Startup Marketing Tricks for Martial Arts Studios

Small Business Marketing

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have effective marketing…

            One thing every business can’t live without is marketing. It is the life-blood of a business and many people in business lack the know-how to be successful.

            A business-person has to be innovative, open-minded and have a defined knowledge of his/her market and competition.

            Getting people to understand and recognize who you are doesn’t require a P.T. Barnum to create a successful campaign.

1. Becoming involved in your community.

            You can become active through service club membership and participation in their projects permits you to give something back and attract new business to your studio.

2. Networking is the ‘buzz’ word of the 90’s and for a good reason – it works.

            Meet as many key business people as you can in your town who can help your business to grow. Prominent attorneys, realtors and other business owners who also network through others.

3. Become a community icon!

            Create a logo or slogan that will be unique to you. Every business person exchanges business cards, make yours different. There are many companies who create novelty cards and other unusual products such as keychains, pens, money clips, etc. that can be purchased cost effectively and will bear your logo and slogan. Make your impression a favorable and an perhaps unforgettable one; you may only get one chance.

4. Your daily business activity can grind you down, its important to remain motivated.

            Get out every chance you can and attend seminars, meet with people in your industry. Have a cookout, invite neighbors and friends, they can also become clients.

5. Getting into print is pretty easy and it can be all about your studio and students.

            With the advent of computers and user-friendly software, business owners can produce quality newsletters, flyers and other printed pieces that can be copied and bulk mailed to every household with-in a 2 mile radius of your studio. Using bulk mail will save nearly 60% in postage costs. The advantage is that direct mail pieces can be two sided newletters or flyers – introducing specials, upcoming events and seasonal promotions. The percentage of return on a typical mailing is 2% nationally. A direct mail campaign to a typical urban zip code consists of 5,000 or more households. Consider that a 2% return will yield 100 inquires. If you can get 50% in for an introductory lessons and sell 50% of those persons you can increase business by 25 students monthly, that is the consistency  response of most direct mail pieces. The typical cost of a bulk mail piece is 15 cents, 2-1/2 cents to produce. You have a total of 17.5 cents invested in each promotional piece x 5,000 pieces = $875.00. Generating even 10 sales averaging $1,000 over the course of the year = $10,000.00, an 1,142 percent return-on-investment.

6. Offer your extensive expertise at community events.

            Its an easy way to  get the word out about your business. You’ll be seen by everyone in attendance,. Be sure to have at least two people handing out brochures and business cards. The brochure should contain a schedule of classes, a map depicting your location and a brief paragraph about the features and benefits to the student. Keep the self glorification to a minimum, the buying public doesn’t recognize the difference between a 1st degree Black Belt and a 10th Degree Black Belt except that its a bigger number.

7. Get a referral from people you talk with, even in casual conversation.

            Not everyone is a candidate for a martial arts school program but everyone has contacts and aquaintances who may be, get their names and perhaps a mailing address and telephone number and be sure to get the same information of the person giving the referral. The reason is to send a thank you card, it will put a smile on their face that you were thoughtful enough to remember them and engender another positive opinion in your favor.

8. When you print your business cards, do you have something on both sides?

            It is an easy way to let people know about extra services you provide and to prominently display your telephone munber.

9. Offer Gift Certificates.

            Most people who are shopping for birthday and holiday presents haven’t the vaguest notion what to purchase, make your Gift Certificates a standard part of the information you handout and mail. Take advantages of seasonal buying trends especially Christmas, create your November mailer to be used exclusively to promote Gift Certificates and gift merchandise sold at your studio.

10. Create incentive programs.

            Offer your clients FREE merchandise on services after they buy a certain amount to get them in the habit of purchasing again and again.

11. Make your programs more palpable.

            Offer package deals that gives your services some semblence of product. Example: Include a uniform, testing and association membership with your annual program and other inducements with your premium programs.

12. Create a brochure on personal safety.

            As a mailout, one the recipient will be sure to read and keep. Don’t be shy when it comes to taking the credit and display your studio name and telephone number boldly.

13. Recognizing your client base.

            In what type of neighborhood are you located? Is that really important – you bet it is. A posh upscale area requires a certain look, square footage and ambiance that few new business’s can afford. If your studio is located in a middle class area, it should still remain spotlessly clean and well organized, with tasteful decor and fresh paint. Visual impressions are what attracts clients. Make window displays easy to read, list up-coming events and give a short biography of who and what. Always alert the customer of the date, time and cost for the event and special items such as clothing or other materials needed.

14. Give an award to some member of your community.

            In the fall every couple of years elections produce a new patch of politicians who even though you may have been buddy-buddy with the last mayor haven’t the slightest idea who you are. Take advantage of the situation and present the new mayor, congressman, senator or sherriff with an Honorary Black Belt at a community event. It is also up to you to get the medias attention, send a news release to the newspapers, video tape to the television news departments and all the radio stations should also receive information.

15. Look at the market you provide a service to.

            Do clients travel some distance to take advantage of your particular services and classes or is it still pretty common for you to get students due to location and convenience. It is important that you advertise most heavily in your own area where the children can walk or ride bicycles to your studio and that you have programs that attract teens and adults.

16. Cooperative Advertising.

            This can get your name out to your entire county and create alliances with other schools in your community. If you have the means to create a well designed, informative flyer 11″ x 17″ folded to the size of a newsletter this gives you (3) three full page ads or (7) seven half-page ads spaces you can sell to other schools. What is the advantage of this? It is simple – in every community there are schools that are just too far away to be competition. The rule of thumb is 5 miles, that can give you a premise to work from. Look in the telephone directory at the competition, judge their distance away from you and should this rule-of-thumb apply – call them, share your idea of a joint venture newsletter and make sure should they decide to buy a space that the other studio’s represented aren’t too close to them.

            How do you charge for the spaces? It is a simple formula and I’ll use my own county as an example. In our county we have a diverse martial arts population that are dispersed widely enough apart that I have numerous studios to call to complete my plan of action.

            A school owner can’t place an ad in the newspaper larger than 3″ x 5″ for less than a few hundred dollars and not everyone reads or subscribes to the newspaper. They can send a coupon along with one or two dozen others to every house in the county for about $1,200.00 for 60,000 households. The question here is how much of this material gets moved from the mailbox to the trash bin without ever being opened – almost 30%.

            To create a professional piece requires experience and an artistic touch, but mostly a message that will catch the eye of anyone who even glances at it.



            That simple statement will get your piece read and usually invoke a response from the reader. Each studio owner participating should receive a strong number of responses and create a large boost in their school age childrens enrollment.

            One of the first things to take into account is the participating schools should be sold on the premise that the mailing will reach every household in their particular zip code. Given the cost of production if you have a student who is a commercial artist will stand at $100 – $150, to save money trade-out a group of private lessons. The cost to bulk mail to as many as (7) seven zip codes can constitute 30,000 pieces is $0.15 x 30,000 = $4,500.00 that will make the cost of a 4.75″ x 7.5″ ad at $700.00. It seems a bit steep but given that it might generate between 100 – 150 sales can justify it. A sales ratio of 100 divided into the $700.00 investment is $7.00 each and with most studio’s averaging $70 per month x 12 months = $840.00 – $7.00 per sale yields a gross return-on-investment of $833.00. That figure x 100 sales is $83,300.00 in contractural agreements.

17. Cultivate a trusting relationaship with the press.

            Find common interests; be resonsive to their inquires and give them the information as soon as possible. Keep them abreast of special events that are community news where services for children, the handicapped and woman’s groups are involved.

18. Work closely with law enforcement.

            Attracting members of law enforecement into your school not only displays a strong message to your community but says that you are the up-and-up. Martial artists have questionable reputations in most communities and many through no fault of their own share this negative image.

            Offer a program at a special discount to the city and county law enforcement agencies nad if you reside in a major metropolitan area where federal law enforcement officers, this includes FBI, Secret Service, US Marshals, Postal Police, State Police, state bureau of investigation departments and others you’ll be surprised at the variety through a little investigation.

            Be sure you have the expertise to teach them techniques they can use. Law enforcement is under incredible public scrutiny and techniques that can save their life can get them sued and left a pauper – so be careful.

19. Local security companies.

            This is one of the leading areas for training that goes untapped nationally. Almost every county has at least 10 security companies to choose from. They will state that their people receive a minimum amount of training as required by the state. This training comprises very few actual hours of physical restraint and manipulation techniques. This group again are not candidates for on-going programs but short 4 – 6 week programs meeting during your off hours.

20. Body guard and security work.

            This may seem counter productive to what you do in business but many schools provide security at concerts and at special events where over zealous fans can get out of control. Most stadiums have a security manager who subcontract services and this is an excellent way to not only spread your name among the areas business for concerst but pays handsomely and usually on days and hours when your not teaching.




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