Someone called me a while ago and basically said "ok what would you do to get more customers?" Now this wasn't really a serious conversation on martial arts but it was actually a business conversation I had with my friend as we talked about a hypothetical business.
Now as you can imagine I came up with a few but today I had an idea to see how long it would take for me to come up with 101 Ways to get more martial arts students. It took me 18 minutes in total to come up with all 101 and write them down.
So here they are, take what you find useful and reject the others. Some will work, some may work and a few will only work once and a few are a bit of fun and I doubt anyone would use. The point of this article is to show that there are a lot of ways that you can market your business if you put your mind to it.
Now a lot of these are very similar, thats not the point. In fact I think I could at least add another 250 ideas if I wanted to. Some of them are a little tongue in cheek but the whole goal of this article is for you to get your brains working on ideas to grow your business. As always if you like this article please share it.
Thanks- Here we go!
1. Leaflets- Within a 3 mile radius of your school
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Leaflets are great but can cost a lot of money. Weight watchers clubs are known to target the close area to the location of their meetings. Its a simple but effective method as people are more likely to go somewhere they don't have to travel far to. So leaflet in the area your school is. That way you can do it more often and cut down on costs.
2. Sandwich Boards
When your training stick a big sign outside or on the road where your school is. Its really simple and effective, make your own if you have too but a board is a great way to advertise and make use of passing traffic or even footfall.
3. Offer 10% Discount for a tweet and facebook share each class.
Tell students that if they send a tweet and or facebook message each time they go to your class, and after wards and you will give them a 10% discount. Its easy to monitor and gives your club a huge social boost
4. T shirts
Get t shirts with your gym name and logo on. Sell them or give them away and its free advertising
Get a decent poster, stick them wherever you can
6. Facebook ads
Its very cheap and you can focus on getting in front of people in your area with a good facebook advert
7.Linked IN ads
Yes Linked In does ads too, great for landing a cororate client looking for team building days for their staff
8.You Tube Videos
To Learn How to use You Tube videos to get more business click here!
Its free to use and a good video can add so much value, anyway You Tube is the second most used search engine on the web. Yes people will search for you on You Tube so have to have a good presence there. There is a right way and a wrong way to do a you tube channel and techniques you cant imagine.
9. Google + Local
Like it or loathe it, Google plus local gives your business instant presence on a google page, again its free
10. Joint Venture with a fitness instructor
Fitness instructors always have a ton of clients looking for new challenges. Do a joint venture with one by either giving them a % of revenue if they refer a client or actually set up a follow on class at one of their sessions. Lots of potential to work with the fitness professionals
11. Chamber of Commerce
Your local chamber of commerce is a great opportunity to meet business owners and promote your work
12. Market Stall
Set up a stall once a month or once a quarter. Dont sell fruit and or veg but sell your school, sell memberships, sell DVDs, and sell your merchandise or give it away! A great opportunity to promote your club in a busy area
Ring up your local radio station and ask about their costs, or organise a big event and let them know about it
14. Charity Event
Charity events are great for adding a lot of exposure tou your club. Run one and let people know about it!
Pretty obvious but get a good paid site. Dont use a free one they suck and people dont like them.
16. Christmas presents
Sell your membership as a Christmas present. Such as get a months membership, a suit and a belt for £50
17 . Blogs
Blogging is perhaps the best way to get noticed. However dont have a free blog, again get a self hosted one. It is far better having a .com or .co.uk address than a @wordpress.com one etc etc
Create a great motivational meme and send that sucker to facebook land to get free advertising
yep, those things you used to get off your folks when they went on holiday. Well get some martial arts ones made and either hand deliver them to old students or leads or send them to a mailing liost you know of.
20. Email Lists
Yes there are email lists out there for sale and you can use them. Google about email lists locally and send some out to your potential customers
Local schools are full of potential students. Visit them, get to know the head and work with them.
22. Partner with a lads n dads football team.
Football teams need sponsors and or extra training especially in the off season. Offer you services to one or many clubs. Keep the players fit off season and it will help them.
23. Telephone Marketing
Yes I hate it but ring your old students and ask your current students for the number of someone they think would be interested in coming and make those calls.
24. Buy a Mailing list
Buy a mailing list from a failed or older martial arts school if you have to, or create your own mailing list by speaking to rugby or football clubs, dance schools etc. If their old students or players no longer want to play that game they may be interested in yours
25. Yellow Pages
it still works! Get in the oldest and most well trusted book
26. Facebook Pages
Yep, its easy, basic and free!
27. Reverse the Customers risk
do this by offering a money back guarantee, so say if they leave after 60 days they can have their money back. Make it so there is zero risk if they dont like it.
28. Offer a Bonus
Offer a free t shirt, a dvd, a private lesson or whatever else you can think of
29. Partner with a local business to offer a bonus
Work with a local business that offers referrals so that your students can get discounts in other locations, in return you send more business to other local businesses.
30. Meet and Greet
Pretty easy but failed by others, get a great meet and greet at your club. People love to be made to feel welcome
Organise demos at your school and invite the locals
32. Demonstrations at Events
Again a great idea. Perform at local shows, carnivals or even during the break at a theatre show
33. Business for Breakfast meetings
there will be a meeting place for local businesses to connect. Get out there and meet people at these events. Google business for breakfast meetings in your area to find out more
Obvious but get a good one
35. Car Boot Sales
dont think they are just for selling second hand stuff. Sell your club and memberships and t shirts etc etc
Make a dvd, burn it onto discs and hand it out to people in the street with an application. Its free advertising and DVD Discs are pretty low cost these days.
37. Digital products
If you think your students need to be physical ones, think again. You can offer a digital programme, it costs very little to get one off the ground and you can have monthly income coming in all the time.
38. Beginner programmes
People hate starting martial arts with advanced students as they really are nervous. Offer a 6 or 8 week beginner programme just for them
39. Taster Courses
A bit like beginner courses but a lot shorter, maybe only 2 days. These are just about having fun and exposing people to martial arts. Offer them for free and you may convert to members after the taster session or course.
40. Self Defence Courses
Offer a practical self defence course to get past the often silly image of martial arts that people may have in their heads
Write a short book and offer it to students, after a while these books get passed around and shared. However the important thing you get here is that you also get to add "author of" to your posters etc. Trust me it looks a lot better if your are not just a teacher but an author as well as it tells people you are an expert in your field.
42. Kindle Books
Your students do not have to be physical ones, we live in a modern digital world where by you can teach in a digital fashion. Mike Dolce released one of the highest earning diet books in martial arts with his Dolce Diet book which sells on Kindle. You might be able to sell books on training, nutrition and techniques. It could provide an extra income stream for your business
43. Give away's
Pretty simple here but offer a give away to get people into the club. It could be 2 months free membership, a free uniform, bring 2 friends and you pay half price or again partner with a local business such as membership gives you half price nail treatments at a nail bar nearby, or a free ipad, kindle or any other item. It doesn't matter but everyone likes a free giveaway!
44. Competitions on Facebook
Once you have a free give away you can actually combine this with a competition on Facebook. Tell people to like your page to be in with a chance of winning the free item. For example have a kindle fire event. Tell people that if they like your page then they will be in with a chance of winning a free kindle fire HD. If you really want to be epic then create an optin in form on your web site wit the name and phone number of the person so they have to give you their details if they want to enter the competition. The idea is that you get leads and advertising.
45. Competitions in local schools
Go to a local school and arrange a competition with the head teacher. Perhaps offer 3 prizes for the best anti bullying poster the students can make. Make it a great event, ring the local radio, newspapers and use it to promote your school. Sure it may cost you a little bit for the prizes but it could be worth it!
46. Car Washes- Strike a deal with a car wash and pay for a lead
Everyone has their car washed. Strike a deal with the local car washes. If they hand out your leaflets with a special code on them. Tell them for every leaflet handed back by a person to your school, if they sign up you will pay them a set fee. To make sure you show a bit of honesty give them some money up front such as £50 to hand out the leaflets for the day. Its a win win side of things, even if you dont get any new students straight away its just cost £50 to have a few hundred leaflets handed out to people in your area !
I heard this idea some time ago. However its pure genius. Get balloons printed with you logo, web address and phone number. Then totally hand those things out (blown up and flat!) Kids love balloons and those helium ones hang around a kids room for ages with that image of a flying kick or whatever else you use!
48. Vehicle wraps
Another idea, get your logo and club details printed on your car in the form of a vehicle wrap. Google it if you arent sure what I mean but you will then get 24/7 advertising!
49. Local Business Magazines
There are loads of local business magazines out there. From directories to local events and more. Google them, when they come through your door take a look and contact them. Some need great stories and others just want a small advertising fee but usually these things get printed out in the thousands!
50. Sponsorship 0f and for
You can sponsor people or events such as a local lads n dads football team, dancing troop, scout group or anything else where there are potential cross over skills and students. The door works both ways of course because you can go to local businesses and ask for sponsorship, but put a package together such as free lessons, corporate team events or whatever! There are so many opportunities and many businesses have budgets for this type of thing.
Create a clothing line you sell at your school or even on ebay and Amazon as well. This way your students become walking adverts for your gym! Sell on Amazon etc for an extra revenue stream. I know I mentioned T shirt before but this is a clothing line! Make them items you would want to wear.
52. Free Suits
Parents hat that feeling when a child 'wants' to try something new because they often pack it in after a few months. The parent gets left with a uniform they dont need! Offer this as a free incentive. Give a free uniform away with a joining fee/ package. Take that fear away.
53. Second child pays nothing
Pretty simple this one, if your parent has 2 children then the second one is free! If they have 3 then the second is half price and the third is free. Keep the costs down for families and your gym busy!
Well its only a bit of fun but organise a dojo BBQ at your house or another club members or even hire out a local community centre. Its a great chance to socialise and invite others. People will now posts what they are up to on Facebook so you again get free advertising and people will want to join in and friends of friends will see what a great social club you are.
55. Birthday parties
Host birthday parties at your club, offer a belt for every party goer at the end! Great advertising and you will get the names and addresses of every attendee ( for insurance purposes clearly) so you get leads you can follow up on.
56. Christmas Cards
Yes I know its kind to send Christmas Cards but this year get some martial arts specific ones and send them out to current and past students. For the past students send out a voucher with 30 days free included to entice them to come back. If you have a list of leads you have collected through the year, also send them cards. This is all about preparing for the predictable January rush where people have eaten far too much for Christmas, piled on the weight and are looking to start the New Year with a bang! The good thing is that you have an excuse to ring them as well (to see if they got your card!)
57. Ring up your old students
This is an easy and often overlooked method. Simply pick up your phone and ring old students and offer them a deal to get them back. It could be 7 days free or anything you want. They will come back, enjoy it once again and be paying students soon afterwards
58. Get on TV
It sounds tough to do this one but is it really that hard. Ring up your local TV stations to invite them down to an event, or to tell them about a story. If you dont ask you dont get!
59. Pay for a celebrity tweet (pretty outrageous but Ive heard this works)
Yes believe it or not celebrities will charge for a tweet. Find a local celebrity, possibly a local reality TV star type. Invite them down to the school (you may get the tweet for free) and see if they will help you out. If not a small fee may work wonders and if you have a product on fitness or a fitness class this may help boost sales!
60. 30 Days Free Training
Yes its a classic take on the first lesson free thing. In truth you can set the number of free classes but the bigger the deal the better in my opinion. If they pay £50 per month then you stand to make £550 per student per year so see the student as a year long investment not just this first month!
61. Bring a student with you and you get 50% off your training
This is like the give away but basically it forces your students to go and sell for you. You can add conditions and other aspects but its great deal
Most towns have carnivals, find out via the local council who organises them and get a stand, and exhibition and use it to sell your club.
63. Engage with local communities/ outreach work
Hook up with local communities and create an out reach programme to tackle anti social behaviour or some other issue. ring the local councils to see who is involved in this work to get ideas and the ball rolling
64. Approach people in the street!
Simple, just hand out leaflets in the street. Its easy. Speak to people, tell them about your school.
65. Town Centre Leafleting
Take the above idea one step further and get to your town centre. Combine that with others such as getting them to like your facebook page for a discount or a free T shirt.
66. Sell at Parties
Hook up with children entertainers and establish some kind of deal. You rpomote them at your school and they promote you at Parties by giving out your leaflets or even a free goodie bag for the birthday boy or girl with your merchandise inside
67. Self Defence Parties
Christopher Roberts of Safe International does these for ladies groups and they are a success. He even featured on TV doing them. The idea is that women get together and book your for 2 hours and you go along and give them advise and get them hitting the pads! A lot of them will have kids already but dont want to train martial arts, its a great method.
68. High School training sessions
Simply get in touch with your local high school and sort this out.
69. primary school assemblies
Oh yes, remember the days of singing whilst sitting on the gym floor. Get in touch with local school and show your moves in front of the kids. Then at the end of the school day be at the gates with leaflets for the parents.
70. School Newsletters/ Email Lists
Ok, you have done a free assembly. Why not ask to be on the school e mail list or newsletter to help promote your dojo.
71. Affiliate Promotions with a local school
OK this is more of a business idea, but ask a local school if they will refer as an affiliate. Do it by suggesting that for every student who signs up with you that they referred you will give them 50% of their student fees. That soon adds up if you charge £50 per student, the school will get £25 per child per month. Schools always need funds and this is a good chance to add to theirs.
Its tried and tested but going to other schools and also putting on seminars at your own venue is a great way to keep students and also add to your own base. Your students dont always have to be local, a lot of people will follow you on the seminars circuit
73. Instructor Courses
Why not create an instructor programme and train others at your gym. By training instructors you can concentrate on working on your business and not in it
74. Hire an e phone answer service
You may have a day job where you cant take calls, if this is the case why not hire an e phone answer service. Basically a service that you can route your gym phone to and they take your calls for you. Its not too tough to set this up but find a good one you can trust. This way you sound like a more professional business.
75. Car Par tickets
The pay and display tickets you put in your car are great ways to advertise locally in your area. You can find out how to advertise by reading the small print on the ticket
16 to 24 year olds are at greater risk of being assaulted. Why not advertise in the toilets at your local bar or pub. Strike a deal if you can with the venue and use a simple advert.
77. Google ad words
Google ad words is still petty much the best option out there for getting on page 1 of google. Yes it costs but it works!
78. Gum Tree
Gum tree is getting more and more popular, why not try an advert yourself
79. Free Web Listings/ Directory's
The web is full of directories, be clever and use them. Add your club and details and a link back to your website! It all adds weight to your club and helps dominate google.
80. Solo Ads
Not all ads are owned by google, solo ad companies exist in print and on line. For a set fee your advert can appear on numerous sights and groups.
81. Get an email auto responder
You can use mail chimp for free or Aweber on a paid basis. Mail chimp has a paid version too and both have tons of features. There are a lot of other auto responders out there so shop around to get a good deal. The idea here though is to capture emails. You can do this by getting an optin in box on your site, the auto responder allows you to get their details and also broadcast key events etc.
82. Road Signs
near roundabouts or pedestrian areas you will see railings, ring your local authority to see if you can advertise on them. Plenty of other people do!
83. Sponsor a roundabout
This is getting more popular with signs on roundabouts, why not sponsor one? They get lots of traffic around them and kids are always looking out of the windows at them.
84. Supermarket Posters/ Cards
Yes, in most supermarkets there are still classified boards that people read. Why not try and stick an advert there?
85. Advertise at theatres
Everyone loves a night out at the theatre so get in touch with one and enquire about the costs. If it suits you could be going to the theatre and also have an advert in their programme.
86. Newsagents posters
In the area of your dojo, approach all the newspaper shops and ask to put a poster up in the window. Some will charge and some wont.
Just like newsagents, barbers get a lot of people through the door. See if you can advertise there.
88.Affiliate promotions with a dance school
This is pretty simple, go to a dance school and set up a affiliate scheme. Those little girls dancing might have brother who want to learn martial arts (I know I'm stereotyping here as lads dance and girls do martial arts but you get the point). Sort it out so you each send business both ways, use posters and also promote them. Both give a set fee away per student that comes from the school. Just as we did with primary schools.
OK its a bit silly but I just had to put this in here. Get a plane that can fly over your town with a sign saying "free martial arts lesson- call ******". Its a pretty cool thing and it all depends on your budget but never say never
90. Pay others to have their vehicle Wrapped
You have your vehicle wrapped with your club, why not pay others to do the same or perhaps offer them free membership and fees for a year. Either way you will have more adverts all over the place!
91. Sponsor a local website
Yes there will be websites that are for local places. Why not sponsor one in return for an advert.
92. Sponsor a industry blog
Find an industry blog and give them money in exchange for ad space and links. It will all ad weight to your own site and show you are know in the industry. This works great if you have a digital product to sell too.
93. Printed Mugs
Mugs end up in offices being used for years. Make sure you give them away so your school is advertised on the desks in the local businesses in your area. Your club will be in the cupboard of so many people every time they open it for a cuppa. Mugs are cheap to get made and well worth it
Everyone needs a good calendar. Get one made up to give to leads and perhaps give one to new and old students. Your club will be on the fridge in front of so many people in so many homes
Set up a stand in a local shopping centre and get those leads!
94. Rent an empty town centre shop for a week
Is there an empty shop you can rent for a week, perhaps on route to Christmas? Speak to the local council to ask, and use it to sell memberships as Christmas presents
95. Cinema Ads
Perhaps too pricey, but call the cinema and you can perhaps be one of the adverts you see on the screen when you walk in to the cinema. Not a trailer but those still, classified ads you see advertising local businesses.
96. Advent calenders
Ok why not have a advent calendar made up with chocolates in. Give them to children at your school and also have a few to give out on a stand.
97. Cash Back
A bit like a give away but offer cash back to the student who signs up with you. Perhaps say that if they last 12 months you will give them £50 cash. This is similar to having a month free but instead you are giving them their cash back. This only works if you have direct debits set up with the students.
98. Create a small Business Network
Why not create a small business network with about 6 other small and local businesses. Arrange meetings, get ideas and also cross advertise
99. Bumper Stickers
Yes they are cheap but effective, we all get stuck in traffic. For the British among us try window stickers!
100. Drinks Bottles
Everyone takes a water bottle to training, work and the gym. Have your club on the bottle to gain even more exposure!
101. Bill boards
The big daddy of them all!! I saved this for last because it fits in with sky writing as likely to be expensive but why not ask a company. You will see their details on the web or on the billboard itself. It might be risky but could also be amazing!
Phew, 0ver 4500 words and 101 ideas to get more martial arts students. Clearly some of those are a bit wacky, some a bit out there but the aim of this article was to get your brains working. Have you tried everything to make your business a success? Some of those cost money and some dont. Some require a lot of work and some a little. Some can be combined and changed. Its all up to you, these are just ideas!