What Your Martial Arts School Website Should Say… And What It Shouldn’t

Writing martial arts website copy is a favorite client service of mine among the many marketing services I provide. I’ve had a fascination with direct marketing and copywriting for years, and probably the biggest chunk of my personal library consists of books on writing marketing copy.

martial arts website copy requires some subtlety

Perhaps something a little more subtle…

Like I said, I’m a bit obsessed with marketing. I’m the sort of guy that picks up a yellow pages guide in every major city I visit, just so I can look at the yellow pages ads for the local martial arts schools. Or, at least I used to before it became obsolete. Now, I browse martial arts school websites.

And when I look at the websites that are owned by my blog readers and customers (and I do look at your sites, every chance I get), I see page upon page upon page of weak copy. Copy that is just taking up space on your websites. Copy that screams “AMATEUR!” Copy that doesn’t sell.

That’s a shame, because your online marketing presence is responsible for the majority of your exposure to local consumers. And, when your online marketing is weak and unprofessional, you lose out on business. So for this week’s article, I’d like to start helping you fix that.

Just What Is “Copy”?

Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with what “copy” is, it’s the words (written content) in your ads and marketing pieces that are written with the intention of getting your prospective customer to take action. Experienced marketers understand that good copy sells. Images don’t sell, fancy graphics don’t sell, and bad copy certainly doesn’t sell.

I know this because I’ve studied direct marketing for years, and I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t in marketing my own studios. I started out marketing my classes just like the bulk of you do, using weak copy without realizing it, and trying to impress consumers by using “cool” images in my ads and other marketing pieces. Unfortunately, that approach rarely works.

Nope. The bulk of selling is done with words in modern marketing. Again, all good marketing starts with good copy, and here’s why: stories are how we communicate.

First, Tell A Good Story

Think about any ad or commercial that convinced you to buy something. Did it consist of a lot of fancy yet meaningless graphics, or perhaps a large image with a single line at the bottom conveying some vague notion about how nifty the product was?

I’d hazard a guess to say your answer would be “no.” Instead, I’d bet that any ad that has ever convinced you to buy a product or service told a good story. Repeat after me; stories sell.

A good example of this can be heard during talk radio and morning radio shows. These shows make the bulk of their advertising dollars and profit from selling product and service endorsements. And, advertisers pay dearly to get popular local and national radio personalities to talk about their products on air.

If you listen to how these personalities typically promote their sponsors, they usually tell a personal story about how they use the product or service themselves. Why do you think that is? Yep, it’s because stories get people to buy, especially when they are told by someone the consumer trusts.

So whatever your copy is trying to sell, you should always endeavor to tell a good story. Stories sell.

Follow Good Copywriting Convention

Good copywritng convention follows a particular flow in order to get the consumer from point A to point B. Now, there are a multitude of copywriting “formulas” out there, and many of them can get pretty complicated. However, the simplest explanations are always the best in my opinion.

The simplest way I can boil down good copywriting convention is this (Note: I got this from something Frank Kern wrote about writing copy, and I believe he got it from John Carlton):

  1. “Here’s what I have” –
  2. “Here’s why you should buy it” –
  3. “Here’s how to buy it” –

That’s it. Now, as for how to structure that, you’re going to want to start with a headline, then perhaps have a subhead that expands on the headline, then follow that with some body copy and maybe some bullet points, and then close with a call to action.

The Headline (And Subhead)

It should be short, sweet, and incredibly impactful. The purpose of the headline is to get the reader to read the subhead, and the purpose of the subhead is to get the reader to read the first paragraph of your copy. Many copywriting experts will tell you they spend most of their time coming up with a good headline. Just make sure it’s written from the old “what’s in it for me” perspective, and make sure it grabs the reader’s attention.

The Body Copy

This is where you’re going to tell your story. Remember, the best stories are told by someone the reader trusts. Since you don’t yet have that sort of credibility, you are going to need to borrow some. The best way to do that is by using REAL testimonials from your past and current clients. Sprinkle a few in your website copy where they make sense; it will go a long way toward getting your reader to believe what you’re saying.

And in that same vein, avoid hyperbole and write using plain language. There’s no need to wax poetic about your school; likewise you don’t need to hit the reader over the head with a lot of CAPITAL LETTERS, bold text, italics, and exclamation points!!! Sure, you can use these devices to emphasize a point or to make your copy more visually appealing  but use them sparingly and let your words do the selling.

The Call To Action

The call to action (sometimes called “the close”) is where you tell the reader what they need to do to get what you got. Avoid using those tired old tricks that have so often been used in online sales copy (limited number available, saying the offer ends on “x” date when your timer resets every time the page reloads, etc.)

Instead, simply tell the reader how to contact you, and give them a darn good reason for doing so. I like to use the “Godfather Offer” approach, meaning you give them an offer they can’t refuse. First month free, 50% off until “x” date, $50 off your first month with this coupon… I could go on and on.

Whatever your offer though, make it a good one because otherwise there’s no urgent reason for that person to contact you. Speaking of which, tell them to contact you immediately. This may seem silly to you, but it works. Always use the imperative in your call to action.

So What Shouldn’t Your Copy Say?

For starters, it shouldn’t be about you. I know, this one always leaves business owners scratching their heads. Notice I didn’t say it shouldn’t talk about you; what I said was that it shouldn’t be about you. In other words, your copy should focus entirely on what you can do for your customer. That means every line of every paragraph should be focused on conveying the benefits your programs provide to your students.

Accordingly, what your website sales copy should not include is your curriculum vitae and a list of all your martial arts accomplishments. Frankly speaking, consumers really don’t care much about how vast your credentials are, except to know that you have them.

Think about it; when you go hire a plumber, do you check to see if they have advanced plumbing credentials from The National Institute of Incredibly Proficient Plumbers? No, you don’t (beyond making sure they’re licensed). Instead, you check their reviews online and look at the testimonials from their satisfied clients. So, list your credentials on your bio page, but for the most part keep that stuff out of your sales copy.

Closing Thoughts On Writing Website Copy

There’s a lot more to writing martial arts website copy than I can fit in this 1,500 word article. If you need help and you feel like the task is more than you are up to, remember that I am always available to write sales copy for martial arts schools. My copy converts very well because I know what makes people call and fill out your lead capture forms on your website.

If you need a quote on some copywriting, simply fill out the form on the martial arts web design inquiry page on this site, and instead of including your address tell me that you’re interested in getting some marketing copy written. I’ll get back to you shortly so we can get together and discuss your project, and I’ll provide you with a quote based on your specifications.

And if you’re determined to write your own website copy, be sure to pick up the Martial Arts School Owner’s Guide to Writing Ad Copy at this website. It has a lot more information on how to write good copy, and it’s tailored specifically to the needs of martial arts school owners.

4 Comments

  1. Steve on October 30, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Great article! I have been doing most things right, but was about to make a error. Thanks Mike



  2. Mike Massie on October 30, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Glad the article was of benefit to you, Steve!



  3. Markel on December 12, 2019 at 11:43 am

    Mike, can you provide links to websites that you think are doing a great job of applying these principles? I’d love to see some real-world examples.



  4. Mike Massie on January 9, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Market Muscles websites do a great job of conveying value in their sales copy. You can do a Google search to find examples of their sites online.



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