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.

 

How to Use Your Martial Arts Blog to Get More Leads

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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.

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.

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.

11 Tips for Success at Community Events
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.

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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.

Guest Post: Improve Your Website Ranking with Video Marketing

<![CDATA[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.

Branding, Websites, UX, & SEO: Use What We Learned to Benefit Your Business

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Navigating the rebranding process and launching a completely new, optimized website wasn’t easy. But it gave the Member Solutions team valuable insight into the kind of planning, techniques, and development required. To help you out, we asked our marketing department, “What did you learn from our recent rebrand and the launch of our new site?”

Meetings: Use collaborative communication tools. Be open with your team.

CLAIRE, Marketing Specialist

Aside from a having a positive attitude, open communication and having various ways to communicate really helped. One strategy we used was creating a group chat on Skype where everyone could talk and submit their observations. Another was having smaller meetings in between our scheduled large group ones to discuss specific topics, like SEO.

UX: Create a website that offers a positive, intuitive experience for your customers.

CHRIS, PPC Manager

We only have a few seconds after a user arrives at our website to grab their attention. Wasting any of those seconds can turn a potential customer away for good.

People fall into the trap of trying to pack their website full of information, keywords, and resources. These actions are things you think should help, but they hurt the user experience instead. Knowing when, where, and how to provide information is as valuable as the information itself.

Branding: Bring in fresh perspectives. Grow through flexibility & willingness to learn.

CAITLIN, Brand Manager

It was interesting coming into this project as someone who doesn’t have long-standing familiarity with the product. Because of this, I could view the content with a fresh perspective and place myself in the shoes of a potential client. Tackling the project from this viewpoint allowed me to take a step back from the content developer mentality and remember the top priority of any website our team creates: our audience.

Be flexible. No matter how much you plan and plan again, processes and strategies evolve over time. You learn from mistakes, gain new insight, and even spark fresh ideas. It’s all part of the challenge and what drives continued growth—both professionally and personally.

SEO: Plan your website’s optimization from the start. Know your industry & involve key stakeholders.

MIRANDA, Brand Manager

Consider SEO up front. At the early stages of planning, consider how SEO will play into your website structure and content. As a vital part of your strategy, you need to make sure that any decisions you make will align with your SEO goals.

Collaborate during planning. Involve all key stakeholders and team members to gather information about what your customers want and look for. Each person has a different experience with your customers, so it’s important to get multiple perspectives on the structure and content you’ve proposed for the site.

Know your industry. Research key opinion leaders, your product category, competitors, and customers so you can appropriately reflect the current needs of your industry. Take the opportunity to address present challenges and preferences with your new website rather than simply updating the appearance of your old site.

Websites: Design for clear, branded messaging in a mobile format.

LAURA, Senior Graphic Designer

It’s not enough to create a new logo and call it a day. You must update your website as well. As a designer, I cannot stress enough just how crucial it is to make your homepage clean, visually interesting, and to have a clear message. Ask yourself, “What type of company am I? What do I want to say?” You may think you’re getting your message across to the right target audience, but in the end, you may be missing the mark.

You literally have 5 to 10 seconds to make your first impression when a new visitor lands on your site. If a prospect cannot figure out who you are and what your company does in that short window of time, you’ll lose their interest or worse, future business. They are already moving to the next thing.

If your site isn’t visually appealing and built to adjust to all the different devices out in the world, your prospects will lose interest and instantly move to a competitor. People are not surfing the web on a desktop computer anymore. In fact, not being mobile friendly will even affect your rankings in Google’s search engine. It is now known that their preferred configuration is mobile responsive sites.

Another other important aspect to remember is your opinion isn’t the only one that matters. Invite friends, family, coworkers, or someone in the same industry to look at your newly refreshed website and logo. Get an outsider’s perspective. Their opinion may be completely different than how you view your company.

Content: Be authentic in your tone & brand voice. Show your audience that you’re human, too.

JENNIFER, Marketing Specialist

Your website may be the first introduction someone has to your business. Think of how you would greet someone in person: authenticity and friendliness usually open the opportunity to build rapport. Today’s savvy consumers are going to take their business to companies that speak to them personally, that make them feel valuable as individuals.

Appropriately using emotion builds that value with your audience, even when they’re not ready to purchase. Human-voiced content should not only translate through your website but through social media and advertising as well. Blogging is a great way to create and demonstrate your brand’s sense of community. Categories are a subtle way to create authority in your areas of expertise.

Make Direct Mail a Part of Your Back-to-School Marketing

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I’m a huge fan of using direct mail to market my martial arts studio. Being just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, I’ve always had to find creative, low-cost alternatives for my marketing. My overhead historically has been high, so a costly marketing plan has never been an option for me.

When I first started to use direct mail as part of my marketing plan, I did everything wrong and wasted a lot of money. The difference between then and now is that I have a strategy. My ads work, my list is hot, and it’s coupled with an email.

Think of your marketing plan like your fighting plan. When you first started, you closed your eyes and just went in swinging. As your martial arts skills developed, you became a smarter and more strategic fighter. You picked your shots wisely and with laser-point precision. In the end, you were less tired, less beat up, and more victorious.

Thinking through your marketing plan is extremely important. It will take some time to execute properly, but the results will be worth it. Here’s what to consider.

1) Mail to a Good List of Prospects

The first step of having a successful campaign is to keep a good list of prospects. If you are just starting out, purchasing a list is always an option. However, if you can create a list of people who have visited your school through special events or have taken part in something you’ve offered, you will find that your results in turning them into students will be much higher.

2) Create a Professional-Looking Advertisement

Once you have your list in place, it’s time for your advertisement. I create my own because, over the years, I’ve become pretty good at graphic design and making my ads more specific to our offerings. If you aren’t at this point yet, Get Students has some really nice, professional-looking cards that will help you get started.

3) Keep in Mind You Have to Pay for Postage, Too

Regardless of what you use, there are some important tips to remember with direct mail. First, you need to understand that in addition to the cost of printing the cards, you’ll also have to pay for postage. A postcard stamp is cheaper at $0.34, but if you mail 5,000, you’re still looking at $1,700 in postage. It still may be worth the cost, but I personally try to keep my budget lower and more focused on the hot leads I mentioned above.

4) Consider a Bulk Mailing Service

What’s worked best for me is to create oversized postcards and mail them through a bulk mailing service. Standard rate postage is much cheaper—the only drawback is that it will take a couple weeks for your pieces to be delivered. With a little planning, it’s worth the money you’ll be saving versus mailing first class. Plus, you don’t have to be the one putting the labels and stamps on each card.

5) Present an Attractive Offer

I’m getting ready now to start my mailing for the Back-to-School rush. My postcards are set to hit 500 mailboxes on or around August 29th. The 2nd set of 500 will be delivered to the same prospects two weeks later on or around September 15th. We’re offering a $100 discount on enrollment if they sign up prior to September 30th.

6) Include a Call-to-Action and Testimonials

It’s very important to have a call-to-action, or CTA, on your postcards. If you don’t have an expiration date, there is no sense of urgency for them to call you now. Figure out what type of promotion works for your school and make your offer. Always include a testimonial from a happy student or parent. Testimonials are worth their weight in gold when it comes to marketing your school.

7) Send Emails Between Mailings

In addition to the postcards being delivered, send emails to the prospects between mailings. This helps with reminding them that you are the one extending an offer.

8) Look at Your Return on Investment

Lastly, always review your return on investment prior to spending any money on marketing. My direct mail campaign will cost me roughly $700 from start to finish. One student who signs up from the efforts will bring in $2,600 for the year. I’m confident I’ll get more than just one new student from this campaign, but regardless what that actual number is, I think it’s a pretty good gamble.

If anyone has questions about direct mail marketing at your school, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m happy to help.

About the author: Steve Giroux has been training in the martial arts for 30 years and is a 7th Degree Black Belt in Chun Kuk Do. In 1999, he graduated from Bentley College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accountancy with a minor concentration in Law. After founding his studio in January of 1999, Steve has successfully grown revenues over the years after starting at only $7,000 in his first year. You can contact Steve via email at Steve@GirouxBrosMartialArts.com

PTA Fundraisers: How to Set Your Business Up for Success

We are in a business where you have to consistently work hard to build your membership business over time. It’s about building your reputation and identity in the community, and getting to know your 3-mile radius area.

If you can teach a great Martial Arts class, this idea I’m about to share with you can generate new student enrollments, promote your reputation in the community, and create a great deal of positive goodwill. It’s about “real social networking” and what people should have been doing with their practices all along.

As an elementary school student in the ‘70s, I remember getting a flyer about an after-school Martial Arts program. I never joined the program; I got started in the Martial Arts a few years later. Who knows if this flyer “planted the seed” for me to start training in the Martial Arts a couple of years later. Why I bring this up is that nearly 40 years ago people in my small little town in Michigan knew that being a part of the school system was vital to business growth.

I know what many of you are saying to yourself: “I have tried to be involved with the school but they will not let me in.” My response to that: “Of course … why should they?

If you plan on running in with your flyers or guest passes to give to all the students, that’s a problem. Every other business that teaches kids whatever (gymnastics, dance, tutoring) would be there every day.

Forging a partnership with your local Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) is a great alternative and a sure way to get into your local school system. Mostly all public and private schools have PTA-like organizations. One of the association’s main initiatives is fundraising to pay for activities such as field trips, movie nights, and parties. They typically raise funds by selling candy, candles, cookie dough, and gift wrapping paper.

Have you ever been in charge of a candy fundraiser? It’s a nightmare! Kids and parents sell the candy, some end up losing the money; you end up tracking the inventory. When all is said and done, the school raises only a couple hundred dollars. Here is a welcome alternative to the typical PTA fundraiser:

1. Post a flyer in your school with the following content. Our school is committed to helping local schools raise thousands of dollars for the PTA. We have a great “painless” fundraiser program for our local schools.

2. Ask parents if they are a part of the PTA for local elementary schools, or if they know of anyone involved. Even if you just teach adults, someone will know someone in the community that can help you.

3. Propose to do a four-week fundraiser program held after-school. Each child pays $40 for the four-week class, of which the PTA keeps 100% of the funds. You do a simple program when it works in your schedule. 20 kids at $40 each is $800 of profit for the PTA.

4. I have the kids board break at the end of the seminar and I give them a guest pass to try out our classes for a month. I do not hard sell a program. If you teach a great class, you won’t need to sell. You will have people calling your school wanting to be a part of your program.

This PTA fundraiser will become a major pillar of your Martial Arts marketing program. More importantly, this is helping you to be of “service” in your community, positioning you as a philanthropist. We should be doing “good” in our community and a by-product of this will help your reputation grow and your enrollments grow as well.

I will be honest with you that I did this program quite effectively for about eight years or so. I then stopped doing them about five years ago. My enrollment stayed the same, but now I am in growth mode so I am revisiting this strategy to improve our reputation, and create more activity with our enrollment. This brings me back to an important point that Dave Kovar, a mentor of mine, joked with me about: “Oh that worked so well, we no longer do it.”

Try to think of all the marketing activities you have done. Get active and get out there to do something to improve your school.

About the author: Korbett Miller has been teaching at his Martial Arts school in Kirkland, WA for the last 17 years. Korbett still actively trains in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and most recently received his Black Belt from the legendary Saulo and Xande Ribeiro and won the Brown Belt Senior II World Championships in Jiu Jitsu. He is most proud of his three daughters and 17 year marriage to his wife, Elise. Korbett can be reached at korbett.miller@gmail.com.

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