If You Haven’t Started Posting Promotional Videos, What Are You Waiting For?
by Cris Rodriguez
I can remember every time my parents left the house to run errands in the early 1990s. I would run over to the television, turn on MTV and watch music videos — this was back when they actually played music videos.
Between commercials, MTV often would play a clip from the song Video Killed the Radio Star, by The Buggles. The song reminds us that “We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far; video killed the radio star.”
Video — along with the vehicle on which we watch it, the smartphone — has killed a lot more than just the radio. The ubiquitous smartphone has replaced the following, just to name a few:
The smartphone has changed how we communicate, how we date, and how we conduct our relationships and friendships. And we are addicted. Americans spend an average of 5.4 hours a day on their mobile devices!
If our prospects and our students are spending almost a quarter of their day on their devices, where do you think your martial arts academy needs to be? Front and center on those mobile phones!
Each American literally carries a media station in their pocket all the time. Most people report “feeling naked” when they don’t have theirs handy. That’s why the cellphone offers you, as a business owner, the best chance for truly individualized advertising aimed at future students. A phone is not just a receiver of information; it’s also a transmitter. And schools that crack the code on how to become omnipresent on their prospects’ and students’ digital devices are the ones who are going to win.
Video that’s delivered to smartphones represents your biggest opportunity to grow your business in 2022. No matter the size of your school now, there are countless ways to leverage mobile video. Before we delve into them, we must briefly look at why video is so effective.
Video combines sound, visual imagery, motion, text and special effects to paint a picture of the concept that’s being conveyed. And with the martial arts being so visually appealing — and cool to watch — it’s a no-brainer that this must be part of your marketing strategy.
At the end of the day, you need content in order to market your school. If you don’t have content, you won’t get clicks online. If you don’t get clicks online, you won’t get leads. And if you don’t get leads, you won’t get sales. Video is the key. After running ads for hundreds of martial arts schools through my company Grow Pro Agency, we’ve documented a 40-percent increase in leads and appointments when clients utilize videos in their marketing.
It’s such a drastic difference that we even launched the Growth Production Program, which is a “done with you” video-creation add-on that we provide. We specify nine shots for clients to film, after which they send us the content. We then edit the footage and create a video they can use in their marketing.
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By now, you can see why video marketing needs to be part of your school’s strategy, so let’s get into the technical how-to’s. There are five types of videos you need in your marketing plan, each of which is explained below. I also give suggestions for ways you can use them in your school to level up your video efforts.
Call me old-school, but I’m a huge fan of snail mail. It seems like all I ever receive in the mail are bills, so when some person or company takes the time to send me a handwritten letter, I absolutely love it. Why? Because it was personalized for me.
With the rise of companies that send “personalized handwritten letters” that are actually created by a machine, and the rise of those that use automations to add a personal touch to your marketing, it’s easy to ensure that a positive emotion goes hand-in-hand with your brand.
This is where personalized videos come in. At our academy, we use five types of videos to take the personal touch to the next level.
Welcome Videos: When people book appointments with our academy, we have a “nurture sequence” that goes out to remind them of their appointment and confirm their arrival. We like to take it a step further by sending a personalized welcome video message.
It’s a 10- to 20-second video that we create with a smartphone. Whoever will be teaching the introductory lesson is the person who shoots and sends the video. It should be kept short and sweet. For example, “Hey [prospect’s name], this is Coach Leo from Gracie PAC MMA. We’re so pumped to see you for your 4:30 appointment today. We’re going to have a blast, so get ready to have some fun.”
Sending this kind of welcome video is a great way to boost your show rate. The video also will reassure the prospect — after all, familiarity breeds comfort. Chances are none of your competitors are doing this.
New-Student Videos: When a student signs up, our head instructor records a 10- to 20-second video welcoming the student to our team.
Upgrade Videos: These are important because upgrade programs are among the largest profit drivers for schools. At our academy, when we nominate a new student to an upgrade program, we send a quick video to congratulate him or her and invite the person to try one of our upgrade classes.
We-Miss-You Videos: These take “MIA calls” up a notch. (You are sending out missing-in-action calls or texts, aren’t you?) A video is much more powerful than a call. Every Monday during our team huddle before prime time, we shoot these videos and send them to students who were absent the week before. As great as automated messages are, there’s nothing quite as powerful as a personalized video telling students they’re missed.
Birthday Videos: We have quite a few birthday traditions for our students, one of which is receiving a personalized video from our head instructor. We film them on the last day of the month for the next month’s birthdays, then schedule them using the Boomerang app.
In general, live videos get more engagement than prerecorded videos. There are multiple platforms on which you can go live; the ones we focus on are Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
With the constant changes in the Facebook algorithm and in Facebook overall — which tend to completely trash everyone’s reach — going live is one of the few remaining ways to get in front of more of your followers (more reach) and get more engagement on your content (more comments). It’s one of the most authentic pieces of content you can create.
So why aren’t more schools going live? Because staffers lack competence, and that gives them a lack of confidence. We know that live videos produce better results than prerecorded videos, but that lack of confidence stops school owners from getting in front of the camera and going live.
If a new student asked you how to get better at the hook kick, what would you say? “Go practice!” It follows that the only way to develop skill in front of the camera is to practice, which means actually doing it. Once you get comfortable with that, consider these five types of live videos that can be used in marketing.
What’s-Up-Monday Videos: The easiest live video you can produce is what I call a “What’s Up Monday” video. It will help you improve your Facebook Live skills. You won’t get tons of viewers, but you will increase your live skills.
The essence of the videos is you review what’s going on in the academy that week. You can talk about curriculum, birthday parties, special events — anything that’s relevant. To get started, grab your monthly newsletter or bullet-point what you want to cover. Keep it simple. Be sure to smile. And start developing those live skills!
Showcase Videos: Live videos that showcase your classes, events, seminars, staff members and programs are some of the most fun clips you can produce. Make sure you pre-frame your students prior to going live to ensure a superior result.
When doing this, be sure to offer context on what you’re going live on. I’m a fan of starting the camera selfie-style and explaining what I’m about to showcase. Then I flip the camera to show the class, event, etc. Finally, I go back to selfie-style and provide a call to action.
Long-Form Videos: Most of the content you put out, especially on Facebook, will be short-form. However, doing an interview-style or talk-show-style live video is great for mixing things up. Long-form content also works well on YouTube, where the average length of No. 1-ranked videos is 15 minutes.
In the past, my school did a series called Beyond the Mat‚ in which we covered topics like “Will MMA make my child violent?” “What’s the difference between styles?” and “How does martial arts training improve life skills?” Such long-form live videos are best done with a cohost because that allows you to feed off each other.
Educational Videos: You are a martial arts instructor, which means teaching is one of your superpowers. That means that shooting an educational live video is easy — and fun — for you. A series of how-to videos can showcase your curriculum and position you as an expert in your community. A series of FAQ videos can, well, answer viewers’ frequently asked questions.
Behind-the-Scenes Videos: These are among the most popular live videos you can do. Show a part of your weekly instructor-training session, your lobby during prime time or lunchtime at your day camp. This will keep people entertained and engaged because they’ll see parts of your school and/or routine they normally don’t see.
Before you go live with any of these suggestions, there are three things you should do. First, promote it. I like to create a basic graphic in Canva and post it beforehand. Second, plan it. I suggest making a bullet-point list of the items you’ll cover. Third, practice!
During your live videos, think “edutainment.” You want to educate your audience, but you don’t want to be as boring as a wet mop. Add some entertainment and make the viewers laugh.
To enhance interaction, ask your audience questions or provide prompts for them to drop comments. Call out commenters by name to further build engagement, and answer questions in real time to prompt more people to ask questions. Crucial point: Embrace your mistakes. You’re a real human being, and people will identify with you more when you show the real you.
Once your live video is complete, there are a few “post-fulfillment” items you should check off your list. Creating a custom thumbnail for your video will make it stand out in the newsfeed. You can even pin your video to the top of your business page. Make sure to enable captions on the video.
If you’d like to take it a step further, turn this video into more pieces of content such as a blog or an email. If the live video really begins knocking it out of the park, further promote it by putting some money behind it. And if you’re a real-life digital-marketing ninja, create a custom audience composed of the people who watch your video, then retarget them with an offer.
This is the third type of video you should be producing. I touched on a few options earlier, but those were for live videos. Educational videos are prerecorded.
One of my favorite types of educational videos to send to people who just booked an appointment is the welcome video. This is a clip, often professionally made, that helps build the “know,” “like” and “trust” factors with prospects prior to the first time they come in.
My school sends them out as automated text messages with a link to a landing page on our website. The welcome video sits on that landing page and gives an insider’s look at what the prospect’s first experience with us will entail. For example, we introduce the academy and our team, then break down what will occur during that first visit. We found that sending such videos bolsters the show rate on appointments.
Another type of educational video you can make is the technique video. Think of your beginners — what might they be interested in learning? There’s also the staff spotlight video that highlights your team and what sets you apart. I’m sure you can think of other topics.
Any type of user-generated content — videos, text, images, reviews and so on —that’s created by people and not by your brand is a powerful way to showcase your business on social media because it puts your customers’ experiences at the forefront. Any business can say it’s the best at what it does, but when a customer says that business is the best, it’s in a different league altogether.
Examples of user-generated content include parents posting photos or videos of their children earning a belt, getting nominated for an upgrade program or winning a medal at your tournament. Every time students or their families post a picture or video taken at your academy, you get free advertising. And reposting their material allows you to further leverage their experience.
Another type of user-generated content is the testimonial. While Google reviews and Facebook recommendations are incredibly powerful, getting one of your parents or students on camera can provide enormous social proof. Here are some guidelines I’ve developed for obtaining testimonials.
The key to getting a great testimonial is to paint a picture of where the person was prior to finding your service, where the person is now and how your program helped with the transition from point A to point B.
Start by having the person do a short introduction. Ask how the person got involved with your school. Ask what was going on in the person’s life (or the child’s life) that led to a visit to your academy. Ask how things were going then. Ask what the person signed up for at your school, then inquire about what the result was. (Try to get specific, measurable results such as “I lost 20 pounds,” “My daughter raised her grades from a C average to an A average,” and so on.) Then ask how the changes have impacted the family and/or the child. Finally, ask what the person would say to someone who’s considering joining your school.
Once you’ve obtained the video testimonial, there are seven things you can do with it: Put it on your landing page in your funnel, put it in your prospect-nurture sequence, set it to play on your lobby television, post it on your social media platforms, create a YouTube playlist on your YouTube channel, use it in a Facebook ad and post it on your website.
The final type of video you should be using for marketing is the kind that’s made specifically for advertising. There are so many places you can use a commercial-style video from ads on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to your Google My Business listing, your website and your email marketing. Of course, you also can post it organically on social media and play it in your booth at festivals.
The best types of advertising videos are those that tell a story. Being able to use a narrative to communicate your message helps your viewers feel something — and usually it’s enough to inspire them to take action. We all love a good story. We love to hear them, read them and binge-watch them. They entertain us, they move us and they influence us. And the best part for marketing is they put value on products and services.
Storytelling as a marketing tool also helps humanize your brand and cuts through the noise of the marketplace so your advertising will stick. Some 82 percent of global internet traffic in 2022 will come from video. Therefore, utilizing video in your online advertising is a must.
If you can’t afford to hire a professional to come to your school to create an advertising video, check out some of the done-with-you options like the aforementioned Growth Production Program. And if you’re really in a pinch, shoot a talking-head video with your mobile device and use it in your ads. It’s better than nothing.
My favorite template to use when creating a talking-head video follows the GREAT format. “G” stands for grab attention. “R” stands for restate the pain point. “E” stands for explain the unique selling point. “A” stands for actual proof. “T” stands for tell them what to do next.
To wrap up, one of the most powerful strategies you can use to grow your business is to incorporate video into your marketing. Then for efficiency’s sake, take the video you create and turn it into multiple pieces of content. For example, say you shot an educational video on the “3 T’s to stopping any bully.” You filmed this on your smart device and posted it on your Facebook Business Page. Now think of what other channels and platforms will enable you to reuse this content.
Can you put it on your YouTube channel? Can you transcribe it and write a blog post? Can you turn it into a three-part email series with a call to action for your upcoming bully-awareness seminar?
Always remember that content is anything that adds value to the life of a reader or viewer. If you want to have great marketing, it starts with great content. And while many people believe that “content is king,” I now believe that “content is the kingdom.”
Cris Rodriguez has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a third degree in taekwondo. The co-owner of Gracie PAC MMA, she has 25 years of experience in the martial arts and 18 years of experience as a teacher. Based in Tampa, Florida, Rodriguez has studied internet marketing for eight years and is the founder of Grow Pro Agency, a digital-marketing firm that runs Facebook and Instagram ads for martial arts school owners.
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