Depending on who you believe, 2012 is either the end of the world, or the beginning of a new era. We believe the latter, and have compiled a fairly innovative list (if I do say so myself) of 10 simple (& mostly FREE) ways to increase martial arts enrollment for 2012.
Not business goals, personal goals. Could be weight loss, your next stripe, to enter a tournament, and/or a physical accomplishment in your training. The point is to pick something you want to achieve, let your school know about it, and then work towards it. You will feel great, while inspiring others to follow your lead. Remember, success is contagious!
Groups are a great way to connect current and former students on facebook. Students can post links to cool instructional videos, movies, pics, and just be social with one another. They are probably on facebook anyway. This is a great way to retain & motivate students who tend to disappear for extended periods, as they will constantly be reminded of the fun they are missing. Here is a tutorial video on how to create a facebook group. It is easy to do, and requires very little time at all on your part.
I don't care if it is your iphone, as long as it shoots at least 720p. Use this to post videos to youtube once a week at the minimum. Videos can be a simple instruction, a testimonial, highlights from this week of class, a message from the instructor, a happy birthday message, anything. These videos do not need to be professional quality, and should run 60-90 seconds, max. They are simply a brief view into your school and what's going on. This will increase search engine visibility, student retention, and in the long run, enrollment. If you don't like the camera, find a student who does!
Most Martial Arts businesses are local, and facebook offers an easy way to reach potential students through your current students. Use your fan page to put up pics, videos, and belt promotions on a weekly basis, and tag the students. By utilizing your students in your content, they will be sure to show it to family and friends. Makes the kids proud, increase exposure, and improve your visibility on search engines.
Facebook Ads are not free, but we found them VERY cost effective. You can easily target your market and most important, even if you do not get direct sales immediately, you will see your Fan page numbers rise dramatically. This is great for future promotions, as each person who 'likes' your fanpage receives any of your posts in their feed. We spend no more than $30-$60 week and have increased our reach incredibly over the first month. Below is a screen shot of our stats.
Just like martial arts, marketing moves also work better in combinations. For example, if you are going to be creating a martial arts flyer for valentines day, then ask for a digital copy (proof), that you can place on your facebook page, website, etc. Ask your students in your facebook group what they think. Then when it is ready for print, blast it out on your facebook page. Now a student/parent, or potential student may see the ad on facebook, then in a store, and suddenly they begin to notice it. This works even better when you follow tip #7 below. Sending a concise, cohesive message in both the physical (print ads) and virtual (tv/web) worlds is the key to maximizing your marketing effectiveness in 2012.
That's how the big boys do it. 'Lose 1,000 Calories in an hour' (La Boxing), '30 days FREE to experience the fastest growing workout in the nation!' (Lloyd Irvin), 'The Ultimate Total Body Workout' (TSK). These messages are simple, concise, and easy to repeat. What's your marketing message? Use it on every branding piece for your school.
From updating your website to creating content, there is a lot to do when you own a business, and the truth is, your students may be better at it then you are. Reward them for their contributions, and encourage willing students to help you where they can. This creates a sense of ownership and pride in your school, helps students gain self confidence, and takes some of the workload off of your shoulders.
Camps, schools, barber shops, salons, restaurants, are all places frequented by your students. Reach out to some of these businesses, and see if you can help each other out. Maybe a camp needs a place for a field trip, or the barber is interested in a dual promotion, or a school would allow a free Martial Arts lesson. There is plenty of cost effective ways to help out local businesses, and create alliances that will feed you for years.
This is the most important part of this list, and therefore it is last for anyone who has made it this far. If you want to increase your enrollment, set aside the time to do so. A 1/2 hour a day to work on marketing your business, or two 15 minute periods a day to use social media. This small amount of time per day (30 mins), compounded over the year, equals out to 182.5 hours of time per year. The key to marketing is consistency. Set a schedule, make small action steps, and increase your productivity while actually doing less!