Monday, August 27, 2018

Return of the Martial Arts Marketing Monster

Way back in the day, I wrote The Monster Post of Martial Arts Marketing Tips and Tools, intended to help lots of martial arts folks out there with little to no experience in basic marketing principles do better. I wrote it in an effort to help all y'all out there with a few tips and tricks, but of course, it morphed into one of the longest posts I've ever written.

Lately, I've been looking at a LOT of martial arts schools sites and social media channels online. And here I am, years after I first wrote the Monster Marketing post, and I'm still seeing the same stuff over and over.

Y'all know me, I just can't let this stuff slide. Sooooo...

When it comes to basic marketing...

Guys, guys, guys, we can do better than this.

For our martial arts styles and systems to survive, we have to do better than this.

So here's what I'm seeing these days, and let me offer my advice, so you can pick up your game without killing yourself trying to do tons of work.


Generally speaking, web sites seem to have improved big-time, and for that, I'm grateful.  But here's some stuff I'm running across that makes me wonder how well these sites are working for some of you.
  • IT AIN'T ABOUT YOU: Please do not make yourself the front-and-center person, with a list of all of your ranks, accomplishments, Hall of Fame entries, tournaments won, and hobbies on your web site's front page.  You can have a short bio on an "Instructors" page but that's it.  I know it's crazy, but people outside of our community don't know or care about that stuff much.
  • CONTACT INFO: Have a contact name, phone number, and email address for people to contact you, EVEN IF you have a contact form.  It's literally as easy as, "Contact Sensei Joe at (999) 555-5555 or email for more information" in a prominent place (preferably can be seen on EVERY page in the header).
  • LINKS AND VIDEO: If you have these at all, occasionally check them to make sure they are working.  It's annoying to try to run a video on a site and it isn't functional, or clicking on links that go nowhere.  Especially if it's a link to your own YouTube channel or Facebook page (I do not get all the dead links to Facebook pages that no longer exist, I really don't).
  • EVENTS: If you have an events page or ticker, make sure you keep this up to date, and remove expired events.  If I click on your events page, I shouldn't seen Belt Testing for Fall 2016 near the top.
  • Post something - ANYTHING - in every active social media account once a week at a minimum. Show that your school is still active and doing stuff.  You can post pictures of class, stuff from events, announcements, shout-outs to students for doing something good in class, community news for your area, and re-share stuff you find on other sites like martial arts jokes and memes.  I promise you, if a potential student finds your school page on Facebook - and LOTS will - and they see you haven't posted in months or years, they're going to think your school is closed and look elsewhere.
  • If you don't want to use the social media channel any more, DELETE IT (or at least unpublish it if it's a Facebook page). Don't just leave it out there for potential students to run across. Again, it looks like your school is closed when you do that.
  • Don't post anything political in your channels. The ONLY exception I can think of is back when Washington State was proposing that martial arts schools pay a sales tax and the schools were urging people to mobilize against it.  Then, it made sense. But that was an exception to the rule.

This is driving me nuts, so I'm going to do a big section on this here.

As you can imagine, I'm in a plethora of martial arts communities and pages on Facebook.  And I see lots and lots of announcements of events (seminars and camps for the most part). I see some pretty nice looking seminar announcements - beautiful, even - but there's a problem.

Take this as a typical seminar announcement I run across on Facebook:

So what do you think might be wrong with this flyer?

Here's the problems I see:

  • Joe's Karate School... where?  It says "Midwest Gathering" but the "Midwest" consists of at about 7 to 10 states.  That's important to potential attendees.  Additionally, lots of people who see this image may have zero idea where Joe's Karate School is even if they happen to be in the general vicinity, or if it's an even more generic name like "Pride Martial Arts" or "Excel Martial Arts" or some such, it could be in any number of cities in all those states.  Always include the FULL address of the location in ads like this, especially if they are NOT associated to Facebook Events.
  • No email address.  Give people more than one way to contact the event organizer.
  • Hard to read: black on blue text doesn't have a lot of contrast and it's hard to read it.  This image also goes a little font crazy.  It's perfectly fine to use simple black text on a white background, folks.
  • Did you spot the typo (spot fishing)? Make sure there are none, and that's especially important in the contact information (email and phone). You don't want potential seminar attendees accidentally calling the Psychic Hotline (or worse) with a phone number 1 digit off from yours.
So here's what I think is a good, all-purpose flyer, again, without a Facebook event (or even a Meetup or an Eventbrite event or what have you - it's just a digital flyer):

Here's why this one works:
  • Easy to read - lots of contrast and white space
  • Address, phone number and email for the seminar is on the flyer.
  • Date and TIMES are also clearly communicated here, as well as the cost. It's not strictly required, but I like to put the year in my dates, because these images can float around a long time on the internet.
  • This flyer answers the classic "Who, What, When, Where, Why and How" questions in one big shot.
This flyer is great to use digitally as well as distribute via .pdf OR print out as handouts or signs to put up at your local martial arts supply place.  EVERYTHING someone needs to know is in one graphic.

Here's an alternate image you could use as well, but it MUST be attached to a Facebook event (or again, Meetup or Eventbrite or what have you).

This is where the subject and instructor of the seminar is front and center, and then you put ALL of the information needed (the stuff in the full flyer above) in the Facebook event: email address of the organizer, a phone number, date(s), times(s), location, and payment information. The additional bonus of making a Facebook event is that it allows people to private message the organizer to ask questions.

The "Who, What, When, Where, Why and How" is answered in the Facebook Event post instead of the image.

Oh, and if you don't know how to create a Facebook event, click HERE for instructions!

You'd be amazed how many seminar announcements I see that are missing some of this key information!  The date is missing, or the contact information is missing, or the cost is missing, and all of these are really important for a person to consider if they can attend or not.

Also, one more thing - if you're posting an event announcement via your personal page on Facebook, be sure to make that post PUBLIC.  People who aren't your friends won't be able to see it.

This post got CRAZY long, didn't it? Well, I had a lot to say on this, and I'm really hoping that you can take what I say here, and in the original Monster Marketing post, and put it to good use.

What drives you crazy about martial arts marketing and advertising you find online? Got a question, or disagree with something I said here? Let me know in the comments?