| Text Message Marketing for Fitness Studios

15 Marketing & Advertising Ideas to Get More Martial Arts & Karate Students

Last Updated on Mar 14, 2018

Any martial arts studio owner will agree, getting new students for your dojo is hard work. It can take a long time to start generating that flow of students that will increase your membership and revenue numbers. However, if you put in the work and utilize some of the following marketing strategies for your martial arts school, you’ll surely increase membership and boost your revenue.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a good article to show parents, please feel free to share this article on your own website: 5 Reasons Children Benefit from Martial Arts Lessons

We here at Boost Fitness Marketing(the creators of FitnessTexter) have put together the following martial arts advertising ideas that will help you get more martial arts students and see a bigger ROI from your current marketing efforts.

1.Get More Karate Students with FitnessTexter

Give FitnessTexter a try at your facility. Everyone knows that most kids and teenagers are always on their phones. What better way to attract more martial arts students than by offering a text message marketing promotion. FitnessTexter gives you a custom texting code that you can put on all your marketing materials. It makes your current advertising more effective with the younger generation of “cell phone kids.”

Generating leads can be one of the most difficult parts of running a martial arts business. You love giving classes, you love working with students, but you hate finding those students. With FitnessTexter, you’ll be able to spend more of your time teaching and less time in the back office.

2. Start a Refer-a-Friend Program

Word of mouth marketing is the best possible advertising strategy for your dojo. It’s free, it’s backed by a reputable source, and it gets people in your door. How, though, do you get more word of mouth advertising? One of the easiest ways to generate WOM is to start a refer-a-friend program. The logistics are up to each individual business owner, but it all comes down to this: You have students right now who love your studio. Give them the chance to get rewarded for telling their friends to come join. You could tell parents the benefits of karate for hours and they might not even care. However, if their son has a friend who keeps telling him to join his karate studio, and their son, let’s call him Bobby, is constantly saying he wants to get karate lessons, the parents are much more likely to relent and sign him up for class. Starting this program is sure to boost your revenue. You can reward each referral with a free month of class or maybe a small monetary prize. A crisp $20 to Bobby’s friend for getting Bobby to join is worth more than its weight in gold to a young boy.

3. Sponsor a Local Kids Sports Team

Sponsoring a youth sports team might not be the most obvious martial arts advertising strategy, but it will surely get people talking about your business, and will also increase positive PR for your business. Every city, no matter its size, has some type of youth sports league. Even my hometown, Chilton, Wisconsin, a tiny town with 3000 people, had an active sports league while I was growing up. If you’re looking to boost your martial arts marketing efforts, sponsoring a sports team is a no-brainer. 1, you get to have your name on the shirts of all your team’s players. This could be as many as 25 little billboards running around. 2, kids LOVE to wear their jerseys to school to show off their sports affiliation. Now, you’ve got 25 little billboards running around their school’s hallway where hundreds of other potential new karate students are at. Lastly, you can hold the end-of-season party at your martial arts studio. Buy a bunch of pizza, invite the team and parents, and give them a tour of your studio. Might be just enough to get them to sign their kids up after the season ends.

4. Start an After-School Youth Program

Karate ClassConsider the fact that most parents work until 5pm or later. Nearly all grade schools and charter schools have classes that end at 3pm. That leaves two hours of time that parents need to fill between the time their child finishes class and the time they are able to pick them up. By creating an after-school program, you’re basically giving the parents another alternative to after-school daycare. Plus, given the added health benefits and emotional well-being of children who perform exercise, it shouldn’t be a hard sell to parents. Even better, if your insurance provider allows it, charter a small-bus or utility van, and pick up the children directly from school. Your goal is to make the lives of their parents easier, and if they don’t need to arrange a ride from the school to your dojo, you’re helping them and they’ll love you for it! If you need some inspiration for how to run your after school program, check out Appleton’s program. They have the system down to an art form.

5. Create Adult-Only Class Times

Many people think that karate or martial arts is only popular among children. Wrong! Martial arts for adults has been growing for years and isn’t going anywhere. We know, it’s no lie that karate and martial arts is much more popular with youths than it is with adults. This doesn’t mean that you can’t cater to those adults who are still interested. Create some adult-only classes, so that the adults don’t feel foolish learning moves next to 10 year old children. It’s very possible that the 10-year-old child will be far more advanced than the adult, but what adult wants to be considered an equal to a child? Advertise your adult-only classes and you’ll be shocked at how many adults and older teenagers will show interest in your studio.

6. Have a Monthly Bring-a-Friend-to-Class Day

Much in the same way as starting a refer-a-friend program for your martial arts studio, you can also have a monthly bring-a-friend day. Make it a weekend day when you know most students and their friends are already planning on hanging out. Make sure the class is focused on making the “friends” enjoy the experience and consider joining your dojo. The last thing you want is to scare them away by making the class/routine/moves too difficult. At the end of the bring-a-friend class, give the “friends” a discount card for their first few months of membership.

7. Hold a Quarterly Martial Arts Tournament

Karate tournamentNot every martial arts studio has the marketing prowess nor size to hold a full-scale tournament. However, if you do have this ability, you should be using it to the maximum. There’s no better way to generate interest and potential new member leads than having a high-volume tournament at your studio. It doesn’t need to be anything more than local area students competing against one another. However, with their friends and family coming to support them, you’re sure to gain some great PR as well as new leads. Put out a sign-up sheet that visitors can put down their contact info if they’re interested in learning more about your facility.

8. Build a User-Friendly Martial Arts WordPress Site

It’s sad to say, but many martial studios have pretty sad excuses for websites. We could link to some of the ones we’ve seen…but we’re nice people. However, YIKES! There’s nothing more unprofessional than a website that is hard to navigate and makes the user search around for valuable information. As you can see from our website, all of our important information is at the top of the page. Anything you could possibly need is up there.

There are numerous website development companies out there that don’t charge more than $1000 for a simple website. Beyond ease of navigation, having a WordPress site gives you the ability to actively blog about your business and generate quality content for SEO purposes. If you need a connection to a few good web design sites, just contact us and we can point you in the right direction.

9. Redefine Your Martial Arts Business Plan

Take a long hard look at your business plan. Are you trying to have high-volume, low-cost classes or are you more interested in offering focused, but more expensive, classes? Once you begin catering to the adult clientele of your city (see #3 above), you’ll be able to charge a more substantial fee. Now, you can either have many adults in one class and give group lessons or really crank up the prices and offer 1-on-1 individual lessons to certain adults who are interested in learning more of your martial art methodology. You want to make sure your brand and image is congruent with your teaching style. If you claim 1-on-1 instruction but only offer large group classes, this dissociation is going to drive your unsatisfied students to another dojo. Don’t let this happen to you!

10. Give Free Karate Demonstrations at Local Schools

Let’s get into the world of guerrilla marketing. When you need to think outside the marketing box, that’s where guerrilla marketing shines. Look at it this way, schools love assemblies and guest speakers. So do teachers. Contact your local school district and let them know that you’re willing and able to come and give a full demonstration about your certain martial arts specialty. You can even make your presentation interactive so that students can join in the fun.

Get your name out there and you could very well line up a semester full of demonstrations. Nearly every grade has to study Asian culture as one point or another throughout the year. Teachers will happily invite you into class at the end of the lesson to give a demonstration about your martial arts style (as long as its roots are in the Orient.). Run with this idea and you could soon have some nice brand awareness amongst the local school-aged children.

11. Start Hosting Birthday Parties & Other Events

Last but not least, if you can handle screaming kids, consider starting to host birthday parties of your current students and other types of parties. What better way to increase your brand awareness than by having “Little Bobby” and his 20 best friends have his birthday party in your martial arts facility. It’s no secret that children’s birthday parties have become a very big business. Why not enjoy some of that revenue yourself? Not only will they see your business, but their parents will also be required to pick them up from your studio. No better way to get your name out there than to invite the parents in before the party ends to show them around your facility and to tell them the benefits of martial arts on students’ mental health and emotional well-being. Since parents are the ones who make the decisions about what their children do, you need to convince them of the benefits.

12. Don’t Focus Solely on Kids & Teenagers. Attract Adult Students Too!

Most martial arts businesses tend to focus their efforts on young kids and teenagers. Most dojo owners tend to forget that their are MANY adult martial arts students looking for a good facility. Like we said in a tip above, make sure you have adult classes. A 40 year old man isn’t going to enjoy taking a class with a 10 year old kind, regardless of how intense the class in.

If you’re looking to attract more adult martial arts students, put up advertising in local businesses and see if you can place flyers in the lobbies of some companies around your area. You might find that there is a large interest in adults-only martial arts in your area.

13. Create a Martial Arts Marketing Plan

This goes without saying, but did you create a marketing plan when you first started your dojo? Most martial arts studio owners just assume that once they open their doors, they’re going to have hundreds of people lining up to join their karate studio. Unfortunately, that’s not true. You need to create a good marketing plan that you can use to figure out the long-term marketing options for your business. You also need to figure out your budget restrictions and figure out what you can and cannot afford when it comes to marketing. Don’t trick yourself into believe that your reputation as a teacher is so great that people will do anything to join your dojo; sorry, but it’s not true.

14. Start SnapChatting to Increase Youth Involvement

This one might be one of the harder martial arts advertising ideas, but if you have a social media manager, they should be able to step up and give it a run. Open a Snapchat account and start sending out funny, inspirational or educational martial arts videos. Since there’s a good chance the the majority of your students are young adults, there’s a high probability that they’re going to be using Snapchat (all the young kids do). So, take advantage of that fact and start marketing your martial arts studio on their level.

15. Hold Free Weekly Classes at the Local City Hall

Another great way martial arts marketing idea to generate some free publicity for your studio is to hold a weekly free class at your local city hall. You’re not going to gain any revenue from this class directly, but you might be able to get people involved enough that they decide to start coming to your studio on the other days to continue their lessons. It’s always worth giving it a shot.

Image Credits:
(CC BY-SA 4.0)
The Consortium
(CC BY-SA 4.0)
Alton Jefferson II