Over the last year, I have had the incredible experience of working with so many growing martial arts schools via the Martial Arts Industry
Association’s (MAIA’s) Small School Forum. The Forum is a dedicated Facebook group for school owners with 80 or fewer students. It provides tools and advice to help them grow and develop their schools.
One of the most common questions I have received is, “How do I grow my martial arts school with only a small budget?”
Here are five great ways to do just that!
This is an “old-school” form of marketing, but it always delivers results. Visit 10 local businesses that are community-owned and tell them that you have students and families who may be interested in their businesses. Do they have any materials that you could place on the front desk at your dojo?
If they have materials to share, ask if they would be able to reciprocate by allowing you to leave a lead box on their counter as well. On the box, feature a great special, such as “One Month Free Lessons Including Uniform.”
Collect leads weekly and invite prospective members in for their first lesson. This method will not only grow your school, but it will also develop collaborative business partnerships within your community.
Working with local elementary schools is a fun way to become involved in your community while simultaneously creating a pipeline of new students into your school. Offer to teach a four-week martial arts program after school at their building. Students pay just $25 and 100% of the proceeds go back to that school.
At the end of the session, host a graduation at your martial arts school. Offer an enrollment special for anyone who registers that day. Schools will be thrilled with their easiest fundraiser ever. Your school will have an opportunity to enroll several new students in one day.
Frequently, martial arts schools see a dip in enrollments around the holiday season. Families are focused on buying the hottest toy of the year rather than beginning a new activity for their kids.
Promote a “Train the Rest of the Year for Free” special for students that enroll after Thanksgiving. This will grab the attention of parents and turn one of your slowest enrollment months into one of your best.
Community workshops are a great way to give back to your community and get the word out about all the fantastic benefits of martial arts. Topics can include Stranger Danger, character-building, anti-bullying, goal-setting, safety, and being successful in academic school. Promote your event via social media and local news sources.
During the event, offer everyone who participated that day an enrollment special if he/she would like to continue with classes. These workshops build your school up as a pillar within the community and open your doors to new members.
Much like our community workshops, participating in local events and festivals is a great way to get involved in the community and spread the word about your martial arts school.
At the event, don’t just have a clipboard with which you are trying to “register” families. Focus on the experience as well.
For example, set up a Century BOB with a t-shirt that reads, “Punch me 20 times in 10 seconds and win two free weeks and a uniform.” Festival-goers, both kids and adults, will welcome the challenge! Make sure to chat them up, collect their contact information, and invite them to a free event at your school the following week.
It’s easy to grow your martial arts school on a small budget. All it takes is a little planning, creativity and legwork.
For questions or comments, contact Kurt Klingenmeyer via email at [email protected] or call the Martial Arts Industry Association at (866) 626-6226
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