The Myth of the Silver Bullet in Martial Art School Marketing

There Are No Silver Bullets When It Comes To Marketing Your Business

If you're looking for a "silver bullet" when it comes to marketing your school... well, you may as well be hunting for werewolves and vampires, too.

If you’re looking for a “silver bullet” when it comes to marketing your school… well, you may as well be hunting for werewolves and vampires, too.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

There is no “magic bullet” when it comes to marketing your school.

So, knowing this… why is it that so many martial arts school owners continue to look for that mythical single simple solution to their marketing and recruiting dilemma?

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True…

Have you seen the ads in the magazines where the vendor promises to solve all your marketing problems?

And all you have to do is buy their product, or pay for them to visit your school and set up their marketing system for you… then voila! Your marketing problems will be solved forever!

As those of us who have been in the industry for a while know, this is a load of crap. If there was a single simple solution to our martial arts school marketing woes, everyone would be doing it.

Now, let me explain why there isn’t a single simple solution to successfully marketing a martial arts school…

Reasons Why Marketing A Small Business Is Inherently Challenging

One of the things I learned early on in my career as a small business owner is that marketing any small business is inherently difficult. There are very good reasons for why this is true, and I’ll list each one below so you’ll have a better understanding why marketing your school always seems to be a constant battle.

Reason #1: Multiple Marketing Channels. Back in the day, there were very few marketing channels available where businesses could reach consumers. In any given town, you might have a single local newspaper, three network television affiliates, and a few local radio stations that were well established in clearly defined markets.

However, that hasn’t been the case for some time now, as the internet has changed everything. Where schools could once get by with a weekly news ad and the occasional local T.V. or radio spot, in today’s marketing environment these marketing methods are nowhere near as effective… and that’s because consumers are getting their information and entertainment from multiple sources.

So, school owners who want to market their schools have a herculean task facing them… being seen everywhere on a limited budget.

Reason #2: Changing Market Conditions. Once again, the rapid advent of technology is to blame here. In this day and age, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. To some extent, that’s a good thing, but unfortunately for the small business owner it means that when technology advances, things can change drastically in the market.

An obvious example of this can be found in advancements in digital media storage. MP3 players have all but obliterated the record store industry, and turned the recording industry on its head.

Think these sorts of changes can’t affect the martial arts industry? Think again. As life goes digital, many martial arts schools have been forced to adopt “new” technologies such as email and online video to reach consumers. And, as new technologies are similarly adapted by consumers, school owners need to be on the lookout for these trends and be ready to exploit them to successfully market their schools.

Reason #3: Increasingly Distracted Consumers. One of my all-time favorite holiday movies is “A Christmas Story.” The tale follows the trials and travails of a young boy who desires nothing more than to get “an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle” for Christmas. The movie was released in the mid-80s, back when the lifestyle in America at the time was still relatively close to the slow and comfortable pace of the 1940s depicted in the movie. (Ah, the good old days…)

But no more… In today’s world, typically both parents work outside the home. And, in single parent homes the parent necessarily works to support the family. Parents get up when it’s dark outside, see the kids off to school or daycare, rush off to commute to work, commute back home at quitting time, only to have to shuttle their kids here and there, then get home after dark in time to feed the kids, put them to bed, and maybe have a few minutes to themselves before they have to do it all over again the next day.

Kids have a slew of sports and after-school activities to choose from, not to mention video games, T.V., texting, and the internet to distract their attention. And, young professionals are faced with ever-increasing job responsibilities that cut into their social and personal time (a recent poll claimed that many young professionals are afraid to take vacations for fear of losing their jobs should something go wrong while they’re away from work).

With all this going on in the lives of consumers… how likely do you think it is that they’ll pay attention to your marketing the first time they see it? If you said, “Not likely at all,” you’re dead on. That’s why you have to get in front of the consumer repeatedly and regularly in order to effectively market your business.

So, What Does This Mean To You?

In short, it means that in today’s world you need to have a comprehensive marketing plan that exploits new technologies and that reaches consumers via multiple marketing channels. For most martial arts school owners, this may seem like a daunting undertaking. I know, because at one point I had to figure this stuff all out for myself… and then figure it out again, over and over again during changing times and economic upheavals.

That’s why I set up my coaching site to provide simple, easy-to-implement monthly marketing advice to school owners. Each month I tell the site members what they should be doing to market their schools (both via online articles, and through discussions on our member forums) and they have only to implement the plan I provide to them.

But, if you want to figure it out on your own, I can relate. Even so, I encourage you to give MAbizU a try. It’s inexpensive, proven, and it will save you a lot of headaches… if you’re willing to take what’s provided and put it to use.

Because remember – there are no magic marketing bullets… only good marketing practices and hard work in putting those practices to use.



  1. Jason on October 7, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been studying marketing (Dan Kennedy style) for the last 5 years and YOU ARE DEAD ON with YOUR ADVICE!

    I hope all of your readers are listening to your message today. In todays climate, we need to be marketing more and not less. I visit businesses all day and when I ask them how they are doing, they usually say, “As well as could be expected in this economy.” Yet, I see other busiensses booming and thriving in the same industry and it is because they are marketing as you suggested in this article. The successful business haven’t given up, given in, or let the economy determine their success. They are taking the bull by the horns and digging their heels in to figure out how to attract, service, and keep the customers who walk through the doors or the ones who they want to walk through their doors.

    Now, I had my share of marketing classes in college, but the reality college is what you talk about and if people want real results, then following what you said will help them. It like we teach so many people in self-defense, you need to use the right tools in order to bring down an attacker.

    So, I hope many are using the most powerful secret given to us – LISTENING! If they empty their cup and listen to the message they will be rewarded with riches.

    BTW, I’ve been devouring Small Dojo Big Profits and it is one of the best small business books EVER written. And to boot, it is written for the martial arts owner. I am opening up my school soon and it WILL be my guide I use to become as successful as I can in the shortest time without having to stress about failing. I have my experience of owning and running other businesses for myself and others, but it’s time for my dream to be followed and your guide is going to help me realize it sooner than ever.

    Looking forward to the next article,

    Jason Froehlich

  2. Mike Massie on October 7, 2009 at 1:32 pm


    Glad you agreed with the article, and thanks for the kind words regarding the book as well!

    I’m a big fan of Dan Kennedy’s materials, and think he’s one of the greatest minds in direct marketing today.

    Once again, thanks for the positive feedback! Be sure to email me when you’re launching your school…

    – MM

  3. Jason on October 8, 2009 at 12:05 am

    Hey Mike,

    You are welcome and I will definitely email you as soon as I get closer to the open date.


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