By MAIA Executive Director Frank Silverman
As we approach summer, many people expect new-member sign-ups to come to a screeching halt. I suggest that if you expect it, that is exactly what you’ll get: A big zero, nada and nil leading into the summer season.
However, if you have a plan and expect better results, you can achieve them. I say with 100% confidence that the summertime norm is slower in terms of new-member sign-ups compared to most other times of year. That said, I’ve learned that many schools, though not the majority, understand how to make the summer not only successful with new members but financially as well.
To accomplish this, we need to shift gears in how we market. If we recognize that the public is off on vacation and not available to us, we must turn our marketing efforts to those who are present. As the old expression goes, we need to go after the “low-hanging fruit.”
So, what qualifies someone as low-hanging fruit?
First, they are “present.” How do we know they are present? Because they come to class. It’s as simple and easy as that.
Second, they are attached to our school in some way, which means we have help in working the sign-up. We can utilize the assistance of the families and students who already attend our school.
Third, by virtue of number one and number two, the cost to market to them is very, very low. Moreover, we only pay for marketing if we see a real result.
How do we lead into summer with low or no-cost marketing and drive as many new members as possible? It’s all about internal marketing.
Keep an open mind. As a friend of mine, Chief Master Bill Clark, once told me, “People quit for their own reasons. It’s not personal.”
The truth is that they also sign up for their own reasons. If a person has said “no” before, it doesn’t matter. Ask again, and that “no” may turn into a “yes.”
In May and June, focus on moms and dads, respectively, leading up to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. As both the Martial Arts Industry Association (MAIA) and Century advise, it’s essential to offer an event of some kind to celebrate these holidays. It is best to host an event where parents “earn” a pink, camo or white belt. They receive a certificate as well and a special offer for signing up, including a new uniform.
Remove all barriers to entry. Keep in mind that parents are perfect new members because they help with retention and are familiar with your sign-up procedures.
In addition to this, you should offer a mini (10-minute) private lesson with each sign-up to help him/her acclimate and feel comfortable.
Next, move on to siblings. No matter how many times they may have said “no” to taking lessons, this is the time to try again. Why? Because they are present, and they may have new reasons for wanting to try martial arts training. Keep this as an ongoing theme throughout the entire summer. From May through July, offer a special incentive any time a family member signs up.
Next, institute an ongoing referral program that starts before summer ends and finishes a couple weeks before the back-to-school season. It’s imperative that everyone in the school knows about the program.
Understanding the referral program is more important than the reward itself. Make sure you ask your current members, on an almost daily basis, for referrals. Reward them generously for their help. The referral program can last all summer and helps keep the pressure on.
Invite friends to class, invite siblings to class, and hold Mom and Dad Days especially in May and June. Also, never forget that enrolling new students is the lifeblood of your business, but retention of your current students is key to long-term success. Keep the front door open for students, but close and lock that back door tight.
If you have not already registered for the 2019 MASuperShow, do it today! We deliver the best business, marketing and operations information for your school, with on-the-mat training to keep you and your instructors at the top of their game. Register online at www.masupershow.com, or call MAIA at (866) 626-6226.
Contact Frank Silverman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter and Facebook @franksilverman.
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