How To Get Profit-Pulling Martial Arts Ads Written For Your School, Part 1

copywriting for martial art schools

When creating martial arts ads for marketing your school, what’s the most important thing to include?

  • Is it to include an interesting and eye-catching image?
  • Is it the layout?
  • Is it the ad design and graphics?
  • Is it the copy?

If you chose “copy”, you either paid attention to the headline of this article, or you’re one smart cookie. Ad copy is without a doubt the single most important component of any successful ad.

Ad copywriting has been a passion of mine for well over a decade. And in that time, I’ve learned that most business owners don’t have a clue as to how powerful good ad copywriting is…

Thankfully, you’re smarter than that – which is why you’re reading this blog. You already know you need effective advertising to grow your school. But, you probably also need a little help in determining what to focus on in your martial arts school ads.

Well, that’s exactly the topic I’m going to be tackling over the next few weeks on this blog. And today, I’m going to start with the basics; namely, what effective advertising is, as well as what goes into it.

The Power Of Effective Advertising

Advertising – that is, effective advertising – is an incredibly powerful force that can be can be used to bring customers to virtually any business. Now, whether or not you can keep those customers is a question that is beyond the scope of this article; nevertheless, the fact remains that good marketing and advertising is the first step to growing your business.

And as such, it can be used for good, or ill… as Don Draper so aptly demonstrates in this clip from AMC’s Mad Men. Here, he’s explaining to the good folks from Lucky Strike cigarettes how they can continue to sell their cancer sticks even in the face of increasing government advertising oversight:

And although this is a fictionalized account, we all know how this worked out in real life. Despite growing evidence of the dangers of smoking, tobacco companies were able to continue to sell their product and make staggering profits for decades.

Now, I’m definitely NOT saying you should use advertising to sell a product that you know is harmful. Instead, I only use this example to point out that effective advertising can sell anything… even a product known to cause cancer!

The bottom line is, if you’re a business owner you need to know something about writing good ad copy – at the very least so you can spot it when you see it and know how to hire a good ad writer to help you market your school.

So, let’s begin this discussion by examining the primary component of good advertising… copywriting!

Just What Is Copywriting?

Martial arts ads need good copywritingCopywriting is, quite simply, writing for advertising and marketing.

That’s a fairly straightforward answer, but I think the question deserves a bit more attention if we’re to understand the impact the right words can have in an ad or marketing piece.

Thus, a little advertising history…

In 1905, John E. Kennedy sent the following note to the head of the Lord & Thomas advertising agency:

“I am in the saloon downstairs. I can tell you what advertising is. I know you don’t know. It will mean much to me to have you know what it is and it will mean much to you. If you wish to know what advertising is, send the word “yes” down by the bell boy. Signed – John E. Kennedy”

As the story goes, the note would have probably been discarded if it hadn’t been intercepted by Albert Lasker, a junior partner at the firm. It turns out that Lasker had been seeking a concise answer to that very question for some seven years.

Now, you could say that it was just dumb luck that Lasker read Kennedy’s note, but I doubt that. I would hazard a guess to say that Kennedy knew something about Lasker, and that he probably even knew that Lasker would read the note. At any rate Lasker immediately invited Kennedy to his office, and this is the answer Kennedy gave him:

“Advertising is salesmanship in print.”

Breaking Down A Miniature Copywriting Masterpiece

But there’s so much more to this story than just a concise definition of advertising. In fact, I think that Kennedy’s note was more than just an invitation – I believe he specifically crafted it to display his copywriting chops.

Unsurprisingly (to me, anyway) Lasker hired Kennedy on the spot, and he went on to become the highest paid ad copywriter of his time. The reason? Lasker knew that Kennedy understood what made for great marketing copy – because he’d just witnessed it with his own eyes.

See, Kennedy used some of the most fundamental yet powerful principles in copywriting to get his audience with Lasker.

  • First, he interposed his message into the conversation that was already going on inside Lasker’s head. That’s pretty much the goal of every great copywriter – to get inside the reader’s head.
  • And that leads me to the second principle he used – arousing curiosity. But the thing is, he didn’t just arouse curiosity about some random fact – instead, he sparked Lasker’s curiosity about a question that had been burning in his mind for seven long years.
  • Third, he built rapport with his reader. “It will mean much to me to have you know what it is…”
  • Fourth, he used the law of reciprocity to get a job with Lord & Thomas. The law of reciprocity says that when you give someone something for free, they feel compelled to respond in kind.
  • Finally, he used what is perhaps the most powerful device in all of copywriting… discovering an immediate problem or a burning desire that is common to your audience, and then convincing them that only you can solve that problem or fulfill that desire.

And that, my friends, is salesmanship in print. All done in 60 words, 220 characters, and one paragraph. Now, do you see the power of good ad copywriting?

Coming Next Week…

Next week I’m going to reveal how good copywriting can help you grow your school, and the quickest way to get it working for you.

Question? Comments? Feedback?

As always, I welcome your feedback. Feel free to post your questions or comments about martial arts ads and marketing in the comments below.


  1. Jason Froehlich on March 28, 2013 at 6:27 pm


    Another great article. You are spot on about ad copy and how it will grow your school. Like you, I’ve been fascinated with copy and how it can drive people to your business. It is the single sole reason I am still in business despite the fact I opened my school almost three years ago and have grown year after year while raising my prices every year. I hope everyone reading your post is listing up with both ears and is taking your advice or hiring you write for them.

    Thanks for always giving some great wisdom to chew on.


  2. Mike Massie on March 29, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Jason, glad to know your school is doing well. I’m certain that if you’ve been seriously studying copywriting and putting what you’ve learned to good use, that’s likely to be a great part of the reason for your success.

    Next week I’m going to share some tips on hiring a copywriter, for those who don’t have the time or the inclination to learn how to write their own copy.

    Mark my words though – no sooner than I post the second part of this article series, 15-20 people will pop out of the woodwork in the industry and start offering copywriting services to school owners. :)

  3. Jason Froehlich on March 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Yeah, that will be funny to watch and see who pops up and starts offering this kind of service. So, if you will allow me to share with others who read this, I would caution others who might hear of someone else in this industry offering copywriting to be cautious because MANY of these so called “experts” hire other copywriters to do the work and those copywriters don’t have the same connection with the market as you do Mike.

    If you are unfamiliar with writing copy, one of the most important things to understand is the MARKET and having your message match. If you screw that up, there can be some major problems and you’ll end up spending marketing dollars with a zero ROI and think it’s something else when the problem lies with the message to the market.

    And Mike, I’ve seen your martial art copywriting. All your study and effort has made you an A+ copywriter. You’ve got the message, understand it, and are always improving it to be better and deliver the ROI results a business person wants.

    So, in my humble opinion, if someone chooses the wrong person to work with to help their business become successful, then their success will only be delayed by their unwillingness to see what you can do for them Mike.

    Thanks again for all you write and share here,


    P.S. Please don’t write for anyone in my local area. My competition hasn’t figured any of this out. But, if you do, that will just mean I need to work on my skills more – let the battle begin :)

  4. Mike Massie on March 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Jason. Yes, knowing the market and having a connection to the target audience is incredibly important for writing profit-pulling copy. I appreciate your sharing your experience here for the benefit of all the other people who come across this post. Definitely keep us all posted on your progress as you continue to apply what you’re learning in your business.

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