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 guerrilla 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.

Guerrilla 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

hand holding mobile device with social media icons

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.

Webinar: 10 Add-Ons to Increase Event Revenue

If you’re only offering registrants the ability to sign up for your event, you’re selling yourself, quite literally, short. Why? Registrants actually want options to make additional purchases made available through your events. Discover how to incorporate 10 event add-ons from Sarah McGeehan, our Client Success Expert, in this must-see webinar.

About Sarah McGeehan: Having held almost every position at Member Solutions, she knows the entire client experience inside-out. Sarah is a true jack-of-all-trades who is highly knowledgeable about connecting businesses with their ideal solution.

Guest Post: The Health of Your Gym

Guest Post: The Health of Your Gym

Warning: This is going to be a hard read if you’re eating.

It’s a bit ironic that facilities for our health can pose bacterial harm if not properly cleaned. Although places like gyms are not number one on the list of highly germ populated public locations, they can be one of the most common areas to contract bacteria.

Nobody wants to think about all these microscopic germs and particles that coexist among us, but to have a healthy fitness center inside and out, you must be properly equipped with both the knowledge, products and —oh your facility is well cleaned? Excellent! Now, how much do you spread that information around? It’s very well worth turning a quick spotlight on the cleanliness of your facility. Especially when the USA ranks number 28 out of the 188 healthiest nations despite being one of the most health data indulgent countries in the world.

So it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to remind the public you care about the shape of your gym right? Right! Here’s how to take advantage of a hygienic presence.

Provide Easy Access For Sanitation

You sneeze and there’s no tissue in sight. Here’s a worse situation. You sneeze into a tissue and there’s no trash container nearby! Avoid these minor inconveniences by providing disposable soaps, hand wipes or nonalcoholic hand sanitizers and easily accessible waste bins throughout your facility so your clients don’t have to interrupt their workout for long. They don’t have to be every two feet but a good presence of complementary products will give members a good impression of cleanliness in association with your business identity.

Establish With Your Members That You Have a Cleaning Schedule

Whenever that time for the full scrub overhaul of your facility comes around—that’s the chance to show off your results. Take a picture of your pristine facility and post it online. You could even incorporate fitness into the mix because who say’s scrubbing an entire building isn’t a workout? Or that just the act of cleaning is the only sign of a healthy gym?

Share pictures of upgrades, new installations, or even a photo of yourself arriving early! Fresh products, an active mind, and up to date materials express not just a business but a business owner who knows when to make the right decision.

Signs & Reminders

One of the most common of contagions caught at facilities of mobility is skin infection. (Gross I know, but stay with me.) The reasons for these skin infections are due to the unfortunate contact with deposits of leftover sweat on shared exercise equipment and or materials. (How are you doing? Good! We’re going get through this!) The best way this can be avoided is reminders such as: “Always Wash Hands After A Workout”, “Shower after A Swim Please” and “Remember Scandals On While Showering”.

Have any of these signs in your gym? Personalize them a bit, maybe station yourself in front of it for a quick selfie on social media. The more human involvement the better. Just no sweat!

Show That You’re a Good Example

The image of the business owner and staff is everything. Clean clothes, clean hair, etc. We’re not suggesting to have your staff share their selfies all over your social media but rather to have them included within photos of otherwise stagnant objects. Set up a new flyer? Have one of your staff smiling on the side or even holding the sign. There are numerous ways to apply human engagement and interactions to health and safety measures.

One way to ensure you have someone on the floor making it happen is by setting a reminder in our fitness center software. Set up a task for the staff member of your choice so there’s no confusion on whose job it is to post selfies with the clients!

Author: Claire Scro, Marketing Specialist.

14 Fall Event Ideas for September & October

15 Fall Event Ideas photo

Need event ideas for your martial arts school, gym, community group, or another organization? With autumn approaching, you’ll have lots of opportunities to plan around seasonal delights. These fall event ideas are easy to customize for your participants with online event registration software like Event Manager.

1) Back-to-School/Autumn Pancake Breakfast

Celebrate the turn of the season with a themed breakfast! Use it to commemorate the start of school or the beginning of autumn. Pick your favorite breakfast place in town, or make it special with an apple pancake or pumpkin pancake recipe that you can share with your attendees later. Martial arts schools or gyms: use this fall breakfast as a way to engage prospects.

2) Costume Contest

Dress up at your office, school, team, exercise class, or classroom Halloween party. If you’re a coach or martial arts instructor, have fun with your students by creating a contest that is sport specific. Create a giveaway prize with a Halloween trick or treat bag with items that your group will enjoy.

3) Pumpkin Carving Party with Contest & Prizes

Get in this family-friendly activity by using a twist: pick categories for your pumpkin contest, like the funniest, most creative, and most unexpected. Winner gets a gift card to Amazon or a favorite local restaurant. Make sure you take lots of photos to post to Facebook and Instagram to engage your online community.

4) Fall Bike Tours

Get a group together for a fun time on two wheels as the weather begins to cool. Explore the earthy, changing colors of the trees for a weekend camping trip or day trip. If you want to accommodate all levels of cyclists, try enjoying a rail trail.

Astronomy Camping Fall Ideas

5) Astronomy Night

Make this an educational after-school event for a student science club, field trip, or as a way to build community in your young athletes. Visit an observatory, planetarium, or go outside with chairs, blankets, and a campfire.

6) National School Success Month

Host a seminar series for students and/or parents on good academic habits. This is a great opportunity for coaches and martial arts school owners to talk about how students can use the discipline that they learn in their sport to excel in the classroom. Offer study time, tutoring, or a way to connect students with peer study groups.

7) Museum Field Trip

Local or big city museums, in addition to their usual exhibits, usually have seasonal or special exhibits. While art museums are popular, science museums are great for kids who want a more tactile, interactive experience.

8) National Cheese Pizza Day (Sept. 5th)

Not that there needs to be an excuse for pizza, but we’ll take one when we have it. Host a pizza lunch or dinner at your school, office, or local community organization.

Frisbee Fall Ideas

9) Ultimate Frisbee Game

Get everyone outside with an adult office league or a team at your gym. Being outside is not only fun, but it significantly impacts the way you decompress.

10) Themed Paint Nights

Create a fall or Halloween-themed paint night for kids, adults, or both. Make it fun for kids with fingerpainting or adult-friendly with drinks.

11) Bonfires/Seasonal Cookout

Have your group submit their favorite seasonal recipes anonymously and have everyone pick their top five favorites. The majority says what will cook on the fire. S’mores are always great for dessert.

12) National Grandparents Day (Sept. 8)

Celebrate the special roles and relationships of grandparents with a dinner, craft night, or a sport specific demonstration from their grandchildren athletes. Have kids make cards or fundraise for gift cards.

13) Local Farm Adventure

Pumpkin patches and hay rides may feel cliché, but they’re a classic for many reasons. And hot cider always tastes better in season.

14) Haunted House

Get spooky with a haunted house or trail. Expert tip: make group t-shirts so you can keep track of your group.

Author: Jennifer Miller, Member Solutions Marketing Specialist

Guest Post: Improve Your Website Ranking with Video Marketing

Improve Your Website Ranking with Video Marketing - hand scrolling through martial arts website on tablet device

How to Utilize Videos to Your Advantage on Your Website

Did you know that implementing video marketing on your website will help improve your search rankings?

That’s right! Since Google owns YouTube, all you have to do is have a video hosted on YouTube and embedded on your website. This increases the likelihood of your website ranking higher and improved conversion rates. Here are some tips on how to add high-quality video content to your website to boost your rankings and conversion rates.

Focus on the Details!

Having your video perfectly filmed and edited is awesome, but the best way to get more views and to help your SEO optimization is to focus on those keywords when you upload the clip to YouTube. This means utilizing keywords in your video title and description.

Your video should have a brief title (making it easily searchable), letting your description provide more details (using those keywords to generate relevant searches).

Use Quality Keywords

When adding a title and tags to your video, are you using terms that are clear, defining and searchable?

Be sure to pay attention to the words you use in your titles – with back-linking and embedding, they will boost your website pages by having great titles and tags. You can always try out new keywords and even use https://trends.google.com/trends/ as a tool to help you word things in a better way.

Think About Your Audience

If you’re planning on creating a new video to promote your fitness or martial arts business, try to incorporate something that will both grab the attention of the viewer and encourage them to share it on social media. The more shareable your content, the more views you have and ultimately, you end up with more opportunities to send viewers back to your website/lead box.

For more information or help utilizing videos on your 97Display website, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your incredible support team!

Author: Kelsey Condon. Originally posted on 97display.com.

Webinar: Uncover the Hidden Profit Center Inside Gyms & Martial Arts Studios

Can you turn a profit on your billing expenses? Expert sales consultant and school owner Erik Charles Russell says yes.

Members love convenience. In this webcast, Erik Charles Russell shares how to create a new revenue stream by appealing to members’ desire for convenient billing options. Through this model, you can generate higher income from fewer members as you reduce administrative costs. What you’ll learn:

  • How to create a profit center from service and transaction fees
  • How to raise prices and retain current members
  • Why low prices do not lead to more members

Presented by Erik Charles Russell.

Erik Charles has been in the Martial Arts and Fitness industry for more than 25 years and is the owner of Premier Martial Arts and Fitness in Watertown, NY. In 2015, he published a book based on his successes called The Art of Selling Memberships. The book became an international best seller—hitting number one in three categories in the US, Australia, and Germany on Amazon.com.

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Webinar: Lead to Member: Thinking Long-Term with Your Website

Your website is a direct tie to your business’s bottom line. If it’s not converting your leads to long-term members, you’re losing out on important opportunities to grow. In this webinar, you’ll learn strategies from experts on how to:

  • Generate leads more effectively in your area
  • Use best practices for selling trial memberships
  • Overcome common sales objections
  • Convert leads into members

Presented by Tim Sarazen, Director of Operations at 97Display & Erik Charles Russell, Membership Sales Expert

Tim Sarazen is an expert in internet marketing at 97 Display, a fitness and martial arts website and marketing agency.

Erik Charles Russell has been in the fitness and martial arts industries for 25 years. Erik has coached, instructed, sold memberships, served as a program director, and owned multiple facilities. He has perfected a new method for membership sales and marketing that he has published in his book, The Art of Selling Memberships.