by Eric P. Fleishman
Running a martial arts school can be challenging. Before you can teach the most basic of techniques, you must lease a school, obtain proper signage, build a website and enroll your first students.
The fight doesn’t end there. Now you have to expand your enrollment, keep those signs maintained, promote your business online and see to the upkeep of the property. This constant “battle of the business” can leave you so weary that the joys of teaching in general and shaping young minds in particular are lost.
That’s why it’s imperative to create a plan grow your school. One of the most important components of that plan will be promoting your dojo in every way possible, including on local television, in local newspapers and on websites that feature local news. Even if you operate a traditional martial arts school, you are not limited to traditional advertising.
So how do you go about orchestrating this positive PR blitz? Here are some easy steps to bring your school into the media spotlight.
Look up data that reflects the reach and impact of local media outlets. You may find that some blogs, websites and radio shows have better penetration into the community than do TV stations, especially if you’re in a small town on the outskirts of a large city.
Be sure to select an option that has a friendly, happy tone. This ultimately will reflect on your business. You wouldn’t want to contact a investigative news show, nor would you want to invite obnoxious, condescending radio personalities to your school knowing that no matter what happens, they’ll be making fun of you and your students.
Instead, choose options that have good reach and reflect the right attitude so it’s a win/win for both parties. It’s important to have several places in mind in case one or two don’t pan out.
Once you’ve selected a few outlets, determine how challenging it will be to contact the TV host, radio personality or blogger. Often, the more popular a show or program is, the harder it is get in touch. It’s best to choose options that offer a good chance of getting through to the talent or their handlers while taking into consideration their personalities and whether they’ll be receptive of your offer.
Rather than cold-calling, reach out to your immediate circle of friends, clients and students to see if anyone has a connection with the talent you seek. You’d be surprised at how often a mutual friend, neighbor or coworker can bring people together. Here’s an example:
Years ago, I needed some formal on-camera training for a TV gig. Someone advised me to watch television and look for somebody I wished to emulate. I chose Mark Steines, host of Entertainment Tonight. He was charming and athletic, and he had a personable delivery that connected with the audience. The next day at work, I asked my clients if they knew or had any connection to Steines. Almost immediately, one shouted, “My sister is a PA on his show!” I had my connection.
Prepare a concise statement that details exactly what you have in mind for the promotion of your business. In Hollywood, we call this an “elevator pitch” because it can be delivered in roughly the amount of time it takes to go up a few floors on a lift.
The pitch should be simple, direct, doable and fun. It should be presented in an enthusiastic way that highlights the benefits for both parties involved. It should mention a specific timeline, ideally one to three weeks. Practice your delivery until it flows like the best idea anyone’s ever heard. The better the pitch, the more likely you’ll be successful.
Once the talent commits to your pitch, start documenting the journey. These days, there’s no reason to hire a camera crew. Instead, rotate your smartphone to landscape mode and press record. Capturing the transformation of a student who journeys from normal to extraordinary — especially using my SLEEK NINJA workout — or watching a student correctly execute a martial arts move for the first time is exciting. The footage can be used for promotional purposes online, where it may be seen by hundreds of potential students.
Let the enthusiasm of the talent sing your praises on the platform he or she controls. Let your current students become part of the success story you promote online. And let your community reap the benefits of the training you offer.
Eric P. Fleishman — aka Eric the Trainer — is a Hollywood-based trainer of celebrities. In the 28 years he’s worked in the industry, he’s trained actors, musicians, MMA fighters and military personnel. He hosts a popular TV show called Celebrity Sweat, which is available on Amazon Prime. His message of healthy living has been adopted by many groups, most recently the American Culinary Federation.
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