local MMA martial arts class, marketing

6 replies
Hi guys
I am a professional cage fighter (MMA) and i teach mixed martial arts classes 5 nights per week and also teach people privatly.
We are looking to move into a full time industrial unit, but would like to double our member base before then

Im looking for some help from you guys

how would you go about marketing a local martial arts class for maximum impact

our main demopgraphic are men aged 16 to 30, those are the main guys we get coming through the doors. we do get a few kids and women but not as many.

am just looking to increase member base and double the members. at the moment its about 10 members per class, we've had 20 before but not every class. looking for that ideally before we can afford to move into a full time industrial unit instead of renting dance studios in sport centres for 2 hours a night.

how can i market this? i looked into leaflet drops locally, but i dont have time to deliver on my own, cant afford to have very many delivered for me, and the return percentage is pretty bad.

have been hitting social media pretty hard. facebook has been a god send.
i looked into social media marketing machines, mike koenigs system but its so expensive.
bit lost at the moment.
am adding back links to keep my site 1st page of google, its just taking time and not adding too many in one day.

am looking for some help, what can you suggest
#arts #class #local #marketing #martial #mma
  • Profile picture of the author Mike Baker
    Get a vinyl sticker made up with your club logo and name as well as url and email/phone details and stick it on your car. Perhaps your students could help out and do the same.

    PS, I'm a huge MMA fan and have been following UFC since its creation. Have you fought in the UFC? I'm actually about to start a UFC Fights Results site.

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  • Profile picture of the author Andy Fletcher
    I did martial arts for well over a decade and was an instructor for about 6 years helping to/running several of the schools in my area.

    One of the best marketing systems we ever got setup was a feeder system from local schools.

    We ran self defence courses as part of PE programs in local schools during the day and after school clubs for similar. It's really easy to funnel teenagers from a great PE course into a paid after school club and then into the main classes.

    The only downside is the adult classes can get bogged down by the addition of too many teenagers so we ended up with 2 adult classes each evening. The first being for everyone, the second being 16+ (or 14+ for senior belts that could handle it).

    The most important thing to remember is that teachers and parents are going to presume you're a thug until you prove otherwise. Most of them won't understand martial arts, let alone MMA and cage fighting so you've got to position the school stuff as practical self defence and treat it as such.

    It also helps get more people to take the jump from after school classes to the main ones since they see it as "the real deal".

    Sometimes we got paid for the PE classes but we generally had to give that away to get a foot in the door and open discussions about running the after school sessions.

    Then the after school sessions you can expect to have to hire the hall it's run in at standard rate but you can charge the kids for the class. Pro Tip: Parents love after school clubs of any kind because it's time they don't have to entertain their kids. So make sure you sell the parents on it as much as the kids.

    Then you get best results moving from a "pay per class" after school to a "pay monthly, train as often as you like" model for the evening classes.

    The other interesting thing to note is how it helped recruitment of other people into the classes. Initially we were worried that we'd end up running a particularly violent creche but we noticed an interesting trend over time.

    1 - The presence of children in a martial arts class makes women feel more comfortable participating.
    2 - The presence of women doing anything makes more men want to do it.

    And finally. Realise that you are just one person. Your best returns from something like this comes from an aggressive (no pun intended) program of training people up to take on assistant instructing roles. Anyone with a years worth of martial arts training and a few additional qualifications can run a basic 10 week self defence course for a group of kids.

    But people will join the main school for YOU. So focus your time appropriately. Make sure you make regular appearances at every location so people know who you are and where to find the next step but don't force yourself to do the low leverage stuff.

    Hope some of that helps,

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    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      I'm actually working on something similar for a client. I'm a huge MMA fan. I was hooked after the first UFC. Used to get bootleg tapes of Vale Tudo events and watch them all the time. Loved watching Bas back then. I still deeply miss PrideFC. They put on the best events. Their cards were stacked compared to what the UFC puts on. Dream hasn't been quite the same. So anyhow, this has been kind of a pet project of mine with this client.

      I think Andy's idea of setting up a feeder system from local schools is awesome. I'm actually going to steal that one and suggest it to my client.

      Some of the online things we have been doing... Obviously there is a website. We made sure to have a listing in Google Places. Also narrowed down some key local search terms that people are using in this particular area to search for MMA lessons.

      I think it is important to have a Facebook page for your school. Post student's recent accomplishments whenever you can. Ask, beg, plead with each of your students to join the Facebook page and share highlights with their friends whenever they can to help the school grow.

      We've run a small Facebook Ads campaign and had some pretty good results. Facebook Ads lets you really zero in on your target market.

      Make sure the Facebook page has some kind of special on it for new students. The special would depend on your pricing school. I know some schools charge per lesson, others a monthly membership.

      Put any kind of MMA news clips you can find on the Facebook page 1-2 times per week. UFC, Strikeforce, Dream, and any local promotions in your area.

      QR codes are something we are thinking about experimenting with. It might be something you want to try in the future when you have more money to spend on print advertising. We're going to put them on business cards or flyers with some headline like "Special on MMA classes. Scan this to learn more." When they scan it they will be taken to a page that requests their name and email address in exchange for a month of free lessons.

      (BTW, if you aren't familiar with them, QR codes are those funny looking square bar codes that are starting to pop up all over the place. They can be scanned with the camera of a smartphone. Then the customer gets redirected to a photo, video, or website of your choosing.)

      Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions.
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  • Profile picture of the author JennSpencerIM
    Bars and clubs! I don't know about men's rooms but in ladies rooms on most stall doors they have advertisements for us to read while in there.

    Online: make a ton of videos and post them to youtube with hot keywords and a link to your website

    Host some type of contest online to get people interested and signing up with their email address. Everyone that signs up that doesn't win, you can give them a coupon for a free class or discounted session.

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    • Profile picture of the author FranciscoDancon
      My last dojo, before I moved (and haven't joined a new one yet), was very much into referrals. They offered financial incentives to refer students. They mentioned it. There was a big sign at the front entrance that said, "80% of our students come from referrals. Don't keep your dojo as secret." Worked really well there!

      I'm sure you are already offering it, but if you aren't, make sure you offer one free class (or even more, like a week's worth) to potential students. This is crucial. It gets prospects in the door, and they can see exactly what they will be getting. At my old dojo, they advertised one free class, but at the end of that class, the owner when making his sales pitch would offer another free class and do it in such a way as it makes the students feel like he really likes them and wants to see them succeed.

      Another dojo that I tried out but didn't choose, in Miami, had a full blown sales letter as their web page. It was very persuasive. It got me to check out the dojo and the reason I didn't join was because they didn't have enough beginner's classes I could take, otherwise I'd have been there in a heartbeat.

      I should point out that I found both of these dojos via google, it appears they were using adwords to pull in prospects.

      Another tactic that I know a lot of dojos use is to offer free classes to the community from time to time. For example, they might offer a class, "3 ways to defend yourself against a rapist" and advertise to women in the area. They give the class, give good value, and pitch the dojo.

      Oh, one last thing that I saw that was obviously very successful. This was at the dojo that I didn't join. They had a program whereby they conducted a drawing for $1000 in MMA gear every month. The way you get into the drawing is to print out their flyer, write your name on the back, and give it to someone. That person then has to come into the dojo for a free trial class. Then the flyer goes into the raffle. As you can imagine students were very keen on passing out flyers and following up with those people. They do it every month so you know it works. May not be doable on that scale for you if you dojo is small now, but you could work with the idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andy Fletcher
    OK. I know I already posted one lot of rambling but apparently I have more

    Internal incentive schemes -

    All martial artists need a fair amount of equipment so offering bonus stuff for recruiting new members works really well. Our best offer was a pair of protective gloves if you recruited someone to the class. Since they had to have their own by the end of their first six months everyone was super keen to bring a friend.

    Pro tip: You need to offer the friend something to, otherwise people feel they are exploiting their mates for personal gain but don't do give them both the same thing. if you offer a free pair of gloves for you and your mate, the mate has no incentive to do the same. If you offer the gloves to them and 2 months for the price of 1 training package for the mate it creates a perpetual referral machine.

    Bring a friend classes -

    To go along with the above. Run a "bring a friend" class once a month where you structure it so they get to train with their friends. It's a great way to introduce more people to the idea of teaching as well as training and you'll get high response rates, especially when coupled with an incentive scheme.

    Demonstrations -

    You'll boost uptake of the PE classes/after school classes by organising demonstrations at the various schools. It doesn't have to be anything too fancy but a group of your best students showing off is a sure fire way to get more people to take the classes.

    Self defence courses for local organisations -

    Just about any group of people can be sold on the concept of a self defence course. Offer a free 2 hour session to any member of the local XYZ group and have some flyers to give them as they leave. Even local businesses will often be interested (although we never got very far with organising this so YMMV).
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