Fresh Ideas for How to Market Your Martial Arts School Online This Year
I created my first martial arts school website back when most school owners still thought the internet was a fad. As an industry pioneer in martial arts website marketing I can tell you that a lot has changed since school owners first started using websites to market their schools.
In this article, I’ll outline what those changes are, explain what’s still working in online marketing for small businesses, and provide you with some fresh martial arts web marketing ideas as well.
But first, let’s start by going over martial arts web design mistakes you’ll want to avoid…
The Top 3 Martial Arts Website Design Mistakes
Mistake #1 – Do-It-Yourself Web Design
Yes, web design technology has come a long way. Yes, you can easily set up your own site using a multitude of free and subscription tools and services… but that doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a site that will actually help you grow your school.
Remember, almost 100% of consumers use the web to research before making a major purchase – so, your website will likely be their first introduction to your studio. Don’t skimp here, ditch your DIY website, and hire a professional.
Mistake #2 – Hiring an Amateur to Build Your Website
Lots of people have jumped into building websites for local businesses, and I’ll tell you why. Two or three years ago, that was what the information marketing gurus were selling to the home business crowd. That means a lot of amateurs started web design and SEO (search engine optimization) companies… with most having no formal training in web design, graphic design, or search engine marketing.
I know this because I attended one of the biggest training conferences being marketed at the time, and virtually none of the people attending that I spoke with had any formal training in web design or online marketing. As a professional web marketing consultant, this greatly concerns me.
When I started my web design and SEO consulting firm, I already had years of experience in creating my own websites and successfully marketing my martial arts school online. And to do that, I took hundreds of hours of marketing, graphic design, web design, SEO, and web programming classes. It cost me a bundle too, but it was worth every penny.
The best advice I can give you is to look at the work your designer is doing before you hire them, and ask their clients what results they’ve produced for them. That’s the only way you’ll know if they’re legit.
Mistake #3 – Prioritizing Design Over Results
Of course, you want a sharp, professional looking website – that’s a given. However, you primarily want a website that gets results. And what are the results you want?
Leads, leads, and more leads. That’s it. You want a website that gets your phone ringing and your email inbox dinging. And sometimes, that means sacrificing optimal visual appeal in exchange for optimal bottom-line results.
So, be sure you hire a web designer who not only is able to deliver a clean, professional web design, but one who also understands good direct response marketing layout and design for the web. Again, check out their work and results before you hire.
Martial Arts Website Marketing – What’s In and What’s Out
If you want to stay ahead of your competition, you need to be ahead of them in every crucial area of business. And, right now the most crucial area of marketing for any business large or small is in online marketing.
But, you certainly don’t want to waste your precious time and resources on website marketing strategies that are old hat. As a small business owner, you simply don’t have the time or money to waste on internet marketing strategies that don’t work anymore.
So, let’s quickly go over what’s in and what’s out in online marketing, to help you avoid wasting your time and resources on ineffective online marketing that won’t provide you with a good ROI.
- Sites that ignore mobile (not mobile-ready)
- Slow-loading websites
- Websites that are business-focused (talking about you ad nauseum)
- Focusing only on your ranking in the free search results
- Ignoring social media
- Poorly written and over-the-top sales copy
- Static websites that aren’t updated regularly
- Mobile-ready websites
- Engaging site content + engaging customers through social media
- Websites that are customer-focused (answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”)
- Taking a holistic approach to search engine marketing (search ranking + pay-per-click + social media presence)
- Selling without selling, but instead through story-telling
- Dynamic websites with regularly updated content
- Using multiple marketing channels and media types to reach customers (hint: your website is just the first step)
Martial Arts Website Ideas for the Savvy Martial Arts School Owner
Smart martial arts school owners stay on top of trends. Having been both a martial arts school owner for two decades, and an online marketing consultant for the past decade, I know how hard it is to stay apprised of all the rapid-fire changes in online marketing.
The good news is that it’s my job to keep up with all the latest trends in online marketing, which means I can pass on the most important points to you… saving you from having to worry about it. So, here’s a list of the most important martial arts website ideas and trends you’ll want to pay attention to in the coming year.
#1: Pay Attention to Mobile Marketing
Approximately 17.5 million tablets and mobile devices were activated on Christmas Day in 2012, up from 6.8 million in December 2011. Mobile internet traffic was 13% of all internet traffic in November of 2012 – up from just 4% in December of 2010. A total of 24% of online purchases on Black Friday of 2012 were for mobile devices. And, media consumed on mobile devices makes up 10% of all media consumption… with that number growing rapidly.
Keeping all those stats in mind, do you think your website needs to be mobile-ready? Do you think you need to look at running paid mobile ads this year? Do you think you might want to consider keeping up with how mobile technology is being used by consumers today? Emphatically, yes, yes, and yes.
#2: Avoid Over-Optimizing Your Websites
Google is crushing websites that try to game their search algorithms. You can’t outsmart Google, so stop trying. Over-optimizing your pages using keyword stuffing, and hiring overseas firms to build thousands of spam links to your site? That’s the best way to destroy your search engine rankings. Instead of trying to game the system, focus on giving Google what Google wants – and that’s relevant and engaging content that is written for people, not machines.
#3: Be Strategic and Intentional About How You Use Social Media
Social media is quickly becoming the bread and butter of online marketing – and not just for big business, but for all business. You can’t ignore it, so you may as well adore it because it’s free, for goodness sake. What that means to you is that you NEED to have a social media presence for your business. At the bare minimum, that means a Facebook fan page, a personal Facebook wall that isn’t overly personal, and a Twitter account that you actually update regularly.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about being intentional in how you use social media. As Brian Tracy says, “Assume everyone knows everything about you, all the time.” In other words, people are watching you, so you need to watch your P’s and Q’s online. Etiquette applies to everything online now, because the internet is forever (or at least, as permanent as anything can get these days). So, if you wouldn’t bring it up with someone who just walked into your school for the first time, then don’t discuss it, say it, or post it in social media!
Does this mean you can’t be yourself? Of course not – you want your personality to shine through online! However, it does mean you have to be your best self… and at all times. So, no more drunken 3 am Facebook posting, no more sharing offensive memes about politics or other sensitive topics, and no more airing your dirty laundry online (especially on Facebook). I know it’s hard, but I’m living this right now. And as outspoken as you know me to be, if I can do it, so can you.
#4: Engage Your Customers!
This goes double for how you use social media, but it also applies to your website content, too. There’s a place for sales copy, and that’s on your sales pages. It’s expected there.
Where it’s not expected or welcome is in blog posts, Facebook and Twitter status updates, and YouTube. People expect to read informative and interesting content on blogs and to watch it on YouTube (hint: they’re there to be informed and entertained). And, they expect to engage in a conversation on social media sites.
In other words, they expect to engage in and build relationships on these sites. Think about it this way; how many friends do you have who sell Amway? Not many, I’d guess (unless you sell Amway). Why? Because they’re always selling Amway, and no one wants to be sold to all the time!
So, stop selling and start engaging your customers online by building relationships with them. You do this by being interesting and informative… and by being interested in other people - the same way you make friends in person.
#5: Email Marketing Still Works Wonderfully… So Keep Building Your List
When I see a small business website without an email opt-in form, I cringe. Capturing email leads and doing email marketing is absolutely the cheapest and most profitable way to reach your audience and sell in today’s business ecology. You must use email marketing if you want to compete in today’s market.
And, to do that you need to use an optin form that includes an offer and a call to action. Modern technology makes this so easy to do, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t do it. I use the top email autoresponder service to do this for me, and it only costs me $20 or $30 a month. If you’re not doing this, start today.
What Do You Want to Know About Online Martial Arts Marketing?
I know I threw a lot at you in this article, and I also know it can be overwhelming. So, what I’d like to know from you is, what do you want to know more about in future articles? Please let me know by commenting below, and I’ll cover your request in future posts.
-- Michael Massie has owned and operated martial arts schools and fitness studios for most of his adult life. A lifelong martial artist, he is the author of "Small Dojo Big Profits", runs the Martial Art School Alliance International (MASAI) business coaching website, and is the creator of The Self Defense Black Belt Program (TM) and Fighting Fit Boot Camp (TM). For more of Mr. Massie's low-cost martial arts business materials, check out his martial arts business books on Amazon.com.