Let’s face it, online advertising works awesome, but it costs money.
It’s a pay-to-play platform.
And it’s one that requires skills and strategy — two things that many martial arts school owners have when they are on the mat — but put them in front of the Facebook Ads Manager, and they are tying on a white belt.
When times are tough and your marketing budget is low, leaders adapt and overcome.
And while paid advertising is the fastest way to gain new students, it’s not the only way.
Smart school owners leverage the power of Social Media and the Internet every single day.
And while you might not have a large marketing budget, that doesn’t mean you are out for the count.
This is why I put together 7 ways for you to reach your audience online…for free.
These techniques and strategies won’t cost you a dime.
So what’s the catch?
It will cost you your time.
With everything in your business, you are going to pay one of two ways: with your Time and Energy or with your money. It’s your job as the CEO to determine what skills you want to learn yourself and invest your time and energy on, and what skills you want to delegate or hire out.
Here are 7 strategies that you can do for free if you just put in a little bit of time and some elbow grease.
Strategy #1 – Facebook Live
Marketing has come a long way from the days of radio, television and billboards. It has evolved to include live-streaming video and interactive content. Facebook Live is the best platform for engaging viewers via video.
So why Facebook Live for your academy?
Here are some stats for you:
With that said, Facebook has over 1.66 BILLION daily users on the platform. Yes, you read that correctly. Billion…with a B. And in five years, Facebook is projected to be mostly video.
Those are some insane numbers right there. By implementing Facebook Live into your content strategy, you can provide instant, real-time information and unique content for your viewers that is like nothing else out there.
Completely original to you and your school.
So how can you use Facebook Live right now? A good strategy would be to Facebook Live:
If you correctly hype up your Live videos, it will invoke excitement and curiosity about your event or guest.
One of my favorite ways of leveraging Facebook Live is with Interviews and Q & As. It gives your audience an opportunity to ask real-time questions and get real-time answers. An added bonus with Live Q&As is organically increasing your reach with user engagement and traffic. It’s a Win – Win!
Strategy #2 – Engagement Posts
As a business owner in the 21st century you know that being online is crucial. Without a website and social media pages, are you even in business?
I'm sure you’ve also heard a fellow school owner say “You’ll never be able to beat the algorithm”, or “I’ve wasted so much time posting things on Instagram, and it doesn’t bring customers in my door.”
Well, here’s where we come in and tell you it’s quite the contrary! This is where we say there are A LOT of things you can do to increase your engagement!
It’s pretty simple actually: the more people that see your content, the more people that see your services, the more people are going to BUY from you!
Social media gives you an opportunity to be omni present. And at the end of the day, the best known beats the best. So you HAVE to be the best known in your community.
How do you do this?
First, and the most important aspect, is consistency. Lack of consistency really hurts your reach. If you posted once last month and now post once again this week, you're telling the social networks that you’re not active on their platform, therefore, they don’t give you preference in the news feed. These social platforms really want you to play by their rules and play often. If you are a loyal friend to them, they will be a loyal friend to you. So post often!
Next, engage first! These social networks are smart. They know your behavior. If you’re simply a passive user, scrolling through and not engaging with anyone, then guess what? You’re not going to get any engagement when YOU post. So take some time before you post something — engage with your friends, comment, like — just engage!
It’s also good practice to interact as your business. You are on these platforms for exposure for your business, so interact as your business! You will want to engage as your business first — comment, like, share, and post. This way you are bringing awareness to your business profile which will start attracting back to your business where they can connect with you.
Lastly, talk to your audience, not at your audience. We are all humans navigating these artificially intelligent platforms, and we want to be recognized this way. These are social platforms, so they want you to be social! This means talking to people and with them.
When posting on social media remember you’re looking for engagement, so ask open-ended questions and join into the conversation in the thread. This will increase your engagement, which in turn will increase your visibility and finally increase your class sizes.
If you are thinking, “okay that sounds great – but WHAT do I post?” I STRONGLY suggest checking out MAIA Edge. It comes with a done-for-you Social Media Calendar that takes ALL of the guess work out of what to post.
Strategy #3 – Re-Purpose Reviews on Social Media
If you gave me a choice between a lead I received on Facebook or a lead I received from one of my very own students, I would take the referral every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Your students should be ADVOCATES of your school. And one of the BEST and CHEAPEST ways to get more students is simply through word-of-mouth.
If you've had a Facebook profile for awhile or a Google My Business Account, you hopefully have a plethora of positive reviews from your students. Maybe you even have taken it a step further and have full-on video testimonials.
How simple would it be to re-purpose those reviews and testimonials and use them on your social media platforms?
This is what we call Social Proof.
“Social Proof describes a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.”
The term was coined in Robert Cialdini’s 1984 book called “Influence”. It’s a great read for ANY business owner.
A simple post in your Facebook Group to your students asking for some testimonials for your online class will give you plenty of content to post on your Facebook Business Page.
And now you have SOCIAL PROOF on your Social Media Platforms to help bring more awareness and consideration to your programs.
Strategy #4 – Host Free Community Events
As a former MAIA Elite client and now their Digital Marketing Consultant, I can testify to the power of hosting mass intros through Free Community Events.
We host free community events at least once a month, and it is one of our top marketing strategies for signing up new students.
So what is a Mass Intro you ask? For the business, a mass intro is a marketing event that is set up for you to sign up a large quantity of new students in under an hour.
For your community, it’s a free community event where they are introduced to the wonderful world of martial arts and receive a special offer at the end to continue with their training.
Many times these free community events are themed with themes such as Stranger Danger, Bully Buster, or Focus for Better Grades. During the school year, we would use our partnership in education with the local elementary schools to help us fill these events.
Utilizing your social media platforms by creating a Facebook “Event” on your Business Page is a FREE way to help drive traffic to your online community event.
It’s costs zero dollars to create an event on your business page, and simply asking your students to share the event on Facebook with their friends is another FREE way of gaining more traffic.
At the end of the community event, pitch your offer.
Strategy #5 – Update Google My Business
Let’s switch gears from Facebook over to Google now.
Google is what we call "Intent Based Marketing."
Intent Based Marketing is any kind of marketing that aims to meet a prospect's intent (what they really want or need in that moment).
Let’s say you just purchased a bicycle. You go out for a nice ride and all of a sudden, the bike breaks! Yikes!
You now have an intent (a need) to fix your bike. So you grab your smart phone or your laptop, and where do you go? Do you open up Facebook to get your bike fixed? How about Instagram? Of course not!
You head right to GOOGLE and search for “bicycle repair shops”. Why? Because you have an intent (your bike is broken and you need it fixed).
This type of marketing really helps us to scoop up today buyers, while platforms like Facebook and Instagram help us to pick up future buyers. Which do you need? You need both.
So now that you understand what Google is, what is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a “free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.”
As a business, you have what’s called a Google My Business Listing. If you verify your listing, you can then edit your business information so you can help your prospects and customers find you and tell them your story, give them offers, and keep them up to date.
Since this is a FREE listing that appears for your business on both Google Maps and Google Local Search Results, it’s imperative that the information Google is listing is correct.
If you haven’t updated your GMB listing in a while, do the following:
You should make it a habit to go in once a quarter and spruce up your Google My Business Listing with relevant information.
You should also make it a habit to go in once a day and post on your Google My Business Listing. Let’s dive into that free posting strategy now.
Strategy #6 – Create Google Posts
Very similar to how you can post on social media platforms, you can also post on Google. Many school owners and business in general are not aware of this, which is good for you! This will help your listing stand out amongst your competitors.
Earlier, we learned that Google is intent-based marketing (which is unlike social media where people are scrolling because they are bored or want to be entertained).
What does this mean for you? These prospects are actively seeking what you offer, and Google My Business Posts allow you to update your special offers right on your Google My Business Listing…for free!
You can add offers, add updates, and even add events. And right now, GMB even has a special “COVID-19 Update” section so you can make sure that prospects are very clear on what is happening in your academy.
Posting consistently on your GMB listing will also show that your business is staying up-to-date. It’s really a no-brainer and super user friendly.
Strategy #7 – Write Relevant Blog Posts
While I know most of you didn’t open up your martial arts academy because you wanted to be a writer, there is one thing that I do know: martial arts school owners LOVE talking about the martial arts.
Writing relevant blog posts like “3 steps to help build your child’s confidence” is a great way for you to rank and show up on the first page of a Google search. Be sure to use longer phrase key words in order to do this. And if you want to take it a step further and add your city name, you now have the potential to receive traffic from potential clients who can sign up at your academy once this is all over.
In order to leverage this free type of traffic, you of course need a website and then you need one that allows you to post blogs on it. My personal favorite industry website company is Market Muscles. Tell them Cris sent you. They will take great care of you 😉
There you have it.
7 FREE ways to reach your audience online.
Small budget? No problem.
No budget? No problem.
Take a little time and implement these strategies to help keep your academy Top of Mind in your community and give you and your team the opportunity to serve them with your martial arts programs.
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