The Rise Of The McDojo

For anybody not familiar with the phrase, a McDojo is a school that teaches a watered-down and impractical form of martial arts in the name of making money.  The “Mc” is taken from “McDonald’s”, as in mass produced – low quality!  They usually have all the expensive designer gear too, which you have to buy from them of course.

Many real martial artists complain about the rise of the McDojo (myself included). Many martial artists complain that those who train with McDojo’s do so because they want to get easy belts without working hard! I don’t think that’s the case as those people don’t know any better, many of them haven’t seen proper martial arts before so don’t have anything to compare with!  In fairness, many of McDojo’s give a good physical workout and are fairly strict on the discipline; it’s just the martial content that is lacking.  And I’m not even talking about sport martial art here, as serious sport martial artists can really move with speed, accuracy and good technique.

Continue reading “The Rise Of The McDojo” »

Are You Struggling To Find New Students?

British Combat Karate Association logoI’ve recently received the following message in a newsletter from the British Combat Karate Association about getting new students for your martial arts club.  I do find that the BCKA is very supportive to it’s members on many levels and tries to help them in any way that they can.  I therefore thought I’d forward that message in it’s entirety in case it is of help to anybody else:-

When you start your martial arts school, getting students into your dojo is the most important and probably the most difficult part of the process. The way your teachers built their student base no longer works as effectively as it once did and new students no longer wait for a leaflet to fall through their door before starting a new hobby in the martial arts. People are taking action more than ever before and they are looking for you, but how do they find you?

How can you hope to attract new students if they don’t even know you are teaching?

The question you need to ask yourself is ‘How effective are my methods of getting new students?’. When you post leaflets through doors or hope for your reputation to spread via word of mouth you have no control over if your message is being seen by the people you want to join your school. To get new students you need to be seen in the places they are looking.

People no longer search the yellow pages when they want to start something new. All the information they need is right at their fingertips via the internet and I guarantee, the first thing they do when they want to try something new is to search online to find something close to them.

Where do you appear when people search for a martial arts school in their area?

I am passionate about the amount of great people out there changing lives with martial arts. What I really want is to help you to access more people in your area so you can build your school into something that makes you money and more importantly helps you to serve your community.

Most of you have spent years training to reach a point where you feel you can teach others. Now is the time to really push that message and put yourself out there so you can pass on your skills and knowledge to the next generation and believe me, the next generation will be looking for you online.

Help your potential students to find you online

I want to offer you the opportunity to have your very own website that will help you to get new students and build your reputation as a great martial arts school. The best bit is you will probably only need to get 1 or 2 new students a month in order to cover your costs. My aim is to make it affordable for you bring your school into the 21st century and offer your students the best service you possibly can.

Marketing yourself online is much cheaper and more more effective than traditional forms of marketing and having a website is something that is required if you want your school to survive and thrive. Look at the people who are at the top of the game in the martial arts. People like Peter Consterdine, Geoff Thompson, Iain Abernethy and many more. They have all built great online communities and that is how they communicate their message to a wider audience and have also managed to sustain a brilliant business.

Here’s what Geoff Thompson has to say about having a website:

“Without a good website it is pretty difficult these days to do any business at all. Nearly everything in the business world demands an online presence, not just a site but a well-designed, well run and current www address. I know for me personally, when someone is interested is doing business, the first thing I do is check out their web-site. If they haven’t got one, alarm bells ring. And when I meet people with a view to future business, the first thing I do is send them to my own site, I know they will not be disappointed. A website is vital if you want to expand into the world of commerce.”

But isn’t having a website is too expensive?

When I started out I thought exactly the same thing but it doesn’t have to be. I created this package because I wanted to make websites affordable to people who just couldn’t afford to pay out thousand of pounds for something they couldn’t see the value in.

Here are some of the benefits you get from our package –

⁃ Custom designed for you so it reflects who you are and what you do

⁃ Unlimited Blog entries so you can write about what you are doing and communicate with new and existing students

⁃ The ability for people to share your website on Social Media like Facebook and twitter so they can spread your message to

⁃ Search engine optimised so when people search on Google for a martial arts schools in your area they will find your site

⁃ Content Management system so you can easily make changes yourself

⁃ URL purchase so you website address matches your MA school name

⁃ A bespoke email address to match your website

⁃ 1.5 hours per month for any help or advice you might need

⁃ No hidden fees

So how much will all of this cost?

Not as much as you might think. Lots of website designer throw around costs that reach into the thousands which simply isn’t affordable for new schools and most existing schools. I don’t want to charge you anything like that.

With our package you actually get your website for free when join our 12 month site management programme. The site management programme includes everything stated above and I will even send you a manual showing you how to manage your new site. You are involved in ever step of the design process so you don’t have to worry about being stuck with anything you don’t like.

As I said before, a site like this could cost you thousands of pounds but all you have to pay is £60 per month for 12 months. This even includes the hosting your site so you don’t have to worry about any extra hidden fees. As I said before, you will only need to get a couple of students from your site and you will already have covered your costs.

Maybe you have a website but it isn’t performing as well as you would like. We can still help.

So… Do you want to be a martial arts school of the future?

If you want to build your student base and increase your martial arts schools profile then all you need to do is get in touch by emailinginfo@lcoco.co.uk or calling us on our FREE phone number 0808 178 6111.

We look forward to hearing from you soon,

The L’Coco Designs Team

 

LouisThompson1

The man behind L’Coco is Louis Thompson, who I interviewed back in 2011.  I’ve not experienced the service so I can’t in all honesty recommend it or give any give any kind of feedback as of yet.

Having said that, Louis is an extremely competent and proficient martial artist, so you’d not be dealing with some computer geek who knows nothing about martial arts.  Furthermore, the Thompson family do know a lot about marketing and promotion, which is a good thing too.  It’s not often that many of us have access to a combination like that to help us!

I have made my own enquiries and if you are in a position that you want to expand your club then I would suggest that this is a very good starting place to at least look into.

 

 

Martial Arts Advertising: Advertising with AIDA by Graham Butcher

Graham Butcher (right)

In his last article, Graham Butcher, Author, International Stav Teacher & Master, explained how to talk to somebody who shows and interest in your club.  In this article, he talks about creating that interest in the first place.   Over to Graham:-

There might have been a slight case of ‘cart before the horse’ in that the previous article was about how to to talk to someone who has made contact with you.  This article is about how to establish that contact in the first place.  Never mind, it is all part of the same process.  We know that we need to create leaflets, posters, web pages and adverts for publications but what should we put on them that will get the attention we want?

Obviously the exact content depends upon your needs but there is a basic formula which is always worth keeping in mind when creating any publicity material.  You can remember the format with the acronym AIDA.

A is for attention, this usually means the headline so it is well worth giving a lot of thought to the heading.  Spend some time studying newspapers and how they construct their headlines for the front page and for individual stories.  We tend to take these headings for granted but in fact a great deal of thought and  experience goes into creating them.

I is for interest, the first sentence or subheading needs to build interest.  A question often works well here such as.  “Would you know what to do if you had to to defend yourself or a loved one?”  Again study newspapers and see how the first line or two of the copy ensures that your interest is further developed.

D is for desire, this will probably be the longest part of the copy.  This is where you show how they can get something of value to them by training with you, more confidence, greater fitness, self-mastery etc.

A is for action.  Often very good copy and layout finishes without a clear call to action.  The best action is something which gives them something for free but enables you to capture their contact details.  So it could be an invitation to visit an opt-in page on your website and download a booklet on the history of your style.  Through opting in you get their email address and name.  Or you could suggest they telephone you  to register for a place on a free introductory class. Or simply invite them to their first class for free if you can accommodate that.  Just make sure you tell them to do something.

If you include an illustration then it is probably best to put it towards the top right of your layout and don’t forget to include a caption.  Be willing to test several variations in your design content and layout.  The AIDA basic structure usually provides a good foundation but it is up to you to develop the details.

Final point to consider.  Remember that your potential students are interested in what your club and classes can do for them.  Your grading, how long you have been training, who you trained with and how many people attend your classes are not of primary interest to them.  So get attention and build interest by stating how your club can benefit them. Keep instructor grades and similar information for the desire building section and even then be careful to stress the benefits of having a 6th dan instructor and bear in mind that many people new to martial arts may have no idea what ‘dan’ means or if they do they may be intimidated by the prospect of being instructed by such a being.

Good copy writing to create really effective adverts in any medium is more of an art than a science.  It needs a lot of attention to detail and a willingness to test responses.  Examine carefully as many different examples as you can and learn from them.  Then have a go, create something and get it where people can see it.  Remember, even a really mediocre advert that is on display is going to have infinitely greater effect than a masterpiece which is never actually finished and seen by anyone.

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.

 

The Five Steps of Selling – by Graham Butcher

After a bit of a break, here is the 3rd article by Graham Butcher, Author, International Stav Teacher & Master, to help you market your club.  Although we may think of ourselves as above “selling our classes”, any interaction with a prospective student does really include a sales process.  Graham gives you guidance below to help you to be more effective at this.

At the end of this article, you will find a link to an interview that I did with Graham back in March 2012.  Well over to Graham for his article:

You may think that you don’t actually sell your martial arts training. Well perhaps not in the way that a car dealer sells a vehicle. However you will have conversations when someone comes into your Dojo and asked about training with you. Or they phone or email and ask for more details. Or you may be at an event such as the charity martial arts event which took place in Portishead early this year and find yourself in conversation with a potential student. In these situations you owe it to yourself and your club to deal with a potential student in a systematic and professional way.

According to marketing expert Chris Cardell there are five factors in making a sale. The first step is rapport, next knowing needs, then meeting objections and finally closing.  The fifth factor is an overall belief in what you are offering, if you don’t have that then you will be neither convincing to others or being honest with yourself.  So lets look at this in more detail and consider how you can apply this concept to a martial arts club.

Rapport basically means getting on with people and making them feel at ease.  This largely means being relaxed and simply being yourself. If you are tense and frustrated about something then it is going to be difficult for you to make others feel at ease. You can also help by mirroring the other person, this means adapting your communication to them. So if you have a confident young man in front of you then a fairly loud and fast voice delivery and some gesticulation may well be very appropriate. If if is a middle aged woman who is interested in taking up martial arts for the first time and is rather nervous at the prospect then speaking slowly and quietly may be best. If it is a small child then sitting or kneeling to make eye contact on the same level as you talk may be a good idea.

The most important thing in establishing rapport is that you pay attention to the other person and that brings us to the second stage, ascertaining needs.  The temptation when trying to make a sale is to start telling the potential customer how wonderful your product is and bombarding them with reasons why it is so great. This is a big mistake because you have already managed to convince them that your style is worth considering. You know this by the fact that you are having the conversation with them at all. So now you need to be discovering what their needs are. You will do this from asking them questions and, much more important, paying attention to the questions they ask you. It is also essential that you are honest with them as to whether or not your club is really going to be right for their needs. If you have someone asking about the spiritual benefits of practicing Kata as moving meditation and your training is all geared to preparing for MMA competitions then you may do well to direct the person to the local Tai Chi class. Have names and phone numbers at hand if possible.

All instructors find themselves confronted with the same situation and other teachers may well make referrals back to you when appropriate.

Once you have established that your class may meet their needs then you have to be ready for objections. Objections are usually based on cost and risk, eg how much is this going to cost me in money, time and effort? What am I risking if something goes wrong? Money shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you are clear up front about the costs. If they claim it is expensive then point out that you rent an appropriate premises for training, that classes are kept to a size so that there is individual attention for each student and so on.

Just make sure they know that there are no hidden costs that are going to be sprung on them later such as huge fees for gradings. If gradings are expensive because you get a top instructor over from Japan to judge progress then this may be a plus point. Just be up front about it from the beginning. Often people are afraid of getting hurt and that is a legitimate concern in martial arts training. All you can do is emphasize the care with which classes are managed, your first aid training, insurance etc.

But again be honest and let them know what the risks are in your class, for example a postman has to be able to walk a long way each day for his job so if strained knees are an occupational hazard in your style our hypothetical postie might be forgiven for thinking twice before training with you.

A common way is to overcome objections is to offer a free first class so that the potential student can try out the class at no financial risk. This can be disruptive to the rest of a regular class so if you have a lot of inquiries it may be a better idea to do a special introductory session specifically for first timers. Which brings us to the fourth stage which is the close.

It is all too easy to have a very satisfactory conversation about your style and agree that your class sounds absolutely wonderful and then the person just wonders off and you never see them again. So if you really think this person should be training with you then close the sale with a call to action. Ideally get them to give you their contact details so that you can send them more information and keep in touch with them. Don’t pester them relentlessly but six further contacts over a reasonable period would be okay. If someone doesn’t want to be contacted any more they will usually tell you directly. Otherwise it is reasonable to assume that they just haven’t gotten around to showing up yet and they actually appreciate the continued effort.

Reasons you might create for making contact might be that you are holding an introductory open class, that you have published a new leaflet which you are sending them, created a new website for them to visit, opening a new class near to where they live, taking part in a open event and they may like to attend. Even if they don’t respond themselves there is every chance they will pass the information on to someone else who will.

To summarize, be approachable and establish rapport, pay attention to the needs being communicated, be ready to answer objections and then make a call to action at the end. All the time be true to your beliefs and values in everything you say and promise.

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.

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.

Martial Arts Marketing: How to grow your business By Graham Butcher

I asked in my Newsletter and Facebook page if people would like another category on this website for information on marketing their martial arts clubs.  Several people replied that this would in deed be useful.  My friend, Graham Butcher, author and one of the World’s leading authority’s on Stav has taken the initiative to write the first article for which I am very grateful.  So below is Graham’s submission, I hope you find it useful.


When Charlie said that he wanted to include a section on Marketing into his newsletter I decided to offer to contribute to it. Why should you be interested in anything I have to say about marketing? Three reasons.  Firstly my day job is running a Handyman business with my partner and we do okay and have plenty of clients so we must be doing something right. Secondly I have been studying marketing with Chris Cardell and Jon McCulloch for the past couple of years and I will be happy to
share some of the principles that they teach. Thirdly, for the past 19 years I have been teaching and trying to develop interest in Stav.  Many of you will know how hard it is to get people interested in well known Martial training systems such as Karate and Aikido. So you can imagine its rather harder promoting something as unknown and frankly improbable as a Norwegian martial training system brought to the UK by a Scandinavian nobleman with Viking ancestry and a profound knowledge of the runes and Norse mythology. I think you see the problem.

So this September I am launching a new class in Crewkerne (the Somerset town where I live) and I intend to make a success of it by throwing every marketing trick I know at the good people of Crewkerne including having leaflets and website critiqued by Jon McCulloch before the public sees them. I will be happy to share the process with you over the next few months and let you know what works and what doesn’t.

This month’s tip, Chris Cardell’s three principles for growing a business. Don’t object that yours is a club not a business. If you are taking money in return for a a service (providing martial arts training) then you are running a business. Even if the club is run on a cooperative basis and no one actually takes any money out of it personally the organisation still needs an income to pay its bills. If you can increase that income you may be able to rent a better hall, bring in guest instructors or purchase better training equipment.

So in order to grow the business you need:
• More customers (students)
• More transactions with your customers/students
• More value from each transaction

And you need to combine all three because there is a level at which customers/students actually cost you much more than they give you in return. If you offer a free lesson as a taster then every week you might have five more students coming for just that free lesson. Well your marketing must be working well on one level in that it is bringing them in, but they aren’t giving you anything in return and will be drawing a lot of attention away from your regular students. So yes, you want to be increasing the number of students at your club but look at this. If you just increase the number of students by 10% (and they are actually paying for the class) then the income increases by 10% and that is good but if you have say, 10 students paying £5 for one class per week over a 10 week period that is an income of £500 (I will keep to nice round figures for simplicity).

There are three things you can do to increase income by 10%, one more student raises income to £550. On the other hand if you put in an extra class every ten weeks, say a Saturday morning special technique class that would add that extra £50 or you could raise the price of classes by 50p and that would be worth £50 over ten weeks. Now combine those and see what happens:
11 students x 11 classes = 121 at £5.50 each is £655 or an increase of over 30%.

Something to think about and remember that if you are making a better return you can provide a better service.

For more information about Graham, please visit:  www.iceandfire.org.  If you found this useful and would like more similar information, please click the “Like” button and leave your comments below.