Saving Money and Avoiding Ripoffs With Your Martial Arts School’s Online Marketing
Over the past several weeks I’ve been sharing tips and tactics for marketing your martial arts school online. However, one thing I’ve neglected to tell you about is how to avoid ripoffs and costly mistakes with your online marketing.
In this article I’m going to share several tips on how to get more bang for your buck with your online marketing. And, I’m also going to point out common costly mistakes that I’ve seen martial arts school owners make that you need to avoid. Finally, I’m going to explain why you should always retain complete control of your online marketing assets.
Online Marketing Mistake #1: Renting When You Should Own
Leasing a car makes no financial sense. Renting a house that you’re going to live in for five years or more is not the smartest use of your money. And, “renting” a website that you’re going to need for the life of your studio is a horrible use of your marketing dollars.
I know, I know… I’ve heard all the justifications for it. “I’m paying for the software, not the site.” “The company takes care of all that technical stuff for me, so I don’t have to think about it.” “It’s only ‘x’ dollars a month, and if it gets me just ‘x’ new students a month, it pays for itself.” And on and on…
The truth of the matter is, for what some of you are paying PER YEAR to rent your website you could have purchased a custom one-off website that does everything you need and that looks great, two to three times over. And you’d own it. For life.
Let’s just say that you hire a more expensive web design company, and it costs you a few grand to get your site built. Now, let’s compare that to the cost of renting a website for say, $200 a month for the next ten years:
$200 x 12 months = $2,400.00 x 10 years = $24,000.00!
Yikes! Better tell your kids to kiss that college education goodbye. So, stop throwing good money away after bad – cut your losses and hire a reputable web design firm to build a nice lead capture website for your school.
Online Marketing Mistake #2: Not Getting a Website You Can Easily Update
In the old days of web design, there was only one way to build site, and that was with HTML (“hyper text markup language” – the most basic web design programming language). Then several more advanced programming languages were written in order to make websites more interactive and dynamic. This in turn led to the creation of content management systems (CMS for short).
Getting your website built using a good CMS means that you can log in to your site at any time you want and update or change the content at will. In the past with a “static” HTML-based site, you’d have to learn how to hand code HTML or buy and learn an expensive web design software like DreamWeaver to do that… or you’d have to pay a web designer by the hour to update your site (and then hope they would do the work in a timely manner).
For this reason, a lot of web designers don’t like designing their clients’ sites using a CMS, because it means they won’t make as much money down the road updating your site. Yet, it’s for this very reason I build all my clients’ sites using an open source CMS that makes it a breeze for my clients to update, add, and change their site content at will.
I strongly suggest that, if you get a new site built or have your old site redesigned, that you have it built using a modern open source CMS so you can update your site without additional costs or unnecessary delays.
Online Marketing Mistake #3: Not Registering Your Own Domain Name
You say you didn’t register your own domain name? You have no idea what that means? You say you let your web designer handle that for you?
What were you thinking!?!?!?
Look, owning a domain name is like having your very own real estate on the web. It’s not only your online address, it’s also a commodity that increases in value and utility every year you own it. The reason this is true is that, due to the way Google ranks websites, domains gain “authority” over time and are more likely to rank higher than new domains.
This means that a domain you’ve owned for ten years is much more valuable than a domain you just bought yesterday. Besides that, it just makes sense that you should actually own “yourbusinessname.com”, if that’s the domain you chose when you set up your school’s website.
Anytime I work with a client who doesn’t own their primary domain name, I make it a point to help them do whatever it takes to get ownership of that domain. And, I help my clients register their own domain names when they’re just starting out, so they own their domain forever.
Unfortunately, disreputable web design firms will often register your domain for you, because they know it’s harder for you to leave them if they have control of all your domain information. And, technically they own the domain if they paid for it and registered it under their domain management account.
Sure, you could sue for ownership if things went south with your web designer, but who wants to have to do that? Just register your own domain name(s) and be done with it.
Online Marketing Mistake #4: Not Controlling Your Own Hosting Account
For obvious reasons (similar to the reasons I explained above for purchasing your own domain name), you want to own and control your website hosting account. Now, it may seem like a great idea to just host your site on your web designer’s server, and to let them handle all that tech stuff for you – but let me tell you why that’s a bad idea.
When I first started building marketing websites for other school owners, I decided to open a hosting reseller account so I could host all my clients’ sites on my own servers, for a small fee. It seemed like a great idea at the time; I’d take care of all my client’s sites, and they’d pay me an ongoing monthly fee to do so…
Turns out, it wasn’t such a great idea after all. You see, those big dedicated hosting companies do nothing but host websites for businesses large and small. It’s all they do. And, because of their focus on providing outstanding service to their hosting clients, they have huge customer service departments to handle all manner of technical support issues, 24/7.
Admittedly, a small web design firm just can’t compete with that level of service, so you’re better off hosting with the big hosting companies that offer free support 24/7/365. And that’s why I no longer host my clients’ sites (except for a select few clients who have been with me for years). I instead refer my clients to a reputable low-cost hosting company, and then set up everything for them once they get their own hosting account.
Control Versus Convenience, Or Why It Pays to Be Involved
Obviously, you can’t do everything in your business. In fact, the more successful you become, the more you have to let things go and delegate tasks to employees and contractors.
However, this doesn’t mean you simply hand that stuff off and then never think about it again. That’s how new professional athletes, pop stars, and lottery winners get bilked out of millions of dollars of their money year after year. Likewise, you can’t just hand off control of crucial marketing tasks and assets, either.
The bottom line is, you need to maintain control and ownership of your online marketing assets, because they are too crucial to your business to risk for the sake of convenience. What if you have a falling out with your web designer? What if they go out of business? What if they just disappear and leave you high and dry? (This actually happened to one of my clients, by the way.)
Sure, it may be easier to just hand it over to that web designer and let them handle everything – but who said business ownership was easy? Stay involved and retain control of your website, domain name, and hosting account, and you’ll be in a much better position should you ever have to change service providers at a later date.
And, if you need help with your online marketing, feel free to contact me for assistance.