martial arts marketing with yard signs
martial arts yard sign

Simple martial arts yard signs like these can be highly effective when implemented properly.

Marketing with martial arts yard signs, also known as snipe signs, political signs, and real estate signs, is easier than you think.

In today’s post, I’ll go over the key information you’ll need to know to use this marketing method for your school, and I’ll tell you how to implement it most effectively.

How Effective Are Martial Arts Yard Signs?

Pretty darned effective. I know a school owner in my area who has a very large and successful school. He used yard signs almost exclusively to market his programs when he was growing his school. Now, he has a large enough budget to use other forms of advertising, but I still see his signs around town every now and again.

I’ve used them myself to great effect to fill my summer camps and after school camps. Trust me, they work.

How Many Signs Do I Need To Put Out?

As many as possible. Think market penetration – in other words, you want your signs to be seen everywhere in your area. I’d start with 25 signs placed in strategic locations within a three mile radius of your studio, and then branch out from there.

What About Zoning Laws?

Depending on where you live, this can be an issue. First, check your local zoning laws for ordinances regarding using such signs. A good person to speak with would be a real estate agent, because they use this advertising method regularly and they’re likely to know the ins and outs of using snipe signs.

Before I go on, let me say that I am not advising anyone to break their local laws. *Ahem* Having said that, there are ways to get around the local zoning officials and regulations:

  • For example, ever notice that home builders put out their signs on Friday evening, and pick them up Sunday night? Think about why they do that – there definitely has to be a good reason for it, right?
  • Also, you may be able to place signs outside of city limits where the local city zoning officials can’t touch them.
  • And, here’s a thought – you might actually be able to get a permit that will allow you to place those signs around town. You can also ask your students to place them in their yards for you (more on that in a minute).

Finally, I do know that some studio owners have weighed the profits they were making on sales generated by running a massive snipe sign campaign against the fines, and decided it was worth it. I would say that’s a pretty personal choice, however.

Where Should I Place Them?

High-traffic areas are best, namely major roads that get plenty of commuter traffic. However, you need to think about whether or not someone driving by will be able to see your sign. The faster they are driving, the less likely they will see your message.

So, try to place them facing oncoming drivers at intersections where traffic has to slow or stop.

What Should My Sign Say?

Stick to basic stuff (see the example above for what I mean by this). You need to get the basic message across in five seconds or less. Just “KARATE” or “KICKBOXING” or whatever, a phone number, and your website.

Also, this is where it pays to invest in a SHORT website address (a.k.a. domain name or URL) for your school. Shorter is much easier to remember. This is crucial! People tend to forget phone numbers, but they’ll remember a short domain name.

No need to change your website address, either. Just brainstorm a short address that makes sense, get it at GoDaddy, and then use their domain name control panel to forward it to the appropriate page on your website.

What Should The Design Look Like?

Something like the example above is fine. However, I have found that a yellow background with black text is the most visible and eye-catching at a distance.

Also, always, always, always use sans serif fonts on these signs. Arial, Impact, or Franklin Gothic. No chopstick fonts, no silly fonts, no fancy fonts.

Now is not the time to let your artistic side be known. No one will be able to read your sign if you do. Trust me on this. Keep it simple.

A Stress-Free Way To Use Martial Arts Yard Signs To Market Your School

I am the only person I know of who has ever suggested this, and some of my coaching clients have used this idea to good effect in their towns. But, it’s such a good idea I decided to share it with the rest of you…

Here’s the gist of it. Get your students to advertise your school in their own yards, and you’ll avoid the work and potential zoning headaches of implementing a snipe sign campaign.

Here’s how:

  • Have yard signs made up that have your school name along with an illustration of a martial arts belt, and have them printed the color of your various belt ranks. Make sure there’s a space for the student to print their name on the sign using a Sharpie. (Think “football team” or “cheerleading squad” signs, and you’ll know where I’m going with this.)
  • DO NOT PUT YOUR SCHOOL CONTACT INFO ON THE SIGNS. Why? That’s advertising, and many zoning regulations and neighborhood associations forbid it. Besides, this is supposed to be a way of allowing your students to show their pride, and many of them will find it gauche if you put your contact info all over the signs.
  • Give the appropriate colored signs to your students at their belt graduations when they are promoted to a new rank. Many will proudly place them in their front yards, or even display them in the window of their car or home.

If you think about this, there are a lot of kids who do martial arts, but who suck at organized sports (I was one of them). This is a great way to allow them to show their school pride, and it also benefits your school as well.

Other Considerations

If you put enough of these signs out, people will complain. This is the same as any other form of interruption advertising. Certain people just don’t like it. Some see these signs as eye pollution.

My take on this is that these same people are probably the ones plastering the city with political signs for their favorite candidate or political party every two years. Believe me, a community organizer has no idea how hard it is to start and grow a successful small business, but they’ll damn sure take your tax money and use it for who knows what.

So, I advise that you don’t feel guilty about feeding your family and paying your rent, and not worry so much about hurting some crackpot’s feelings with your advertising methods.

Questions? Comments? Let me know what your experiences have been with using martial arts yard signs by commenting below. And if you want to learn more about how to market your martial art studio, check out my online business coaching program at https://www.dojosuccesscoach.com/martial-arts-business-u-membership.

6 Comments

  1. Pablo Zamora on November 7, 2018 at 9:31 am

    This is some great information.



  2. Mike Massie on November 7, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks!



  3. John Guarnieri on November 25, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Awesome! I had actually thought about asking students families to put up road signs at their homes as I have had very good success with these signs (2nd only to referrals), but couldn’t think of the best way of doing it. I love your method, going to act on it in the spring (snow plows just take them out this time of year)



  4. Mike Massie on January 6, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Great! Let me know how it works for you.



  5. Rocky A. on August 21, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Do you have an example of a design for sign to give at belt promotion ?



  6. Mike Massie on August 24, 2021 at 9:09 am

    I made a template years ago using a stock image of a color belt. You could probably get someone to do something similar on Fiverr.

    https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/karate-martial-arts-color-belts-icons-295682456



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