Making Your Martial Art School Marketing Count

getting more from your martial arts marketing

3 Key Principles to Help You Get the Most From Your Marketing Dollars

In many ways, marketing your studio is like planning to go to war. You have to choose your weapons, you have to create a battle plan, and you will likely have limited resources with which to deploy your weapons and “troops”.

So why most small business owners choose go to war carrying BB guns is beyond me. I can only assume that they haven’t learned the same lessons that I have over the last twenty years in business.

In order to help you get the most from your “war chest”, here are a few very important principles you should follow as you plan your marketing battles and enter the fray.

Principle #1: Marketing Your Martial Art School Is Your Very First Priority

Question, what’s more important:

  1. Having a facility that’s decked out with a full cage, a custom steel bag stand that criss-crosses the ceiling of your school, and 2,000 square feet of Swain mats…
  2. Or having a martial arts school website that ranks well in the search engines that’s designed to convert traffic to leads?

If you picked #1, you’re like a lot of school owners who will likely go under before we pull out of this recession. No matter how expensive your equipment, no matter how talented your instructors, no matter how detailed your curriculum, if you can’t get students through the front door consistently week-in and week-out, you’re doomed to fail.


Remember, you’re not a tech start-up that can get a bunch of angel investors to float your operating expenses for years even though you have no profit strategy or revenue. You are operating in the trenches of this war called entrepreneurship, and money is what your war machine runs on. So, increasing your revenue (“making money”) comes before anything else when you’re starting a small business.

That’s why you MUST prioritize marketing over other expenditures for your school. That cage, those shock knives, that new fancy patch, those 25 pairs of authentic cowhide Thai pads, and that new sprung hardwood floor can wait. Spend those dollars where they count – on your marketing – so down the road you can buy all the neat doodads you like.

Principle #2: Done Is Better Than Perfect

This principle may seem to contradict the last one, but Principle #1 was directed toward people who don’t have their business spending priorities straight. This principle is directed at those martial art school owners who have to have every last marketing piece perfect before it goes out the door.

Here’s the thing; it’s war so you better hit the enemy with everything you can. I’d rather have 5,000 door hangers out that I designed myself than no door hangers. I’d rather have a website that my neighbor’s kid helped me put up than no website. And, I’d rather have a plain sign that says “KARATE” on my front façade than no sign at all.

When you’re starting out with a limited budget, you won’t be able to afford the best of everything. So, spend the bulk of your money where it counts the most (web marketing) and then do what you can with the rest. But, do not make the mistake of thinking that just because you can’t afford full-color glossy rack cards that you shouldn’t be putting out rack cards.

“Done” is better than “perfect.” You can perfect it later, but first let’s just get a ton of marketing out the door so we can generate some revenue to keep our doors open.

Principle #3: Spend Your Best Marketing Dollars Where They Count The Most

Before the days of the internet, your best marketing dollars were spent getting the biggest yellow pages ad you could afford. And that’s because back then, everyone went to the yellow pages to shop. Oh, how times have changed…

Now, we have high-speed internet, Wi-Fi, mobile devices, and a world where everyone goes online to research before they buy. So, where do you think your best marketing dollars should be spent these days?

The problem is, most school owners think they’re internet marketing geniuses, or that they know someone who is. Or worse, they think they don’t need an internet marketing expert because “it’s not that complicated.” *Sigh*

When I used to build martial art school websites, at least once a month I’d get a call from a new school owner who wanted me to build their website. Then, they’d find out what I charged and decide that their kid/neighbor’s kid/friend at work could do it for a fraction of the cost.

Folks, this is like having just one sign with which to advertise your school, and deciding that instead of getting a professional sign company to fabricate it, you’ll just paint it yourself.

I never argued with those people, by the way. That’s because I knew they’d be back in six months. Once they realized that they weren’t getting any leads or phone calls, and that it’s pretty dang important to have paying clients, they’d be back asking me to build their site.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s too late by the time school owners realize their mistake. Don’t be that guy; spend your best marketing dollars where they count the most, and budget at least a grand a month (site costs + web ads) to get your web marketing rolling when you open your doors. Believe me, it’ll be money well-spent.

Coming Next Week…

I’ll be continuing this series on marketing in coming articles. But for now, you should examine your current marketing in light of the principles I’ve listed here, and honestly assess whether you’re using your marketing dollars wisely.

And, for those of you who would like to guidance on your martial arts marketing, you can find it by clicking here.

See you next week, and be sure to post your comments and questions below.

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