t come through the door. This approach gives prospects more reason to contact you to learn more about your program. One of our readers posted this comment:

I wouldn’t want someone to qualify a schedule on their own. I’ve had students who have adjust thier schedules to our academy because they understand how much our classes have done for them. If I put up the schedule online, they might have never come through the door. – T. Wong

I see both sides of the issue and think the best solution is to test both ideas and see for yourself it effects your response rate or not. This way,  it removes the subjective and provides you with the facts for your martial arts school.

In my own experience, I see fewer responses on my website when I bury my schedule and take it out of the main navigation. My facts don’t match the 34% fewer responses claim I mentioned above.  If I were to just take it as fact, it could actually hurt my business.

My advice? Test. Test. Test. As with anything, your results may vary.

What do you think? Post your schedule or not?

10 Types of Irresistible Offers You Can Make to Prospects

As a follow up to one of my most popular posts How to Create an Irresistible Offer Your Prospects Can’t Refuse, I wanted to expand on some different kinds of offers you can make.

An offer is something you’re willing to give your prospect for taking action and can range from free information to those that cost you money.

It’s not necessarily about how much actual dollar value your offer has, it’s about the perceived value of what you’re offering that matters most.

An offer with a high perceived value will work like gangbusters and can help drive even more people to your martial arts school.

The trick is to find the right offer that motivates your prospect to take action. In other words, all of these offers aren’t equal and one might work better than another. It’s best to test these different offers to see which type works best for your market.

10 Types of Irresistible Offers

1. Free trials
Free trials are a great no risk way for someone to come in and try out your classes. I used this for years and found it to be a great way to get people in the door.

Examples:

  • Get two lessons free
  • Get one week of martial arts lessons free
  • Free introductory lesson

2. Free information
This is even lower risk than doing a trial because people don’t have to physically come in to redeem this. This could be a free report or guide you email them or paper copy in the mail.

Examples:

  • A woman’s guide to self defense
  • A man’s guide to self defense
  • A child’s guide to self defense

3. Free tours
This sounds less involved than a trial and might be all you need to get someone in the door. I have heard of many martial arts schools who have have used this successfully to get new students.

Examples:

  • Free tour of your facility

4. Free giveaways
What can I say, people like free stuff. This is a great enticer to get people in the door.

Examples:

  • Free coupon voucher for a trial program
  • Free martial arts school T-shirt
  • Free DVD about your school
  • Free info pack or report

5. Contests
Enter to win contests are a great way to get a list of people who are interested in your program.

Examples:

  • Enter to win 3 free lessons with a black belt instructor
  • Enter to win a free week of martial arts lessons
  • Enter to win a free month of martial arts lessons

6. Two for one
This one is often overlooked but very powerful.

Examples:

  • Two people sign up for the price of one (trial program)
  • Get one month free when you pay for your first month

7. Discounts
I don’t anyone who wants to pay full price if they don’t have to so offering a discount is a great way to make people feel special.

Examples:

  • $0 sign up fee
  • 50% off your first month of lessons
  • Pay for 6 months in advance and get 20% off

8. Limited availability
If everyone and anyone can get this offer, what makes it so special that someone would take action? Offers are great when there is scarcity involved as it gets people to take action. People also like to feel they’re getting something no one else is.

Examples:

  • Limited to only the next 5 people who respond
  • Only 3 spots left so act now
  • Be one of the next 7 people to respond and receive XYZ

9. Free bonuses
This could be anything like a free private lesson upon sign up to merchandise…you name it.

Examples:

  • Free subscription to Black Belt Magazine
  • Free upgrade to higher quality uniform
  • Access to online instructional videos

10. Guarantees
If you’re not guaranteeing your services, I  guarantee you’re not getting as many inquiries you could be.

Examples:

  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • 110% money back guarantee
  • 60 day money back guarantee plus you keep all free bonuses

What types of offers do you make at your martial arts school?

Which ones work best in your experience?

Share your experiences in the form of a comment below!

Top 10 Martial Arts School Web Site Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Are You Guilty of these Common Mistakes on Your Martial Arts School Web site?Having a martial arts school Web site is one of the most important marketing tools at your disposal.

If you already have a Web site for your martial arts school, then this list of common mistakes will help give you some direction. If you don’t have a Web site yet or are in the process of building one, you can use this as a preventative guide.

Following these simple steps can help you to attract and get more students and make your martial arts school Web site work harder for you.

Top 10 Martial Arts School Web Site Mistakes

  1. Using a shared host with pop up ads.
    If you’re using a free host for your website, it could be costing you more than you might think. It makes you look unprofessional and may distract or irritate your visitors as the ads and pop ups are distractions. Free hosts typically make their money with pop up ads, are slow loading, and don’t provide a professional URL (www.yoursite.com). Hosting can cost as little as $35 a year. Stop being cheap.
  2. You don’t have a dot com.
    A domain name costs as little as $9.99 a year and is one of the best investments you can make. It signals you are professional and also allows you to have an email address from your domain instead of a free email provider like Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo.
  3. You focus on features.
    People buy benefits, not features. Focus on communicating how you can serve their needs, not how cool your style is, how many trophies you have, and how many boards you can break. Speak to your target audience, not to your ego.
  4. Slow loading website.
    If you can count to 5 before everything loads on your page, you have a bloated site. Be sure to shrink your photos down so that they can be easily loaded and use them sparingly. You should rely more on content, rather than images, to tell your story.
  5. Confusing navigation.
    Your navigation should help people flow through your Web site. Use naming conventions that tell people what they’re going to find when they click. Examples include: Get Started, What You’ll Learn, Why Learn From Us, Free Trial, etc. Then keep it consistent on every page in both location and naming convention.
  6. No calls to action.
    Do you ask people to contact you? Start making calls to action on every page like “Ready to get started? Call us at 000-123-4567 today!” or “Click here now to schedule your free, no obligation trial program!” Try it. It works.
  7. Poor website structure.
    Try to keep the most important information at the top of the page like calls to action, logo, navigation, headlines, important links, photos, etc. Then keep that structure consistent across all pages so people know what to expect and can find their way around easier.
  8. You don’t capture emails.
    Having an email list of people interested in your martial arts dojo is one of the greatest assets you can have. Create a contact form asking for their name and email to receive more information. At the very minimum, have your email link on every page. Then you can email out promotions, offers, news, etc. to a targeted list of people who have already expressed interest.
  9. Lack of search engine optimization elements.
    To get high rankings in the search engines, you have to have well written, unique content formatted in HTML that is built around keywords like “Tae Kwon Do Atlanta Georgia.” Then you have to add the following search engine optimization (SEO) amplifiers:
    1. Title Tags: This is what is displayed at the top of your browser. An example of a title tag on a home page could be “Martial Arts lessons in Atlanta Georgia – Acme Tae Kwon Do.” Each page should have a unique title tag 64 characters or less. Remember that the title tag becomes the link in search results so write carefully.
    2. Meta Descriptions: This a brief description that will appear in the search engines, below the title tag link. It too should be unique for each page and describe the content for that page in 150 characters or less. While this doesn’t impact SEO directly, it can help provide context before someone clicks on the link. A good example for the home page could be “Acme Tae Kwon Do – Martial Arts Lessons for adults and children in downtown Atlanta Georgia. Learn about rates, schedules, and our free trial program.”
  10. Not submitting it to the search engines.
    You can’t build a Web site and expect the search engines to find it. You have to tell them about it. The good news is that you can submit your domain name for free to Google, Yahoo and MSN. Once you submit, they will send an automated “spider” that will crawl your Web site and determine what search results you should come up for based around the content and title tags (an extremely generalized explanation) found on your site.

Print this page out, pull up your Web site, and see if you’re making any of these mistakes. Correct the mistakes you’re making and help your Web site work harder for you.

So how did you do? How many Martial Arts School Web site mistakes are you making?

How to Develop a Unique Selling Proposition for Your Martial Arts School

Make Your Martial Arts School Stand Out from Your Competition with a Unique Selling Proposition 

unique selling proposition (USP) is a necessary step when telling people what your martial arts school is all about. It gives the a preview of what they can expect and how you’re different than all the other martial arts studios in town.

Having a rock solid USP is a powerful marketing tool when used correctly.

A USP separates you from your competition and helps get your prospects attention. It can even help persuade someone to choose to contact you rather than the martial arts school down the street. It must be compelling and encompass your most desirable attributes.

Ideally, it would be something that would difficult or impossible for your competitors to offer, however, that is not always possible. To have an effective USP, you should also frame your statement around the needs of your target market and then how you can fulfill that need in a unique way.

How To Find Your USP

There is an unlimited number of possible USP’s that you can use. Some possible directions to explore:

  1. Who you teach
  2. Your facility
  3. Hours of operation
  4. Student to instructor ratios
  5. The guarantee you offer
  6. Being a specialist
  7. Processes you employ
  8. Your trial program

You can even combine these to make them even more powerful.

Don’t be shy to tell people this when they ask about your martial arts studio is all about. A good USP can either attract students or repel them. Pick a good one.

What is your USP and how did you arrive at it? How has it impacted your martial arts school in attracting more students? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.

How to Identify Your Martial Arts Schools Target Market

Know Who Your Customer Is… and Who Isn’t. In marketing, your “Target Market” refers to the segment of the total market you’re going to market your service or product to in order to make a profit. This segment can also be referred to as your “target audience.”

As a marketer, it’s never a wise move to try and market to everyone. The old adage is “you can’t be all things to all people” is a very smart statement. In addition, it can get extremely expensive to try and sell everyone on your martial arts school. You just have to accept your studio is not right for everyone. It’s not.

The most savvy of business owners know exactly who will pay for their service and who will not. That’s because they understand their target market.

What You Can Target

Typically, marketers target based on demographics like…

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Marital status
  • Income
  • Geography

The more specific you can be to identify your target market, the better. Don’t just stop at “adults with money.” You need to break it down further… Adults ages 18-45, some college, single, in good health, making $35,000-$50,000, own property, have internet access, who live within a 15 block radius of the martial arts school, and own a car.

Adding this level of specificity will help give your school direction and help you craft more targeted messaging.

How do you Determine Your Target Market

For starters, look at what you like to teach and what you’re good at. Then you have to determine if there is an audience willing to pay for it. In other words, if I’m really good at the nunchakus, will people seek me out to teach them and are they willing to pay me top dollar? Not likely. You also have to make sure that the people in your geographic area are interested in what you have to offer. It’s a process and takes time to find the right combination so don’t get too frustrated.

Don’t just go after the same market as your competitors. It’s not always a good strategy. By looking at who your competitor is marketing to, and more importantly who they are not marketing to, can lead to a potential market niche. Everyone in my area taught either just kids, or adults and kids. No one was just teaching adults. To me, it was the perfect fit, it was profitable, and so I became a specialist.

Ask yourself such questions as…

  1. Who is most likely to pay for this service? Men or women?
  2. What is their income level?
  3. How far away do they live from my martial arts school?
  4. How educated are they?
  5. What is their marital status?
  6. What appeals to them the most? Self defense… demo teams… character building… self confidence… etc.
  7. Are they price sensitive or wiling to pay a premium?
  8. Etc.

You need to know who you’re marketing to so you can build your marketing message around them. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, your messaging won’t resonate with your prospects and you will loose out on attracting the right people to your martial arts school. Spend the time and find a profitable target market that exists in your local area. Once you do, it will be a lot easier to speak their language.

How did you determine your target market? What steps did you go through? Leave your thoughts in the form of a “comment” now by clicking the link below!

Is Being a Part-Time Martial Arts School Owner a Bad Thing?

In my opinion, there seems to be an extreme focus on becoming a full time, multi-school owner when I read martial arts school owner related magazines, email newsletters, and websites. The “little guys” always seem to looked at as those that need the most “help” … like there is something that is wrong with them.

While having the goal of being a full time multi-school owner is for some, it’s not the goal for everyone. That is what seems lost on the chain marketing gurus that have made it big – not everyone wants that. There are different levels of “success” out there.

I understand these marketing and business associations point that you can make a lot of money and become wealthy from their business methods and marketing tactics. I’ve seen it and respect those who have achieved that but clearly that is what they wanted. Kudos to association that helped them realize their dream.

However, that is their goal and I feel like sometimes they’re projecting their beliefs a little too much onto the rest of us who might want different.

I’m not saying being a full time chain owner is a bad thing, either. To each his own. My beef is with those that tell you what you’re doing isn’t success in their eyes. I don’t know about you, but I’m perfectly happy being a part time school owner at this time and have more students than I can handle. To me, I’m successful for what I’ve set out to do.

I’ve had several people tell me I’m nuts that I don’t have a full time studio. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching and want to help as many people as I can. I have 8 black belts instructors at my school and have run out of room and time to teach more students. Clearly, there is demand and I’m leaving money on the table.

But, I’m ok with it. My goal was to get a strong studio with great students and get them to black belt – not open a dozen studios in a year. Now that I have the black belt staff, it would be much easier to move into more hours and days. I have a growth plan and I’m sticking to it. Its gotten me this far and I’m happy with it.

I think there is a way to be an effective marketer, make good money, still be part-time, and never feel like you’re selling your soul. I say, grow and succeed in a way that aligns with who you are and what you want to do.

Me, I’m proud to be part time. If you want to stay part time, then that’s the best thing for you and your studio. There’s nothing wrong with it my opinion and you can be incredibly successful – however you personally define it.

Agree or disagree? Let me hear from you in the form of a comment below!

The Art of Martial Arts School Lease Negotiation

If you’re considering opening up a stand alone martial arts school, you’re about to enter into a whole new world when you go to sign a long term lease on a commercial space. It can be a daunting process and one that can leave you cross eyed. I should know, I just went through it recently and wanted to share my experience.

Starting My Martial Arts School

The decision to start my own stand alone martial arts school with a dedicated training space location was easy.

I had the money saved. There was enough students to make it happen. I had the instructors and assistant instructors I needed. I didn’t need to write a business plan.

The lease was the only thing that had me staring like a deer caught in the headlights.

The Nuts and Bolts of a Martial Arts School Lease

There were three elements to documentation I had to sign before getting started:

  1. Lease – The agreement between the lesee and property owner which includes the details of the lease including lease amounts, terms, dates, parking, specs, what’s allowed and what isn’t, and more.
  2. Guaranty of Lease – This document assures the property owner that you will pay for the space even if your business can’t pay for the space that you or your spouse will. The property owner wants to make sure they get paid no matter if you succeed or fail.
  3. Addendum – In my case, this included all of the specific changes I was going to make to the space (walls, windows, etc.) as well as the addition of a sign.

Each document posed its own challenges. My lease document was 13 pages long, the font size alone was microscopic, and the amount of times each section referred to another one was overwhelming. It was very difficult to keep things straight.

I read and reread that thing I don’t know how many times. I even read a ton online about lease negotiation. I read the martial arts business books by John Graden that had chapters on lease negotiation. I spoke with other martial arts schools to find out the “gottcha’s” that they experienced in their leases to make sure I avoided them. And more.

This is not legal advise. Be sure to consult a professional attorney and commercial Realtor before signing any lease.

Get Help From a Qualified Professional

I’m a marketer, not a commercial Realtor so I decided to get help. I wanted to make sure I was as protected as possible before signing and recommend you do the same. It will save you a lot of time, frustration, and is well worth the investment.

I made my notes and then sent the lease to a friend who was a commercial Realtor. I was lucky to have a friend in the business. That was a key move given that I’m no expert in lease negotiation. He gave me a ton of tips and ammo to go back with. There was a few things missing that I wouldn’t have ever known to ask about or would have ever really thought of.

He made sure they spelled out the type of lease (gross/full service lease) instead of it being vague and somewhat contradicting… what specifically they would pay for and what they wouldn’t… extending the due date to the 5th instead of the 1st… clearly spelling out how many parking spaces I had and which one… and more.

After going back with his recommendations, I got everything I wanted and was very happy with the final lease. They pushed back on a few things but overall were very fair. However, I’ve heard of other martial arts school owners not having such a smooth process and am glad to have avoided that situation.

Martial Arts School Lease Negotiation Tips

  • Get educated. Read about the basics of leases and the various types (Full service, Net lease, Triple Net lease, etc.). Know the language before starting the process.
  • Talk with other school owners who have leased commercial property. What would they do differently?
  • Get help. Consult with a professional Commercial Realtor or Attorney. This is critical and necessary step.
  • Everything is negotiable. And I mean everything.
  • Ask for more than what you think your property owner will agree to; understanding that they will likely meet you half way.
  • Ask for stuff you don’t really care about so you have things to give up in the negotiation process to get the stuff you really want.
  • Understand each lease is different and there is no standard or universally accepted commercial lease documentation and agreements.
  • The longer the lease, the more they’re willing to work with you on tenant improvement reimbursements. This can range from 10%-30% of your total lease.
  • Get as much free rent as you can to build out your space before you open. I got 40 days which is perfect for what I needed.
  • Decide whether you want to do the work or have them do it for you. I decided to do it myself as I was able to make the money stretch further (highly recommended).
  • If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist.
  • Remain patient. It takes a while to go back and forth. I think I paid more attention to this than when I signed for my mortgage!
  • Read and reread everything. Be sure ALL of your requests make it into the final document. Don’t rely on your property owner to make sure everything is correct.

My martial arts school commercial lease worked out well for me and I was happy with everything I got out of it. It took some time, nearly four months when it was all said and done, but was well worth the effort. Now I’ve got a great location and have a great space.

What was your experience when signing your lease? What suggestions would you give a new school owner about to sign a lease?

7 Free Local Online Directory Listings for Your Karate School

Most karate schools only have one or a handful of locations. Typically, all in the same metropolitan area. This means that you only want to market to a smaller local area as that is where 99% of your student base is going to come from.

This is important to remember because you don’t want to waste your efforts on people that aren’t either in your town or close enough to become potential students.

A good way tap into your local audience online is to make sure you’re listed on all the top online local directories and should be a big part of your local search engine marketing efforts.

Most of my students came from my website followed by referrals. Surprisingly, my studio isn’t listed in the yellow pages (more on this later) and my classes are full. I even have a long waiting list.

My existing students, and those on the waiting list, found me when they performed a search online in either Google, Yahoo or MSN. If they didn’t find my website directly, they found me on a directory that pointed them to my website.

Obviously, the most important website I worry about is my own. In online marketing, it’s all about how many clicks a prospect is away from your website to close the sale. The fewer the clicks, the better chance you have to get them to choose you instead of your competition.

I spend a lot of time trying to rise up to the top of the search engines with my site on important keywords. However, it’s nice to have these other sites high in the search results as well. That said, the trick then becomes making sure you outrank them.

If you can get visitors to your site first, because you come up in the top of the search results, all the better. However, as a marketing strategy, it’s also good to be in as many listings as possible in case they click into another listing, missed it by accident or if they recognize that site and want to go to it first.

In addition, if you don’t have a website yet, these directories will help still get you some additional online exposure until you do.

There are a few other major online local listings you should make sure you’re listed. If you aren’t yet in the yellow pages or are in the process of developing your website, this is a must to ensure you’re getting your karate schools contact information is getting out to the broadest audience possible.

The good news is that all of the online directory listings I’m going to share all 100% free!

Online Local Directories

  1. Google Maps
  2. Yahoo Local
  3. Yelp
  4. InsiderPages.com
  5. CitySearch.com
  6. SuperPages.com
  7. Local.com

Do a search on these and see if you’re already listed. If you have a yellow pages ad, typically you get included in these directories automatically. However, it’s not always the case so be sure to double check you’re listed.

I know in my area, four of the seven listed above are in the top ten search results. What’s great about this is that not only do I have my listing for my site, I’m also listed on these other top ranking directories as well.

Do a search for “martial arts” in your city and see if you come up. If not, click the link that allows you to add your karate school. You will likely have to verify that you own that business; typically with a phone call or email to the business contact information you provided.

Do you use local online directories? Share your experience in the form of a comment below!

Marketing Your Martial Arts School on CraigsList

I am a big fan of CraigsList and often search for martial arts related items. I also use it to market my martial arts school. If you haven’t tried it yet, its a great place to get the word out on your martial arts school.

Read on for tips on how to get started using CraigsList and why you should market your martial arts school on it.

Never used CraigsList?

Craigslist is a central network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements – with jobs, internships, housing, personals, services, for sale/barter/wanted, services, community, gigs, resume, and pets categories – and forums on various topics. — Wikipedia

What is CraigsList in Craig’s own words:

Craigslist provides local classifieds and forums for jobs, housing, for sale, personals, services, local community, and events. – Craig

Why List on CraigsList?

  • It connects you with people in your local area. The whole site is divided up by geography.
  • It’s free. Enough said.
  • It’s popular. Start asking your friends if they use it. You’ll be surprised by how many say “yes.”
  • It attracts a lot of eyeballs. It is one of (if not) the largest online classified site out there.
  • You can list your heart out. You can pretty much post as many times as you want.
  • Google loves it. Search engines crawl it so your listing may come up in local searches.

How to Get Started on CraigsList

  1. Visit Craigslist. Find your state and click on it. It will then present you options of major cities in your state. Click the link for your city.
  2. Go to the search box in the left hand column. Type in “martial arts.” From the drop down menu, select “services.” Click the arrow “>” button.
  3. Click on the ads to see what your competition is doing. Evaluate what you can do differently. Write a compelling ad with a good headline and short, descriptive body copy. Make an offer people can’t refuse. Make it easy to respond.
  4. In the upper right corner, click the “Post” button. Click the “lessons & tutoring” link. Proceed to the posting page.
  5. Create an account. Enter in a username and password.
  6. Point your cursor in the “Posting Title” box then add the title of your post.
  7. Point your cursor in the “Posting Description” box and write your listing.
  8. Enter your email.
  9. Submit your listing.Once you submit your listing, you will receive an email confirmation. To post in the “lessons & tutoring” category, you will also need to provide a valid phone number to verify your account. They will send you a text or call you to verify in order to proceed.
  10. Verify your listing. Edit things if necessary.
  11. Click the link in the email to post your listing to Craigslist. It will take at least 15 minutes for you post to appear. You should receive an email once it’s live.
  12. You’re done!

CraigsList is a great place to test offers and messaging. You should also consider making ClaigsList exclusive offers so you can measure its effectiveness later. Test for at least 120 days with four different listings and offers. Once you find something that starts to break loose, begin refining your listing.

Keep in mind that your posting will only last 30 days so you’ll have to keep on top of relisting every month or so if you want to continue to have your listing live.

Did this post help you? Let me know in form of a comment below!