Guerrilla Marketing Ideas For Martial Art Schools

guerrilla marketing

Calling All Guerrillas For Martial Arts Marketing Ideas!

Martial arts marketing is tough – especially when you’re short on cash.

So, I’ve been trying to create a discussion on my member forums to encourage my members to share their favorite guerrilla marketing ideas for martial arts schools:

“The concept of guerrilla marketing was invented as an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget. Typically, guerrilla marketing campaigns are unexpected and unconventional; potentially interactive; and consumers are targeted in unexpected places…

Guerrilla marketing involves unusual approaches such as intercept encounters in public places, street giveaways of products, PR stunts, any unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources…”

– from Wikipedia

Nope, not this type of "guerrilla" - but if you were trying to market Villanova with some guerilla marketing, this may qualify.

Nope, not this type of “guerrilla” – but if you were trying to market Villanova with some guerilla marketing, this may qualify.

The only problem is, no one seems to have any ideas to share.

Or, maybe they just don’t want to divulge their “secrets.” :)

Anyway, only three people came up with anything (they were very good ideas, by the way) so I spent about 30 minutes coming up with a list of my own.

I’m not stingy, so I thought I’d share them here.

Who knows? Some struggling school owner who reads my blog may save his or her school with one (or more) of these marketing ideas.

So, here’s my quick list of 40+ guerrilla marketing ideas for martial arts instructors – some that I took from my martial arts marketing manual and some off the top of my head.

Mike Massie’s List Of Guerrilla Marketing Ideas For Martial Arts Schools

1.   Street Sign with moving letters, rotating elements, animation, or moving parts
2.   Vinyl full-color window and door decorations with action images that draw the eye
3.   Banners
4.   Bandit/Snipe/Yard Signs
5.   Build-it-yourself billboards on your own or a friend/student’s property
6.   Sidewalk and Sandwich Signs
7.   Hiring “Wavers”
8.   Place Magnetic Signs or Vinyl Lettering on Your Vehicles
9.   T-shirts and Uniforms
10.   Duffel Bags, Book Bags, and Backpacks
11.   School supplies
12.   Book covers and jackets
13.   Sponsoring Teams
14.   Telephone Pole and Street Light Fliers
15.   Pizza box fliers (or any restaurant takeout box or bag)
16.   Print ads in PTA/Girl Scout Troop/Boy Scout Troop/Church newsletter
17.   FREE listings in the Yellow Pages
18.   Television public service announcements
19.   Radio PSAs
20.   Coupon mailer packs (cheap direct mail)
21.   Door-to-door Flier Distribution
22.   Door Hangers
23.   “Post-It” Fliers on car windows
24.   Web Sites/Blogs/Facebook
26.   Google Maps/YahooLocal/Yelp
27.   Easy-to-remember domain name that redirects/forwards to main site or offer page on your lead capture site
28.   Email Newsletters
29.   Brochures filled with student testimonials
30.   Fold-over Business Cards left all over town (they stand up on their own)
31.   Letterhead with your contact info – web address on EVERYTHING
32.   Matching Stationary with web address that goes to lead capture site
33.   Lead Boxes everywhere
34.   Bring a Buddy Contests
35.   Body Transformation Contests
36.   Kick-a-thons, Spar-a-thons, Board-break-a-thons, You-name-it-a-thons… anything that gets the press to your school
37.   Guest Passes
38.   Asking for referrals from every new student
39.   Asking for referrals from people who say “NO”
40.   Partner promotions with local businesses
41. Leave a business card with every check and tip you pay
42. YouTube video distribution

By the way, if you want to know how to implement many the above ideas, you can pick up my Martial Art School Marketing Manual here.

Can you think of any more martial arts marketing ideas that might be considered guerrilla marketing tactics?

Post your own ideas in the comments section below!


  1. sean russell on March 24, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Hi Mr. Massie, marketing is sometimes difficult in my own head. It seems to me, as I continue pushing for growth, as long as I am talking to people and passing out a flyer somewhere I am growing. My marketing tactics have consisted of nothing more than a cheap, well laid out flyer and a couple of demonstrations.
    I did nothing in January and February and received the same. However, in March I turned up the heat and started talking to everyone I met at the gas station and grocery store and did a demo at the local high school. These two things brough me 6 people in the last 7 days!!!
    I realize this marketing is no different than just plain old sales. Talk to everyone, no exceptions. Don’t judge anybody, 8 to 80 blind or crazy, they know someone who needs my service. I am getting such good results from such simple things I already have another demo set up next month at one of the many local elementary schools.

    Last week and the week before I was getting down about growth at my new kung fu school and I remembered what I used to teach my sales people. If you sit waiting for a customer/student to come in you will starve go out there and aggressively hunt for a buyer!

  2. Mike Massie on March 24, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Sean, some of the best marketing I have done for my schools has been belly-to-belly marketing.

    Just wearing your school t-shirts and putting signage on your vehicle, then handing out business cards and guest passes to anyone who inquires about your school is one of the best ways to market.

    And it takes zero extra time, almost no money, and very little effort to do.

  3. Brent on March 24, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Mike,
    I always thought the ideal for guerilla marketing was creative impact and so you need things that capture the imagination, that spread the word, and that creates some kind of momentum.

    A few rough random ideas…
    1. a staged movie fight in the middle of a street or park. It would have to be obviously fake – so that no harm is done and no bad image is created! Could be tough to find the right balance… You wouldnt want the wrong kind of word of mouth, or the cops on your tail..haha.
    2. an actual movie scene – like karate kid, etc.
    3. a rescue scene (like karate kid #2), where the Hero saves the other person with their amazing martial arts power (ie:karate chop).
    4. raise money for building houses for Haiti, etc with a break a board event. Promote with radio stations, etc.

    Just a few quick ideas…
    Hope they help!

  4. Mike Massie on March 25, 2010 at 6:32 am

    I always thought the ideal for guerilla marketing was creative impact and so you need things that capture the imagination, that spread the word, and that creates some kind of momentum.

    That’s true… but it’s also true that guerrilla marketing is meant to do just that with limited resources. And, that’s the challenge most instructors are facing – how to market their programs with limited resources.

  5. Chris on March 26, 2010 at 7:29 am

    this one’s completely free. It’s fun to do, takes a little effort.
    Set up a Ning account! Go to and set up a school account. Then invite all your students to join. Post videos, internal (events in the school) promotions, links to your website and Twitter and Blog if you have them and much more.

    Your students can also set up Ning accounts that their friends can see and they in turn see how great the school looks and all the really cool stuff that goes on there. Those guys will then be more receptive when their student friend invites them along to a ‘try out class’ or whatever referal program you are running.

    Works great here in the UK, sure it’s just as cool there. One point! When you invite people to join you get sent an approval request so the process is VERY controllable. Way better than Facebook for showing your school in its best light. Hope that’s useful.

  6. Mike Massie on March 26, 2010 at 8:21 am


    Great idea! I used Ning to set up a social network for my newsletter readers:

    Works great – it’s a great little bit of software they wrote to run their sites.

  7. Louis Charron on March 26, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve got an event planned for Saturday that a has yielded some great results from some friend’s schools in FL. We’re holding Krav In The Park (it could just as well be Karate in the Park), where we hold our regular classes in a local park where there are sports going on. All of the students show up wearing school shirts and we have fun, game style drills for the kids and the adults. Since I teach a reality based system, we save the gun and the knife ACTION for the last half hour of the class. That draws a crowd!

    Hope someone can use this.

  8. Mike Massie on March 26, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Nice idea, Louis.

    Getting out in public – always good.

    And, it’s a great excuse to send out a press release as well. :)

  9. Keith Goode on March 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Hey Mike,
    I just put out 52 vip and buddy pass cards on library community boards and in the martial arts book section in both the kids section and adult section. these I modified off your sdbp cd rom. Yes people do still go to the Library…despite the internet!!!!

  10. Mike Massie on March 27, 2010 at 6:37 am


    Hah! What a cool idea.

    No one thinks about kids reading books any more. :)

  11. DojoScore on March 30, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    One local school used to stand outside the movie theater when a kung fu movie was just finishing, and hand out flyers to the audience.

  12. Bill Krapek on December 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I am a firm believer in “Guerrilla Marketing”. It works very well for schools if they take it seriously. We have implemented many ideas for school owners. One that worked well… Guerrilla Demos, Put your demo team and your boom box in the van (after you have rehersed your 5 min to 10 minute demo) and drive around town to populated areas i.e. parks, movies getting out, sporting event parking lots, anywhere many people are. Jump out of the van, turn on the box, execute your demo, pass out VIP cards, and move on to the next location. This is great for team building, moral, retention, and best of all new enrollment. Social media is another great way to guerrilla market. Sky is the limit with social media. I hope this was helpful. Respectfully, Bill Krapek

  13. Mike Massie on January 4, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Thanks for the suggestions, Bill!

  14. Scranton MMA on April 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I think I am going to try the ‘demo in the park’ idea. We tried something similar last year but the ‘audience’ was not quite right.

    There are some good parks around our location that might work real well though.


  15. Traditional Jujutsu on July 2, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I work as a bouncer at the weekends, if I ever have to ‘escort’ a big guy out, or soemone that’s been casuing trouble, break up a fight, etc… there are ALWAYS plenty of people watching – Great opportunity to given them a business card!!! They’ve already seen it work in real life!!

  16. Kurt Frankenberg on September 11, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Mike, one of the best things we do around here is to promote community service type events.

    Recently there was a fire in our area. One of my Students broke 100 bricks in less than a minute with local businesses sponsoring .10 cents, .50 cents, a dollar a brick.

    We raised over $1300 for relief of families affected by the fire, but we also got featured in local newspapers and had scads of folks turn out to see the feat in action.

    Another great way to meet your target market face-to-face is with birthday parties. Your 6-11 kids will invite 20 of their compadres… with moms in tow of course… to come to your studio for martial arts-themed games, contests, and of course, pizza and cake. No one leaves without a pass to complete their white belt training, the first part of which is done at the party ;-)

    I’m a big believer in ‘guerilla’ methods.

    Love your site! Just signed on to your mailing list and gonna download your marketing plan. Thanks for the valuable material you offer here.

    Keep Stepping,


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