Martial Arts Marketing – Making More of Your Club Website By Graham Butcher

This is the second article kindly submitted by Graham Butcher, author and one of the World’s leading authority’s on Stav on Martial arts Marketing, designed to help you to promote your club.  This article looks at the use of websites.

I will shortly being doing an interview with Graham, so you can find out more about him soon!  Anyway, over to Graham:-

Everyone seems to have a website these days and it is a good idea to have one for your club if possible. However many instructors get a mate to register a domain for them, put up a couple of pages with details of where and when they train, a bit about the instructor and how many Dan grades he/she has and how many competitions they have won and then wonder why it really makes no difference at all.  The fact is that just putting up a website, however nicely presented it is and however many pretty pictures will have no perceptible benefit unless you make it work for you.

Now I know that optimising a website as a serious business tool is an arcane science and mysterious art so I am not going into SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC (Pay Per Click) or the difference between long and short tail key words (I think the long tail ones can swim better). I am just suggesting three things to think about which will make the difference between a local club website being useful and effective rather than being a waste of time and money.  Although we are talking small scale here these three principles are the basis of success for a large commercial site too, so if you get them right at the local club level you will have a head start should you decide to become more ambitious.

The three principles are:
• Traffic, does anyone actually visit your site?
• Content, is there anything worth looking at when they get there?
• Follow up, are you maintaining contact with people who have visited?

Firstly traffic, how do you get people to visit your site? If yours is a local karate club then you need to put the domain name in front of as many people as possible and try and add a reason why visiting it may be worth their while. There is a great deal to be said for doing this on paper in one form or another, leaflets, posters, your business cards, small ads in the local paper and parish magazine. I am not saying no one will find you from a Google search for martial arts clubs in your area but if there is another club with a longer established site with more links then that is the one that will probably be found first. So my recommendation is that you concentrate first on getting attention from offline sources.

Secondly, make the effort to maintain up to date content. At least once a month add something new and archive the previous material so the size of the site starts to grow.  If you use WordPress you can easily add items as blog postings. Why not post self defence or fitness tips regularly and then your offline adverts can give reading these as a reason to visit the site? It is amazing how often sites are put up with several pages of reasonably interesting content but never updated again. It is probably better to put up three pages, a title page, one links and one of content and then add an extra page of content weekly or even monthly so long as you do it regularly. Then make something of it, tell your students at the end of class that there is a new article on your site that they should read, tell your  Facebook friends, mention it in the next advert you place or leaflet you deliver. Think of your self as a publisher even if it is only a picture taken on your mobile phone and 200 words of text that you add each month, it is still a lot more than most people manage.

Which brings us to the third principle which is follow-up. There is a system called an auto responder which provides an opt in system and enables you to mail a large list of people on a regular basis. If you are receiving Charlie’s newsletter then you signed up to one of these, I have one on my website too. I will go into more detail on how to set one up another time although if you visit www.aweber.com you can find out more there. There is a modest cost. The other alternative is to create a Facebook group for your club and invite people to join it from your website. As members of the group they will be easy to keep in touch with. Making the most of Facebook is another vast subject which I will look at another time. Just having people’s email addresses is obviously good but be careful of just creating a mass email and sending it out. This creates two possible problems, one is that it will probably fall foul of spam filters and your messages will not get delivered and secondly some people get jumpy about having their email addresses distributed too freely. You can always BCC each message but if you are emailing to large numbers of people an auto responder is going to be worth the money.

Vast subject, short article but hopefully something to think about. Make the effort to drive traffic, especially from offline sources, regularly maintain and develop your content and find ways of maintaining contact with those who have made contact with you through the site. Make an effort with these three principles and your website will be a real help in growing your club.

For more information about Graham, please visit:  www.iceandfire.org.  If you would like to add your own thoughts/experience to help others promote their clubs, please leave your comments below.

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