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Martial arts marketing tips for gyms and studios

martial arts marketing

Martial arts are anything but new. Recently, the ancient practice has been making a comeback.  About 3.6 million people participate in martial arts in the United States every year. 

The pandemic has placed increasing importance on fitness and health. With these newly shifted priorities, many more people are looking for more enjoyable, vigorous workout options. And martial arts fit the bill.

Martial arts are no longer limited to just teaching an after-school karate class. Adults are three times more likely to try out karate as kids. More than 18 million adults say they have tried it out within the past year in the United States. 

Martial arts also called Mixed Martial Art or MMA recently, include karate, kendo, judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu or BJJ, taekwondo, kickboxing, muay thai, and self-defense classes. Many gyms and fitness centers have also jumped on the bandwagon by starting martial arts programs and classes.

In this article, we will look at why marketing is different for martial arts gyms and studios and look at 9 top martial arts marketing tips.

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How is marketing different for a martial arts school?

Martial arts and MMA are unique in nature. A successful marketing strategy has to be reflective of the distinctive character of classes you offer. 

The martial arts industry fills many voids in society. Be it lack of self-defense awareness and training, or the declining tendency of physical activity in today’s youth.

The unique nature of a martial arts school is exactly why your marketing tactics need to differ as well. 

Capitalizing on these values of martial arts is how you create a thriving marketing plan for your school. One that continues to bring in new members and aid you in increasing brand awareness

As a martial arts school owner, the success of your business depends equally on your talent to teach and the effectiveness of your marketing plan. The right combination of these will have an advantageous compounding effect on your business.

9 ways to market your martial arts school

A successful marketing strategy caters to multiple goals. Here are some helpful statistics related to martial arts and MMA that show what works.

Be it increased member retention, adding new members to your school, or increasing brand awareness. A marketing plan that works for you needs to be creative and well-mapped out.  Here are some original and economic martial arts marketing solutions to get you started:

1. Cross-promotion through wearable gear

Amidst the revolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and digitalization in the gym industry, gadgets that you can wear are now the latest trend. This trend has taken over the entire fitness industry and MMA is no different.

Apps and fitness trackers have played their part in bringing the fitness industry to Gen Z.  The addition of sensors and track-able devices is one more reason the young generation is flocking towards martial arts. Gadgets related to MMA equipment is estimated to reach $565 million by 2022

Maximize the benefits of this trend in favor of your martial arts school by introducing merchandise on your website. 

Offer fitness gear and martial art supplies printed with your logo. This is a great marketing plan to generate a new source of revenue with the additional benefit of increased brand awareness.

The merchandise you offer on your website doesn’t have to be limited to gadgets only. You can sell all types of martial art supplies and gear.

A customer wearing gear with your logo is like an endorsement of your brand. Think of all the friends and family that’ll see the logo and the supplementary effect it’ll have on your brand recognition.

2. Partnership with local institutions

Increasing brand recognition and awareness will go a long way towards the success of your martial arts school. You can expand your school’s visibility in the area by partnering with local communities. Local schools are a great place to recruit new students from. 

That’s an effective guerrilla marketing idea that you can implement irrespective of location. Ask nearby schools if they would be open to holding demonstrations for students.

Make sure these demos are interactive and suited to the age of your target audience. You can offer discounts for those who show interest and wish to join.

Keeping in touch with the community is also a great marketing investment. Participate in local charity drives or volunteer your space occasionally to help out for a good cause. All this is part of the long game of building a well-rounded and ultimately profitable brand.

Team up with other local businesses in your area for a cross-promotion strategy. That’ll have the added benefit of advertising to their audiences as well. 

Compounding your members together can have more impactful marketing. Choose brands that compliment the type of school and business you run.

3. Blog writing and SEO

No marketing strategy will prove to be productive unless it leverages online visibility in your favor. Incorporate the benefits of blog writing through search engine optimization-friendly content.

Chances are you already have a website and brand pages on social media. Write interesting and informative blogs about your specialty in Martial arts or MMA. High-quality SEO-friendly blogs will help you gain traction and surge your online presence.

It’ll also increase traffic to your website and pages and open up a new income source for you. Don’t be limited to only your websites or MMA blogs. 

You can utilize cross-marketing here as well by offering to write special guest posts on health and fitness blogs. These measures will simultaneously increase your response rate and awareness about martial arts.

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4. Email marketing

Billboards, direct mail, and magazine advertisements are pretty much timeworn now. Email and digital marketing are quite effective when done correctly. ROI rates on money spent on email marketing will astonish you. 

That’ll allow you to target your marketing campaign towards leads that have shown interest in MMA and martial arts. Meaning, higher chances of converting these leads into members for your martial arts school. 

Also, fewer resources wasted on generalized marketing means more money to invest elsewhere.

Offer limited-time deals on birthdays and special occasions such as the start of a new year to your target audience. 

That’ll help your other marketing efforts as well by increasing your click-through rate bringing more traffic to your web pages.  Even if they don’t immediately sign-up, you can advertise this way for a fraction of the cost you would have to spend on other marketing measures.

5. Work on bettering conversion rates and member retention

Marketing isn’t just promotion and brand awareness.  It’s also about how well you turn potential leads into regular customers. Strategizing a marketing plan involves methods to retain your current members.

Keep your finger on the pulse of the fitness trends stay updated about the latest trends in your niche.  Do you need to branch out to another martial arts specialty? Or are your efforts better spent on improving your current niche? 

While it might be tempting to jump on to the latest trend bandwagon, it’s often wiser to invest in your current specialty and work on improving your customer experience

Conduct surveys within your members to determine this. That’s also a great way of addressing any concerns, questions, or grievances they might have.

Remember, making your customers feel heard and valued is the best way of retaining them long-term. It also makes more economical sense to preserve existing members than recruit new ones.

6. Offer an incentive for referring

Make referrals more lucrative for participants by offering low-cost memberships and special perks when they refer a friend. 

The best type of referral program will vary from school to school but the fundamentals will remain the same. Amplify the benefits of word-to-mouth marketing by recruiting new members from within your current students. 

Not only is it cheaper for them, but it also comes with the additional endorsement of their loved ones. Meaning you will probably have to work harder to convert them into regular members of your institution.

7. Target your marketing strategy towards different groups.

There are many ways you can maximize your space and specialty. Tweak your Martial art classes to cater to different groups within your community.

You can start self-defense classes for women and girls. Encourage them to be empowered and proactive rather than using fear as a promoter. Invite specialized martial artists to hold a class at your school.

Focus on holding weekly classes for senior citizens. Modify your regular class to better suit those with limited mobility and flexibility. That can be a great social activity for them that can help them combat loneliness and depression often associated with advanced age.

Similarly, you can offer classes for teens and after-school programs. Give working parents some added initiative to enroll their children in your school.

8. Social media

Social media can be the most effective aspect of your marketing strategy. Boost your social media reach by encouraging members to post testimonials on your official pages. Boosting interesting and distinctive aesthetics will prompt members to snap more pictures.

Posting pictures with your logo and tagging you in their posts will accelerate your social media marketing efforts. For free!

Remember that a picture can speak louder than any well-written marketing content. Stay active yourself too by updating your Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat handle regularly. Use Facebook ads tactically to increase visibility. 

Promote upcoming events and help fill out your classes to capacity by leveraging the power of social media.

9. Provoke interest

The best way to spike interest in your school is by provoking interest in what you do. Offer special guest passes to regular members for friends and family. Give them a taste of the experience you have to offer.

Once in a while, hold classes in a public place such as a park or near a lake. Engage with the public and encourage passers to join in. This is free guerrilla marketing at its best. 

Not only will you generate public interest, but your regular members are also sure to appreciate this change of scenery as well.

Holding yearly tournaments and seminars is another great way of spiking interest. Turn your dojo into a sports ground for the day. Hold a black-belt competition, for example.  

Have all visitors sign-up and leave their phone numbers at the entrance. That’s a great way to follow up on leads and get more new students

In summary

Martial arts is an ancient art form in need of a modernized makeover. You can stay true to the essence of martial arts and MMA and still run a flourishing business by employing the right marketing plan. 

The correct mix of all the tips stated above can help you advance your martial arts business while helping your community most efficiently. Let us help you devise a marketing strategy tailor-made to fit your brand at Glofox.

We empower you to boost your business

"I think Glofox speaks to lots of different fitness businesses. I looked at a few options, but the Glofox positioning was more flexible. Without it the business wouldn't be scaleable”
Mehdi Elaichouni
Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

Trusted by studios, and global gym chains.

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