Marketing Your Martial Art School Like A Pro
The ability to create effective marketing campaigns eludes most small business owners, martial art school owners included.
This is no surprise, as marketing – effective marketing – and the concepts behind what makes a good marketing campaign tick are rarely studied in depth by the average small business owner.
I’d say the main reason for this, as Michael Gerber pointed out in The E-Myth, is that most of us are technicians, not strategists. Therefore, we approach our businesses by focusing on the details of performing our craft (for us, teaching martial arts), instead of from the perspective of a business strategist (manager and CEO).
Of course, when it comes to marketing our martial art school we fall into the same mental trap. Instead of approaching our marketing by creating an overarching strategy, we instead approach it haphazardly, just doing the first thing that comes to mind whenever business slows down and praying that it works.
The Key Is Understanding How Marketing Works
I once approached my martial art school marketing in this manner, but soon realized that marketing is the “golden skill” in business. Marketing is like a key that unlocks the door to the path of success in business. And before you can take a single step onto that path, you first have to be able to open the door. For that reason, it is the very first skill you must master to succeed in business.
And in order to master it, you must first understand it. I believe the best way to understand anything is to study it from the broadest perspective first; understanding the big picture is essential to simplifying the study of anything, marketing being no exception.
So, let’s demystify the subject of marketing by examining it from a 10,000 foot perspective…
Demystifying Martial Art School Marketing
To make it easy for you to understand how good marketing works, I am going to break it down with a simple illustration. Good marketing should work something like this:
- You see a problem with widgets. The widgets that are commonly available suck at widgeting.
- So, you develop a really good widget that does widgeting better than other widgets on the market. You decide that someone out there must be interested in buying your Really Good Widget.
- You locate a group of people that, through your research, you determine would be very interested in buying your Really Good Widget. Why? Your research has shown that these people have a problem that your Really Good Widget will solve.
- You figure out where these people like to hang out, and you put a sign up that says, “I Have A Really Good Widget That Will Solve All Your Widgeting Problems! On Sale Now!”
- The people see your sign and say, “I want that widget – and, it’s on sale!” This gets them to visit your widget store.
- Once they are there, you demonstrate that yes, your widget will solve all their problems. And, you offer them a deal on your widget that they can’t refuse.
- The people buy your widget, which you hopefully manufactured and sold at a decent profit. If so, you make money and your business thrives.
Now, let’s simplify this even further by clarifying what should essentially happen at every step of the illustration above:
- Recognizing a Market Opportunity – Basically, you recognize an urgent problem or need in the market that you can solve.
- Developing a Product or Service – It must be one that solves an Urgent Problem or fulfills a Desperate Need.
- Market Research – Finding people who want what you have; also done in step 0, since there’s no sense in developing a product or providing a service that no one will buy.
- Advertising and Promotion – Get the word out that you have what they need.
- Sales – Demonstrating that your product or service does what you say it will, and pricing it high enough that you can turn a profit, while still pricing it low enough that people will believe the benefits justify the cost.
- Service After the Sale – Preventing buyer’s remorse by continuing to deliver on your promises.
Relating The Above To The Business of Martial Arts Marketing
And how does this all relate to the business of teaching martial arts? First, let’s talk about the market opportunities.
- Kids – There’s a market opportunity for teaching kids character values, since it seems that parents are really busy these days and most could use some help in raising good kids. Also, there’s a market opportunity for teaching kids fitness, since we have a childhood obesity epidemic right now. And, bullying is a huge “evergreen” issue many kids face, so there’s definitely a market opportunity in teaching kids self-defense along with peaceful conflict resolution skills.
- Women – Women need to learn self-defense, so there’s a market opportunity right there. However, most don’t recognize this need, so that makes the market for women’s self-defense smaller. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact you need to be aware of. Also, almost all women want to either improve or maintain their appearance. So, there’s a large market opportunity to offer fitness services to women as well.
- Men – For the most part, men like doing manly stuff, and they want to feel manly doing it. So, teaching men how to be manly is a good market opportunity. Basically, men want to feel like they could be Jason Bourne, just without all the broken bones, stab wounds, and getting shot at. So, there’s a market opportunity there to teach self-defense for the average Joe. Also, since a lot of men are overweight and not really happy with it, there’s a market opportunity to help men get in Jason Bourne shape.
Now, as far as the product, well… as a martial arts instructor, you already have something that will fulfill at least one of the needs, or solve at least one of the problems that I’ve described above.
The problem that most of you will run into is in figuring out how to reach your market, and also in crafting your marketing message in such a way that the people you’re targeting will come running. Unfortunately, I don’t have time within the scope of today’s article to get into that…
However, I will be covering market research along with advertising and promotion in future articles, so stay tuned. In the mean time, I want you to think about defining your image based on which of the above markets you think best matches what you teach and which market you’d most like to work with.
Why? Because there’s nothing that will tank a business faster than mismatching a product or service to the wrong market. This includes mismatching your personality to your clientele.
In other words, don’t focus on kids if you don’t like being around kids. Don’t focus on women if your only reason for teaching them is to get dates. And, don’t focus on men if you can’t really show them how to be a little bit like Jason Bourne.
Marketing can be confusing, but the ideas behind good marketing are really quite simple. Hopefully, by this point it’s all starting to make sense to you. And if the concepts are still a little muddy, don’t sweat it because it took me years to figure out how effective marketing works.
Now, your “homework” is to read this article a few times and then mull it over until I return with next week’s article. And if you need help with your martial arts marketing, click here.