Make Email Newsletters Work for Your Fitness Business

Do you send an email newsletter for your business? If the answer is yes, great! You’ll see some great tips later on to get your email newsletters performing even better. If the answer is no, what’s the reasoning? You probably get a few in your inbox on a regular basis if you subscribe to industry updates. Does it remind you of clutter? Do you have a love/hate relationship with these emails?

Sure, opinions and feelings vary about the use of email newsletters, but the question you need to ask yourself is: “Is an email newsletter a good fit for my industry and business?”

If you’re a martial arts or fitness business, the answer is yes.

Why send an email newsletter to members and leads?

Email newsletters are a way for you to gather all the news, updates, and content during the past month in one place. You can’t expect prospects and members to look at your website or social media pages all the time.

An email newsletter is another way of engaging your connections. It directs readers to other places where they can engage with you and shows how you’re active in your community. For example, if you put on events or run membership promotions, newsletters should be a key component in your email marketing strategy.

In fact, if you send a newsletter, you’re more likely to see results elsewhere. Direct traffic drives value and leads. According to research done by Parse.ly, a data analytics company, The New York Times newsletter subscribers “consume twice as much content as those who don’t get newsletters, and they’re twice as likely to become paid subscribers.”

What makes an email newsletter effective?

1) Established goals and metrics

You’re not going to know what’s working if you haven’t decided what success looks like. What do you want from sending a newsletter? Answers could look like any of these or more, depending on your business goals:

    1. X% increased member attendance to classes or events
    2. Y% more referrals
    3. Z% increase in appointments or paid trials

2) Consistent frequency

Stick to what’s realistic for your business and time. This could be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or another frequency that works for you. The most important element of your newsletter frequency is to commit to it. Your readers will learn to expect your name in their inboxes. If you need to dial your frequency back, communicate your new frequency to your readers. Ghosting—or disappearing without notice—won’t go over well.

3) Subject lines

Email inboxes are harsh, competitive places, like a gladiator arena for a reader’s attention. Good subject lines get your foot in the door. They’re not a guarantee for readership, but getting someone to open your email already is an accomplishment. Make that first introduction count.

4) Valuable content

Any disgruntled comments that you hear about newsletters most likely come from readers not feeling satisfied about what they receive. The ideal ratio is 90 percent educational content to 10 percent promotional content. You want to make readers feel like your newsletter has added to their day, not subtracted from it. Test different kinds of content to see what your readers respond to the most. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.

5) Niche audience(s)

Your email newsletter isn’t for everyone, so don’t try to appeal to everyone. Be decisive about for whom the content is important. Members? Leads who came in for a trial membership but didn’t return? Segmenting email lists in an email marketing software (like iContact) makes it easy to send specific content to designated audiences.

6) Make it personal

Newsletters are for building relationships and community. These two pieces are crucial foundational elements to a successful business in martial arts and fitness. Using conversational tone, versus a formal one, will help you connect with your audience.

What do fitness businesses need to put in an email newsletter?

Remember, it’s always best to do more of what’s effective, even if that means including less content in your newsletter. Avoid focusing on your writing ability (make sure to check spelling and punctuation, of course) and instead focus on what provides value to your audience.

1) Recent blog articles

Distribution of your blog is important to drive traffic to your website. Again, part of why newsletters are effective is for that reason. Blogs don’t need to be unique all the time—you can cycle content so long as it’s relevant and valuable.

2) Member or student highlights

Orangetheory Fitness is a larger-scale example of a business that emphasizes community through member spotlights in its newsletters. Because we’re in industries that thrive through strong relationships, spotlights are an easy way to strengthen the relationships you already have and to market your community to prospective members.

Within martial arts, belt progressions or similar big moments for students are a must to feature in your school’s newsletter.

3) Current and upcoming events

It’s important to show your members and prospects that you have an active, thriving community at your business for retention and lead generation. When done well, you can ride the line between educational and promotional without sounding pushy. Make it attractive—not salesy.

4) Engaging, relevant videos

You don’t need high-production value videos to be successful or to reap their benefits. Videos continue to engage audiences, on average, more than other forms of content. The camera on your mobile phone is sufficient to record expert tips from you, quick breakdowns of proper form, or glimpses into how great your community is.

5) Industry or community news

Is something big happening in the world of fitness or martial arts that would interest your readers? Write a short summary about the news, why it’s important, and link to the original source.

6) Social media and website links

Encourage your readers to continue to see updates elsewhere on your social media profiles, blog, and website. Include phrases like, “Follow us on Facebook to see more” and link any social media buttons within your newsletter template.

How to create an email newsletter with email marketing software

1) Pick an email marketing software

One that integrates with your member management software makes it really easy. Member Solutions’ software integrates with iContact, which is easy to use and doesn’t require coding/HTML experience.

2) Choose a template

Choose a template that is appropriate for your audience. Make it clean. More elaborate designs don’t make emails more effective.

3) Insert content

Have a couple consistent sections. It’s okay to experiment with what content works best.  A/B testing, like what iContact has, works really well to find out. A/B testing is when you test two different subject lines, call-to-action buttons/links, or content pieces to figure out what your readers like the most. It’s a data-driven way to find out what your audience wants.

4) Choose a subject line

Make it conversational and attention grabbing. Attention spans in email inboxes run thin. Make your subject line count. Keep it under 40 characters.

Making newsletters a part of your email marketing strategy

Newsletters continue to be an important part of engaging your community and attracting non-members to join. As you’re creating the best email newsletter strategy for your needs, remember these three key points:

  • Create your newsletter for your specific audience. It’s not your job to appeal to everyone.
  • Valuable content drives member loyalty and new leads.
  • Make email newsletters easy and professional with email marketing software.

 

4 Steps to a Genuine Membership Sales Pitch

Does selling memberships make you feel greasy? Think of it this way: Your sales process is the key to not only more money for your martial arts school but also the way to discovering who needs your talents the most.

 

A good sales process is less of an outright pitch and more of a dialogue that helps your prospect envision success with you. The result is an opportunity to build trust, fellowship, and emotional investment.

Being good at selling memberships and running a business does not take away from your existing relationships at your martial arts school. Developing your sales skills protects your livelihood and adds value to the services that you provide.

4 Steps to Build Relationships in Your
Membership Sales

1. Be the best at what you do.

You can’t make a case for yourself if you don’t have something valuable to offer in the first place. Get your school organized. Nurture the unique qualities of your classes and community. If you feel like you need more time to focus on developing your business, try automating admin tasks with your martial arts software or delegating office work like membership billing.

2. Talk about value, not price.

Price questions require that you follow a specific sales script that can make or break the sale. When you’re asked about prices, avoid answering with a number. Responding with a number forces you to justify your value before your prospect has experienced your services. Many prospects ask about price because they don’t know what they want or what to ask about your martial arts school. Rather than discussing price, show the value of your services by talking about your prospect’s goals and past experiences.

A) Discover goals.

Always say that pricing will depend on the program your prospect chooses. If you give your prospect price when he or she asks, you create an objection that immediately puts you in a position to defend your services. Make the conversation option-oriented with questions like:

  • Why did you call us?
  • What do you hope to get out of this program?
  • Are you a beginner, or have you trained before?

Much like if you were a journalist, an interview-style conversation helps you get to know what the person actually wants. Particularly if the person has never tried martial arts before and doesn’t know what to expect. Focus on a dialogue that reveals goals first. Write down your prospect’s responses on paper so that he or she knows you’re attentive.

B) Discover past experiences.

Again, when you talk about the value of your school, differentiating factors are important. Now that you know what your prospect wants out of your program, you need to know what hasn’t worked in the past.

“How long have you been thinking about |LS|goal or training|RS|?”

Asking this question upfront avoids the possibility of hearing I need to think about it later in the sales process. Tailor this question as appropriate for parents talking to you on the behalf of their children.

“What else have you tried to accomplish |LS|goal|RS|, and why didn’t it work for you?”

Asking what your prospect has tried before gives you a better sense of his or her needs (e.g. support, beginner-friendly instruction, class structure). It also gives you the chance to empathize with his or her struggle and to talk about how your school addresses those pain points.

3. Plan to overcome 4 common membership objections.

An objection is any roadblock to a prospective member saying yes to your school. Objections arise when you don’t know how to address them early in the conversation with your prospect. Taking the lead, however, confirms that your prospect won’t flake later.

When asking these questions, avoid accepting I think so as an answer. If you hear it, don’t proceed any further unless your prospect can confirm with 100 percent certainty. Your recipe for success: question, listen, and verify.

Objection 1: Location & Transportation

Confirm that your prospect is in the area and has transportation to get to class. Even if you’re talking to a parent, ask.

Objection 2: Schedule & Time

Propose days and times. If your prospect is unable to confirm, ask when works better in his or her schedule.

Objection 3: Motivation & Commitment

You’ll need to help your prospect envision what it would be like to achieve his or her goal with the help of your school. Lead with positive reinforcement first. Ask, What do you see happening with |LS|achieving goal|RS|? What is that going to do for you? Follow up with asking what makes them unhappy about his or her current situation. Again, write everything down.

Not only does envisionment help your prospect, but it also helps you know how to best support the person.

Objection 4: Family or Significant Other

Oftentimes, prospects will say he or she needs to consult a family member or a significant other before moving forward with your school. Ask in your own words, Is there anyone who isn’t supportive of your accomplishing this goal? Who is the first person you’re going to tell when you get home and are they 100% supportive of you?

4. Give your prospect a trial membership

Trial memberships are a powerful sales and marketing tool for your martial arts school. It’s key to walk through the discovery process first with your prospect so that he/she understands your value and they feel empowered toward their goals. Afterward, give your prospect a chance to experience what your school through a free class, free week, or a paid trial with a free uniform.

Video Marketing for Martial Arts

If you haven’t noticed video marketing taking over the internet, then you haven’t been active online for the past few years. More than for showcasing cats and other miraculous feats, video marketing has the kind of punch that martial arts schools need for attracting new students and keeping current students.

The Cost of Video Marketing in Martial Arts

Nothing! Video marketing is simple to do when your martial arts school has existing social media accounts and a website. If any of these elements are missing—particularly a branded website—address that first. 97Display is a great internet marketing agency for branded websites because it specializes in our industry. Check them out here.

Social Media Accounts

If you have your social media lined up, great! If not, signing up for these accounts is free:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube or Vimeo
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

You don’t need to sign up for every account. Focus on what makes sense for your school. We recommend that you start with Facebook and YouTube.

Video Editing Software

Basic video editing also comes standard on Apple products (iMovie) and Microsoft computers (Movie Maker in older versions of Windows and Story Remix in the Photos app of Windows 10). Even without experience, you can shoot video on a smartphone—yours or one of your staff member’s—edit on your computer, and upload to your social media accounts and blog for free.

Professional Video Marketing

If you’re ready to step up your video quality beyond the ability of a smartphone, professionally filmed videos are a great idea. We recommend planning a budget and saving for a professional video as a long-term investment. If your school is ready for it, we encourage you to take the leap of faith.

Why: Hosting a professional video ad on your martial arts school’s website is the push already-interested prospects need to choose your school rather than your competition. And if you’re experiencing rapid growth, you will make up the cost in new students.

Video Return on Investment (ROI)

The cool part about investing your valuable time in creating videos is that once the work is done, those videos are yours to distribute and reuse as you want. You gain endless return on marketing and retention material that can cost nothing out-of-pocket if you choose.

Video Marketing Tips for Martial Arts Schools

Video marketing strategy relies on distribution for exposure. Social media plays a key role in telling your school’s story to people who otherwise may not know about martial arts or your business.

Videos to Share on Social Media & Your Website

Video has the ability to connect with audiences in ways that text or photos alone may not. Student/parent testimonials, student accomplishments, belt testing, community events, school demos, and competitions should all go online. The point is to showcase what makes your martial arts school unique and valuable to the local community.

If you or a staff member can’t capture video, ask parents or family members if you can share footage that they took. Regardless of how you get your video, always ask parental or guardian consent first. A way to address consent early is to include a photography and videography release waiver with new student contracts.

Post videos to your strongest online channels (e.g. Facebook and website) with a short description of what’s happening in the video. Make sure your post settings allow for sharing. If you prefer to avoid vetting negative comments, you can turn them off.

Go the extra step in video marketing

If you want more people to see your video, and you have extra cash in your marketing budget, boost your video post on Facebook. You then can create audiences in Facebook ads based on the people who watched your sponsored content for more than 30 seconds.

Increase Martial Arts Retention with Video Marketing

Sharing videos on social media also is effective for retaining your current students. Showing off your school’s expertise, staff, and student achievements boosts student and family morale. Students will want to stay in a community where they feel appreciated, acknowledged, and supported. Video is an easy way to do that.

Create Technique Videos for Students & Staff

An internal way to increase student retention is to record technique videos with one of your top instructors. Creating technique videos helps:

  • students feel more confident practicing at home (looping back to the idea of feeling supported) and
  • to promote instructional consistency across staff members.

Film two versions for each technique: a step-by-step version that breaks down what students are expected to learn and a version that shows what the moves look like when performed at full speed.

Where to save your technique videos for student access

Have a website developer make a password-protected database where you can upload and store technique videos. You can create a universal password to give out to new students when they join your school. If you need an immediate, lower-cost option, a private Facebook group is another great option.

How to use technique videos to help your staff in class

Technique videos help remind staff how to break down the day’s lesson in a way that is consistent and informative. Keep a tablet near your mats for instructors to reference in case they forget how to walk students through techniques step-by-step.

Key Video Marketing & Retention Points

  • Video marketing is easy to include in your existing marketing strategy. Once you make a video, repurpose it how you like.
  • DIY videos are free to make and distribute.
  • Share your videos on social media and your website, preferably on your blog.
  • Sharing videos boosts student and family pride in being involved in your school and the martial arts community.
  • Technique videos keep your staff’s instruction consistent.
  • Technique videos help students feel confident about practicing at home and coming back to class prepared.

Have you used video marketing to attract students and to improve retention at your martial arts school? Share your experiences below.

Make time for creative strategies like video marketing by doing less office work. Click here to learn more about how martial arts software can help your school grow.

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How to Use Trial Memberships in Martial Arts

We debate the best way to structure trial memberships in the martial arts industry: Should prospective members pay? Does it make sense to offer a class or classes for free? The core of the trial membership discussion surrounds how to attract new people to your martial arts school while maintaining, communicating, and demonstrating value.

 

Benefits of Paid Trial Memberships

Supporters of the paid trial philosophy say that payees are more serious about keeping initial appointments. Because paid trial members already invested/financially invested in a shortened version of your program, the hardest part of transitioning to a full membership—the first sale—is completed. The experience, growth, and relationship with you become further selling points for your trial member.

Benefits of Free Trial Memberships

Opinions of free trials are less straightforward. What giving out free trial memberships will get you is a substantial increase of leads. And we really like leads. Retail market research suggests that consumers are attracted to free product samples (or in this instance, free classes) because of two strong elements of community that we also find in martial arts: relationships and reciprocity. However, the potential drawbacks of free trials within your business model are:

  • The time/operations cost to support non-paying students
  • Prospects look for a “hard sell” or ask, “What’s the catch?”
  • No guarantee of a measurable financial ROI (unless you can win back prospects)
  • Less of an incentive to build a relationship with you or your instructors

Our Solution: Combine a Paid & Free Trial Membership Strategy

We think paid and free trials have valuable returns when you consider the strengths of each to create a marketing/lead generation strategy that fits the specific needs of your business. The first step is to use a different approach for your external audience (fresh leads who don’t have an in-person relationship with you) and your internal audience (your current students and their social networks).

How to use free trials with your internal audience/current students

Giving samples of services for free is more effective when you leverage your existing relationships. Your current students are your best advocates for the value, example, and growth you provide for your community. An in-house referral program is a perfect structure to include no-cost-attached lead generation.

Skip any overt sales pitches when you talk to your students about bringing their friends to class. Hardcore sales talk will feel disingenuous in established, trusting relationships. Approach your referral program—or bringing a guest for free, as you may say—as a privilege students have earned. It’s a softer approach that relies on networking and your ability to create an attractive community for new prospects.

We recommend that you offer discounts or rewards for students who refer friends and for new students who converted from a referral.

How to use paid trials to generate leads & commitment

Paid trials will continue to draw more qualified, serious leads to your school regardless of additional swag you give as a new member package. However, including a uniform, gloves, or another bonus adds to the idea that paid trial members are joining a niche community. Again, you’re aiming to further the feeling of emotional investment for paid trial members to convert them to full-time members after the trial period ends.

How to Use Your Martial Arts Blog to Get More Leads

How to Use Your Martial Arts Blog to Get More Leads (3).png

A blog is one of the best marketing tools to increase website leads—which results in more students—for your martial arts school. The way you maximize your lead-generating blog is through fresh content and optimizing it for search engines like Google.

How SEO drives quality leads to your martial arts website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the digital marketing technique that helps schools like yours display in a prospect’s Google search results when he/she researches “martial arts schools near me”.

Using SEO to generate website leads should be your marketing priority. Why? Prospects who look up martial arts schools near them are already interested in your services, which means you’ll be able to convert them into members more easily.

In addition, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to attract SEO leads; you only need to create great content that draws them to your site—like blog articles.

How your martial arts blog helps you attract leads.

Blogging is an easy way to advertise and establish your expertise with the public—and more so, the families who may want to join your school. Even if no one were to read your blog, regularly posting new content help you rank higher in Google search results and drives more qualified prospects to your site.

With the recurring mentions of keywords and topics, like

  • Martial arts school for kids

  • Women’s self-defense

  • Your specific discipline

You build the knowledge base that Google relies on to rank your site. Over time, your web pages are more likely to rank well in search results.

Blogging helps attract leads in another way. Your blog is like a virtual bulletin board; it shows that your martial arts school has an active community. Your prospects are more likely to convert when they connect with recent posts about classes, student achievements, and other information.

Many business owners avoid blogging because of the misconception that the process takes too much time. In reality, not blogging is costing you more in new students and retention.

Use these 3 steps to make martial arts blogging for SEO simple.1) Include keywords in blog titles & URLs.

Google pulls search results based on the keywords prospects use. In your situation, keywords include

  • Your business name

  • Your business location(s)

  • Your program offerings

Blog titles and their corresponding URLs are perfect places to include these keywords. When a prospect searches any of these criterion/criteria, your school will appear in the results. Avoid generic blog titles like “Recent Activities”. Make titles specific with keywords. A better lead-generating title for activity updates is “|LS|Business Name|RS|’s Martial Arts Classes on |LS|Date|RS|.” If you’re not comfortable naming new blogs right away, try renaming older blogs with relevant keywords for your school.

2) Transcribe videos & name uploaded files with keywords.

Well-placed, high-quality video and images are crucial for your blog’s performance. Before uploading images or videos to your blogs, name your files with keywords like the ones listed in Step 1. Transcribe any video dialogue you have on your site. Videos with transcriptions are great as standalone blog posts. Search engines crawl this information and count it toward your ranking.

3) Share links between your social media sites and your blog.

Search engines are all about related content. When you link to other sites from a webpage like your blog, it’s called a backlink. When you backlink between your social media sites and your blog, Google is more likely to boost your ranking.

The boost you get is because search engines recognize a web of backlinks as proof of content’s quality, authority, and trustworthiness. Share new blogs on your social media sites, and re-share older articles as evergreen—or timeless—content. Reposting content should be a part of your marketing strategy. It’s an effective way to connect with loyal and new members of your audience.

If you’re looking to generate more leads for your martial arts website, 97Display can help.

Why Community Service Matters for Martial Arts Schools

Through contributing and giving back, we are able to continue to grow our martial arts business. As a byproduct of serving our community, we also have the ability to maximize the exposure of our school.

Since opening our school in 1994, we have been actively involved in our community and remain heavily connected to several local organizations. By doing so, we have developed a reputation of being a reliable business and one that many organizations call on often for support.

Here are 3 ways we are involved in our community:

1. Chamber of Commerce

Through business to business networking, we are able to build relationships that help create opportunities to market our school. This is also a great way to maximize brand recognition within your community. Other local businesses will begin to refer you to their customers and friends.

2. Donate to Schools

We are always looking for opportunities to donate to school auctions, raffles and award ceremonies. These donations can be used for school fundraisers or as incentives for various school programs. By donating and giving first, you may also create the opportunity to speak in the classrooms.

3. Local Sports Organizations

Sponsoring youth athletic leagues, teams or clubs can be a great way to show your community support and introduce you to a brand new audience. Many youth organizations host opening and or closing ceremonies and tournaments, which may provide an opportunity to set up a booth, distribute marketing materials, and more.

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”

-Winston Churchill

By getting more involved with your community, you will not only create a positive impact on those you serve, you will also build a solid reputation with local residents and fellow business owners.

About the author: Jason Flame is a 7th Degree Black Belt in American Tang Soo Do and owner of Tang Soo Do University in Moorpark, CA. He has also served as a MAIA Elite consultant since 2010. Jason is an active member of his community and serves on the Board of Directors for several local organizations. As an active community member, he attributes the success of his business to understanding the importance of giving back to those in his community.

Use Direct Mail To Win Back Lost Prospects

Direct mail leaves behind a sour aftertaste in the age of digital marketing. Email takes the spotlight, and to its credit, works when done well. When email isn’t done well, your martial arts school can lose money on lost prospects. We define “lost prospects” in this article as interested people who failed to follow up with you or chose another school instead of yours. Direct mail is your winback solution.

Direct mail may not be as intuitive as email, but it’s a low-cost marketing trick that has a high ROI and consumer brand recall. Member Solutions, in partnership with martial arts industry expert Erik Charles Russell, has created the Pink Eraser-Invisible Close Method to help you recover the revenue that many schools never see.

What is the Pink Eraser-Invisible Close Method?

For its wordy name, the Pink Eraser Method is simple. The Pink Eraser Method combines sending a winback letter to the prospect with a pink eraser enclosed on the premise of helping them “erase the mistake” of not joining your martial arts school. It borrows the eraser concept from Dan S. Kennedy, a renowned marketing expert with 33 years’ experience who has written several books on topics like direct mail.

Because of the nature of the technique, you aren’t competing with the digital swamp that is most likely your lost prospect’s inbox. The weight and shape of the eraser gives the prospect a reason to investigate the envelope and to read the winback letter. You create an opportunity for a new business relationship through a low-risk situation.

How to use the Pink Eraser-Invisible Close Method

Materials You Need

  • Pink eraser
  • Member Solutions’ Prospect Winback Letter
  • A padded envelope

The only rule you must follow.

Use the Pink Eraser Method as a last attempt at making a sale. Do not include it in your everyday sales process. Keep the effectiveness of this technique by using it with people who have disappeared after a trial or short-term promotion for your martial arts classes. Need help with refining your sales process? Our member management software can help.

Step 1) The Pink Eraser Winback Mailer

Insert a pink eraser of your choice and the Winback Letter into a padded envelope. Send your direct mail package to your lost prospect. The weight of the eraser gets your prospects to open the envelope out of pure curiosity. Once opened, the introduction of the Winback Letter starts as,

“Anyone can plainly see…

I have enclosed a BIG eraser for BIG mistakes
because I think you’ve made one.”

The rest of the letter talks to the reader in a way that’s relatable (a low-barrier entry to a relationship). For example:

“I get it. You didn’t become a member because, for one reason or another, you felt like signing up on the spot would be a mistake. Maybe your fear is due to your past experience signing up for a membership that you never used. If you not becoming a member is in any way related to this, I want to help with that.”

It also is peppered with incentives like a free one month (30-day) membership and three bonuses of your choosing. It may sound formulaic, but the combination of emotional appeals with cool, free stuff works.

Step 2) The Invisible Close Method

The Invisible Close Method (ICM), as coined by Erik Charles Russell, allows you to close a sale without asking a prospect to make an immediate decision. Having time to build a relationship with the person and to demonstrate the value of your services often sells itself. Money then becomes an investment instead of an expense.

Ask to store credit card information in your member management software when your prospect returns to your martial arts school to redeem his or her free 30 days and free gifts. Tell your prospect that before the 30-day mark, she/he can decide to leave at any point with no charge.

The ICM sale happens near the conclusion of the 30 days. Talk with enthusiasm to your prospect about the progress he/she has made. Say that you want to see him/her continue that progress. If you have shown the value of your martial arts school, you’ll have an eager new student.

Make Direct Mail Work for You

The impact of direct mail can expand to other areas of marketing, like increasing awareness about your school, promoting summer specials, or engaging your current students. However, direct mail, like all forms of marketing, should be evaluated based on your needs and its effectiveness. One medium, like email, may be more effective for one martial arts school but direct mail and community networking may be more effective for another.

Although it may feel archaic, we recommend using direct mail, regardless of what’s trendy. If you’re looking for more martial arts marketing tips, Member Solutions can help!

Download your Member Solutions Winback Letter here to convert more prospects.

Free your schedule to build the relationships that fuel your martial arts school. Learn how Billing Manager gets you away from repetitive paperwork today.

5-Step Guerrilla Marketing for Martial Arts Schools

Need summer conversions at your martial arts school? Try guerilla marketing. We assure you it has nothing to do with bringing an actual gorilla along with your demo team. While that would be impressive…we don’t recommend it.

Guerilla marketing is a catchy turn-of-phrase that describes marketing techniques that stray from the traditional methods you may know—direct mail, radio, print ads, and even today’s digital marketing—to get maximum exposure and impact. Examples include putting underwear on a statue, branding public spaces (with permission, of course), and vending machines creating awareness about areas without clean drinking water.

During the summer, martial arts schools typically experience a shift in enrollment. Parents are less interested in enrolling their kids in activities that they perceive as year-long activities and more interested in filling their summer with activities that can be enjoyed without disrupting summer vacation plans.

Creating your own guerrilla marketing strategy means that you don’t have to accept that summer gets slow. You can take actions that not only keep you afloat but give you more cash flow—if they’re done in a creative, thoughtful way that sets you up later for success.

As martial arts school owner and Member Solutions sales expert Rick Ellis says, there are specific ways you can market and network yourself (and by default, your school) that build rapport, reputation, and eventually, profit. Create your guerrilla marketing strategy with Rick’s 5-step plan.

1. Get a School Contact List

Market to local families with children within your desired age group as early as February. Get a list of mailing addresses for prospective students within your school district. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Before Spring Break—Introduce yourself as a community leader to administrative offices. Communicate your intention to provide a safe, productive summer activity for kids and ask for a list of addresses. We promise it’s legal—under the Freedom of Information Act, you can request this information as a taxpayer. Expect to pay for the list of names you receive.
  • Starting the New School Year—If your local schools are not willing to give you addresses, avoid fighting it. Your reputation as a leader is more important. Instead, find out if your school district’s PTA distributes school phone books to students. Ask your martial arts students to bring in a copy of the phone book from each school. Reward the first child from each school who gives you the phone book with prizes like a free t-shirt, a free private lesson, or a raffle ticket into a larger prize drawing for an item like a game console.

2. Be Creative with Marketing Materials

Prepare marketing materials, like flyers and pencils, with your martial arts school name and phone number. Why flyers and pencils? You’ll be ready for any kind of situation—giving you the option to decide which is best for the moment. For example, schools may have rules about allowing you to pass out flyers but be perfectly fine with your passing out pencils (which they see as less aggressive in marketing intent). Because both are easy to give out to prospective students, you will never be unprepared.

3. Strengthen the Relationships You Have

Continue to build strong relationships with parents and current students. Your existing relationships with current students and their parents are your business’s stronghold. In fact, one great way to get in front of kids of your target age group is to name a “student of the week” during the peak sign-up season. Make the award lunch with an instructor. Winners can choose their favorite instructor at your school to eat with them in the cafeteria. Parents your program will be happy to advocate on your behalf to get this scheduled with administrators.


4. Network to Expand Your Connections

Offer to be “on call” anytime a teacher wants the day off. While demonstrations are a classic way to showcase the value of martial arts and your school, some academic institutions may be wary of allowing new visitors into their space. Take a different approach by connecting with P.E. teachers and others at the beginning of the school year. Introduce yourself as a community leader who specializes in personal development and martial arts. Offer yourself as a substitute teacher.

If you are able to set this up, don’t miss making this a memorable event! Invite other teachers in the school to watch your presentation. Bring your demo team to put on a big show.

Teach something that makes the adults in the school glad you came and feeling like you are a resource to them and the community (e.g. stranger awareness, bully defense, and courtesy). Ask for permission to send students home with your school’s flyer in place of getting paid. (If you’re approved to substitute but can’t give out flyers, this is where your branded pencils come in.)


5. Create Future Marketing Opportunities for Yourself

Don’t forget to invite yourself back next year (and schedule it right away!). At the end of an in-school visit, talk with teachers and administrators who said yes to your visit. Ask them if they were happy with what happened that day. Assuming you did a great job, and they say yes, ask if they would be open to setting up a repeat visit the same time next year.

If they say yes, book it right away on your calendar. Send everyone involved an invitation through email. Don’t wait until you get back to your school to do this—do it from your smartphone!


Remember, You Define Your Success

By creating a two- to four-week summer program available at a discounted price that includes a uniform, you can get families to fall in love with your school. Add in your 5-step guerrilla marketing plan now (with tweaks as needed for your needs), and you’ll convert new students by the end of summer.

Boost Your Event Revenue with 5 Online Registration Tricks

We’re excited to say that we just launched the new Event Manager Dashboard! For anyone who is unfamiliar with Event Manager, it is a simple, powerful online event registration tool that is well loved by summer camp organizers, martial arts school owners, and more. Among the praise we’ve received about Event Manager, we heard many voices in our strong client community asking for a more modern approach to their favorite event registration software.

Hence the Event Manager Dashboard was born.

We’re fortunate to be a part of a community who values growth and communication. The Event Manager Dashboard release is our way of responding to the data-driven advancements in online registration; but more importantly, being the best we can for our clients.

So what can an event organizer, camp director, or martial arts school owner do with Event Manager—and the new Dashboard—to get more event revenue?

1) Email past participants about upcoming events.

Maximize your output by using resources you already have to build the relationships you want. Email is a simple, direct way use the information stored in Event Manager to connect past participants with upcoming events. Keeping in contact creates brand awareness and loyalty among your target audience. Don’t feel pressured to design fancy emails; writing text in line with your brand voice is effective and personal. Include events that are both similar and different to what they’ve done before. Offer a mix of consistency and variety to increase the likelihood of continued participation.

2) Use the click-through event revenue reports and review event performance quickly with interactive graphs.

Revenue isn’t just great to have; it’s another data point to measure the popularity of what you offer scaled to the size of your events. If you have a non-profit business or camp, your budget is influenced by how much you raise through fundraising, and fundraising affects how you allocate your resources throughout the year. For for-profit businesses, revenue is likely your primary metric for success. In either case, revenue results can determine whether you continue, discontinue, or change an event.

In Event Manager, choose a period within the date dropdown to see quickly what key metrics look like over time. The Registrations by Form pie chart is a great way to review the past year to identify your most successful events.

3) Replicate forms from popular events.

Make event planning easy by re-introducing successful events. It’s a great way to cultivate brand loyalty in your participants. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to create something new every time; if you’ve built a following for an event, keep it going.

To take the next step, make great events even better. Adjust events based on feedback from loyal participants. You can also use feedback to bring on new events that are targeted to your audience’s preferences. Find your participants’ favorite events in Event Manager’s Recent Forms list, or make a new form.

4) Create simple event registration forms. Use follow-up emails to include additional information.

Best practice for event registration is to keep forms simple so you don’t overwhelm registrants, causing them to abandon the form. Don’t overuse dropdowns. Limit options using dependent fields. Complex forms lead to fewer decisions and a lower completion rate.

Think about designing your form based on the essential information that you and your registrants need to know. If you have a form that works, replicate the format in Event Manager for all your events. Follow up through email to provide or request additional information based on what they selected.

5) Use Dashboard as a continuous part of event planning.

Remember, data is good for you. Keep an eye on metrics in Dashboard to know what you’ve been doing well and what to adjust for your next event. Use what you learn to improve your overall event-planning strategy.

Not already a user and want to see more? Take a tour with us!

3 Ways to Use Social Media Contests for Member Engagement

You may be sick of hearing how social media has a significant impact on your outreach, but having an online presence outside of your website is not negotiable for your business’s current member engagement and lead generation. Running social media platform-specific contests, in addition to sharing student highlights and news, gives prospects an easy way to get an insider’s glimpse.

Use these three social spaces for your contest campaigns.

1. Facebook: The Community Builder

The basics: Facebook should be the foundation of your social media strategy. As you know, the multi-faceted platform has capacities for public and private groups, invitations, messaging, and more. Because Facebook is a dynamic community space, it may take time to build an audience if you don’t already have one. On the other hand, this versatility makes Facebook the perfect environment for social media contests.

Keep that dynamic element in mind when designing a Facebook giveaway that meets your business’s goals. Avoid running a contest that is overly complex and deterring participants. Set a timeframe with rules for your contest and stick to it—no exceptions. Examples include:

  • photo caption contests,
  • page likes contests, and
  • post sharing contests.

Level up: Use paid posts and ads to reach a larger audience.

2. Twitter: Be the Buzz Through Mirco-Messaging

The basics: Twitter is a more competitive social space that needs timeliness, relevancy, and frequency for success. It can be difficult to reach an audience due to these factors, but if you have a strong base of followers, you’ll see results.

Giveaways are particularly easy due to retweets, or Twitter’s re-blogging feature. An easy example of a Twitter contest is:

  • The first five people to retweet will receive a prize of your choice (pick something that is relevant to your marketing goals).

Level up: Reach out to your friends, family, and professional connections for retweets and mentions. Paid Twitter ads also are an option.

3. Instagram: Interactive Photo Sharing

The basics: The fitness and martial arts industries have a strong presence on Instagram. The visual element and the more personable feel of the platform are great for persuasive messaging—which makes Instagram our favorite place for social media contests. Common contests on Instagram include:

  • photo captions and
  • having contestants tag friends in the comments section.

Level up: Use “non-designer” graphic design tools like Canva to create your own images. Make sure you brand everything you create with your gym’s or martial art school’s name in case someone shares what you post. Because paid posts on Facebook integrate with Instagram, you have the option to run any contest promotions concurrently on two platforms.

Already social savvy and want more strategy? Take it a step further into forum spaces like Reddit. Being a regular contributor to threads relating to your discipline will help you network with others for additional ideas.