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5 Communication Hacks to Turn Your Leads into Students

By Cris Rodriguez


The 6 Key Stages

            If you’re struggling to get more students, if you’re confused with all of this social media mumbo-jumbo, if you’re frustrated by not being able to communicate to your leads why they should join your school – then this article was made for you.

            Sound like it’s too good to be true? Well, it’s not.

            Let me give you some context before we jump in.

            Every decision we make in our academy is based around the framework of our “Customer’s Journey.” There are 6 Key Stages that every martial arts student will go through on his/her customer journey in our schools:

            Key Stage 1 - Awareness: How do we make this person aware of our academy?

            Key Stage 2 - Consideration: What are we going to do to maintain their attention so they choose our academy and not our competitor’s?

            Key Stage 3 - Purchase: How are we going to get them to become a new student?

            Key Stage 4 - On-Boarding: How do we transition them into being a long-term member?

            Key Stage 5 - Retention: How do we keep their business so they don’t quit?

            Key Stage 6 - Ambassador: How do we get our students to become our “brand ambassadors?”

            Answering these questions will allow us to improve our customer’s experience.

How Do We Get More Students?

            So, how do you get more students? It’s pretty simple: Identify the gaps in the customer experience and fill them.

            While we won’t dive into each key stage in this particular article, we will focus on how we can turn our leads into members at the “Awareness Stage.”

            All prospective students start at the Awareness Stage. It’s our job as school owners to implement as many moments of impact (“touch points”) as we can throughout their journey to move them from Awareness to Consideration.

            If we don’t do this, our competitors will.

            In order to take our precious leads from the Awareness to the Consideration Stage (so that we can turn them into members), we have to become black belts in communication.

            In the digital marketing world, the term that we use to define this is “copywriting.” Copywriting is simply communicative persuasion. It’s the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising and marketing. Whether it’s written or spoken, if you are communicating to persuade, that’s copy.

            The words that you choose for your Facebook ads, websites, blogs, email campaigns, Google ad words, and social media posts will make or break whether you will turn a lead into a student.


Digital-World Application

            If you’ve ever tried to run Facebook ads, then you’ve probably looked inside your FB Ads Manager. Figuring this out might have seemed like a daunting task. But if you look at the Ads Manager from a bird’s-eye view, you can see that it’s broken down into three levels:

            Level 1 - Campaign Objective

            Level 2 - Ad Set

            Level 3 - Ad


Level 1: Campaign Objective

            Facebook offers many advertising objectives to help you reach your goals. Your Campaign Objective is basically what you want people to do when they see your ads.

            If you want someone to go to your website, you can create ads that encourage people to do just that with the “Traffic Objective.”

            If you want someone to watch one of your videos, you can create ads that will push the “Video Views Objective.”

            If you want to acquire someone’s name, email address and phone number, you can use the “Lead Generation Objective.”

            Currently, there are 11 total objectives in the Facebook ads manager. For martial arts schools’ Facebook campaigns, we suggest utilizing the following 5 Consideration Campaign Objectives:

  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • Video Views
  • Lead Generation
  • Messages

            (We are also huge fans of “Conversion Ads,” but that’s a topic for another article).


Level 2: Ad Set

            An Ad Set tells your ad how to run. Inside of the Ad Set level, you will get to choose your audience. You get to define your audience by choosing things like location, gender, age and more. Here, you’ll also choose your budget, schedule and placement of the ad.

            You are basically creating your perfect customer avatar.

            Imagine being able to show your Kid’s Martial Arts Program ad to only parents in this pinpointed way. More than that, only to parents who are between the ages of 24 and 55, who live within a seven-mile radius of your academy and whose total household income is over $80,000.

            You can get even more specific by choosing Parents of Pre-Schoolers or Parents of Elementary-School Children! It’s pretty amazing how nuanced you can get.

            In the Ad Set level, you’ll get to choose who will see your ad. You can have the best ad in the world, but if you’re showing it to the wrong people, it won’t matter!


Level 3: The Ad

            The final level, Ad, is what your audience will see. This is where you’ll choose your images or video, the copy (words you are going to write to try to get your customer to take action), headline, newsfeed description, and your call to action (CTA).

            It’s at this third level (Ad) that your “5 Communication Hacks” will really shine. Here’s why:

            We are in a digital world of algorithms. Those algorithms watch the activities that happen on the posts that we do inside of social media — whether the posts are organic or paid.

            These algorithms are watching for engagement. If you can actually, with your words, move people to engage, then your messages will be seen more. The more your messages are seen, the better your chances are to move a potential prospect from the Awareness Stage to the Consideration Stage.

            In addition, if you can move them to act in the way that you want (such as giving you their contact information or purchasing a trial), you’ll become the hero of your school with leads pouring in.


The Importance of Copyrighting

            If you had to ask me what type of copywriting I want to use, the answer would be the kind of copywriting that gets results.

            Copywriting can be extremely frustrating. The right words sell. The wrong words won’t even be read! A lot of people don’t even know where to start.

            When choosing what copy to use, it’s important to remember to not just focus on the positive outcomes that occur when training in the martial arts. We as school owners and practitioners know first-hand the amazing, life-changing benefits that training in the martial arts offers. However, we as humans are hardwired to respond more quickly to pain than we are to pleasure.

            Both are important, but in copywriting, pain often gets neglected. If your prospects don’t understand that they have a problem, they are not going to be interested in purchasing your trial to fix their problem.

            Emotion is the real reason most people are going to join. Sales guru Russel Brunson said it best: “People don’t buy logically, they buy based on emotion. After they purchase, they will then use logic to justify the purchase decision.”

            Many of us focus on our USP (Unique Selling Point) when we should be focusing on our ESP (Emotional Selling Point). Our ESP is not only how our customers feel when they experience our classes, but how they will feel if they do not.

            If you can describe your customers’ pain better than they can, they will automatically assume you have the solution. Then, we can describe the glory of training in the martial arts in vivid detail. This will get them excited and willing to pay to join your school and make that vision a reality.

The 5 Communication Hacks

            Here are the 5 Communication Hacks that you can use. These are small but mighty phrases, leading you to powerful copywriting that will accomplish your goal of getting your prospects to say yes and become new students. You can plug and play these communication patterns for each one of the programs.

            My favorite way to use these copywriting hacks is with a partner. Use the prompts to get the conversation flowing and feed off of each other to create powerful copy.

            Hack #1. If/Then:

            If you have the following pain or problem, then here’s the solution to your problem.

            Using the If/Then Communication hack is going to present the big challenge that our prospects are experiencing. It’s going to trigger their emotions, then show them how our martial arts school has the answers to their problem.

            Let’s go through an example of how you can use the If/Then Communication Hack to create copy for your Adult Martial arts Program:

            If you are bored with the same old gym routine. . .

            If you are struggling to find the motivation to get to the gym. . .

            If you are confused on how to live a healthier lifestyle. . .

            Then our Adult Martial Arts Program was made just for you!

            Hack #2. If You Don’t Do Anything, It’s Just Going to Get Worse:

            This communication hack deals with a common problem that we, as people, share about all of our troubles: We like to think that if we ignore a problem, it will go away.

            Many parents will ignore their child’s inability to do things the first time they are asked. Even worse, they will ignore claims of their child getting bullied at school, thinking it’s just teasing.

            We have to ask them, what is the cost of them not doing what they need to do?

            Let’s go through an example of how you can use the statement, “If you don’t do anything, it’s just going to get worse,” as a Communication Hack to create copy for your Kid’s Martial Arts Program:

            “We never want our kids to have to use their martial arts skills in real life, but every good parent still wants their child to be safe.

            “If your child is shy and lacks the confidence and self-esteem to stand up for him/herself against bullies, ignoring the problem is not the solution. If you don’t do anything, it’s just going to get worse!”

       Hack #3. Imagination:

            This example is the closest thing to a “magic word” in the copywriting world. In my opinion, out of all 5 Communication Hacks, this one is the most powerful. Why? Because the word imagine puts an idea in their heads (ever see the movie Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio?).

            When you ask someone to imagine something, such as a purple zebra wearing a pink tutu with a cowboy hat, what are they going to be imagining?

            A purple zebra wearing a pink tutu with a cowboy hat.

            When you evoke the word “imagine,” you have the power to put an idea in someone’s head. We want our customers to picture themselves having the successful outcome that training in the martial arts will give them.

            You, as the copywriter, get to paint that picture of your prospect achieving his/her ideal life through training in the martial arts.

            Let’s use the “Imagine” communication hack for our Adult Martial Arts Program.

            “Imagine having a personal trainer, an accountability coach, and a group of likeminded individuals who want to see you win and succeed.

            “Imagine waking up every morning and seeing a different person in the mirror. Someone with the energy to crush it at work. The energy to spend more time with loved ones. The energy to more of what you love.

            Imagine being able to protect yourself and everyone you love.

            Does that sound like too much of a fantasy?

            Well, it’s not!”

            Hack #4. What If:

            The “What If” communication pattern also evokes feelings and will ultimately help to change the prospect’s emotional state. This is great for positive-possibility thinking.

            One of the best aspects of these plug-and-play-communication patterns is that you can stack them. This particular hack I recommend stacking one on top of the other.

            Let’s use the “What If” communication hack for our Fitness Kickboxing Program:

            What if this time it was different?

            What if this time you were different?

            What if this time you didn’t give up?

            What if you surrounded yourself with people who have done it and have won?

            Hack #5. What Most People Do:

            What most people do is usually the wrong thing.

            There’s a quote that says, “If you’re confused about what to do, just look at what everyone else is doing, and do the opposite.”

            Kind of funny, but frightening, too.

            We want our prospective customer to not be like most people. For example:

            What most people do is get really excited and motivated in the beginning. They buy a gym membership, purchase fancy new shoes and take their pre-workout. They then go the gym, lift some weights and expect to see drastic results.

            After a few days, life gets in the way, and they quit. But this time, you’re not going to be like most people. This time, you are going to follow through!

            Much of copywriting is reiterating the same point over and over again in different ways. Just as we disguise repetition while we are teaching martial arts on the mat, we must disguise repetition in our copywriting!


3 Bonus Communication Hacks!

            Hack #6: If the only thing you got…

            Hack #7: Don’t let this happen to you…

            Hack #8: You’re standing at the crossroads...

            Now that you have these communication patterns, how can you apply them to your online marketing?

            At the end of the day, everything is copy. Every single time you’re communicating with someone, there’s an opportunity to express your message. You now have a toolbox of eight communication hacks to use to get your message out. It’s a small box, but it’s very powerful.

            Here are some ways to utilize these communication patterns:

  • Facebook Ads
  • Email Subject Lines
  • Instagram Stories
  • Facebook Posts
  • Blog Headlines
  • Videos


How to “Stack” the 8 Communication Hacks

            There is a common quote in the copywriting world: “Tiny hinges swing big doors.” Making small tweaks to your copy can really create big improvements in response to your Facebook ads. It’s the same in our martial arts training as well, right? It’s the small details that truly make an impact.

            My favorite aspect of these eight communication hacks is the fact that you can stack them on top of each other for a really powerful experience.

            Feel free to hack these and use them in your own ads:

            If you are bored with the same old gym routine. . .

            If you are struggling with motivation to get to the gym. . .

            If you are confused about how to live a healthier lifestyle. . .

            Then our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Program was carefully crafted for someone just like you!


            Our programs are so much fun that you’ll forget that you’re even exercising!

            Imagine having a personal trainer, an accountability coach, and a group of likeminded individuals, who want to see you win and succeed.

            Imagine waking up every morning and seeing a different person in the mirror. Someone with the energy to crush it at work. The energy to spend more time with loved ones. The energy to more of what you love.

            Imagine being able to protect yourself and everyone you love.

            Does that sound like too much of a fantasy?

            Well, it’s not!

            The bottom line is, if you don’t take action to live a healthier life, you’re going to continue to wake up every day feeling the same. Choosing to do nothing about your health is actually a choice – and it’s one that has consequences.

            Ignoring the problem will not fix anything.

            You have absolutely nothing to lose.


            If the only thing you got out of taking BJJ classes was the confidence you needed to overcome challenges in your life, would it be worth it?

            What if the only thing you got out of taking classes was fitting inside of those size 32 pants?

            What if the only thing you got was the ability to defend yourself? Would it be worth taking the chance?

            Don’t continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Some people call that insanity. Don’t keep putting off what you know needs to be done.

            What if this time it was different?

            What if this time you were different?

            What if you surrounded yourself with people who have done it and have won?

            You’re standing at a crossroads right now. We’ve all been there.

            It’s time to take the leap. It’s time to change your life.


            Use these Communication Patterns to drum up your creativity and speak to your audience in a way that will get them to engage with your content. Compel them to act on your request to purchase a trial or book an appointment and, ultimately, help them to become a new student.

            A well-written emotional ad causes the listener to imagine him/herself taking precisely the action you would like them to take.

            Now, go earn your first stripe in copywriting!


            With over 25 years of martial arts experience and 18 years of teaching experience, Professor Cris Rodriguez of Tampa, Florida, is a BJJ black belt and the co-owner of Gracie Pac MMA. She has studied Internet Marketing for the past eight years and is the co-founder of Jitz University, an Online Business Training Portal for BJJ and MMA school owners that has helped over 400 academies across the world.

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