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Martial Arts Business – How to Sell Without Selling Out

Many martial arts instructors feel that there is a conflict between their values and doing what it takes to succeed. For many, the idea of martial arts marketing borders on prostituting their art. For others, it seems like the methods of successful marketing are contrary to their artistic sensibilities.
You were taught to be humble, but it seems that advertising is all about bragging. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Is Your Marketing Intimidating or Inviting?
One of the main misunderstandings about marketing that many people have is that it’s all about selling. You’ve seen the shameless self-promotions of the big business dojos. The full page ads in the phonebook, the coupon slips in the newspaper, the TV ads and the web sites are nothing short of disgraceful.
Look at their ads with the eye of a would-be customer. Most parents will approach a school with some timidity. Take that mindset and look at the looming, surly and hulkish image of the instructor. See the large classes in their video ads. Look at the students breaking five boards in mid air. As a parent of a 7 year old girl that’s scary, isn’t it?
Martial Arts Marketing Says That You’re Available
There’s an old saying in martial arts and mystical circles: “When the student is ready, the master will come.” While on a mystical level this is an instruction for students to open themselves up to learning, it also has a pragmatic application for teachers. You, as the master in question, have to put the word out that you are available to teach.
How many students out there are ready and waiting for a master? What if the master that appears to them in a Google search is you? Naturally, they will gravitate to you for instruction.
Martial Arts Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Gaudy
The myth is that effective martial arts marketing has to be big, flashy and intense. Not only is this idea in conflict with martial arts principles, it’s in conflict with marketing in general. With that in mind, there’s nothing keeping you from using the resources you have available to market your school. Your flyers, brochures, web site, etc. can be as low key as you like.
Your counterpoint probably shouldn’t be completely Zen, but it can definitely be more…normal. Go ahead and display some fighting skills, but don’t make the soundtrack be heavy metal. Emphasize the values your students will learn. Show the benefits of your program. Any student you would want is after these lessons anyway.
Sticking to your principles in your advertising shows your integrity more than using archaic marketing strategies. In this market swamped with corporate sell outs, you would stand out simply because you don’t play their game.
With the right martial arts management consultant, you can learn everything you need to know to make your school a success without compromising your values.
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