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?

Make Your Martial Arts School More Successful in 2020

Welcome Martial Arts School Owners!

If you are scratching your head about how to get more sign ups in the New Year so you can increase your martial arts school’s profitability, here are some solid marketing ideas to help you hit the ground running for 2020.

Here are twelve things you can start working on today to help make your martial arts school more successful in 2009:

  1. Buy a domain name, get some hosting, and start a blog as your website.
  2. Be sure you have the top 8 pages every martial arts school website should have.
  3. Work on search engine optimization to make your website more easily found.
  4. Start using Google analytics to track and measure the statistics on your website.
  5. Fix the top 10 common mistakes on your martial arts school’s website
  6. Develop a marketing calendar and get ahead of your marketing.
  7. Submit your martial arts school to local online directory websites.
  8. Try marketing your martial arts school on CraigList.
  9. Build a plan to get more referrals.
  10. Make it easy to compare your martial arts school against your competition.
  11. Possibly join a martial arts marketing association.
  12. Break through by doing what other karate schools aren’t doing.

Remember, marketing your martial arts school isn’t easy. Hopefully this list makes it a little easier to get started.

Another thing I recommend is checking out the Small Dojo, Big Profits program. It’s a great system that provides a business model for how to maximize revenue for your martial art school.

What are you going to do differently to make your 2020 better than 2019?

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!

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!

How to Create an Irresistible Offer Your Prospective Students Can’t Refuse

Plus 5 Ready to Use Offers You Can Use at Your Martial Arts School Today

As martial arts school owners, we all want more students. And, there is something that might be getting in the way of us achieving this.

It’s called an offer.

I’ve met a lot of martial arts school owners who don’t make an offer of any kind in their marketing efforts. They think that because they’re great martial artists, people will naturally want to train with them.

Wrong.

It doesn’t work that way and I think they’re missing out on a lot of revenue because of this common misperception.

All an offer does is help a prospect justify acting today instead of going to a competitor or doing absolutely nothing (the all too common choice).

Giving your prospects what they want will help you get what you want. By offering them something they want and can benefit from, you’ll get them to commit much quicker because they’re getting something they perceive as valuable in exchange for their decision.

With a call to action, we ask people to do something. With an offer, we incentivize them to take action. When you combine the two, you have a powerful and dynamic duo.

A good resource for this subject is Mark Joyner’s book The Irresistible Offer: How to Sell Your Product or Service in 3 Seconds or Less (John Wiley, 2005). You can find this book at Amazon.com or your local Barnes & Noble.

The Irresistible Offer Defined

The trifecta of the irresistible offer must include all of the following:

1) High ROI offer – Must be extremely valuable to your prospect.
2) A Touchstone – A summary of your offer as a frame of reference.
3) Believability – If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

A common example citied by virtually all marketing authors include Domino’s “30 Minutes or It’s Free” offer and FedEx’s “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

5 Irresistible Offers You Can Try Today

  1. See if the martial arts are right for you. Receive two free hours of instruction! (trial program)
  2. Free uniform when you join today! (state retail value here)
  3. Join today and we’ll waive your sign up fees! (state value here)
  4. Pay for two months, get one free! (state value here)
  5. Try it for 30 days. If you don’t like it, you don’t pay!

Be sure to test various offers in different mediums to see what works and what doesn’t to find the right offer for your martial arts school.

What irresistible offer are you making at your martial arts school? Share your thoughts in the form of a comment below.

How to Build a Marketing Calendar for Your Martial Arts School

Some martial arts school owners plan their marketing efforts each and every month in advance while others just do a yellow page ad waiting for the phone to ring.

If the later sounds a little too familiar, it’s time to get more proactive with your marketing efforts. It’s time to develop a marketing calendar!

Develop Your Marketing Calendar

With the new year is coming up fast, hopefully you are starting to consider your marketing calendar for 2021. Planning your marketing efforts in advance is one of the greatest things you can do for your business.

Planning in advance helps you keep focused so you can begin to project when you will get new students into your martial arts school. This helps you to create reasons for people to start training which can be a great recruitment tool.

I usually break out my calendar sometime in November to start looking for natural holidays, events, or dates that make sense in the New Year. Getting out a head of this has always paid off.

Marketing Calendar Ideas

Not sure where to start? Start out by tapping into these annual events.

January

  • Super Bowl
  • New Years Eve
  • New Year’s Resolutions

February

  • Mardi Gras
  • President’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day

March

  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Easter
  • March Madness
  • First Day of Spring

April

  • April Fool’s Day
  • Tax Day
  • Earth Day

May

  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Mother’s Day
  • Memorial Day

June

  • Father’s Day
  • Graduation
  • 1st Day of Summer

July

  • Independence Day
  • Dog Days of Summer

August

  • Back to School
  • End of Summer

September

  • Labor Day
  • First Day of Fall

October

  • Columbus Day
  • Halloween

November

  • Election Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday

December

  • Christmas
  • Hanukkah

You can also build promotions around anniversaries, grand openings, new locations, and other events that make sense.

With so many promotion opportunities available there really is no excuse why you can’t build your own marketing calendar.

Now that you have a lot more opportunities to run a promotion, does that mean that you should do them all?

Frequency of Promotions

Here are some common approaches to consider:

  1. One promotion a month
  2. One promotion a quarter
  3. One every six months
  4. One time a year (should be a big promotion)
  5. Run one promotion for an entire year
  6. Run multiple promotions across different mediums at the same time

For some martial arts schools, this process can be overwhelming. How many promotions should you do? How many promotions is one too many? Questions like this can take hold and stop you dead in your tracks. Perhaps consider starting small and work your way up to a more robust marketing calendar.

I do have one caution for those considering running monthly promotions, there is a flip side to this approach.

When your martial arts school offers a ton of frequent promotions with irresistible offers, you can start to become the bargain hunters choice (assuming you’re offering discounts) which means you may run into problems renewing these people for higher fees or if when trying to upsell.

It can also mean that people will just wait to join when they can get the best deal; sometimes holding out for months waiting for the best offer. Meanwhile, your bills continue to pile up, you still have to pay for the promotion, and your classes aren’t as full as they could be.

Remember, bargain hunters who come in on discounts usually want to renew at a discount.

On the other side, there are plenty of large retailers who only do one or two sales a year because they don’t want to become the bargain of the week. These retailers make their sales more exclusive which means bigger sales all year round; especially when they do offer a sale.

Whichever approach you take, there are things that will make your planning a little easier.

Tips for Building an Effective Marketing Calendar

  1. Plan ahead
    Don’t wait until the night before to get going. Start planning at least 3 months in advance.
  2. Put it in writing
    If it’s not written down, it probably won’t get done.
  3. Develop a realistic budget
    Make sure you have some money set aside for each promotion. Get multiple estimates (if necessary). Negotiate everything you possibly can.
  4. Set realistic goals
    Start keeping track of your cost per acquisition so you can begin to forecast better in the future. How much did it cost you to get each student?
  5. Execute your plan
    Now is the time where all your planning culminates into action.
  6. Track results
    After each promotion be sure to do a cost benefit analysis so you know whether it truly paid off or not.

How do you plan your marketing calendar each year? What works and what doesn’t?

Top 7 Reasons Why I Love Blogs as Websites for Martial Arts Schools

I love writing blogs. I love reading blogs. I love blogs.

There. I said it.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking here let me explain what a blog is.

What is a Blog?

A blog is something that allows you to make posts and presents them in reverse chronological order. It’s basically an online content management system that allows you to put your thoughts out there for the world to read hourly, daily, weekly or whenever you feel like it. Think of it almost like an online journal, only everyone can read it.

This site, however, is 100% running on a free blog platform from WordPress.

I pay for website hosting ($6.95/month) through BlueHost.com and they have a free auto installer that allowed me to load a copy of the latest version of WordPress – a free user supported blog platform. It’s the easiest way I’ve ever seen to get a fully functioning website in a day.

To clarify, WordPress offers two versions:

  1. A version you can install on YOUR web server
  2. A free hosted version which resides on THEIR server

I recommend option #1. This way, you’re building an asset you control and own. Think of this version as digital real estate where you own the property. Option #2 is more like living at your parents house where at the end of the day, it’s their place.

Top 7 Reasons Why I Love Blogs

  1. They Are Easy to Install. Most web hosting companies offer and auto installer for WordPress blogging software. It’s never been so easy to get a website!
  2. They Promote Fresh Content. From a search engine optimization standpoint, you’re giving the search engines fresh, valuable content to spider on a regular basis; which they love! If you’re posting three times a week, you’ll have produced over 150 pages of new content onto the Web.
  3. They Allow Pinging. Every time you post an entry, your site “pings” sites such as Google to tell them you have new content for them to spider. These little alerts have changed the way the search engines behave. Gone are the days waiting for them to come to you!
  4. You Can Easily Change Designs and Structure. You can change the theme with a click of the button. There are literally thousands of free templates and dozens of companies who now specialize in low cost but ultra cool designs.
  5. They Are Easy to Update. It’s an easy to use content management system you can update day or night and from any computer in the World with an internet connection.
  6. They Are Incredibly Extendable. There are so many plugins available that allow you to enhance the functionality of your site that don’t come with the default version. Everything from SEO plugins to video to statistics are all available at virtually a click of your mouse.
  7. Posts Can Be Time Released. You can write ten posts and set a timer on when they go live on your site. This way, you don’t have to remember to publish them everyday. WordPress does it for you! Going on vacation? Set it and go!

If you’re scratching your head on how to get a blog, I recommend that you sign up for hosting with BlueHost.com today and use their auto installer to set up your blog. They’ll even give you a free domain name for using their hosting if you don’t already have a domain name.

So who else out there likes to blog and why?