How to Build an Amazing Brand for Your Martial Arts School

tom callos

What comes to mind when you think of great brands? Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, etc. What about smaller businesses, like your martial arts school? Amazing brands don’t just exist in large corporations. In today’s post, our good friend, martial arts consultant, Tom Callos, gives his tips building an amazing brand for your school.

1.Brand Building: Think BIG, as You Take Small Steps Towards the Best, Most Noteworthy, and Most Meaningful Goals

If you want to build your brand, it’s for a purpose. What is the purpose? And is the purpose one of personal gain, alone? Do you do things explicitly to make MONEY? To profit? To get ahead? To buy, spend and consume?

tom callos

It’s okay if that’s your intent. However, I’d suggest that the purpose of your efforts affects how you go about your work, what you’re going to LEARN from it, what you’re willing to invest in it, and your intent can dramatically impact the results you get.

What is the purpose of your brand –the one you’re working on building?
I think your purpose should be grand and noble. Why not? It’s certainly within your potential to do things for the biggest and best reasons, reasons that make the world a joyous, healthy and compassionate place to live. Things that are good for YOU and others.

You, as a human being, have the potential to be selfish and self-serving, to get yours first and look out for “number one”. You also have the same potential as any of the great people in history –people who gave and guided, people who lived lives of purpose, of peace, wisdom and mutual benefit.

When you build your brand it should be about the best of the best that you do. It should speak to people in a way that builds trust, faith in you and faith in your work, as well as inspires them to improve and participate.

2. Resources Invested Should Reflect Anticipated Return

What you invest in building your brand, as in time, money, sweat equity and energy, should have some connection to what you hope to get in return for that investment.

In other words, don’t expect to earn life and/or business sustaining profits from something you aren’t investing in. Basically, don’t think you’re going to invest $100 and get a $100,000 return. There has to be a very clear connection between the energy you put into building your brand and what you expect that “brand” to earn.

The best way to build your brand is to think of it as an ongoing dialogue. It’s just like getting in shape. You don’t get in great shape and just STAY that way, right? It takes ongoing effort. Your brand will require the same ongoing effort to get and stay in the public eye.

Let’s say you hope to get something like a (very optimistic) 40% return on your investment; as in you invest $100 and get back $140 in return. If you apply this to earning $140,000 in a year’s time, you’d recognize that you have to invest about $100,000 to earn back your investment and an additional $40,000. Are you investing enough in your brand building to justify the return you hope to get from it?

My guess is no; you’re not doing it, yet. I don’t have any clients who do “too much” marketing or brand building, but I have many who do far too little (and as a result, struggle).

3. What to Do, and Avoid, in the Process of Building Your Brand
    • Do be real. Be authentic. Be honest.
    • Do not buy a fake, made-for-you website. Don’t let someone else tell the world what you look like, what you know and what you do for people –just to “get leads.” It seems like a good idea at first, but it is, more often than not, a really bad idea that ends up costing you way too much money, time, and struggle down the road.
    • Do plan your campaigns. Don’t go gung-ho for a week or a month, then die off. Promote with the entire year in mind. Plan on making hundreds if not thousands of evergreen media posts (means they promote forever) about the subjects you intend to own and dominate in your market. Your brand needs a big voice.
    • Do learn how to take photos, write about your work, make videos and give good, planned and concise talks about the depth and scope of your work.
    • Do five to 10 “acts of marketing” every working day of the year. The purpose? In the case of most martial arts schools, promoting your brand, in any fashion, is for the simple goal of garnering one to three solid leads, 20 working days a month.
    • Do not eat if you do not market. If you’re going to starve your business, starve yourself. It won’t then take you long to realize that it’s time to change what you’re doing (or not doing).
    • Do build your brand with one to three videos every working day of the year. Do post three to 10 pictures a day about your brand.
    • Do not post images and video anywhere without thorough, well-written text to accompany them. Always include contact information.
    • Do not rely on Facebook alone to promote your brand. Master communicating on YouTube, Vimeo, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, your own blog and other free resources.

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    • Do not spend a lot of (or any) money on branding, until after you’ve spent a lot of time researching how to brand your business.
    • Do learn how to use Canva.
    • Do find “branding heroes” to follow and study. One of my favorites is the Jiu-Jitsu school, Art of Jiu-Jitsu, headed by the Mendes Brothers in Southern California.
    • Do get advice and have knowledgeable friends (who have nothing to sell you) review your branding as you do it. Set a one day each month when you review what you’ve done in the last 30 days.
    • Do buy and read the book, Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon.

Do you have any advice to share about building your brand? Share your tips in the comments section below!

For more information on marketing and branding, get your copy of our free 10-Step Marketing Guide for Martial Arts Schools.

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tom callos

Tom Callos attended his first class, in judo, in 1969, and is presently 7th dan in Taekwondo and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was the first teacher of 1000’s of martial artists, including BJ Penn and Tom’s sons, BJJ black belts Shannone Callos and Keenan Cornelius. Tom has ran some of the largest schools of their era located in Reno, NV. He has been consulting martial arts schools in ethical, sound and intelligent business/management practices for 25 years. Tom currently head’s The 100. Method. You can reach Tom by phone at 530-903-0286 or on Skype at tomcallos.