An Intro to Martial Arts Marketing: Best Practices & Examples

Across the United States, the martial arts studio industry anticipates upwards of $9 billion in revenue by the end of 2022. While this number may come as a surprise to some, it's important to recognize that this profitable industry refers to a robust collection of martial arts practices, including but not limited to mixed martial arts, karate, kendo, taekwondo, and jiu-jitsu.  With an industry slowdown nowhere in sight, it’s never been a better time for martial arts instructors to embark on new business strategies to market their studio. However, martial arts marketing practices encompass a wide variety of tools and techniques that may leave some instructors unsure where to begin. Here’s what you need to know about martial arts marketing.

How Do I Market My Martial Arts Business?

If you operate a martial arts business and are looking to scale your student base and services, you may be left wondering where your marketing efforts should be focused. While building a profitable client base will never happen overnight, there are quite a few martial arts marketing tactics that owners can leverage to help streamline and accelerate the process. The first martial arts marketing practice school owners must master is the importance of an online presence. As a gateway to numerous other martial arts advertising and marketing opportunities, creating a strong online presence can help enhance the reach of your digital marketing campaigns, so your messaging can reach potential students. Likewise, a strong online presence makes it easier for customers to quickly locate your martial arts studio, research your services, and sign up for classes. With an online presence growing, additional martial arts marketing tactics include:

  • Networking with other local businesses or creating partnership programs
  • Targeting preferred demographics via organizational partnerships, such as schools
  • Participating in local events, like community health fundraisers
  • Encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations from current students
  • Becoming a knowledge broker with informational content marketing, such as newsletters
  • Incorporating the use of print marketing to boost your martial arts branding

In other words, there’s not just one method to market a martial arts business — there’re tons. So, let’s dive a bit deeper into seven martial arts marketing ideas for school owners.

8 Highly Effective Martial Arts Marketing Strategies

We get it: between the countless strategies and best practices available to instructors online, marketing your martial arts studio can seem like a full-time job. Fortunately, there are several strategies for your martial arts marketing plan that go beyond crafting a website, building an internet presence, or even using a computer. Here are a few highly effective martial arts marketing ideas you should consider.

1. Start a Referral Program Among Current Students

As with many instruction-based classes, martial arts schools frequently generate new student enrollments due to recommendations from current students. New student referrals are a valuable method of growing your instruction. They’re a form of word-of-mouth recommendation that sells potential customers on your services based on a current student’s positive experience. To promote these word-of-mouth recommendations to your martial arts school or dojo, create a program to reward current students for referrals. Provide students with a business card with your studio’s contact and enrollment details to pass along to new students. Offer incentives, such as discounts or free classes, to students who help successfully enroll new classmates.
Additionally, consider hosting special referral events, such as Bring a Friend to Class Day. Monthly special referral events like this allow already established customers to bring in a friend or family member to tag along in a class. This tactic helps reduce the anxiety of beginners and can be used as a time to discuss referral discounts for signing up with visitors interested in joining the class.

2. Host a Community Event or Free Weekend Clinic

While referral programs are great at bringing potential students to you, sometimes you have to take your studio to them! This can be achieved when marketing your martial arts studio by advertising and hosting martial arts community events and weekend clinics. Having the chance to meet and greet potential new customers provides a great way to demonstrate the excitement and value behind your services. Before deciding on a community event, you’ll want to consider the locations that your target audience frequently visits. For instance, you can create partnerships with local schools, where you can host free martial arts classes for children or a parent's night out program. While there, you can hand out informative flyers with contact and class details for those looking to learn more about your business.
Moreover, you can try to leverage a seminar focus that positions your martial arts services to address an overarching concern. Martial arts hot topics, such as abduction avoidance, bully defense, and self-defense empowerment, are excellent ways of demonstrating the value of martial arts and the services you can provide. Plus, you can connect with your target customer and the community.

3. Increase Brand Awareness Through Social Media

When marketing for martial arts in today’s digital age, social media is one of the most powerful tools you can adopt. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer numerous opportunities to increase brand awareness around your martial arts school via a variety of posts, such as daily updates and customer testimonials — check out the InCourage martial arts Facebook, for example. Begin by inputting all relevant contact and enrollment details on your Facebook page so that interested users can contact you immediately. To encourage engagement among customers, new and old, keep your page routinely updated with member achievements, such as belt ceremonies or short videos of your classes. These small celebration efforts add a great personal touch to your business, creating a sense of community across your instruction. Speaking of creating a sense of community with your martial arts social media page, you can establish a Facebook group all about local martial arts to build an online community of current students and those interested in the industry.  A dedicated group helps enhance trust with potential students, contributing to long-term customer relationships and demonstrating your industry expertise to those interested in your services.

4. Reconnect and Follow-Up with Prospects Through Email Marketing & SMS Marketing

As with social media marketing, SMS and email marketing are digital avenues of martial arts marketing for school owners to connect with new and old customers. With the contact information you have on file, reach out to inactive students to remind them of your services. Likewise, follow-up with new leads received from previous community events or social media interactions to provide further information or inform them of upcoming class offerings. Email marketing, in particular, can extend the reach of your lead generation efforts or the process of finding new potential customers to market to. Ensure that your email leads to a relevant landing page on your website that will prompt users to submit a lead, such as a contact form. Such landing pages can promote free class trials, special events, summer camps, and special promotions, all of which are excellent methods of attracting new clients. To become a knowledge broker for your local business, consider writing a monthly or quarterly email newsletter to update readers on the martial arts industry and upcoming community events. If you decide to create an email newsletter, be sure to promote signup via in-class announcements as well as helpful, quick links on your website where readers can subscribe.

5. Offer a Free Trial Membership to Prospective Students

In the world of marketing, sometimes you need to give customers a “free sample” to encourage a sale. To give prospective students a taste of your martial arts services and encourage new enrollments, offer first-time students a free one or two-week trial. This way, you can demonstrate the value of your courses without requesting a commitment from students upfront. To further promote sign-up once a free trial has ended, you may want to offer a special discount to the individuals who spent the extra time to inquire about your martial arts services. Offering this new member discount shows students you’re eager to continue teaching them and may also ease the financial burden of purchasing a new class membership. Trial management doesn’t have to be complicated, either. MyStudio has made trial management a breeze with simple software that allows school owners to create lead forms and trial offers that seamlessly integrate with a martial arts website. For a look at these trials in action, check out this landing page for a free trial from InCourage martial arts school.

6. Establish a Strong Online Presence with a Professional Website

Yes, we’re back here again — the importance of a strong online presence, but this time with a professional website. Remember, you don’t need to be a web designer to create an effective website. Readily available website design tools make creating a modern and mobile-friendly website quite simple and even allow for quick updates as your martial arts school grows. When developing your martial arts website, include the details every customer wants to know, including phone number, physical address, and class schedules, to help streamline the customer process. To further encourage lead generation, highlight positive customer testimonials, like InCourage martial arts did on their website. Not to mention, your website should also provide general industry knowledge to help convince customers of your expertise in martial arts. Develop a blog on your website where you can post articles regarding relevant industry topics, such as self defense and personal health, or whatever topics are currently trending in your local community. This extra step can help demonstrate industry authority and push prospective students to sign up for classes. Finally, don’t forget about getting found by search engines. When a potential customer searches for you online, it’s likely on Google. Claiming and completing your unique Google My Business profile assigned to your studio allows internet users to quickly locate information regarding your dojo, including your address, phone number, hours of operation, customer reviews, and photos.

7. Create a Membership App

A major part of securing long-term customers through your martial arts marketing efforts is ensuring that the customer journey is streamlined and free of frustrating slow downs. When it comes to a martial arts business, a customer should encounter zero roadblocks, from the moment they inquire about your services to the day they walk through your class doors for instruction.That’s where a personalized membership app comes into play. With personalized membership app services from MyStudio, your member-friendly application is ready to go from the minute you create your account. Through your custom branded member app, customers can submit payments, view payment history, and even sign digital contracts for enrolling in your martial arts instruction. Streamlining the customer journey doesn’t stop there. Membership app capabilities also allow instructors and clients to effortlessly communicate through text messages, which can ensure minimal delays and frustrations for both the customer and instructor. Push notifications can be used to send class reminders and keep class attendance (and memberships) strong.

8. Make the Most of Your Martial Arts CRM & Marketing Software

At first glance, this wide array of martial arts marketing best practices may seem a bit overwhelming. While any marketing process will require a bit of trial and error to figure out what works best for your specific dojo, there are martial arts customer relationship management (CRM) tools and marketing software available to help guide you along this process. With MyStudio’s martial arts marketing and automation capabilities, you can create and manage the perfect lead conversion system for your instruction in no time. MyStudio helps seamlessly manage the trial to membership process, conduct event registration communications, and even guide your we-miss-you email and SMS marketing. With this collection of tools, you have the ability to boost conversion rates and support a strong and enjoyable customer experience that keeps students coming back for more. Contact MyStudio today and take advantage of our free trial, or book a demo with one of our experts to learn how MyStudio can streamline your martial arts marketing processes today.