No matter which martial art you practice – from BJJ to taekwondo – your facility can (and should) be considered a business, which means increasing the number of students you have is a primary concern. While most martial arts facility owners are great teachers, not all of them know the best practices for attracting and retaining students. Being a great teacher can take you far in increasing attendance, but here are a few ideas that can help increase your membership numbers even more:
Reward Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is always one of the strongest weapons a business has to sell their services. If you are a great facility, people will tell their friends and family, but this doesn’t always come up in natural conversation. Your students will not actively go around promoting your facility unless the topic comes up, which is why many facilities offer a reward system for their students.
There are a few ways to go about this:
1. Offer discounts on the memberships of students who bring new people to your facility.
2. Offer group or family discounts (i.e. 10% off of multiple memberships if a student can get a group of X amount of people to join).
If your students are financially enticed to talk about your facility, they will be much more willing to bring it up in daily conversations.
Form Partnerships with Other Businesses
Know the owner of a yoga studio, fitness gym, etc. in your area? Partner up with them to make a deal that encourages their student to try your facility. You can offer free trial classes to members at other businesses, and those yoga studios or gyms can do the same for your students.
You can also partner with companies who sell gis, gloves and other products related to your discipline. Make them the official provider of equipment to your facility in exchange for directing their customers to train with you.
Finally, you can team up with other businesses to share the costs of marketing. Are print ads a bit too expensive for your budget? Team up with a local yoga studio to share the space (and cost) on a “community fitness and wellness” flyer or mailer.
Make some friends in the industry and help other small businesses in your area grow. There is always strength in numbers!
Conquer Digital Marketing
It’s a big mountain to climb (and well worth several blogs posts on its own), but digital marketing is the key to getting your facility’s name out into the wild for potential students to find. People spend a lot of time online – some probably too much – so it’s in your facility’s best interest to do a few things:
1. Make sure you have a working website
2.Make sure that website is search engine optimized for keywords that relate to your business, and for your local area
3.Make sure you are leveraging social media
This last point is important because it’s (mostly) free and (mostly) easy to do. Create various social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to start) and encourage your students to follow and share them with their family and friends. From there it’s all about posting consistently, and with purpose. Share videos and pictures of your facility, teachers, students, classes, etc. that tell the story of why your facility, your program, and your teachers are the right choice. Social media is all about engaging with your core audience, so reach out to them often.
Use Events to Market Your Business
You already offer core classes, but have you thought about offering special events to bring in beginners who may be a bit intimidated by walking into and joining an active class? A few months back, we wrote about how to keep students training during the summer. Some of the tips we gave included special events like birthday parties, date nights, and special camps.
The more you diversify your core offering, the more types of students (of all levels) you will attract to your facility.