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20 Ways to Generate 20 New Students

enroll students Sep 18, 2019

Want to enroll more new members? Learn how with this handy list of 20 ways today. And sign up for your first month of MAIA Edge for 50% off . Use Promo Code: EDGE50.


By: Mike Metzger, Lead MAIA Elite Consultant


The most common question I get asked when it comes to owning a martial arts school is how can I get more new students. I mean, it’s the most common question by far.

School owners of all sizes are looking for new members and it doesn’t matter what time of year it is — spring, summer, fall, winter — they’re always looking for new recruits.

And even though new students are not the end-all, be-all to growing your school, I recognize that they are the lifeblood of our business and necessary for growth.

So today, I thought it’d be handy to give you a list of 20 ideas to pick up 20 new students for your school.

Some of these ideas will be simple. Some of them a little complex. Some will cost you nothing. Others, maybe a little time or money.

But, every one of these ideas has been tested and vetted by myself or my team so without setting it up any longer, let’s get started with #1.


  1. Pizza Party Contest for 5 Students – We kick off this list with an easy idea that you can implement with the students you already have. It’s pretty simple, all you need is a fishbowl and some tickets. You pick a date in the future (ex: 2 weeks from Friday at 7:00 P.M.) and every time someone comes to class, they get a ticket. The goal is to pick 5 winners out of the fishbowl that get to have their own pizza party and invite 5 of their friends. It’s a fun event that the kids will love (make sure that the winners are able to come). You can do this event pretty much any time of the year and it’s a great way to get new prospects in the door so try it out.


  1. Parent Week – For this one, we’re going to switch gears and give you a strategy for getting more adults. It cost you nothing too so it’s win-win. Announce on the floor that in the future (next week, for example), you want to make sure all the parents come to class because they’re going to do some training with the kids. It’s Parent Week. Then when the week comes, invite the parents to come on the floor and train with the kids. Have the parents hold pads for the kids, have the kids hold pads for the parents and then finally, have the parents hold pads for other parents. You can even run a contest — kids vs. adults — to see who can throw the most punches in 30 seconds for example. Get creative with it. The goal is to get the parents comfortable with each other, give them a little exercise, expain how martial arts can get them in great shape and see if they want to try out the program for a month. A great way to get more adults.


  1. Bring out a free uniform to a longtime parent – While we’re on the parent train, this one is a quick and easy win for getting more parents on the floor. Bring out a uniform to a parent who’s been watching class from the lobby for a long time. Say “Listen Mrs. Johnson. You’ve been sitting on the sidelines for the past (6 months, year, two years, etc.). I want to give you a present today and you can’t give it back.” Then, hand them a uniform as a gift and give them a free week, 2 weeks or month of classes. The beauty behind is you are now calling them to action. They no longer can just sit on sidelines and watch. As long as you have a big smile on your face when you hand them the uniform, you’ll be surprised at how often this works.


  1. Instructor for a Day – This strategy is a buddy day in disguise but works even better for one reason: the students have to bring a friend. Let me explain. Announce to your class that you've got something fun coming up. Ask them, “Who wants a certificate and a patch on their uniform to be an instructor for a day?” And when they raise their hands and get all excited, say, “Well good because next Saturday we’re going to host a free event where you’re going to be the Instructor.” The hook for this event is that you're giving them an opportunity to feel significant and important. You're going to let them be the instructor. That's a big deal and something a lot of kids would feel cool doing. But you can’t be an instructor without students so in order for them to be an instructor, they need to teach their friends, their parents, their siblings, anyone that can be a student in order to participate.

    On the day of the event, you are going to teach your students (the instructor) some techniques, they are going to teach their students (whoever they brought with them) the moves, and then they are going to test their students to see how well they did to see if they can earn their white belt. This is a really fun event for the kids because it builds leadership in your students and they get to train their friends or family. So it’s a great retention event and the students get a certificate and a patch out of it too.  

    Want to try your hand at an Instructor For A Day?
    Download our Instructor For A Day Advert Kit Now.


  1. Host a Free 90-Minute Self Defense Workshop – This one is for a more teen/adult oriented audience. There are a lot of different ways to market this event but the point is to get more teenagers or adults in your program. You could go to your own lobby, have parents stick their business cards in a fish bowl, draw a winner (or 5 winners, like the pizza party in #1) and then have the winner (or winners) invite out 5 or 10 of their friends.

    You could go out to apartment complexes or other businesses, frame it as a “free community event” to keep everyone safe and then just give them some passes for the workshop. Tell them to invite their friends. This workshop will really capture the portion of your market that wants to learn self-defense and it’s a great way to raise awareness with an older audience. After the Free Workshop, offer them a trial to learn more self-defense for 2 weeks, 4 weeks, or whatever time frame you want.


  1. A Subtle Tweak to Your Phone Appointments – This one is simple but super effective if you consistently do it. Anytime anyone calls and schedules an appointment for an intro class for their child or themselves, simply ask if they have a friend or sibling that they would like to bring to the intro class. Tell them you find it makes students more comfortable if they bring a friend. And if they are doing a trial (ex: 4 wks for $49), tell them you’ll do 2 for 1. This one might not work every time but if you do it enough, you’ll get more signups. It’s all about being consistent.



  1. The 7 Word Email – This is another one we could characterize as a breeze. It’s a simple email that you send out to your list. The goal is to start a conversation with your prospect and try to get them to come in for a lesson. The email goes like this:

    Subject Line: quick question
    Body: Hey (first name), are you still interested in martial arts?

    You might be surprised at the response you get. The secret behind this email is that you’re just asking the prospect a direct question. People can’t help but respond to a question and if you make it conversational, they will normally engage with you.


  1. The Nail Salon/ Hair Salon Tip Strategy - This one might require a little legwork but if you implement it, you will get fantastic results. Create a professional gift card like you would see at a restaurant and put two things on them. Put an offer on them (Ex: A uniform, t-shirt, a private lesson and 1 month of martial arts) and a value(Ex: $199 value). Then, go to a nail salon or a hair salon. We like to go to these places because a) They are predominantly women (AKA moms) and b) They typically have regular customers that come in and get their nails or hair done. So they have built up rapport with those customers. Then, we’ll go into the salons and ask 2 questions:


    1. The first question is to get the conversation started and lead with value: After you introduce yourself, say, “Hey guys, do you guys have any coupons or specials that we can put in our school and maybe offer some of our families?(They should be excited after this.)
    2. Then, the second question is a follow up and is the real reason you are there: Say, Well listen, I know a lot of your (nail techs or hair stylists) work off tips. Can I supply each one of them with 10 of these gift cards at no cost and if they have a client, a regular that they know that has children and they get to talking — they can say, ‘Hey, have ever checked out this martial arts school? If you’re interested, we are selling these gift cards. They are (insert price you want the techs/stylists to sell them at) and include a (what your offer is).’

      The beauty behind this strategy is that any cards the nail techs or hair stylists sell, they get to keep the money. So they are basically getting a bigger tip for their services. Yes, you’ll be out the cost on making the gift cards and whatever you put in the offer, but you’ll have a highly qualified lead when they redeem the gift card and you’ll have an army of people marketing your school for you when you’re teaching at night. I love this strategy. It can even be used as a fundraiser for kids sports teams or boy scouts and girl scouts.

Which leads us to...

  1. Help Girl/Boy Scouts Earn Their Badges – If you’ve ever been a boy scout or girl scout, you know that the kids are always trying to achieve badges. A confidence badge, a courage badge, and so many other badges. If you've ever been a troupe leader of boy scouts or girl scouts, you know how taxing it is to come up with ways for the scouts to "earn" their badges. Well, this strategy will help both parties. It will provide the kids an opportunity to achieve a “self-defense badge” and allow the girl/boy scout’s troupe leader to think less for how the kids are going to achieve their badge. Simply ask your local girl scout or boy scout leaders if you can help their kids achieve a “self-defense” badge and put on a free self-defense seminar for the kids. The parents of these troupes will love this because they don’t have to plan an event and the troupe leaders will supply the badge for you so it’s a win-win. At the end of the seminar, offer a special to enroll them into your school.


  1. Referral Reward Program – This one isn’t so much a strategy you need to execute once every blue moon, it needs to be done every day. Any time you enroll a new student or someone comes in for their first class or intro, you should be asking “Hey. Can I ask who referred you to our school?” Even if they say they saw a flyer or no one referred them, explain how a large portion of your students comes from referrals and you like to give back by rewarding those who refer someone with a gift card or certificate to the pro shop. This will get their wheels turning for how they can get their own reward by bringing a friend in. Your referrals will increase simply by asking and explaining your referral rewards. It’s very important.

    Start your Referral Reward Program Today.


  1. Corporate Team­-Building Workshop – For this one, you can use the existing adults in your school or the parents of students who work for companies. Ask if you can do a corporate team-building workshop for their company. Position it as a way to build camaraderie among their team, because that’s what martial arts is, team-building. A great time to do this is at the beginning of the year because adults are always trying to get in better shape for their New Year’s Resolutions.


  1. Mass Enrollments – This one would take too long to explain but it’s such an important system for school owners that you need to being doing them. There are so many different free community events you can use to get people in your school: Bully Buster Seminar, Confidence Seminar, Focus For Better Grades Seminar, the list goes on and on. If you truly want to impact your school and get more students, you need to learn how to do them. We teach the system step-by-step on MAIA Edge.


  1. Open House/Ticket Tornado – The Open House/Ticket Tornado probably takes the longest of all the events on this list but is extremely effective. The idea is to have a 4-Hour Open House roughly 6-8 weeks from the time you announce it for your community. There will be prizes raffled off during the Open House and in order to win them, people have to enter tickets. In the months leading up to your event, the students can earn tickets by doing things such as coming to class, bringing a friend, leaving a Google review, anything you deem worthy of a ticket is fair game. The kicker is during this 6-8 week time frame, anyone that refers a student that enrolls in your program (not a trial), will get a chance to do a Ticket Tornado. This is basically holding the end of the tickets and turning themselves in a circle for 3 seconds, wrapping themselves in tickets so they get extra chances to win a prize at the Open House.

    Pro Tip: For the Open House, have different prizes that the kids can choose from so they can spend their tickets however they choose. That way if they already have some of your prizes, they can pick other ones they want to enter to win. You’ll generate a lot of excitement with this system and a lot of new members.


  1. Take advantage of social media – This is another one that would take too long to explain but if you’re not taking advantage of social media, you absolutely should. There are so many seasons or holidays that you can use to disguise your marketing, you should really be online year-round. Cris Rodriguez, MAIA’s Digital Marketing Expert, weighs in heavy on this topic in the MAIA Foundations coaching program, you can learn more about it here.


  1. The Power of Sharing – This strategy is another social media one but it’s much easier and is completely free to execute. All you have to do is put up a trial offer on your school’s Facebook Business Page (4 weeks for $49, etc.). Have the parents of the students at your school share that post on the Facebook platform and comment with an answer to this question, “What has martial arts done for your child?” So you have a post with your trial offer on your Facebook Business Page, and the parents of your students are sharing it (thereby getting more free traffic on the post) along with how martial arts has helped improve their child. That’s powerful and should get some social traffic.

    Pro Tip: If you want more parents to comment on your post, incentivize them with a chance to win an Amazon gift card or some other prize for commenting on the post.


  1. Off-Site Booths – With the Fall season just around the corner, now is the time to be on the lookout for off-site booths. There are a lot of Fall Festivals popping up and it’s a great opportunity to get your name out there amongst your community. You can book a lot of appointments for the weeks to come if you have an attractive offer and something eye-catching to capture their attention. Prize wheels, popcorn machines, and similar attention-grabbers are great for booths like this. Search around the area near you for upcoming festivals that you can grab a booth.


  1. P.E. Teacher For A Day –
  2. 4-Week Course – These two actually go hand in hand and work great in tandem. If you’ve ever been in a P.E. class, you know how exhausting it is to teach that class day in, day out. A great way to provide value for the P.E. Teachers is to just be a substitute for a day. Teach a very basic martial arts class to the P.E. class and give that teacher a day to relax. They will appreciate you for it immensely. Then you can hand out passes to come graduate at your martial arts school and enroll them into your program.

    To add on to that, if the schools will allow it and you can plan it in conjunction with the P.E. Teacher For A Day, this is a great time to launch 2 or 4-Week course at the same time at the school. The P.E. Teacher For A Day serves as a fantastic catalyst for signups to a 2 or 4-Week Course. It gets the kids excited and they’ll want to immediately try it out, especially if they can train at their school with their friends. Then, you can hand out passes to come get their white belt at your school, etc. This is an extra step but it will give you much better quality leads for your graduation ceremony.

    Need some help putting together your P.E. Teacher For A Day/ 4 Week-Course?



  1. Demonstrations/ Presentations This is another strategy that requires a little more sweat equity. It’s demos. Getting out in the community and holding demonstrations of martial arts is a great way to get new students. If you’re not having a ton of success getting new members from this strategy, it’s most likely because you’re not making it a presentation. There is a difference.

    For example, say I went to Broadway and watched a play with incredible dancers and singers and it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Even though, I would give it a standing ovation, that doesn’t mean I would want to call around and start taking acting classes. The same thing applies to martial arts. You have to make it a presentation as well. Bring some kids up. Give them a 10 minute class. Give them a special offer for that day and book the appointment right then and there. Great way to get more students.


  1. Sign Up for MAIA Edge - Finally, I’m going to end this list with a shameless plug. If you haven’t already signed up for MAIA Edge, you need to hop on the bandwagon. Every resource you see on this page came from the site and it's still growing. You can keep planning out your marketing calendar and spend a lot of time event planning or you can let us give you a plan of action every month. Sign up today and get your first month for 50% off using promo code: EDGE50. You won't be disappointed. So head over there now. My team and I are ready

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