Marketing Essentials to Get More Students Year Round


Like most , the Martial Arts business is certainly seasonal when it comes to marketing. You start with Valentine's Day, then move into spring, summer, back to school, Thanksgiving, the holidays, and the big one: New Years, before doing it all again.

However, there are certain 'marketing essentials' that you should utilize for your dojo all year long. Here are 5 marketing essentials for Martial Arts schools to take advantage of year round, to help stimulate growth.

1. Trial Passes / Rack Cards

These are effective marketing tools for every season. Trial passes are a great way to get new faces in the door. Essentially, they are a tangible way for your students and their families to invite their friends. Hand out 40 or so to current students, as well as each new student that signs up. Use an offer that is enticing and will make it easy for interested students to give it a shot. some examples we have seen are a free trial class, and a two weeks free pass.

Another effective method is leaving these trial cards in local businesses. Working out local alliances is a key to growth, and something I will touch on in more detail in a future video. For example, one of our mentors & longtime clients recently made an alliance with a local restaurant. His student's get free desert, and their customers get a free trial offer at his school. It is a cost effective way to use your resources to gain exposure, without dipping deep into the budget.

2. Custom Diplomas / Promotion Certificates

Promotional certificates initially may not seem like 'marketing' materials, but they certainly are. Remember, this certificate is a proud moment for any student. It will most likely hang on the wall, refrigerator, etc. in their home for years. I'm sure you even have some hanging somewhere right now!

The key to these is to make them visually striking. The student has worked hard for their promotion, and they deserve something special to remember it. A simple print out just doesn't cut it from a marketing perspective. It should be like a diploma, but branded for your school based on the discipline, tradition, and achievement. Here is an example of a customizable black belt certificate template we created for some beloved clients of ours:


3. HTML Newsletter

An HTML newsletter is a custom designed template used for email blasts from your school. This is basically a branded newsletter with information such as timely updates, promotions, schedule changes, new classes/programs, discounts, &/or more. This is a great way to upsell enrolled students, as well as increase student retention. Even if a student stops coming, they continue to receive all the great news about your school until they unsubscribe.

Of course, you must have an email list, and an email client for distribution. For the email list, any effective web presence should have email capture functionality. The other option is to go old-school and ask for the email on your sign up forms for input into your system. Either way, here is a list of the top email clients/capture systems we have used. They also have free/low cost options for starters, as well as html newsletter templates for startups not ready to purchase a custom one.

Mail Chimp - Our personal favorite. MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. It's like your own personal publishing platform.

Aweber - Creates lasting customer relationships for you with email newsletters, autoresponders, RSS to email, and more. Used by over 102,000 businesses. Has some great tools for email capture that easily integrate with most websites.

Constant Contact - Email marketing, event marketing, online surveys, and social campaigns for more likes, more shares, and more business.

4. Bumper Stickers

Another old school technique that is very effective. Bumper stickers are relatively inexpensive to purchase, and a great way to market in the local area. One tip for these is to not put too much info on them. You want everything to be big enough to read from at least a car length. Nothing works better than a catchy tagline. 

My Jiu Jitsu school uses these, and they are certainly a great conversation starter in public places. People will see it and ask if I train, and details on the school.  I have even met people from my dojo for the first time at the supermarket parking lot, cause I saw the sticker and said, 'Yo, you train there? So do I!" 

5. Branded Clothing

T-shirts, sweatshirts, uniforms, kimonos, fight shorts, hats, and more. Whatever you can get with your brand on it is worth the investment. Not only can you make additional income upselling the clothing, but they are a great marketing tool as well. I was recently in Jamba Juice wearing my school hoodie, and the lady behind the counter started asking me about MMA. Turns out her son was looking for a place to train, and she wanted to know more about my dojo.

Remember, Martial Arts takes commitment and discipline. Clothing is a great way for your students to proudly show off the commitment they make. 

What Marketing does your Dojo use year round?

One thing I have learned from Jiu jitsu that applies to business is no matter what level you may be, 'there is always more to learn.' 

What marketing do you use for your dojo year round? Tell us in the comments below....


Peter Normandia
Peter Normandia

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