The Myth of the Magic Bullet in Marketing Your Martial Arts School

In this business, every kid (er... school owner) should have one

In this business, every kid (er… school owner) should have one

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

There are no “magic bullets” when it comes to marketing your school. The ‘one single best marketing method” is a marketing myth – it doesn’t exist.

People routinely ask me what the best method is for marketing a martial arts school.

My answer?

“All of them!”

Or, I might be inclined to say, “The ones that work!”

The thing is, you can’t just rely on a single method of marketing your school. Consumers these days are absolutely bombarded with marketing messages, and your hopes of catching their attention with a single method of marketing are slim to none.

How to Get Noticed By Potential Clients In Your Target Market

Instead, you need to make sure your potential new student sees your marketing message multiple times, over and over again so the chances that they’ll respond increase significantly.

There are dozens of methods of marketing your school (I list dozens of ideas in my marketing manual, and every month the members of my dirt-cheap martial arts business coaching club receive a marketing plan with 10-12 actionable marketing ideas to implement for every month of the year). Some ways work better than others, depending on the market, the quality of the execution, frequency, etc.

The only way to find out what works is to test multiple marketing methods, and stick with the ones that get results. And, don’t just try one method once then decide it doesn’t work – you should try multiple ways to use each marketing medium (print ads, web, direct mail, door-to-door, etc.) before discarding a method as useless. Often, poor ad performance can be chalked up to poor execution, not the method or channel.

Don’t Worry About Finding A Magic Bullet – Instead, Buy A Machine Gun

On a final note, stop looking for a single killer marketing method that you can use to the exclusion of all others. In most cases and with most markets, a single marketing approach may only bring in a few leads a week. That may not sound like much, and you may be tempted to discount a method that only results in one or two leads a week.

However, I’ll gladly use 10 or 12 different marketing ideas that “only” generate 1 or 2 leads a week… because if I use them all at once, they soon add up.

And, when all those different marketing and promotional methods are used simultaneously, it often results in marketing synergy, where the combined effect is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

So, stop searching for that single “magic marketing bullet”. Instead, resolve yourself to the fact that to get the desired result, you just need to use lots of bullets.

Mike Massie is the author of Small Dojo Big Profits and runs a martial arts business coaching website for new instructors and small school owners,


  1. Robby Bray on June 4, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Mike is dead on with this. Last week I got 2 calls from my website, 2 calls from the 10 snipe signs I put out, 2 calls from my new banner I put out in front of the dojo. I’m getting my vehicle back window lettered today, so hopefully that will generate a few too. It’s everything in place and working together. Listen to Mike, he knows what he’s talking about.

  2. Miki on June 4, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Hi Mike,

    You make tons of sense. Most people only react after seeing an advert / piece of marketing 5 x. So I guess that’s why they say … choose at least three different methods and do them weekly for 90days. Then only can you really see, which methods is the real puller.

    Enjoying your articles – thanks!


  3. Mike Massie on June 4, 2009 at 7:51 am


    Glad you liked the article.

    Definitely, multiple marketing methods running simultaneously is the way to go.

    And always, always, always track your leads!

  4. Mike Massie on June 4, 2009 at 8:18 am


    Glad to know it’s working for you!

    But, if you hadn’t put in the work to get those marketing methods in place, nothing would have happened.

    So, credit your hard work for getting something going in your new school.

    Keep me posted on how things progress.

  5. Jerry Taylor on June 4, 2009 at 9:52 am

    I like the phrase you used: “get a machine gun”
    That pretty much sums it up. I get a lot of leads from Lead boxes I put out. Most of those types of leads are not very solid but I have the boxes and it does not cost any more just some leg work. You just have to keep moving them around. I also have a website, big sign in front of building, snipe sign, window sign, newspaper, door hangers, and these two things I have not had any luck with yet… radio and Kroger register tape ads.
    Just keep it up…

  6. Mike Massie on June 4, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Jerry, all that activity is bound to keep your lead funnel full.

    The thing is, now that you’re doing all that – find ways to do it better.

    Improve your ad copy, test different offers, etc.

    And like you said – just keep it up!

  7. Mark O'Dell on June 4, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Great subject to explore.
    Even though we would all like to see an immediate return on our advertising investment we can’t discredit the benefit of creating a presence in our community and the importance of implementing a multi-pronged approach when advertising.
    Every time we try a different form of advertising we are exposing ourselves to a different portion of our community. This is why a newly implemented advertising campaign might see an initial surge in activity only to eventually dry up. The initial activity is the primary result we are looking for while the additional exposure is the secondary. By maintaining a presence in our community we are making sure we are the ones people think of when they are ready to take lessons. In addition to community awareness of our school, we also increase our odds of gaining a new student every time various forms of advertising overlap.
    I recently assisted several schools in their end of the year functions. Every time I mentioned to the class I had a commercial on a local TV station I always had a number of kids perk up and excitedly exclaim they had seen me. The commercial had one affect while the face-to-face interaction had another. The combination of the two had a greater affect than either one by itself. As a result I now have two new students and planted the seeds in countless others.
    An old adage that I found to be true more often than not is, “Everything works, but nothing works forever.”
    Thanks for the opportunity to post.

  8. Mike Massie on June 4, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Good point, Mark.

    That story proves your advertising is working – you just needed more contact with those kids for them to connect the dots.

    Multiple marketing methods provide the opportunity for multiple exposures, and I agree with you in that being seen and known in your community is as important as advertising the heck out of your business.

  9. Mark Yates on June 7, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I’m going to dust off my machine gun.

  10. Mike Massie on June 8, 2009 at 5:26 am

    That’s the spirit, Mark…

    Go get ’em!

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