Does your dojo lack marketing mojo? Here are 6 martial arts school marketing ideas, tips, and strategies that will build your brand, target local traffic, and keep your classes full.
#1. Develop a Powerful Martial Arts School Website
The cornerstone of your martial arts school marketing efforts is your website. It’s the destination of most of your advertising, and in most cases creates the first impression prospective students have of your dojo.
Websites today need to be dynamic and varied. Images, videos, and text combine to communicate what’s special about your school and persuade people to contact you. It should build trust with testimonials and reviews. Of course, it also must be useful for current students, providing class info, schedules, and event updates.
Here is an example from a Marketing 360® client:
This website uses pictures from their school that shows a prime audience (kids) in action. It’s easy to navigate so people can find the information they need. It’s mobile responsive, so all content displays perfectly on phones. Contact information and map links make it easy to contact any of their three locations.
A martial arts school website doesn’t need to be fancy. Simple, functional, and professional are the keys. Content needs to be concise and clear.
Think of your website as an initial handshake and meeting with prospective students. It must make a strong first impression.
Pro Tip: Would you choose you?
Take this test. Do a search for martial arts schools in your area and compare your website to the competition. Be honest. Would you choose your dojo? Does a competitor have a website or offer that’s clearly superior?
If you’re having trouble being objective, do a usability test on your website. Collect insights on how people respond to your content. Make sure you’re communicating clearly and not losing people at this important lead-generation phase.
#2. Develop a Solid Reputation
In the area below the fold, this martial arts school has more vital content. Testimonials from happy clients:
They also provide links to Google reviews so people can view or leave reviews.
This is smart marketing. They are proactive about presenting positive comments and review ratings. Consumers today pay attention to reviews, to the point that they expect to see them for a business. A positive review profile does a lot to convince people you keep your promises. A poor one can ruin your business.
Monitor what’s said about your dojo on review sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Top Rated Local. Actively ask your best students to give you reviews, and/or use an occasional email to remind them.
Reviews from students are powerful referral material. Get them working in your favor.
#3. Dominate Search Results
To drive traffic to your website, you’ll want to show up for all martial arts related searches in your area, including searches for specific disciplines like taekwondo and judo. There are three ways to dominate the search results.
The first is pay-per-click advertising. These ads are run through auction-based systems like Google Adwords and Bing Ads. The main advantage here is that you show in the top positions (reserved for paid ads) and that you can control the ad copy and landing page. For example, you might want to run an advertisement for kids birthday parties. Your ad and the page it goes to on your website can match that offer.
Next, you need to set-up and rank for Google My Business. This is the maps listing and review platform Google uses for geo-targeted searches. It’s a free listing you can optimize with your descriptions and by getting customer reviews.
Then you have the organic website listings. These are also free clicks, with ranking gained by optimizing your website for keywords, gaining links, getting social media traffic, and adding content to your blog. For organic optimization, be sure to include city names and other geographic areas that people might search on (for example, “Judo lessons Denver”). Use both the martial arts style and the region as keywords in your meta tags and on-page content.
If you do it right, you can show up in three spots on page one:
Many new, prospective students will start their search for a martial arts school on Google. Being on page one for both desktops and mobile search remains a huge marketing advantage.
Pro Tip: Retargeting
It’s normal for digital marketing to get traffic to your website that doesn’t take action. Typically conversion rates are under 10%.
You can combat this to a degree by using retargeting ads, which are PPC ads that display to people after they’ve visited your website. It’s effective to offer a deal or incentive to entice people to come back and sign up:
You can also run retargeting ads on Facebook.
These ads build brand awareness and help get conversions you otherwise would have lost. Well worth executing.
#4. Social Media Marketing
Social media is powerful marketing channel many martial arts schools continue to overlook.
Don’t be one of them. Create Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn accounts. Start by using these platforms as ways to share what’s going on at your dojo through images, videos, and storylines.
An active presence helps you connect with people who prefer particular platforms. Parents may be active on Facebook while kids are on Snapchat.
Social media is diverse enough now that the marketing opportunities are varied. You can highlight student success, share techniques via short videos, curate content about fitness and health…anything of interest or usefulness to your audience is worth it. Make sure several members of your staff keep phones handy, ready to snap cool shots and post them on these platforms. Give people a feel for what your classes and training are like.
As others share your content, you get more (free) brand exposure. Because many students are kids, parents and friends will gladly share posts that show them in action. For instance, there is no better way to get word out about an event:
Create a Snapchat geofilter for your dojo, and encourage students to include their lessons and new skills in their Snapchat stories. This exposes your brand to all their friends in videos and images. You can’t beat it for free advertising.
As you gain audiences, you can start doing targeted paid advertisements designed to reach people who are more likely to convert into paying students, including retargeting ads for people who’ve visited your website or engaged with your page.
#5. Create a Video
Video is an effective way to communicate your passion for martial arts, give a tour of your dojo, show students in action, explain your teaching philosophy, and include testimonials. In just a few minutes, you can cover much of what is needed for an effective marketing message.
Optimize this video for search on YouTube, put it on your Facebook profile, and embed it on your homepage. An effective video can deliver marketing value for years.
#6. Use Marketing Software
If you’re starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by the extent of all this marketing, you’re not alone. Digital marketing is complex.
It’s so complex, in fact, that you have little chance of being able to manage it without marketing software and automation. This includes tools for email marketing as well as CRM software. It’s important today to automate contacts like emailers and keep track of both active and prospective students in a CRM. You should be able to access these systems on your phone. A yellow legal pad just won’t get it done.
You need to be able to track your campaigns and analyze what worked – and what did not. This lets you build on your successes and eliminate campaigns that aren’t driving results.
There is a lot of marketing software available, including Google Analytics. But the real trick is being able to understand what the data is telling you and acting on it.
That’s where Marketing 360® can help you most. With our solution, you get more than just software. You get a marketing executive to analyze what the data tells you and use it to develop your marketing strategy. This lets you reach targeted audiences, stay ahead of the competition, and use the latest trends to your advantage.
Put these tools and resources to work for your martial arts marketing. For a minimal investment, you can keep your classes full and become the best-known dojo in your area.