Most of the school owners who decided to open a martial arts school wanted to share their passion with others. But then realize that it’s not enough to be just good at what they do. In keeping the school running, it’s really important that other people know that the school exists and keep the community informed of the benefits of martial arts.
That’s why marketing a martial arts school can be one of the most stressful parts of running a school business, it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish or how you want to accomplish it. Yes. Marketing is a lot of pressure, but it doesn’t have to be. The best way to handle the stress of marketing is to have a plan and stick with it.
I talked to one of the best martial arts school owners and in this article, I’ll be sharing with you a long list of practical guides to marketing a profitable martial arts school.
Disclaimer: Massive action produces a massive result, so the monthly techniques I’ll be sharing won’t work unless you apply and take action. So, apply this guide to be known as the “best dojo in your town.”
Without further ado, here are 93+ ways to promote and grow your martial arts school. These ways are extremely powerful but before applying, it’s crucial to understand why you need to do it and what you can achieve.
THE VIP METHOD:
- Create a VIP Pass: This can be used at any public place with a potential prospect: eg: Walmart, Publix, the Street, Parking Lots, Little League Field (parents are watching in stands), etc. You have different ways you can VIP them.
- At lunch, VIP everyone in the restaurant
- Leave a VIP in every “Register to Win” box.
- Create a list of VIP-friendly locations; include the items when this location is busiest.
- You can use this script to strike up a conversation: “Hi. my name is John from Martial Arts Advantage here in New Tampa. As part of our New Tampa community outreach program, we are giving a free month of self-defense and safety classes to all children in our community.”
- Hand the person the pass and if they give any hint of interest, move to get the phone number and set an appointment. (Pro Tip: sending them to a spark landing page can automate this process!)
- Find a large crowd and give them a VIP pass. Keep on the lookout for community activities and events.
- Gather the local community newspapers. Scour the upcoming events section where you can give a VIP pass or perform demonstrations. Follow through with a phone call and visit schedule the demonstration.
- Set two progress checks or upgrade conferences today. Aside from the marketing side of things, it creates a mindset around improvement for your students.
- Ask for referrals during the progress check or upgrade conferences.
- You can also print a large-scale print advertisement or billboard that the public can easily see.
- Set up a community Facebook Group, Newsletter, or run a targeted Facebook ad campaign.
- Aggressively get referrals from introductions and VIP members. You can ask them if they know relatives or friends who are interested in learning martial arts.
- Give VIP passes at Belt Graduations.
- Hand out VIP Passes to the students as they leave classes. Also, educate them on the benefits of helping the martial arts community grow.
- Do a Halloween VIP guest pass around holidays or other events.
- Set up a table in front of the school and sign up VIPs.
- Pizza Box Marketing (trade marketing with a local Pizza Delivery company). The pizza delivery company will get benefits from this such as follows…
- You will pass out flyers and verbally encourage your members to order from them.
- You will print door hangers with their pizza company on one side and our martial arts school on the other side at no cost. Communicate to them that the advertisement will expand better exposure for their business.
- In exchange, you will ask them to place your flyers on every pizza box that goes out of delivery or store. Of course, make sure you will be the one who will provide the flyers.
- Send direct mail (postcards, letters, invitations) to your list of leads.
- Send an invitation to grand openings of businesses nearby. This way businesses can acknowledge that your school exists and it can establish potential collaboration in the future for an employee’s benefit.
- Offer students of other schools 30 days free. This can be very sneaky but you can potentially attract your competitor’s students by showcasing the unique brilliance of your school.
- Set up a booth inside malls or businesses where you can place information about the benefits of martial arts and the programs your school offers.
- Do demonstrations in these places, you can also bring your students
- A movie theater (especially the premiere of a movie related to kids or martial arts).
- Elementary schools
- Junior High Schools
- High Schools
- Local Malls
- Boy Scout/Girl Scout Meetings
- Day Care Centers
- Hang a banner outside your school for common events:
- “Back To School Classes Now Forming”
- “Summer Classes Now Forming”
- “New Year Classes Now Forming”
- Wrap a city bus with a banner of your school to promote it around the area. The area will get to see about your school and the benefits of martial arts.
- Do some rack cards. Double business cards in a holder placed at businesses around town. They are replacements for lead boxes, a simple “Take One” display.
- Offer corporate rates to local businesses and their employees. You can present the benefits of martial arts to the management.
- Conduct a Buddy week where students can bring in their friends, siblings, and family members to participate in a real martial arts class.
- Plan an Open House in your school. Get all of your students involved in the demonstration to ensure you get a lot of spectators and guests. Friday nights work great – plan 1 or 2 hours of the demo, a raffle to insure you collect names, addresses, and phone numbers, refreshments, and a free trial class.
- Put a flyer flush or print door hangers for residences so they can easily see what your school offers.
- Make a list of local apartment complexes in your area and meet the local apartment manager and arrange an ad in a monthly newsletter and a door hanger. Apartment complexes usually have a monthly newsletter, so if you go there on the 28th of each month, you can stuff the newsletter with a flyer.
- Partner with like businesses (dance studios, yoga studios, or gymnastics) and may give free discounts for their students who want to learn martial arts.
- Put flyers at local businesses on community bulletin boards, you can ask the management first if you can post flyers to promote your school.
- Put a sign in the lobby, “Refer A Friend, Get Free Belt Test”
- Put a sign in the lobby, “Refer A Friend, Get Free T-Shirt”
- Send welcome letters to new residents or new businesses. You can get a list from the Chamber of Commerce and Electric Company).
- Do an open house for your school where your potential students can see what’s inside your school.
- Conduct a fun day in the parking lot, like playing games or doing demonstrations with your students.
- Introduce yourself to each business in the centers. It may result in a potential collaboration together with your school.
- Sponsor a local high school team/band so they can give you a shoutout during gigs.
- Contact all of your white belts and get referrals.
- Send a letter or call all no-shows and “B-Backs” and re-ignite their interest. Initiate a program that will spike their interest to join.
- Participate in school activities such as carnivals, field days, talent shows, and fund-raising events.
- Make sure you have a structured training course established before you get started.
- Make sure you have sufficient staff and assistants ready to help at special events and carnivals.
- Have a plan of how you can establish a win-win relationship between you and the school.
- If necessary, hire a special events and activities manager to do all of the legwork for you.
- Gather as many testimonials from your student’s parents as possible. You can put these testimonials in a binder to take with you to your appointments.
- Do a movie night, it will give students a chance to build friendships within the school and your school becomes a focus of activity and that is something that kids are always looking for things to do. Have a sign-up sheet at the front counter.
- Day camps– It’s one of the most profitable revenue-generating events. The goal is to satisfy the needs of parents who work during the day and would like a sade, planned activity for their children to participate in.
- Conduct a Glow Chuck and the beauty behind it is that the students must purchase the Glow Chucks and the profit from the purchase is the revenue you create in the 30-45 minute class/seminar.
- Do a mall kiosk, a booth at a fair or mall show and offer a FREE Child ID kit with the 10 Safety tips letter. This would be a super community service and a great way to introduce your school’s services.
- Call schools in your area and introduce yourself and your school programs and how it can benefit their students.
- Get involved with school special events and activities.
- Establish a fund-raising program with the schools. The more you give, the more you get.
- Conduct a ‘Pad Holding Class’ the whole purpose of this class is to educate the parents on how to hold the focus pads properly at home to help enhance their child’s martial arts skills and have a quality time with their children. Offer a discounted rate if they decide to join up today and pay in full or put them on a family program.
- Community outreach program– Approach businesses throughout the day and ask to speak to the manager or owner. Explain that you have a community outreach program and are selecting area businesses and offering free monthly membership for all their employees and families in the Martial Arts Program. There is no cost to either the business or the employees.
RAISE AWARENESS AND GIVING VALUE METHOD:
- Spread awareness of the benefits of martial arts and do demonstrations with your students on Child Safety Day.
- Share information about martial arts as self-defense at the Women’s Self Defense Course.
- Join Birthday parties and do fun demonstrations that will execute martial art.
- Do an enrollment contest it is a referral drive:
- Free test
- Free upgrade gear package.
- Write articles about bullying, self-defense, concentrations and etc for local newspapers. It can position you as a go-to expert in your area and you will be at the top of their mind.
- Collect testimonials from your students and how your school specifically martial arts transformed them as a person.
- Do a press release by announcing the story behind why you built your school and spread information about how martial arts can help the community.
- Educate basic program students on ASF’s Pass-A-Friend Program about martial arts and what are the benefits of it.
- Reactivate the past students by inviting them to an event where they will reignite their desire to practice martial arts again.
- Come in as a special guest at the school and give motivational speeches to the students.
- Speak at special events at school such as PTA meetings, open houses, and parent nights.
- Host an on-site martial arts training course at the school as an after-school program for elementary students, or during school for pre-schools.
- Make sure you have age-specific and event-specific speeches written and practiced before you get started.
- Send a letter home to every student 12 & under to give to their teacher. The letter simply requests the opportunity to speak to the class about having a positive attitude and being the best they can be.
- Visit a school and give a very motivating speech and by the end of the speech do a quick Q&A game reviewing the key points of the speech.
- Send out mail to the schools you wish to work with, and draft a letter that describes the details of your on-site martial arts training courses. This is best for pre-schools and private schools.
- January– New year, new me. The majority of new years resolution includes getting back in shape. It’s the best time to run an ads campaign for “get back in shape doing martial arts.”
- February– Spread love. Give flowers to students’ parents on Valentine’s day. It will grab attention with entertaining elements and will spread how nurturing and thoughtful the school is not just to students but also to parents.
- March– Dedication to all mothers. Give a flower to moms during the week of Mother’s Day. Additionally, you may conduct free training for moms for the month of March.
- April– Celebrate with an Easter Egg Hunt. Kids have no school usually on Good Friday so it will be the best time to conduct an all-day tournament or seminar.
- May– It’s summertime. Invite all of the missing in action students to come and conduct a fun activity with them.
Additional summer activities you can do:
- Set appointments for presentations with daycares, summer camps, and boy/girl scout pack meetings.
- Summer enrollment contest (set up big prizes like bikes, computers, trophies, etc)
- Conduct a free event called “Summer Buddy Bash”.
- June– It’s Father’s Day. Conduct a “Dad’s train with the kid’s event” or the Dads will have an opportunity to be the coach during the class. Most importantly, all dads will be trained for free in the month of June.
- July– Back to school. This is one of the most important months that you should leverage, it’ll take months of planning, but the best way to attract more students to your school.
Back to school marketing:
- Develop a back-to-school offer marketing campaign. For example, a 4-week free trial program, with a free uniform for the first forty callers, no commitment to continue.
- Run an ads campaign with your back-to-school special.
- Send pizza to different schools for the teachers for their lunch break. Plan on visiting the school and ask the teacher to have them invite you as their guest teacher of the week.
- Plan massive seminars discussing topics like children’s self-defense, bully-proof, martial arts for concentration, and so on.
- Plan make-up classes for students of yours who needs extra help from missing any classes this summer.
- August– Be prepared because this is usually a huge month for enrollments, especially if you executed the plan for the month of July.
- September– Have a back-to-school party. Call those students who have quit during the summer and invite them to a special “Fast Back” program to get them back on track.
- October– It’s time for a Halloween trick or treats party.
Halloween activities you can do:
- Halloween VIP Cards– ask each of your students to hand out the cards to every “trick-or-treater” that comes to their door.
- Halloween Party– bring your friends
- Costume contest– limbo, musical tombstone, and bobbing for apples
- November– This month will be short as we will lose one full week because of Thanksgiving, so make sure that during the first three weeks you can enroll students.
- December– It’s Christmas time. Conduct a Christmas party for your students and run an ad campaign for a Christmas Special: Uniform and 30 days for $29.00.
- Referrals– For every student that gives the name, address, and phone number of 5 friends we are giving them a choice of a Free T-shirt or Duffle Bag. The idea here is to market the program through announcements, flyers, and emails.
There are three primary sources of members referrals:
- First is when a referral happens on its own and the prospect referral calls or visits the club without having been encouraged by a salesperson.
- The second is called a point of sales referral where the new member is asked for referrals at the time of enrollment, usually having been given an incentive for providing more names.
- The third is called an existing member referral and it is the result of some sort of referral campaign or program that the club is running and offers gifts or potential prizes for the member referrals.
Enrollment Referral Systems
- Enroll your new student as you have always done so.
- Explain to the new student or parent right after they fill out the paperwork and give the downpayment. “Our best students come from referrals. If you simply fill out this form with three names of friends, we will add a FREE month (or uniform, t-shirt, equipment bag, etc. as an option) to your program as our way of saying thank you.”
- Ask the new student if it’s alright to use their name when you call their friends and offer them a FREE VIP mini membership.
- Call these referrals within the next few days. If they hesitate be sure to explain all the wonderful benefits of training at your school.
- At the appointment setting with new students ask them to bring a friend to the first class.
- Establish a rewards program with the school based on referrals.
- You will have to organize your contacts and referrals, determine the amount of staff you will need, determine any revenue you wish to invest, have a goal and keep an updated schedule of all your plans.
- Talk to your friends and see if they can arrange an appointment. Ask them for help if they have any connections.
- Network in your community to generate interest, referrals, and respect. Wear clothing with your school’s logo on it and hit the streets. Give away free passes and donate what you can.
- Capitalize on those community leaders and officials who pay your compliments by asking them for referrals and testimonials.
- Do an enrollment contest it is a referral drive:
- Free test
- Free upgrade gear package.
- Guest Passes– You must be very good at getting students to give passes even after the initial pass to a friend. You may use the following techniques:
- “Students, we find that students who get the best results are those that train with a friend. The support and competition bring out the best in people. We normally charge friends $15 a class, however, I have 5 free passes for everyone. Would you just take a few minutes after class and write down 5 friends’ names and numbers and I will prepare the passes for you.”
- “Who had a great class tonight? Please raise your hands. Who feels that they are either getting more confidence, are in better shape, feel more energetic, or are able to defend themselves better? Who has a fellow worker, friend, or family member who could use those benefits? Please see me after class and I will prepare a free week pass for that person.
BACK TO SCHOOL METHOD:
- When summer ends students are gearing up for back to school. And here’s a fun fact, did you know that back to school is like Christmas time at martial arts school? It’s like a department store jam-packed because people are busy buying Christmas gifts, that’s how back to school is like for martial arts school.
- Develop a back-to-school offer for your marketing campaign. Use this offer in all of your marketing to be consistent. For example, your offer this year would be a four-week FREE trial program, with a FREE uniform for the first forty callers, with no commitment to continue.
- Run ads with your back-to-school special. You may run ads in local newspapers, coupon magazines, Facebook ads campaigns, on road signs, with your direct mail, on pizza box tops, and in area school newspapers.
- While you are contacting your area school newspapers, ask them to run an article that you have written about: Child safety, self-defense, history of the martial arts, the benefit of martial training for children, or any subject that you are an expert on.
- Order all of the items that you will need to promote your school now. Such as pencils, bookmarkers, logo stickers, book covers, book bags, coffee cups, tumblers, frisbee, and so on.
- Plan to send pizza to a different school for the teachers during their office hours several weeks before the school starts. Also, plan on visiting that school 2 days later to pass out any teacher gifts you have on to speak to the PE instructors about scheduling you to be the guest teacher of the week. Have copies of school presentations to leave with them, if they have to think about it and follow up 2 days later.
- Plan a massive intro seminar for the next 9 months and plan on how you can market them. Ideas for the seminars may be about Being Bully-Proof, Children’s Self-Defense, Kid Safe, Karate for Concentration, and so on.
- Easter Egg Hunt– You can hold the Easter Egg hunt at your school, however, if the weather is nice you would do better at a local park. Some schools do it for students only and others encourage students to bring friends.
- Outdoor Breaking Class– Combine a Board Breaking Class and a Picnic to add a new twist to the Bring A Friend Break A Board event. This event is clearly outlined in a special package under Revenue Generating Events. By bringing this outdoors you are combining a social event with chances of enrolling new students. The key here is to use the Mass Enrollment class the following week at your school. All guests that break a board are invited back to the school to take a free class and receive a free uniform.
- Getting Registration Box Locations
- Do not walk into a store with the box.
- Ask to talk to the owner/manager. Explain that you are from the Martial Arts School and as a part of your community outreach program you would like to present them with a free membership to your school including a uniform. The only thing we ask is that they will display one of our registration boxes in the store during the time of the free membership. You will service the box once a week.
- Corporate Programs– There are 3 ideas that will help your school establish a working relationship with the business in your community.
- Give local businesses financial compensation for every member they refer to your school. This idea works well for small schools that are just starting out.
- Ask local businesses to host a fund-raising event such as board-break-a-thon, freestyle competition, or intra-school tournament at their location. Taking your school’s events and bringing them out to the public will give both your business and their business great exposure.
- Approach businesses about investing in a corporate package for their employees. Once your school is established, you can give big businesses in your area financial breaks for all of your programs.
That’s it, you are now armed with extensive guides to market your martial arts school in your town. Bookmark this guide as your marketing campaign manual. If you forget or are unsure what to do for the month then you can revisit this article.
Remember that it’s not enough to be good at what you do, people in the community have to be informed about your service.
Being creative in your marketing strategy will help you expand your reach and word of mouth will spread like a wildfire.
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