How to Grow Your Martial Arts School without spending £'s

ken pankiewicz martial arts mentorAs a professional mentor and school coach I know that not every school owner can see the benefit of getting professionals to help them (or wanting to spend any money on it, when they can get it for free), here is an article about growing your school without spending any money.


1. Read, read, read, as much as you can about marketing

You get what you pay for if you bring in a marketing person just out of college or with no training industry experience. If you can’t afford someone with lots of experience and with a training background, then you will likely waste a lot of money learning what works and what doesn’t work.

Assuming you’re not ready to pay for help, it’s time to make a resolution to learn marketing fundamentals. Start by educating yourself through books and newsletters. Thirty minutes a day will get you there pretty quick. I like to do my reading between 7:00 and 7:30am each business day.

2. Spend time developing your value proposition and positioning

I can’t say enough about the importance of investing time in your value proposition, target customer and positioning. This affects everything else you do, so it’s the foundation of your sales and marketing efforts. If this is mediocre, then your brochures, websites, advertising, etc. will also be.

There are hundreds of books written about this, so go to your library, get one, and follow the steps they recommend. It’s time consuming, but it’s your foundation. Everything else will benefit if you do it well.

3. Focus on getting referrals

I happen to believe that 80% of every decision to start martial arts is somehow influenced by some sort of referral. Before people buy you, they almost always talk to someone who has had a good experience. This means that encouraging your happy customers to pass your name along may be the most effective way to spend your time. You should look at every new customer as a referral source.

4. Promote the next class

It’s a common conclusion that the cost of marketing to a current customer is much less expensive than the cost of obtaining a new customer. Some say that this number may be as high as twenty times the cost.

Focus on retention of your students before you invest in marketing to a new audience. Retention need not be a costly exercise just concentrate on delivering great classes, providing a positive environment and being reliable.  After that you can work on every aspect of your school to ensure the best retention possible.  At my school our quit rate is on average 2.8% each month.  So working hard to "shut the back door" is key to school growth.

5. Increase your lead conversion rate

Every enquiry from a qualified prospect is golden. What’s the value of an inbound lead? £40, £50 or even £100 per month?  Try not to think monthly though, think annually!  £480 or £1200.  Surely its worth pulling out all the stops to answer that call or get back to them asap.  If you have a lot of schools in your area, you can bet that they are calling each one.

What percentage of your leads do you convert to sales? If you don’t know what that percentage is, then take some time to figure it out and you might be surprised. Generally, if you’re not closing one in five leads, then there’s some work to be done. If you are able to close 30% of your incoming leads, then how much would this increase your revenue? Long story short, increasing the conversion of inbound leads can have an immediate and huge effect.

6. Pay close attention to your web site

These days, every prospect sees your website before they ever talk to you or buy from you. What does it mean to have your website as your first impression? First, ask yourself if your website makes your company look better or worse than you actually are? If it’s worse, then you’re losing sales. How many clicks does it take for a visitor to find the course they want and click the register button? If it’s more than three clicks, then your website is frustrating and leaving money on the table. 

Are you penalising yourself straight away by not having a mobile friendly website?  Have you got yourself an SSL?? 

If you don't know about SSL and how to get the most from your website you need to spend a few quid on our online course - check it out here!!

7. Understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and spend lots of time on it

Unlike Google Adwords, SEO is “free”, assuming you have the knowledge and the time to take advantage of it. The more time you spend on it, the more organic website traffic you will get and the more training you will sell. 

8. Get the most out of e-mail marketing

This is another free one that anybody can do, but most don’t do it very well. And don't think for one minute that GDPR has effectively axed your ablility to use email marketing, it just means you can no longer email to those people who popped in 6 years ago.  An active and current list even if it is 70% smaller is much more valuable than an extensive list of 1000's who never ever open your email!

Second, you must have a plan to email your customers after they take a class. Right after the class is when they are most likely to register for a second class. The further away they get from the class date, the less likely they will be to take a class. Think this one through and setup weekly email batches that go out to your students.

Third, do a newsletter. This is a natural for a school. Get your upcoming class schedule in the e-mail with links to each upcoming class. Remember that for your prospects, the timing of the class is almost as important as the class itself. With so much competition, make sure you show the class dates in the e-mail.

9. Document your success and get customer testimonials

Do you have a class evaluation? Do you ask your students if you can use their name and comments in your marketing materials? Like I mentioned earlier, almost no one buys training before they learn how good the training is from someone else. Grow your business by putting testimonials and positive quotes on your website, brochure, and catalog. There’s a direct correlation between the number of testimonials a prospect reads and the likelihood they’ll buy your training.

10. "A closed school, always closes"

It should go without saying that being open during regular business hours will be key to your success.  Okay, if you are a part time school I am not suggesting you try to hire a venue to be open all day, but could you find a way for your school phone to be answered whilst you are at work.  An answering service really isn't very expensive nowadays, but it will be worth the investment - ooops, I just mentioned investment, this article is meant to be about free things, but to be frank you have to spend money to make money, so try and spend it in the right places.

Kickfit Consulting will help you spend your budget in the right places and with our help you can be the rising star school in your community!

Grand Master Zulfi Ahmed - 1st, 2nd, 3rd February ...
Preparing for 2019

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