4 Steps to a Genuine Membership Sales Pitch

Two smiling colleagues practicing a genuine membership sales pitch

Does selling memberships make you feel greasy? It shouldn’t! Think of it this way: Your sales process is not only the key to more money for your martial arts school—it’s also the way to discover 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 prospective members’ 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 this goal? When did you begin to consider training to meet your goal?”

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 your goal, 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. 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 your prospect:

“What do you see happening when you achieve your goal? 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 vision 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. Offer 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

Mobile device camera for recording video marketing promotions on white background

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.

7 Ways to Handle Late Member Payments

Mobile invoice for member payment on cell phone

Asking your students for money is never easy. When a member of your martial arts school doesn’t pay on time, it’s tempting to let the delinquency slide to avoid confrontation. But you run a business. You deserve to be paid for the valuable services you provide. Still, how can you ask for late payments without sounding cold or impersonal? These seven tips will help you navigate how to collect and prevent late member payments:

1. Automate member payments

Automating credit card and ACH payments through your member management system is an easy way to prevent late payments. Talk to your members about switching to one of these methods if you notice them struggling to pay on time. Be sure to highlight the added convenience of auto-payments and address any concerns about data security.

2. Set expectations with new students

Review key points of your membership contracts with new students and families. Make sure students or parents sign off on payment amounts, due dates, and the membership duration. Be honest and open about your expectations for on-time payments. Just like your members expect consistent, high-quality martial arts instruction from you, you will expect prompt, full payments from them.

3. Charge fees for late payments

If late payments are a chronic problem for your martial arts school, you might decide to add late fees to your contract. Some gyms and martial arts schools charge late fees of $5 to $25 per overdue payment. For some individuals, the extra incentive will motivate them to stay on top of payments.

Before deciding to use late fees at your school, consider how this will impact your relationships. Ask yourself how new members will react to hearing about late fees before they’re even a part of your community. In the end, you’ll have to determine the best balance to protect your business without harming your relationships.

4. Send email reminders

You probably already use your martial arts software to automatically remind your members about upcoming payments and due dates. Hopefully, these reminders help prevent late payments before they occur.

Once invoices become past-due, you can use another type of email reminder to collect late payments. Create a short series email scripts to ask for late payments. Be polite but direct. Make sure to clarify any consequences of late payments, including interest fees or deactivation of the membership.

5. Make a phone call

Because phone calls are more difficult to ignore than emails, they’re particularly effective for collecting late payments. Be friendly but firm on the phone. Clearly and calmly explain the details of the past-due invoice and ask for the payment in full. While on the phone, you may uncover new information about your member’s situation that reveals the true reason for late payment. Use these insights to find a long-term solution to help you and your member avoid future missed payments.

6. Be kind, not argumentative

Your students are only human. They make mistakes. They forget to update expired credit card information or to check their bank account before payments are due. There are hundreds of reasons students miss payments. Avoiding financial disputes is crucial to maintaining a strong, long-lasting relationship. Before jumping to conclusions, see if a friendly reminder is all that is needed.

In some cases, your student may be dealing with a difficult or complex situation that has impacted their finances. Use good judgement to come to an agreement that’s fair and mutually beneficial to you and your member. It may make sense to be flexible or forgiving in order to preserve your relationship and retain your member.

7. Call in an expert

Collecting late payments is complex and challenging. To truly be successful, you’ll need to dedicate resources to make sure someone is responsible for follow up and collections. If you handle this follow up in-house, make sure to incorporate this task into one of your job roles so it does not become an afterthought for one of your busy employees. You can also outsource payment collection to a team of managed billing professionals to bypass the awkward conversations and eliminate the complicated follow up process.

If you follow the steps above, you’ll see your overdue invoices decrease while your relationships with your students improve. In the long run, the combination of these two factors is what will keep your martial arts school financially stable and successful.

Have you tried these tips? How do you encourage students to pay on time? Tell us your thoughts below.

How to Use Trial Memberships in Martial Arts

Free Trial tile letters on top of notepad with coffee and office items on desk.

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 Avoid Financial Disputes with Your Gym Members

Member-owner relationships are a bit like marriages. You work hard to cultivate strong, long-lasting bonds. You do all you can to show you care and provide what your member needs. Despite that effort, you can still find yourself dealing with absences, arguments, and painful breakups caused by disagreements about money. Among married couples, financial disputes are the second leading cause of divorce. Likewise, uncomfortable conversations about missed payments can make members feel like your gym is not the right place for them. To avoid losing members, put a plan in place to prevent financial disputes and strengthen your relationships.

What can you do to avoid financial disputes with your members?

At Member Solutions, we have over 25 years of experience providing billing services and collecting member payments. Think of us as a financial counselor who wants to help alleviate some the strains money puts on your member relationships.

Follow these 5 tips to avoid financial disputes and keep your billing practices running smoothly:

1) Talk about your billing policies

Clear billing policies allow you and your members to stay on the same page. Put yourself in your members’ shoes. Would you enjoy surprise charges to your credit card? While surprises can be fun, financial surprises can damage your relationships.

Create a membership welcome packet that clearly details what your members can expect financially. Address the when and how of payment processing, late fees, cancellation policies, payments dates, and how members will be notified if fees change.

2) Be flexible when members have money problems

Eventually, one of your members will show up to your gym after months of racking up an unpaid balance and overdue fees. They’ll say they had no idea it was happening. They’ll ask you why you didn’t remind them and possibly tell you they can’t afford to pay.

While it’s important to enforce your policies, sometimes it’s important to find a middle ground. Ask yourself, “What’s best for my long term relationship with this member?”

Sometimes it’s in your best interest to give a member a break. You may decide to waive fees or set up a payment plan to get a member caught up. When you make an exception, let them know that you’re doing it because they are a valued, long-term member. Explain that your policies are in place because newer members—who don’t have strong relationships like yours—might try to avoid paying.

This method has a variety of benefits:

  1. You were likely going to receive no payment. Now that you have made an exception, you are likely to receive some compensation.
  2. You increase the odds that this member pays on time going forward.
  3. If this member is leaving, it’s more likely that he or she will return to your gym.
  4. The likelihood that member talks highly of your gym will increase.

Every gym owner is unique and has different opinions on this situation. All we recommend is that you consider the value of each customer on an individual basis.

3) Automate member payments and billing

Automated billing services virtually take you out of the dues collection process at your gym. All you have to do is set up client accounts, due dates, and payment amounts. Voilà! Your clients’ accounts will be billed automatically.

What does this mean for you? It means that you no longer have to directly collect member payments. This saves time on administrative tasks and reduces strain on relationships with your members.

4) Offer secure online payment processing

The convenience of online payments has obvious appeal for both businesses and members. However, when it comes to online payments, choosing a service with maximum security is critical. The last thing you want is for your or your members’ financial information to be compromised.

Choose a Level 1 PCI compliant provider to protect your business. Providers that follow these data security standards offer the highest level of protection against credit card fraud.

5) Enlist a professional team to bill your members

In addition to damaging relationships, tracking down member payments is confusing and time-consuming. Pursuing missing payments can take up to 10 hours every week. That’s time you could spend with your members, growing your business, or relaxing with friends and family.

Outsourcing to an affordable managed billing service that specializes in tracking down delinquent accounts can reduce stress and help preserve relationships. Billing professionals have an in-depth understanding of the payment processing business and are better able to troubleshoot issues with failed credit card payments or delinquency. In fact, members are more likely to settle monetary issues with a billing company than a gym owner.

If you decide to collaborate with a third-party billing provider, choose a team that will uphold your policies while still offering flexibility to your members. A good billing company will be able to advise you on when to make exceptions for members who are having trouble paying.

Overcome financial disputes to strengthen member relationships

Financial disputes are one of the main reasons relationships end—whether it’s between spouses, business partners, or band members who pursue disappointing solo careers. To beat the odds, you need to be proactive. Talk to your members about your expectations regarding payments. Be open to a financial partnership with your members. If you decide to partner with a billing company, choose a team with the same commitment to customer service and fairness that you do.

How do you manage the financial aspects of your member relationships? Share your comments below.

How to Use Your Martial Arts Blog to Get More Leads

How to Use Your Martial Arts Blog to Get More Leads

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

community service volunteers in circle, black & white

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 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.

11 Martial Arts Marketing Tips for Community Events

Looking for a great way to market your martial arts school to a new audience? Break free of your marketing routine by setting up booths at local community events. Festivals, fairs, picnics, and other celebrations are opportunities to share the values you teach on the mat with people who’ve never heard of your services. Sitting in your martial arts school, hoping new members will walk in is a recipe for disappointment. Instead, explore these 11 tips to market your business and attract new members at community events in your area.

1. Create an Event Calendar

Create a calendar that includes every community event in your area. Research events to secure invitations or reserve booths at each of them. Don’t be afraid to try new events. When you share what you love about martial arts with a new audience, who knows who you might inspire.

2. Network with the Host

Anytime I’m a guest at an event, I aim to delight my host and be invited back next year. To do this, I make sure my message fits the goals of the event. I promote literacy and reading when at a library sponsored event. I promote health and wellness when manning a booth at a health fair. Before you leave, ask the host if they received any feedback on your booth. If that feedback is positive, ask to come back next year.

3. Dress Appropriately for the Event

Plan to dress similarly to the other vendors and attendees at the event. If you’re attending a business expo, a dry cleaned pair of slacks and a dress shirt might be perfect. If you have a booth at a local summer festival, appearing in uniform might help attract attention. If you’re not sure, ask the event host how most people dressed last year.

4. Bring a Team

Having the right team at community events can help make attendees feel more comfortable visiting your booth. Try to include team members that your audience can identify with. If you are attending a festival aimed at children, consider having a junior team of 3-6 do a 1-minute demo once an hour to draw families and kids to your booth.

5. Stand & Be Seen

Booths are not for sitting! As often as possible, you should be out in front of your booth ready to engage those who walk by. Bring comfortable shoes and prepare for long days by assigning shifts to team members to make the most of your investment.

6. Teach at Your Booth

What do you really want to be known for in your community? The guy who can split a watermelon with a Kitana? Not me! I want everyone to know I’m the best teacher in town.

I find every opportunity to teach the same techniques, skills, and values we practice on the mat. Sometimes we teach how to kick or punch. Other times, when interacting with kids, we demonstrate the importance of making eye contact when speaking with an adult or how to scan their environment when in a place for the first time.

7. Bring Fun Martial Arts Gear

I always bring bag gloves and a water-filled punching bag to community events. If things get slow at my booth, I recruit a passersby to put on the gloves and give the bag a piece of their mind. I’ve met very few people in my life that don’t smile after hitting a bag.

Similarly, blocker bats are great for little ones. I let them hit me first and only reverse roles with parental approval and careful observation of the child’s demeanor. Take care not to make a timid child uncomfortable. If done properly, the experience opens the child’s eyes to a new experience and gets them excited about martial arts classes.

8. Draw a Prize Winner

Pick a prize everyone likes and can use. (I use VISA gift cards.) A $50 gift card or prize is a small investment to ensure that you get maximum participation.

In addition to the first prize, choose winners who will receive free services from your martial arts school, which as: free week or free month programs, self-defense class for an entire office, or martial arts birthday party.

Be sure to follow up with prize winners right away if you won’t be handing out prizes at your booth during the event.

9. Bring Memorable Giveaways

Flyers, business cards, and other marketing materials are required, but these don’t often leave a lasting impression. With your other promotional giveaways, aim to create a moment or experience that people will remember.

What do I mean? When I attend a women’s empowerment summit, everyone visits my booth is invited to learn a beginner escape. While they perform the escape, my staff takes a picture with a Polaroid instant camera (I found this camera on Amazon). The photo is placed in a cardboard picture frame with my logo and contact info printed on it. Our visitor now has a keepsake to show others or hang on a bulletin board. These photos have a way longer shelf life than our flyers and they only cost about $1 each with film and frame.

10. Be Who You Say You Are

Earlier, I encouraged you to try new events to find new potential members for your martial arts school. This recommendation comes with one condition: you should attend events that are a good fit for the services you offer, the values you hold, and the culture of your school.

While you shouldn’t be afraid to break the mold, you have to stay true to yourself. Make sure your values align with those of the community events you plan to attend. For instance, if your main priority is maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then health and fitness events are perfect for you. If, on the other hand, you focus on teaching life skills to children and young adults, family-oriented events may be best for you.

11. The Fortune is in the Follow Up

If you invest in promoting your martial arts school at community events, you should have a plan that provides return on your investment. Before you step foot in your booth, decide who will make follow-up calls, write phone scripts, and prepare emails to send. To ensure you follow this process, try setting up an automated lead follow-up process in your martial arts software.

What’s helped you market your martial arts school successfully at community events? Which community events work best for your business? Share your experience in the comments below.

Rick Ellis has 25+ years of experience in martial arts school ownership and consulting. His passion is helping school owners grow and increase retention through targeted staff training and systems integration.