How to Plan Martial Arts Birthday Parties for Kids

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Birthday parties are a super versatile tool that can directly impact the bottom line and immediate cash flow of your martial arts school. Four major benefits include:

  1. Getting leads and new members
  2. Creating business partnerships
  3. Increasing retention and your school’s sense of community
  4. Improving your recurring income

With a targeted plan, like the one we’ve outlined here, you can start using birthday parties tomorrow as a part of your business strategy. It’s important to know that you, the owner, do not have to be solely responsible for running the parties that you host.

Having a staff member who is good with people is good enough. Creating positive, memorable experiences will do more for your retention and lead generation in this instance that touting your expertise.

Follow these five steps, in addition to everything we talk about in our video above, and you’ll become the community favorite spot for birthday parties.

1) Know your industry

Knowing your industry may seem like obvious advice, but industry heavily influences aspects like activities, themes, marketing, and business partnerships. What will work to make a sports center unique and attractive for parents will most likely not work for a martial arts school. It’s important to understand your target or ideal participants: how to engage them and how your business can create the best experience for the birthday kid, family, and friends.

How you can differentiate your business to start, according to industry, is most easily done through themes and activities. For example, you can use well-known pop culture references (Ninja Turtles is a classic) or anything else relevant to your birthday celebrant’s interests.

2) What to include in your birthday party package

Your party package should focus on

  • providing the space,
  • creating an agenda,
  • leading the entertainment/activities
  • and basic food accommodations (pizza is a good option).

This is where you can create your competitive advantage over other businesses in the area that only provide the space but no activities. Keep in mind that parents may want to have more control over the details, like cake and decorations. When you decide on your party package, it’s best that you avoid the hassle of super personal details and be strategic about what you provide.

Timeline & Expectations

Aim to run your parties between 90 and 120 minutes. We recommend using the first 10 minutes for a tour of your school or gym. If everyone is new, take the opportunity to introduce yourself and lead the tour yourself. If the birthday celebrant is a member of your facility, have he or she lead the group.

After the tour, transition the group to your planned lesson, workout, or activity. Establish behavioral expectations by using titles, like sir, ma’am, Mr., and Ms. Setting expectations and following through with them is important because it’s a selling point for parents in two ways:

  • you’re ensuring that everyone leaves with a great experience (more birthday parties) and
  • you’re showing that you can foster discipline in their kids (meaning they’re more likely to buy from you).

Include giveaways, like a free uniform or trial membership, to reward your small guests for good behavior. Again, your goal in hosting birthdays is to create more interest in your school.

3) Decide your price

Birthday parties at your school fall in the marketing/lead generation category—meaning that your pricing doesn’t have to follow an exact formula. Depending on your goals, you can choose to charge for or give away parties in a strategic way.

Charging for birthday parties

If you want to gauge price, start by researching other businesses in your area that throw birthday parties. What are they charging? You may see that it’s not uncommon to attach a $200 to $300 price tag for a party.

Next, determine how many kids you want to include in your base price (you can choose 12, 20, or another number that works for your space). We recommend that you charge $20 extra for additional headcount. For transparency, list the group limit included in your base price and the extra charge on your party package advertisements.

Important note: We promise that you won’t be stripping parents of their hard-earned cash. Much like creating a price structure for your classes, your party prices are based on the value that you provide in creating a memorable experience.

Giving away parties

Giving away a party to a current member or as a result as a promotion in your community is a valid and smart choice to make if you’re thinking of it in terms of how many kids and parents you’ll contact as a result. Integrating free parties with your paid parties will help your overall marketing strategy.

Upselling

You can include options like board breaking or another activity as an additional option for purchase outside of your standard party package. Upselling items will add to your revenue and gives parents the ability to customize their child’s party further.

Bonus: As you already know, breaking things in style is pretty cool. A child who has an awesome board breaking experience is more likely to want to come back to your school to do more.

4) Connect with local businesses

Creating local partnerships with businesses who can contribute to your parties is a marketing win-win. In exchange for running promotions or giveaways as an exclusive vendor, said vendor can promote your business through flyers and other marketing items onsite.

Examples include:

  • discounted cakes from a local bakery,
  • pizza from a particular restaurant, and
  • discounted party decorations from a party supply store.

5) Manage party bookings & RSVPs digitally

The advantages of having digital invitations and party packages will outweigh not having them at all or using paper. Forms like the ones that you can create in Event Manager will

  • collect party information and process payments
  • help you know who is coming and who is interested in your services

Using Event Manager for invitations

Parents will not have to pay for invitations if you use Event Manager. The bonus is that they can send the link easily and that you can include questions about interest in your services. If families indicate interest before the party, you can call right away to talk with them more about your classes.

Download: 6 Martial Arts Birthday Party Best Practices​

Make Email Newsletters Work for Your Fitness Business

Subscribe to newsletter on tablet screen with office objects on wooden desk.

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.

 

10 Ways To Increase Gym Revenue Without Selling More Memberships

Closeup over shoulder of woman looking at financial report of gym revenue on tablet device

Most gym owners drive business growth in two ways: by finding new members and by keeping the members they already have. While marketing and retention are great for growing your community, they represent only a fraction of the ways to increase gym revenue. By shifting your focus to maximizing every available revenue stream, you can uncover ways to improve your earnings overnight.

Consider how your pricing, service offerings, and operations impact your bottom line. Imagine being able to capture every payment reliably; selling memberships at a fair price that reflects the value of your services; and members who are engaged and enthusiastic about your brand.

In this ideal scenario, your business captures the maximum amount of revenue from every member. You can relax while your gym rakes in profits from multiple revenue streams. No more struggling to attract more and more new members each month with expensive and complicated marketing campaigns.

Realize the full potential of your business by using these 10 methods to increase gym revenue:

 

1. Reduce payment declines

According to publications released by major credit card issuers, 15% of recurring credit card payments decline. For some industries, the decline rate can reach as high as 30%.

To put this in perspective, if you have 100 members paying $50/month, you’d expect to receive $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. However, credit card declines will cost you $750 to $1,500 per month. That’s $9,000 to $18,000 in lost revenue each year.

Credit card declines can prevent loyal members from paying what they know you deserve. These payments weren’t lost to poor customer service, low-quality classes, or high prices. These losses are completely out of your control—that is, until you put a process in place to avoid payment declines.

Use a combination of technology and customer service processes to recover declined payments and add back revenue to your bottom line. Choose a software solution that offers payment reminders and automatic retries after failed payments. While you can hire staff to collect declined payments from your members, third-party companies offer the most cost-effective service solutions. Well-trained managed billing professionals can increase recurring revenue by up to 25% for a minimal fee.

 

2. Raise your prices

Are you charging what your services are worth? Many gym owners panic at the thought of raising prices because they immediately envision a mass exodus of even their most loyal members. In reality, a carefully calculated price increase will improve your gym’s financial health and profitability with little impact on member retention.

Consider the following scenario: Your gym has 100 members each paying $50/month. You plan to implement a modest 5% price increase of $2.50/month per member. Given the new price of $52.50/month, you expect to keep 95 of your existing members. Following the price increase, you’ll earn an extra $2,850 per year.

No clever marketing tricks or slick sales pitch required. Your simple price change has increased your revenue all on its own.

To keep member attrition to a minimum, communicate your new pricing appropriately. Give members plenty of notice. Explain why the change is necessary to continue the high-quality services that they value from you.

 

3. Use paid trials

Most gyms offers free trial memberships or guest passes to prospective members. These freebies pay off when they result in new members, but sometimes you end up spending money to support non-paying guests who never return.

Paid trials help to secure a return on your investment. Payees are more serious about keeping initial appointments. They’re more invested in learning about your gym, understanding your value, and building relationships with your staff.

Consider using a combination of free and paid trials in a way that makes sense for your business. For instance, you might offer a free trial of your basic gym access, but a paid trial for your premium classes or training sessions.

 

4. Offer premium memberships

Do you offer tiered membership options and pricing? If not, it’s time to start. Rather than forcing your members into a one-size-fits-all model, structure pricing options around their needs and preferences.

If you’ve tracked purchases and attendance in your membership management software, you can use reports to investigate spending patterns and identify popular services. For example, your members may fall into three categories:

Once you’ve categorized your members and set your pricing model, you can send targeted promotions to each group to entice them to upgrade their membership package.

 

5. Sell retail items

Do you know how often members get to the gym only to realize they’ve forgotten something that will prevent them from working out? Stock essentials like earbuds, water bottles, and socks in your retail store to make sure members can get what they need.

If you’ve built a loyal following, invest in branded merchandise. Use an online service to print your logo on t-shirts, hats, yoga mats, bags, and more. A beautiful, eye-catching design goes a long way, so if you’re not confident in your logo or layout, try an online graphic design service.

 

6. Book private training sessions and lessons

Almost all fitness businesses offer one-on-one sessions, and most of them wish they could book more of these money-making services. The trick to maximizing this revenue stream is a combination of staff training and communication with existing members.

Market your private sessions to members using low-cost, easy-to-use communication channels. Put signs throughout your facility, post on social media, and send emails with special offers. Your goal is for every member to know that you offer private sessions.

From there, leverage your staff’s relationships with members to close the deal. Teach instructors to observe members’ behaviors and to discuss goals with them. An instructor may notice a member who puts forth great effort and attends regularly, but her technique holds her back. With a bit of coaching the member could excel. In seizing this opportunity, you’ll help a member meet her fitness goals more quickly and open a new revenue stream for your business.

 

7. Childcare

If lots of parents visit your gym, you may want to consider adding childcare services at your facility. A busy mom or dad who doesn’t want to give up gym time will gladly pay extra to know their child is happy, safe, and nearby during a workout.

Before introducing childcare services, be sure to review the legal requirements for your staff, facility, and business. While these services can bring in a significant amount of additional revenue, you’ll need to plan carefully to make sure you’re able to provide high-quality care.

 

8. Host events and workshops

Members love workshops, boot camps, and fitness challenges because they help them stay motivated and reach goals more quickly. These paid events provide a lump sum that has an immediate positive impact on cash flow.

To make the most of this revenue stream, think strategically about the needs of your business and members. Review the calendar for times when an event could provide extra cash during a seasonal downturn. Add events to help members meet a common goal, like staying fit through the holiday season.

Need some fresh ideas? Browse this event list to get started.

 

9. Nutrition and health coaching

According to IHRSA’s senior research manager Melissa Rodrigues, 25% of fitness club revenue comes from ancillary services. Your members aren’t just looking for a place to work out. They’re looking for all kinds of services to help them stay healthy, fit, and confident.

Most members would be happy to pay extra for services to help them eat better, make healthy choices, and track their fitness progress. These services will make your bottom line happy as well. By adding health coaching or consulting, you can increase the amount of revenue generated by each member.

 

10. Sell advertising

Looking for an out-of-the-box way to increase gym revenue? Try selling advertising space in your facility or email newsletters to local businesses. If you’ve done a good job building your membership base, you’ll have a fitness-conscious audience that’s attractive to an array of advertisers. Create a list of local grocery stores, specialty shops, salons, spas, venues, and restaurants who might be interested in your new advertising opportunity.

 

Go beyond marketing and retention to increase gym revenue through alternative revenue streams, new services, and operational efficiencies. In doing so, you’ll allow members to strengthen their relationships with you, giving your gym its greatest potential for growth.

8 Fun & Easy Holiday Event Ideas

Here in Philadelphia, the fall weather is finally settling in with cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and Eagles football. What may not come to mind immediately is that it also is the perfect season to plan your holiday events in advance.

Depending on the complexity of your event, it may take weeks to several months to coordinate with sponsors, create marketing collateral, and to secure permission from venues outside of your martial arts school or fitness facility.

Holiday and winter events are great for bringing your local community together and as an easy go-to for padding your bottom line. We’ve created a list of both classic and novel ideas to help you start thinking about what you can plan in the coming months. Have fun with it!

1) Make Your Own Ugly Sweater Fundraiser, Party, & Contest

ugly sweater
Have contestants enter a make-your-own ugly sweater contest for a charitable cause in your community. Set ticket prices to raise money for your non-profit or charity. Make sure that you put aside funds for a fun prize. Have snacks and drinks available and space for people to socialize.

2) Winter Chili Cook-off & Festival

chili bowl

Cold temperatures bring out cravings for comfort food. While National Chili Day is on February 23, give chili another day of recognition for being one of the most popular winter dishes.

Decide how many cookoff entries you’ll allow for the day. Have attendees pay an entrance fee and encourage them to vote on their favorite chilis. Include hot beverages like cocoa, cider, coffee, and tea for purchase. Tally your votes and declare your winner with a prize. A chili cook-off is an event your community will enjoy year after year.

3) Dress Your Dog Up Like a Reindeer Contest & Party

dog in reindeer costume

The marketability of dogs is undeniable. If you need a reminder, check the internet. Pet lovers and owners get the chance to unite in this pet-friendly event. Create a fundraiser to support your local animal welfare organizations and shelters with a holiday celebration that includes pets. Attendees can either dress up their dogs for fun or enter the contest with volunteer judges to select the winner.

4) Gingerbread House Contest & Craft Fair

gingerbread house

A holiday crafts festival is great for a whole family activity—plus, gingerbread houses are a classic tradition. Depending on your available space, it’s an event that you can plan to have in-house or at a local community center.

Ask local artists to participate as judges and vendors. Charge an entry fee per person or per family to cover the cost of supplies. Better yet, partner with a community sponsor—like an art store or local grocer—for the items that you need.

5) New Year’s Eve or Day Party

new year party

Celebrate the New Year with a themed party for families or adults only. Using a theme with decorations—or a featured activity—will help your event stand out among other community events happening at the same time. If you’re aiming to cater to the 21+ crowd, collaborate with a bar that has event space and sell tickets for a New Year’s Eve party.

Make sure you have projection screens that will show the New Year’s countdown live from NYC or show one of your own. If you want something more family-friendly, plan your event for the morning or afternoon of January 1st with games, snacks, drinks, and music.

6) Valentine’s Day Prom for Adults

prom night

If you have an adult martial arts class or have group fitness classes, a Valentine’s Day-themed prom night for adults is the perfect cheesy throwback. It can also result in a great turnout for any charitable cause. Pick a dress code (themed or standard formal dress), a DJ, and a venue space with drinks.

7) Breakfast with Santa

santa pankcakes

Get kids excited for Christmas with a Santa breakfast, and use Member Solution’s online registration to have parents reserve seats for their families. Serve holiday-inspired pancakes, fruit, veggies, bacon, eggs, and other breakfast favorites.

8) Holiday Fun Runs

A staple classic! Have runners dress like Santa, reindeer, Christmas trees, and other silly costumes. It’s a great family-friendly event for all ages.

Tools to Grow Your Martial Arts School During Back to School Season

How you prepare for back-to-school season can dictate the success of your martial arts business for the entire year. For the best results, you need solid marketing strategies and the tools and technology to carry out those strategies. The right tools will make your back-to-school marketing more effective, your events more profitable and your operations more efficient.

Take a look at our top picks for back-to-school tips and tools. Each tip is paired with a list of tools that will help you grow your school.

Email Marketing and Text Messaging

Launch an email campaign to target members who were inactive or dropped out over the Summer. Consider pairing your emails with text messages that include special offers for returning students.

Member Manager Software – Martial arts software that includes email marketing, lead tracking, and follow-up

iContact – Email marketing platform (integrates with Member Manager)

Mobiry – Text message-based coupons and promotional codes (integrates with Member Manager)

Back to School Events

Plan buddy days, community events, anti-bullying talks and PTO seminars to engage with active students and attract new prospects.

Event Manager Software – Online event registration software

Event Pick List – List of themes and concepts for Martial Arts school events

Bullying Prevention – 10 ways to participate in National Bullying Prevention Month

Websites & Web Advertising

Before the Fall, invest in optimizing your site to increase your traffic and leads. During Back to School season, increase your Google Ads bids temporarily to drive even more people to your site.

97 Display – Internet Marketing agency that creates Martial Arts and Fitness websites that grow member counts

Google Ads – Advertising platform for Google Search, YouTube, Maps and more

Social Media

Prior to Back to School season, put together your plan for social media. Train your staff on how you’d like them to use social media and get everyone in the habit of posting regularly. Don’t forget, you can also make use of social media advertising.

Facebook Groups – Communicate with students, prospects and community members through Groups

Facebook Live – Live video stream

Facebook Ads – Targeted advertising on Facebook

Operations

If you keep your school running smoothly, you’re far less likely to get complaints from your members. Not to mention, you’ll simplify your job as a school owner … and probably be a better teacher and boss because of it!

Member Manager Software – All-in-one martial arts software for lead generation, scheduling, point of sale, billing and more

Member Solutions’ Billing Manager – Martial arts billing, payment processing and membership contract management (integrates with Member Manager)

Intuit Quickbooks – Accounting software (integrates with Member Manager)

Sage 50 – Accounting software (integrates with Member Manager)

Incorporate these tools into your back-to-school strategy to grow your school’s memberships and maximize your earnings this fall.

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.

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 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.

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.