by Kurt Klingenmeyer, MAIA Consultant
Over the past year, I’ve had the incredible experience of working with many growing martial arts schools via MAIA’s Small School Forum. It’s a dedicated Facebook group for school owners with 80 or fewer students. The forum provides tools and advice to help them develop their schools.
One of the most frequently asked questions is, “How do I grow my martial arts school with only a small budget?” The following are five proven ways to do that.
This is an old-school form of marketing, but it always delivers results. Visit 10 local businesses that are community owned and tell the owners that you have students and families who may be interested in them. Ask if they have any business materials you could place at the front desk in your dojo.
If they have materials to share, ask if they can reciprocate by allowing you to leave a lead box on their counter. On the outside of the box, feature an enticing special like “one month of free lessons and a free uniform.” Collect leads weekly and invite prospective members in for their first lesson. This method not only will grow your school but also will develop collaborative business partnerships within your community.
Working with local elementary schools is a fun way to get involved in your community while creating a pipeline of new students to your dojo. Offer to teach a four-week martial arts program after school. Students pay just $25, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the host school.
At the end of the session, organize a graduation ceremony at your dojo and offer an enrollment special for anyone who registers that day. The schools will be thrilled because it will be the easiest fundraiser they ever had, and your dojo will have an opportunity to enroll more than a few new students in one day.
Martial arts schools frequently see a dip in enrollment around the winter holidays. 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 who enroll after Thanksgiving. This will grab the attention of parents and turn one of your slowest enrollment periods into one of your best.
Workshops are a great way to give back to your community while you get the word out on all the benefits of martial arts training. Topics can include stranger danger, character building, anti-bullying, goal setting, safety and being successful in school.
Promote your event via social media and your local news outlets. During the event, offer all who participate an enrollment special if they would like to continue training. These workshops will establish your school as a pillar of the community and bring new members to your door.
Community Festivals and Events
Much like those workshops, local events and festivals are a great way to get involved in your community and spread the word about your martial arts school. At the events, don’t just have a clipboard you hold out to try to get people to sign. Focus on the experience. Set up a Century BOB with a T-shirt that says, “Punch me 20 times in 10 seconds and win two free weeks and a uniform!”
Festival-goers — kids and adults, alike — 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.
As you can see, it’s easy to grow your martial arts school on a small budget. All it takes is a little planning, creativity and legwork.
To contact Kurt Klingenmeyer, send an email to [email protected] Or call the Martial Arts Industry Association at (866) 626-6226.
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