Or, How to NOT Scare Off Your Best Customers

Thinking about martial arts marketing

Is this guy your market? Hold that thought until you read this entire article…

In last week’s post, I wrote about the six steps that go into creating an effective marketing campaign:

  • 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.
  • 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.

This week, I’m going to discuss matching your image to your market. This is something that many newbie school owners overlook, and that many more veteran school owners ignore…

When I coach school owners, I often find that my clients have been maintaining an image that is inconsistent with the mindset of their target market. This is a terrible mistake!

Matching your image to the mindset of your market is such an important aspect of your marketing that I feel it deserves special attention, which is why I’m dedicating today’s article exclusively to the topic of image.

Image = Branding

Your business’ image is essentially how you “brand” your school. Now, I know what some of you marketing smarties out there are thinking…

  • “Branding is dead!”
  • “You don’t need branding in a small business!”
  • “Branding is for Fortune 500 companies!”

I can assure you that branding isn’t dead – it’s just that people who write these sorts of things don’t know what the heck they’re talking about when it comes to small business marketing. Your image is your brand, and a small business definitely needs to project a good image.

As for branding being solely the territory of Fortune 500 companies… well, that’s just stupid. You need to have a defined brand image just as much as Coca-Cola and Apple; you just can’t afford to waste millions on getting it out there in the minds of consumers.

So, how do you build your brand in your local market then? Simple – you make sure everything the public sees about your business consistently reflects the brand image you want to portray.

Everything from your ads and marketing pieces, to your websites, to your signage, to the uniforms you and your students wear, to your patch and logos, to your school decor should speak to your target market and say, “Yes, we’re on the same wavelength.”

Here’s Where The Problem Comes In…

Remember, we live in a society where everyone is watching everyone, and everyone sees everything. That’s why social media can make or break you in building a consistent image.

I can be as guilty of this as the next guy, because I tend to be outspoken and opinionated. I know this will turn some people off, which is why I try to voice my opinions respectfully when commenting and posting on sites like Facebook (however, I don’t always manage this perfectly, as some of you who have “friended” me on Facebook will attest).

Then again, I’m only working with the adult market right now, and that gives me a little more leeway. However, if I was going to be really strict with maintaining a consistent image, I’d completely steer clear of any controversial topics in social media.

Think about it. Let’s say my target market was children, and I routinely expressed my opinion using curse words on Facebook. It wouldn’t matter that I posted those comments exclusively to my own personal page and not on my school page, because parents (and their kids) are going to find you and look at what you say. And, if my actions online in social media are inconsistent with my image, that will create dissonance in the minds of the consumer, and I will certainly lose business because of it.

Some will argue that it’s better to “be for real” and to let people see that you’re human. I agree that’s true to a certain extent, but there’s a difference between letting people see you’re human, and letting them see what a jerk you can be sometimes. So, don’t do or say anything online that you wouldn’t do or say in the dojo.

This Will Become Important To You Once You Realize Where The Money Is In This Business

Families – that’s where the money is. Plain and simple.

Remember in the last post how I talked about different market opportunities in teaching martial arts? Basically they break down into men, women, and children. Now, if I can attract just one of those market segments and do it effectively, then I may be doing okay in my business.

However, if you think about it you’re missing out on half your total market when you only teach adults or if you only focus on kids. If you are mostly teaching kids and not trying to get their parents in your classes, you’re missing out on marketing to a captive audience. And, if you mostly teach adults but you don’t have any kids programs available to get their ankle-biters in, double dittos.

Market reach is like financial insurance in small business marketing. The more market reach you have, the greater your chances of filling your studio with paying clients.

Now if families are where the money is, and you want to attract families, then you need to seriously think about presenting a consistent family-friendly image for your studio. Think clean, professional, and welcoming. That’s how you’re going to attract entire families into your studio, and it’s the easiest way to build a strong clientele and brand loyalty in your local community.

Coming Next Week

Next week I’m going to discuss what goes into effective ads and marketing pieces. Until then, give some serious thought to what I’ve written here today, and as always feel free to post your comments, feedback, and questions below.

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