When I was 18 back in 1998 and started my first martial arts business my little mind was focused on my little 600 square-foot world.
The big world was coming to the end of “The Dotcom Bubble.”
My school grew (no thanks to dotcom companies) and by late 1999 I was in a 2800 square-foot location with 200 active students, afterschool martial arts, summer camps and fitness kickboxing.
Despite being being still somewhat naive to both my small world and the big world – we were doing pretty good!
In 2000 the dotcom bubble burst, 9/11 a year later and a recession was happening in the big world.
Aside from seeing my mutual-fund statements (I bought my first mutual-funds at 17 – not knowing mutual funds are not great investments – but what did I know at 17?) bleed red I had no idea we were in a recession.
My martial arts business kept growing.
I also learned it was my choice to be lazy or do what I had to do to drive my team and build the school.
I could look you in the eye and honestly tell you the recession did not matter to me.
We had some “boom-years.”
These “boom years” certainly had an impact (to an extent.)
Sure… we had a few folks who must have taken home-equity loans or sold some real-estate and chose to pay a 6k – 8k membership for 39 months in full. We did not do many of those – but I know most of them were “boom-fueled” because my school was not in area where people had that sort of dinero lying around.
Fast forward…End of 07.
I do remember a few parents telling me they were “hurtin.”
So I guess the start of our last “great recession” had an impact on things.
After 10 years martial arts businessl operations (ages 18 to 28) I sold my second school after this new biz was stable.
Once again – If you asked me about the recession I’d have to say…
Like the first major “recession” of my career I was pretty much operating a “new business” and I am thankful that I have seen steady growth. I guess I have not “felt” the recession.
I hope you feel the same way!
Pay attention to your little world.
Don’t stick your head in the sand – stay informed – but don’t let all the noise get you down!
Right now consumer confidence is the highest it has been in years.
Home prices are rising.
The Dow is at an all time high.
If you have a brokerage account and paper assets – open your statement – it’ll bring a smile to your face.
Just be careful of the rollercoster ride!
As you know it swings both ways.
Keep focused on your goals and do your best to steadily grow your martial arts business.
Make an Impact!
I’m not a Social Media guru! There are plenty of “Social Media Gurus” & “Martial Arts Marketing Gurus” out there so I just let them be.
There are so many aspects to Social Media Marketing that in all honesty – how could someone be a “Guru” in all things Social Media anyway?
Let’s talk some basic social media marketing for your martial arts business.
I spend my social media time updating my blog.
Then – I jump in to LinkedIn a couple of times per week to confirm connections and and add some content.
But like you (assumption) and everyone else (assumption) most of my social media time is spent on Facebook.
I manage a couple of pages and run some ad campaigns for a few clients. And yes – I get sucked in and 4 minutes later – wonder what the hell am I doing??
So let’s make this about Facebook because that’s where everyone is.
And here is the shift in thinking…
You need to treat your Facebook page as a marketing tool for your martial arts business – not just a place to update students.
Think of your page as a physical location.
Some locations are better than others.
Some locations get more foot traffic than others.
The more targeted page likes you have the more possible “foot traffic” you have.
If your goal is to have 100 people walking by your school each day with most of them being your current students – don’t change anything about your Facebook strategy. Keep doing what you’re doing. But don’t expect many new students to come out of it.
But – if you want to (and this is very doable) have 500, 1000, 2000 possible prospects “walking by” your martial arts business every day what would you change?
Wouldn’t you have to shift your thinking a little?
If you had more people walking by your front door each day – what would you do differently?
If some of that traffic had a reasonable chance of becoming students – how would you respond?
Just something to think about…
Shifting your Thinking on Social Media -in particular… Facebook
This experience was so key to my martial arts business career. In fact, if it had a different ending starting my martial arts school might have never happened.
When I started my martial arts training at a local TKD school back in 1993, like you I quickly became pretty jazzed about my classes.
In three months my dad enrolled me in “The Black Belt Club” when the school owner simply asked him to do so.
It went like this…
Instructor: Mike, do you want to get your black belt some day in the next three years?
Me: Yes sir!
My Dad: Are you sure, because I am gonna pay this in full!
Me: Yes Dad!
I started my training at a “Professional Martial Arts School.” At the time – I really did not know there were “UN-professional schools” I could have trained at.
This school had introductory lesson scripts.
There was a way to answer the phone.
They did martial arts marketing for their programs
As you can see they had an “Upgrade program” in place.
2 months after I joined BBC my dad said… “….go ahead and quit…”
Now let me put that in context for you.
There was a dude in my neighborhood that taught a few private classes out of his basement.
We ran into each other and got to chatting.
At one point he trained at the exact school where I did.
As we were talking he went into “recruitment mode.” Telling my young 14 year old ears why the school I was going to was “inferior.” Why they were “money grabbers.”
You were 14 once right? Well, guess what – I am almost joined his school.
I told my dad – all the “propaganda” and asked my dad if he thought I should switch schools.
He said “NO!”
Still… NO. In fact…
“No way Mike! But you know what… Go ahead and quit if you think you are training at the wrong school, but then make sure you get a job and pay for your own f***ing classes!”
I wised up.
My dad is the best!
I strengthened the bond with my instructors and class-mates.
That summer I spent days and nights at that “professional school.”
That professional martial arts school gave me an alternative for hanging on the streets and getting in trouble.
That professional martial arts business was able to paint the picture of how martial arts was so much more than just coming to class.
At 14 I understood martial arts could actually be a career (even though no one else did!)
At 15 I learned how to answer the phone professionally and book intro lessons.
Something some 35 year old school owners still can’t seem to do!
Many folks have fun “hating” on professional schools.
The guy I was telling you about…
He flopped around for many years.
He taught out of little “hole in the wall” places.
He had a location inside of gym for a few years.
Finally – almost 9 years after he tried to convince me that I was making a mistake training where I was – he eventually opened up a nice “professional” school.
It’s all good – different strokes for different folks Willis.
By the time he FINALLY opened – I had my school for 5 years already. It had already grossed well-passed 7 figures.
Just goes to show you…
Choose the professional route and get professional results.
Tell your students: “Leave it better than…”
I can’t take credit for this one.
That’s because I heard it several years ago from another successful martial arts business owner.
I’m sure he heard it somewhere else too.
It’s the lesson…
“Leave it Better Than You Found It.”
This concept is worth sharing with your students, leadership team and your staff.
For students it makes for a fun “mat-chat.”
Teaching them how important it is to always look for ways to improve themselves and their surroundings. To make an impact.
Blood and Guts Story…
Several years back I had instructor who came to work for me in my martial arts business for about six months before he hatched his plan. The plan was to leave and take the students with him. I foiled his plan for the most part. But he did do some damage.
The week of his drama I taught my students the concept. I pointed out how his intention was certainly not to “leave our school better than he found it.” In fact – he tried to destroy it.
It was nice to hear he ended up out of business pretty quickly. Sweet Justice! He did not pay attention to the many martial arts marketing lessons I shared with him. LOL
It works great for staff too (if they actually listen!)
Everything from being aware of things to interacting with students.
No toilet paper in the bathroom? Re-stock it! Leave it better than you found it!
Brighten up a student’s day! Leave her better than you found her!
I hope this is a nice reminder for you or a good way to start your week!
I know you can use this great concept of… “Leave it Better Than You Found It.”
We like to use the “Leave it better than you found it” approach when helping schools with their internet marketing.
The first step is to request your complimentary 48 Point Internet Marketing Check Up.
Depending on how long you’ve been studying marketing as it pertains to growing your school will determine when you first heard of the term “Expert Positioning.”
Expert Positioning as it pertains to your martial arts school marketing is when you decide to become an expert in subject matter related to your school.
As a martial arts business owner you can be an expert in…
- Your art (Duh)
- Kids’ Character Development
- Self-Defense (You can decide on niche of self-defense, for example, women’ self-defense)
- Anti-Bully Strategies
Yes, there are more. And yes…you can be an expert at all of the above and beyond. And let’s not forget the importance of being an expert at running your martial arts business!
So how does a martial arts school owner become an expert?
First you have to decide. We will get back to what to do after you make the decision.
Part of your decision was made when you began to pursue knowledge. You worked hard at learning your art. As your learned your art you developed a passion for teaching. Your passion for teaching led you to pursue certain “specialties.” You became really proficient at these specialties. You learned, you applied, you learned some more and you refined. It’s a constant process. The constant process leads to further development of your expertise.
Sadly – this is where most stop. They never reach their full potential as experts. Ultimately, they are not even really seen as “true experts” because…
Part of the decision to becoming “The Expert” needs to be a conscious agreement with yourself that you will let your market know you are an expert. There’s a lot of expert martial artists out there but their communities don’t know they are experts.
As a martial arts business owner you must constantly showcase and market your “expertise.”
You have to add “Content Marketing” to your daily schedule.
Experts have something to say. Then they say it. When the right people hear what you have to say often enough – your expert positioning is solidified.
There has never been any other time in the history of the martial arts business world where you have so many opportunities to step up and say something. Let’s take a look…
You have the four walls of your martial arts school. Beyond just teaching classes make sure you are offering your students advice and solutions to problems.
Outside the walls of your school you have tons of places to step up and say something.
Start with your school’s blog. Your opinion on developments in your area of expertise – Your take on what is working and what is not working are great topics for your blog.
Social media is an awesome place to get bite-sized chunks of your expertise out to the world. I like Facebook the most because that’s where social media users spend most of their time.
Online video can be shared through your website and social media platforms. One of my clients has more than 100 videos that go out to his students at key times in their progression. This is his way of helping his students and showcasing his expertise.
Doing live events is another example of “Expert Marketing” for your martial arts business. When you go into a school to help kids and teachers or when you do a woman’s self-defense class you are sharing your knowledge as the expert.
The written/printed word is another way to solidify your Expert Position. This one happens to be one of my favorites!
There have been many school owners you have most-likely heard of and I’m sure a whole bunch you have not heard of who have authored books. These books are meant to spread a positive message. But they are also amazing Expert Marketing calling cards.
Students will buy your books for sure. But you’ll also give plenty away to new students, prospects and key influencers in your community. I love helping school owners get books published to help them market and showcase their expertise. Feel free to take a look at some recent project below. It is close to being published.
None of these strategies are meant to be done as “one-off.” They all work together, but you have to decide to work them. Get started as an expert – you might like it!
Here’s a brief post with some ideas for martial arts marketing in 2013
Constantly test new offers on your martial arts marketing website. Change things up from time to time. Think about who your market is… Parents, Adults?
Get your blog going for 2013 and commit to updating it weekly. Treat your blog like your martial arts business window!
How about social media?
Don’t chase the shiny objects. Facebook is still king of social media. Get an ad strategy going to attract likes and work your Facebook page. Your Facebook page is for both students and prospects!
What about Mobile?
Step one is to have your mobile website in place. More visitors are checking your school out on smartphones these days.
Twenty-thirteen can be a lucky year for you. But you’re going to have to work your butt off!