Student recruitment is a reoccurring theme on our blog, and it’s likely a frequent topic of conversation among the staff at your school. With seasonality fluctuations, as well as conflicting commitments your students may have due to sports, clubs and studying, having a steady flow of new white belts is a necessity for any martial arts school.
An excellent way to get new school-aged students to check out your school is by having a presence at events within your community. With warm weather right around the corner, the outdoor event season is about to kick off. For a successful event season, make sure you take the following items into consideration.
1). Be in the know
Attending an event takes a great amount of planning, so make sure you know about any events happening in your community far ahead of time. Great events to promote your school at include festivals, street fairs, community health fairs and farmer’s markets. To discover these events, frequently check your local Parks and Recreation website, community blogs, Nextdoor and the Events section on Facebook.
2). Plan your presence
Will you have a booth, tent or table at the event? How many staff members and students will you need? Knowing who and what you’ll bring is the key to looking professional and prepared in front of your prospects. You’ll also need to think about what you’ll be doing at your booth, table or tent. Will you have students of varying skill levels do demonstrations? Will you host a small contest to help increase foot traffic to your location? Make sure you have all of this planned out well ahead of time, and don’t forget to give your students and staff members a heads if their attendance is required.
3). Be approachable
You’ve probably heard the quote, “you’ll never have a second chance to create a good first impression.” When parents and children approach your booth, they need to instantly have a great impression of you, your staff and your students. A warm welcome at the event is a great indicator of how they feel like they would be welcomed at your brick and mortar location. It’s important to have a good conversation with the parents, as they are the decision makers, but do not forget to interact with your potential students as well.
4). Have an incentive
Someone may have a great conversation with you at the event, but with their busy lives, it can be easy for them to push off coming in for that first class. As Dave Kovar says, “it’s great to have an offer to give to anyone walking by, but you also need to prompt action on the spot. If your offer is for two weeks of training with the purchase of a uniform, you could offer the uniform for free to anyone who books an appointment there at the event.”
5). Lead collection
Remember, the ultimate reason for attending an event is to drive student recruitment, so having a reliable way to collect leads on the spot is a must. While a signup sheet will work, it leads to manual work once you get back to your school. Paper can also be risky if weather takes a turn for the worse and rain threatens to wash away your new leads. Consider bringing a tablet so prospects signup for your offer through a simple form. Purchasing an inexpensive mi-fi or activating the personal hot spot on your smartphone will provide reliable wi-fi access. Having all prospects fill out a form ensures they will begin receiving automated communication if you have a member management solution that’s integrated with a marketing automation tool like Infusionsoft.
6). Show your involvement
Community events are a great way to not only meet individuals in your area, but to also share your pride for the amazing neighborhood you live in. Do you students volunteer in the area? Have students’ grades increased after attending your classes? Find ways to show attendees the amazing things your school is doing for the community as a whole.
7). Promote your presence
An event will only be successful if people know you’re going to be there. Consider running Facebook ads targeted to individuals living in your community to let them know you’ll be at an upcoming event. Don’t forget to mention why they should stop by your booth (promote your incentive!) and where you’ll be located. When you’re at the event, consider recruiting your current students to hand out flyers around the event encouraging visitors to stop by your booth. At crowded events, it can sometimes be easy to miss a booth, even if it’s something that would normally peak your interest.
With proper planning and a strong presence, local events can be a great way to recruit new students in your community. Do you have any tips for attending events? Be sure to share your comments below!
Looking for additional ways to reach prospective students? Get your copy of our free Insider’s Guide to Student Recruitment.