I know that right now you’re probably gearing up for the big back-to-school rush, and that’s great. Yes, I know that now is a great time to crank up those martial art school marketing campaigns and boost your enrollment. And yes, I’m aware that the back-to-school season is the most exciting time of the year for most martial art schools…
But I also know that, come May, more than half of the people reading this will be facing a financial pickle, and wondering how they’re going to make it through those “slow” summer months…
Well, the purpose of this article is to show you what you’re doing wrong that’s causing your numbers to plummet every summer, and what you can do to prevent that from happening. So, read on and find out why it’s so important to keep that marketing machine humming along at top speed, all year long.
Reason #1: You Reap What You Sow
Here in Austin school starts on August 25th. Typically, I start hammering the Back-to-School marketing from early-August until the end of September (then I switch to a seasonal promotion tied in with Halloween).
However, I don’t expect much return on investment until about that third week of school, because parents are too busy with everything else to think about extra-curricular activities until then.
So why start hammering the marketing so hard now? Because the more often people hear your name and see your ads, the more likely they are to respond.
Most people don’t respond to ads on the first exposure… it typically takes multiple exposures to produce a sale.
Marketing is like sowing seeds in a garden – you might not see the results for weeks, or get to enjoy the fruits of your labors for months, but if you don’t plant those seeds at the right time and maintain what you planted, you’ll NEVER get to enjoy the rewards at all.
Reason #2: You May Not Reap What You Sow Until Months From Now
Related to that last bit, I know a lot of instructors are pouring it on marketing-wise right now, and will be until November. They know from past experience that they’ll enroll a lot of students during the late summer and early Fall.
However, many of those same people will be contacting me next year in May, freaking out because summer is coming and their numbers are dropping off. Why is that?
Well, it’s because they see marketing as a one-shot deal. To them, it’s something you only do when you think it’s a “good time” to do it. So, they’ll market hard for the next few months, enroll the bulk of the students they’ll get this school year during September and October, and then they’ll stop marketing in November and December because “nobody enrolls during the holidays.”
Then, in January they might do a little marketing, just to see if they can attract some of those resolutionists who pack the gyms every January and February. But mostly, they’ll just coast on all the enrollments they got during the back-to-school rush.
And then, come May, they’ll start contacting me in a panic saying, “Mike, I gotta’ do something quick – my numbers are down and I might have to close my school!” Or, “Mike, can you help me pick my numbers back up? I just can’t figure it out; we were doing great for a while, then all of sudden I lost 30% of my students.”
Well guess what? Remember what I said about marketing being like planting seeds? Every farmer knows that if you want to harvest corn in the fall, you plant in the spring, and if you want to harvest wheat in the summer, you plant in the fall.
Same thing goes with your martial art school marketing – what you do now is going to greatly impact your numbers 6-8 months from now, and here’s why:
The majority of the martial art students you enroll won’t stick around past 9 months!
Now, when I tell instructors this who tend to struggle in their schools on a seasonal basis, what I usually hear back is, “My retention rates are extremely high – I rarely lose students.” What that tells me is that they don’t keep good stats, because every martial art school loses at least 40% of the students they enroll every year. You just don’t notice it if you don’t keep stats because they slip by you one or two at a time.
So, if you enroll a bunch of students in the fall and your cash flow jumps way up, they you sit on you hands for the next six months, guess what’s going to happen when summer rolls around? That’s right, you’re going to be scrambling to boost your cash flow because you didn’t plant the seeds (marketing) in order to have a summer harvest (tuition)!
Reason #3: If You Don’t Spend Your Money On Marketing, It Gets Spent On Other Things
If you’ve been following this blog and reading my materials for a while, you know that I follow a marketing cost vs. ROI axiom:
Any marketing campaign you run should bring an immediate return on investment of 2x the cost.
That’s why I prefer using free and low-cost marketing methods to promote “free” offers (like VIP guest passes), and why I prefer to use paid methods to promote reduced-cost offers (like $19.95 for an introductory package). That way, when I spend $100 on PPC ads to promote a $19.95 Godfather offer, I know I’m going to get $200 in return when people respond to that offer.
So, $100 goes to paying for the ads I just ran, and the other $100 goes to paying for the next ad campaign… and I have zero out-of-pocket cost, because it’s a self-funding offer (this is a common practice in internet marketing, by the way).
But, if I choose to be a knucklehead and run a campaign for a while, then decide I have all the students I can handle (hint – you never have enough students) and stop marketing hard (a knucklehead move)…
Then all that cash flow that the last marketing campaign produced is going to get spent somewhere else. So, 6-8 months from now, when my tuition collections start to fall off drastically, I’m going to be scrambling to come up with some extra money to get that marketing machine up and running again!
Dumb, dumb, dumb. Should’ve just kept it going in the first place. But then again, hindsight is 20/20, right? Well, that’s why they invented this thing called planning ahead…
So, Now You Know… The Question Is, What Will You Do With This Knowledge?
Based on what you just learned in this article, you should have the foresight now to know that you need to plan ahead and think about more than just the immediate future when it comes to marketing your martial art school.
And that, my friends, is why I continually harp on the fact that marketing is an all-of-the-time thing… not just something you do a few times a year.
So, the ball is in your court. This year, you can do what you’ve done in years past, marketing hard from now until November, and then slacking off and wondering what the heck happened come May…
Or, you can keep that martial arts marketing machine humming at full-throttle, all-year-long, and be sitting pretty on the beach next July, enjoying the fruits of your labors. The choice is yours.