15 Questions to Diagnose Why Your Website Isn’t Generating Many Leads

Does your martial arts school’s website suffer from a lack of referrals?

Do prospects visit your website, read your content, and then do nothing?

Does it turn away prospects instead of persuading them to take your trial program?

If your website isn’t generating a healthy amount of leads each week, it may be suffering from a severe case of brochureware.

To help you overcome this common website ailment, here are 15 questions you can ask yourself to help uncover why you’re not getting the most out of your website.

1. What problem does your service solve?

If you haven’t yet articulated this on your website, it’s time to add it.

We buy things that solve our problems… is it weight loss? … Self-confidence? … Ability to defend yourself?… What?

Once you determine what problems your prospects encounter, it will be easier to speak to them directly.

A simple way to get this information to survey existing students why they joined in the first place.

This can help you discover what problems you are already unknowingly solving.

2. What’s in it for them?

Tell your prospects what your martial arts program is going to do for them.

“ACME Martial Arts will help you become more confident, get into better shape all the while learning practical and effective self defense skills.”

By clearly identifying what’s in it for them can have a huge impact on getting prospects to engage.

This is also a good time to remind them of your offer.

Target your home page so your prospects immediately know what’s in it for them when they join your martial arts school.

Don’t be vague.

Be specific and clear.

3. Do you tell a compelling story?

People love stories.

We all grew up on them.

Marketing is based on telling stories.

What story are you telling and does it resonate with your prospects?

This could be your start in the martial arts, why you started your martial arts school, etc.

This could be done in the form a post, flyer, video, audio or using all the above.

4. Are you marketing with “black belt eyes”?

Your website copy might make sense to you, but does it make sense to your prospect?

I can’t believe how many martial arts school owners still market with “black belt eyes;” as John Graden calls them.

These are black belts who market using what’s important to them (your style, your instructor, martial arts associations you belong to, etc.) after 20 years after being in the martial arts.

Remember: What you care about isn’t the same things as what your prospect cares about.

5. Is there enough detail?

You need to include enough of the right details to help spark interest from your prospects.

Be specific on the details:

  • What people will get if they sign up?
  • What they will learn in class?
  • How is each class is structured?
  • How will you improve their lives?
  • What can they expect?
  • Why should they use you?
  • What makes your different?
  • Etc.

You’ll be amazed at what a little detail will do to get a prospect to engage.

6. Is your photo on your website?

Is you website appear to be from a business rather than a person?

Remember, people buy from people they know, like and trust.

And, having your photo on your website is a simple — yet effective — way to begin building that trust.

Your photo starts to build that trust and build you as authority.

If you’re reading this article on my website, you’ll see my photo on the righthand column.

This helps my readers — like you — make a connection with me so you can see who’s running the show.

7. Have you made an emotional appeal?

All that above said, you can’t just put out factual information.

Sure, that is important on some level but can’t be the only thing you’re putting out there.

You really need to make an emotional appeal and stress the benefits.

Headlines are a great place to make an emotional appeal like:

Learn how to stand up for yourself and finally take control of your life with the martial arts.

Compare that to “Improve your self-confidence.

See how much stronger the first statement is at making an emotional appeal?

8. Have you justified your service with logic?

While people buy emotionally, as noted above, they justify it with logic.

Are you supporting their reasons with logical reasons and features?

9. Have you asked for the sale?

This seems obvious but many websites never ask for the sale.

The owners leaves it up to the prospect to decide to contact them.

What a mistake!

This can be as simple as a link at the bottom of every page that says: “Are you ready to sign up for our next trial program?  Call us at 555-1212 today to enroll!

By adding this one element, you’ll likely increase the number of leads you get each week.

Now go add it!

10. Have you addressed the most obvious objections?

Imagine not having to have to work as hard to overcome your prospects objections.

How many more prospects could you turn into paying students?

While you can’t eliminate them entirely, you can go a long way of tackling the big objections by addressing them in advance on your website.

By removing obstacles, you’re clearing a pathway to the sign up process.

11. Have you addressed the most common questions you receive?

I can’t tell you how many questions I cut down on in person just by making many of these available on my website.

It allows me to spend less time getting people to sign up as they already have that info before they walk into my martial arts school.

Some martial arts marketing experts would argue that leaving these out will make it so people will have a reason to call.

In my experience, that’s a load of crap.

I still get calls and the questions have changed to more educated questions that get me closer to them signing up.

Test it to see if you experience the same thing.

For starters, this can be done on your frequently asked questions page.

12. Is your message difficult to understand?

Choose your words carefully.

Read your content out loud.

Does it sound right?

Does it roll off the tongue?

Ask others to read it and give you that feedback.

They will also help you catch any typos that can erode your professionalism.

13. Have you talked more about yourself than what you can do for your prospect?

This is a HUGE mistake on many martial arts websites.

Don’t make this mistake of talking more about yourself than your prospect.

Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

14. Have you made it easy for people to sign up?

While asking for the sale is important, you also needs to make it easy to find.

Make this as prominent as possible.

Some find it helps to have a call to action in several places on each page.

Decide the easiest way how people will can respond to redeem your offer then tell them:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Text
  • Mail
  • Contact form
  • Coming in
  • Etc.

15. How much social proof do you use?

Social proof is when you can show real customers who have experienced results from your service.

Testimonials, photos, audios or videos of your current students are a gold mine for your martial arts business to help validate it as credible.

But, it doesn’t stop there.

Do you have awards, magazine articles, news clipping, etc. that you can use to help establish yourself as an expert?

If so, get them on your website. It will help to establish you as an authority.

By tackling these questions head on and addressing them on your website, you’ll go a long way towards increasing your response rates from your website.

The 3 Questions Your Martial Arts School Web site Must Immediately Answer

Satisfy Your Visitors Goals so they Remain On Your Web Site and Away from Your Competitors

According to many Web site usability experts like Steve Krug, there are three simple questions every single page on your Web site must answer in order to remove any questions in their mind that they’re at the right Web site and that you can indeed help them satisfy their goals.

Usability, in a nutshell, is how well a Web site helps a visitor reach and satisfy their goals. It’s important because it helps them stick to your Web site and find what they’re looking for. And, if you’ve done your job right, you are one step closer to getting them as a student.

The 3 Questions of Web site Usability

  1. Where am I?
  2. What can I find here?
  3. Where can I go next?

1. Where Am I?

This is usually answered by the logo and USP in the header of each Web site. There should also be clues in the page name, file structure in the URL, navigation, and, if available, in the bread crumb navigation. You don’t want to confuse people when they land on your any given page on your martial arts school’s Web site.

Considering a person may find one of your sub pages in the search engines, rather than start at your home page, you need to make sure that people know where they are in relation to the rest of the site and how far away from the home page they are on each and every page.

2. What Can I Find Here?

The second question has to do with content. If someone searched for “mixed martial arts ann arbor michigan” in Google and lands on your page, are you relevant to what they are looking for? If not, or if it’s not readily apparent you are relevant, then they will like click the back button and go to another site that is.

3. Where Can I Go Next?

This has to do with the links on your page – primarily your navigation. Is your navigation intuitive or does your labeling confuse visitors? Does it give insight into what will be found on the other side of the click? Navigation needs to be inviting and intuitive. Anything less will decrease the user experience.

Like every store you enter, every Web site is different. You need to make it easy for people to know where they are, fulfill their need for information, and where they can go if they want to continue to snoop around.

Well, how did you do? Did your martial arts school Web site clearly answer these questions?

Top 5 Questions to Develop a Rock Solid Unique Selling Proposition for your Martial Art School

Ask These 5 Questions to Create a USP that Cuts Through the Clutter!

With so much competition out there, you need to have a targeted statement that helps you stand out and helps prospects understand who you are, what you do and what’s in it for them. It’s called a Unique Selling Proposition.

Here is a list of questions to ask yourself to help make sure you’re going the right direction.

  1. What are your biggest benefits? List out everything that can be a perceived benefit to your target.
  2. What do your competitors offer? List out everything that could be perceived a benefit. Then compare against your list.
  3. What do you offer that no one else is promoting? Is there gap you can fill?
  4. Is it unique? Does anyone else claim the same thing (or similar)?
  5. Does it solve your target markets problems?

You can also listen to your students and see what they tell you over and over as to why they chose you. If there is one thing that keeps coming up, start there first. If you don’t know why, just ask them (a topic of another post coming soon). Then step through questions 4 and 5 above to see if it’s a good candidate.

Follow that process and find the one thing that makes your stand out. Then put that key statement into your website, business card, sign, windows, brochure, or anywhere you market your martial arts school. Use it on everything.

Remember, a good USP makes all the difference in communicating the how you’re different and makes it easy for people to get an idea of who you are an what you do.

What additional questions would you add to this list? Can it be improved upon?

How to Get Testimonials that Influence Prospective New Martial Arts Students to Join

One the most common marketing recommendations you’ll read about is how you should add testimonials to everything you do to establish credibility. I couldn’t agree more. However, getting testimonials has always been a challenge for many martial arts school owners.

You can either wait for them to come to you or you can ask for them. That said, many people think they have to wait to for people to send them and that if they ask for them that it somehow cheapens things.

On this, I couldn’t disagree more.

Read on to learn about six questions you can ask to get higher quality testimonials.

If you don’t ask, the reality is that you will likely wait a long time before they come in. And, what’s more, is that you don’t always great testimonials that help influence prospective new students when you leave it up to your students to write them on their own accord.

Sure I appreciate and use testimonials I get from those who send them without me asking, but I don’t sit around and wait for them to come to me. I like to be a little more proactive.

Here is how I structure my request for testimonials. I simply ask them six very targeted open ended questions in the form of a questionnaire.

Six Questions To Get Better Testimonials

  1. What are your reasons for taking the martial art?
  2. What convinced you that this was the right place for you?
  3. In what ways has training in the martial arts affected your life?
  4. What do you like most about training here?
  5. How would you describe your training at our studio to your friends?
  6. Is there anything else you would like to add?

As you can see from my questions, I am asking questions that get them to open up about why why they joined, what they like about my martial arts school, how training with me has helped them in their every day life, and more. They are all open ended questions and get people to give you great insight into things you wouldn’t have likely gotten any other way.

Don’t be afraid to ask, oftentimes, you get a better testimonial because you guide things by asking the right questions. Ask for them. It works.

How do you go about getting testimonials for your martial arts school? Share your ideas in the form of a comment below!

Is Your Martial Arts Style Getting in the Way of Your Success?

I can’t tell you how often I drive by a martial arts school and all I see on their sign is “Insert Style Here.”

I’ve been in the martial arts nearly 20 years and I have no idea what some of the names mean or what kind of style it is.

If someone who reads Black Belt magazine basically every month, researches martial arts online every week, and has been in the arts for nearly 20 years doesn’t know what your style is or what it means, how confused do you think your prospects are?

Think about it this way…

If you drove by a sign that was written in Japanese, and assuming you didn’t know that language, would you be able to read it? That’s basically what you sign looks like if you’re placing too much emphasis on your style with your businesses identity.

Consider your audience before coming up with a name for your business. If your target audience doesn’t know how to pronounce it or what it means, it could mean it’s getting in the way of growing your studio.

Remember, just because your style means a lot to you, doesn’t mean it means anything to your prospective new student at the point they are evaluating what martial arts school to join. In time, that may change, but first, you have to get them in the door.

Are you guilty of letting your style get in the way of your success?

9 Reasons Why Your Martial Arts School Still Needs a Website

Some martial arts school owners have said there is little reason anymore to have a website with free services available like Google Places and Facebook Fan Pages.

And, I couldn’t disagree more.

My answer?

Every single professional martial arts school should have its own website. Yes. Absolutely. With out a doubt. Period.

Some would argue that because those tools are free, there is no reason to pay to have a website.

There are many things wrong with that line of thinking.

Primarily, social media sites aren’t for selling.

They are about creating, maintaining and nurturing relationships.

(Read that again… one more time…)

They aren’t for selling!

That’s where you website comes in.

Its purpose is to sell.

Its not an after thought…

It doesn’t support your social media efforts…

It drives your online marketing and should be your online destination of choice.

Your website is the hub and the free sites like Facebook are the spokes. It’s not the other way around.

(Read that again… one more time…)

Here’s are 9 reasons why it’s important to have your own dedicated martial arts website:

  1. You own the site. Your martial arts schools website is an asset. Treat it as something valuable as it is your flagship property in the digital world.
  2. You can sell. A website is the place to sell, not on social media. Social media is about relationships, not selling.
  3. Email capture. Remember: Having your email listed on a page isn’t the same as a form that captures their email. While possible to add onto Facebook Fan Pages, it’s not something you can do on most social media websites.
  4. It projects professionalism. With a professionally designed website, your small karate dojo can project the image and professionalism of a much larger martial arts chain. Beware: The inverse is also true. With most free social media sites, you don’t have a choice on what it looks like.
  5. Makes you easier to compare. Your prospects expect a website. If you don’t have one, it makes you hard to find and compare.
  6. You have a branded domain. I get hit up by “SEO experts” spam all the time (funny, I know) and they use a free email account like hotmail, yahoo or gmail. I don’t trust them because without a domain name at the end of their email, they aren’t a real business. Having your own branded domain name (www.yourmartialartsschool.com) and email (yourname@yourmartialartschool.com) not only helps brand your business it also helps establish your credibility as a business. When it reads “yourmartialartschool.freesite.com” it’s not very easy to share and it makes you look cheap. Not only that, it’s harder to remember.
  7. Better Analytics. With your own website, you gain deeper insight into your traffic with tools like Google Analytics. Most social media websites provide little-to-no analytics. Even when they do, they are pretty shallow in comparison.
  8. Search Engine Optimization options. Back links are cold hard digital cash when it comes to ranking higher. Having your website that sells at the top of the search engine results is paramount to your businesses success. When you own your own site, you have full control over how the site is set up for search engine optimization. You don’t on a free site.
  9. Distraction free landing pages. When something’s free, there is always some kind of interference. Whether it’s a pop up ad, banner ads, text link ads, Adsense or whatever there is always a cost and it always gets in the way of getting a lead.

Sure, those free online tools are great but they shouldn’t replace your own branded website.

Do you agree that you should have your own website? Share you thoughts in the form of a comment!

How to Present Your Martial Arts Schedule

One of the most important pages every martial arts school’s website should have is a page posting your class schedule.

If you offer a robust schedule, I recommend that you create a single page that has a simple grid that spells out your schedule by day, time, and program. Make this so easy an 5th grader could understand it. If you you only teach one or two days, you might just want to include your schedule on the frequently asked questions page.

If you have  have decided to post your class schedule you’ll want to make sure it’s something that doesn’t lead to confusion. Keep your calendar simple and informative. Don’t try and clutter it with tons of details.

Remember, the purpose of your calendar is so your prospects can see the variety of options you offer should they decide to join you martial arts school. By making it easy to follow and read, you are displaying a sense of professionalism and order about your business. If someone can’t follow your schedule and creates confusion, it could just as easily turn them away.

If you don’t have many class options available because you only teach certain days and times, it may be wiser not to publish it.

Here are some samples to help get your creative juices flowing:

  1. Inosanto Academy
  2. One World Self-Defense
  3. Lynxx Academy
  4. Tristar Martial Arts
  5. Gracie Academy
  6. Kovar’s Satori Academy of Martial Arts
  7. Combat Systems
  8. All Star Martial Arts and Fitness

Do you have a killer martial arts class schedule on your website? Share a link in the comments below!

9 Ways to Show You Care About Your Martial Art Students

This site isn’t all about recruiting new students… its also about keeping the ones you have. In fact, this is just as important, if not more important, than being able to bring new students in.

If more are leaving out the back door than those entering in the front door, you need to buckle down and work on retention. An often overlooked way to retain students and way to create a loyal following is to show you care.

I love the statement “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”In fact, this quote inspired this post.

Here are 9 ways to show you care to help you retain more students:

  1. Truly appreciate your students. Get to know them well… what they do… where they work…their kids names… spouses name… even the dog’s name.
  2. Call your students once and a while. Some instructors do this every week, some every month or once a quarter. The purpose of the call should be to pump them up and to tell them how well they’re doing in class and that you’re glad they train with you.
  3. Send birthday cards. I know, you’ve heard this a million times. However, that’s because its a great personal touch.
  4. Call, email or text when students don’t show. I do this all the time it really helps get people back into the studio.
  5. Give a surprise gift. Buy gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters or coffee shops and then give this to them whenever they just accomplished something big. You could even give a gift certificate to your pro shop or a tshirt.
  6. Send them a custom video just for them. If you have a computer with a built in camera, this is pretty simple. Then upload to YouTube then send it via email. This could be a simple thank you or an encouragement video.
  7. Hold a student appreciation cookout with a free seminar. This can also a good time to get testimonials along with photos and video clips. Tell people to bring their friends and family who might be interested in lessons.
  8. Take a candid photo with your student then print it out and print a personalized message on it. You can hand these out before or after class as well as drop it in the mail to them.
  9. Send them a thank you card. I know this has been said a million times. However, if you’re not doing it then it’s time to take action. You can just have your logo on the front and leave the inside blank. This way you can keep the cards versatile.

The secondary benefit of doing this consistently is that it can also get you new students.  This  can be a great way to start some good word of mouth buzz that gets you new students once people know you really care.

The most important thing is that no matter what approach you take is that you must genuinely care in order for people to know you really care. It’s not about just going through the motions.

What are some of your favorite ways to show your appreciation to your martial arts students?

8 Essential Qualities of Growing Your Martial Arts School Quickly in a Crowded Town

Every martial arts school owner I know wants their martial arts business to succeed—myself included.

As more and more martial arts schools spring up, it becomes increasingly difficult to grow quickly and get ahead. Every day there seems to be a new martial arts option in town. Krav Maga, BJJ or MMA gyms seem to be popping up in strip malls all over the valley everywhere I look. Successful martial arts schools are expanding or opening new locations.

Competition is getting incredibly fierce.

What prompted me to write this post was that a martial arts training facility is expanding into my area from the next valley over. And, they are paying through the nose to enter into the market and get noticed in paid search ads on Google. They’re #1 right now on a lot of terms and have bumped my ads down because they are willing to spend the money. It caught my attention and made me think about next steps.

So, here are some tips to help you persevere and grow you martial arts school in a crowded town. I’ve used many of these ideas for years and has helped me grow each and every year since I started. And, I’ll be using these same ideas to help me grow when I have more competition than ever. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

1. Find Your Hustle

If you’re sitting back and waiting for business coming to you, you’re already doomed. Deep down you know you need to get up off your chair, stop watching reruns of Steven Seagal: Lawman and take action. Every single day you should doing at least one thing to move your martial arts school forward. Just do something. Plan events. Brainstorm promotions. Make your classes better. Raise your energy. Be relentless. I have some competitors that seem to be every where. They clearly have hustle. However, so do I. And then some.

2. Never Give Up

It’s easy to push marketing your business when you just got a crop of new students. Just as when you spar, don’t drop your guard. In fact, that’s one of the best times to double your efforts and leverage your momentum. You have to keep pushing to be successful and can’t stop just because times are good today. Tomorrow, you may have 5 people quit or move out of town. I know of so many martial arts school owners who have just stopped trying because it can be draining and difficult. They gave up and are on autopilot as their martial arts dream dies a slow and horrible death. Being a small business is hard. We all know this. There are no easy ways to make it. However, you didn’t give up on getting your black belt. You can’t give up on making your business grow. We all know it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s just easy to forget when the phones aren’t ringing. You must persevere.

3. Stretch Yourself

Stretching is something every martial artists is familiar with and an important part of our training. The same thing applies in business. Stretching what you know, who you know, and how to do things are three great ways to stretch yourself. Obviously, you want to avoid stretching yourself too thin (that’s where tip #4 comes in). I try and learn one new thing a day. Sometimes two. I try and meet a new business owner every week. I visit martial arts website’s all over the world. Same with Facebook fan pages. I get so many ideas from doing this. I visit related (and none related) businesses and pick up ideas all of the time. I am constantly learning. More importantly, I’m always trying to grow and actively seek it out. For example, I never thought of myself much of a salesmen. So, I started reading books. I started applying what I learned. I got better. So can you.

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

4. Get Some Help

Are you a control freak? You can get more done faster and easier with other people helping you. You know this. But how many of us really leverage OPT? Some use this to mean “other people’s talents” while other’s see this as leveraging “other people’s time.” Either way, it works. All you have to do is ask and you’d be amazed at how many people want to help you. Let them. I am so much farther ahead now than ever because I just asked for help. You can quickly get ahead, too. Just ask.

5. Be Bold

You can’t be boring in business and expect to stand out. I once saw a martial arts school in town teach outside near the sidewalk during rush hour. Believe me, they got noticed. What are you doing to stand out and get noticed?

6. Say Yes More

Saying no can be good for business. However, it can also hurt it. Once I started saying yes to things more often, I quickly realized I could help more people if I just loosened up a bit. And you know what, it worked. Years ago I had a student ask me if I could start doing automated payments. I was reluctant because it meant I had to research things, invest time in calling around, weighing options, learning a new system, etc. But you know what? I’m glad I did and it changed my business. Had I said no, I’d still be chasing down someone’s monthly payment and hating every second of it. What a drain! Are you saying no when you should be saying yes? If so, rent Jim Carey’s “Yes Man” this weekend. It will not only make you laugh but also put this into better perspective. Who knows, it might even inspire you?

7. Become Remarkable

This one is easier than it sounds. One of the best way to grow is be remarkable enough to get people excited to talk about what they learned in your classes. Getting started with this idea isn’t hard. Just look at a few key areas. For example, how are you teaching your classes? Are you energetic or dull? Are they fun or predictable? Do they push people or can everyone slide? Are you constantly introducing new ideas or are you having everyone do the same old? You’d be surprised at how much people love you challenging them, giving them new ideas and making them think.

Push your paying clients in new ways and they’ll in turn help push your business to new levels.

So, I’d really like to know how are you standing out in crowded market. How do you do it?

Should your Martial Arts School be using Social Media?

You’ve probably heard all the buzz about social media.

But should your martial arts school even use it?

For starters, lets look at what social media is so we’re all on the same page.

What is Social Media?

Social media is word of mouth on digital steroids.

Social media describes content that is posted by users on various online platforms. Examples of social media include forums, blogs, microblogs, wikis, podcasts, videos, photo sharing sites and more. Social media applications include Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr.

Social Media Statistics

Watch this video to get an idea of the importance of social media and why you should pay attention to it:

So, um….yeeeaah… you need to pay attention to it.

Thoughts on Social Media for Your Martial Arts Business

  • It’s public. You’re not the only one who can find the good, bad and the ugly about your business online. Potential students are looking for reviews and info on what’s being said about your martial arts school. I check my Google Analytics account regularly for what keywords are being used to find my site. Increasingly, people are adding “reviews” on the end of my schools name so I know people are doing this (at least to me).
  • Get ahead of it. Social media might not be your thing, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Dip your toes in now and at least see what’s being said. By having an established and active presence, if something does hit the fan, you will have history for spectators to better compare against to make a more informed opinion. If you have a student or instructor who’s particularly savvy with it, have them train you on how to get involved.
  • Be responsive. At some point someone will say something online that may do damage to your businesses reputation. Hopefully you don’t experience what is happening to these martial arts schools on RipOffReport.com. Monitor your martial arts schools name by using tools like Google Alerts and respond as soon as it hits your radar. DO NOT WAIT. Whether it is positive or negative, it’s still good to respond.
  • Listen. Really listen. If people are making criticisms, are they valid? If they offer suggestions, can you incorporate them into your business? One way or the other, address these by responding to them wherever they may appear. I can’t tell you how many good suggestions have come my way since starting my Facebook Fan Page for my martial arts school.
  • It gets easier the more you do it. It takes time to get used to updating and monitoring social media. However, if you build it into your routine and schedule it you will be more on top of it as the days go on.
  • Everyone is a marketer. Using social networks, everyone at your school is a potential marketer. Your students and instructors might already be posting information and helping to you grow your martial arts school. This should be encouraged and even rewarded at times.

With social media you can publicly resolve unsolved issues… address bad customer experiences… thank people for praise and ideas… promote a special offer… run a contest… and more.

Taking your first step into social media will also help you to connect with existing students and potential students in a way your competitors might not be; which can help you build a competitive advantage.

How do you use social media at your martial arts school?