I attended the Martial Arts SuperShow last week in Las Vegas. In addition to meeting loads of current and future Zen Planner advocates, I also got a chance to sit in on a few sessions and I’ll write about what I learned over the next couple of weeks.

The first session I attended was named “30 Ideas in 60 Minutes to Grow Your Martial Arts School” with Adam Parman. Adam has been a Martial Arts Industry Association consultant for five years and owns two schools in Atlanta, GA. He has had the distinct honor of working for some of the best in the industry including Joe Corley, Bill Clark, Mike Metzger and Frank Silverman.

For brevity sake, I’ll walk through five of the ideas presented and then follow up with the rest of what Adam shared in subsequent blog posts.

1). In-school tournaments

Adam suggested that your school host in-school tournaments. He also emphasized the need to theme each tournament. For example, use names such as “Dragon Invitational,” “Samurai Smack Down” or the “Ninja Open.” While you’re hosting the tournament, make sure you incorporate equipment sales. Offer a limited edition tournament t-shirt, sparring gear sets or gear with the tournament logo. He also suggested that for friends and family who attend the tournament that you work hard to engage these folks into signing up on the spot for a first session. [clearfix]

2). Holiday sales

If you’re having an event at your school (more on events later), offer a sale as the same day as an event. For example, if Santa is visiting your school, provide a “Santa Buddy Discount” sale. You should also bundle items to sell more. For example, you can offer weapons packages or graduation packages. A solid example of a graduation pack might be a belt rack, certificate frame and something else to commemorate the day. [clearfix]

3). Advertise on Facebook

If you’re looking to reach new members, think seriously about using Facebook to do so. Facebook makes it easy to boost your post and create “look-alike” audiences who are similar to the folks who have already liked your page. When you create an ad, make sure you have a photo to go with it to better engage your audience and link to a clear call-to-action on your website that lets a potential prospect do a free trial. It is also important to have different ads for each program that you offer and match the ad to that market. For example, if you’re trying to attract adult MMA fighters, don’t include an ad with kids in it. The ad you create should be short and include your location, class type and the key benefit of your school for that particular target market. The example Adam used was “Woodstock Kids Martial Arts class helps children’s confidence soar.”

4). Expand your pro shop

At times when your martial arts school is a bit slower, this is when you should expand your pro shop and look to other ways to increase school revenue. Offer t-shirts during summer and make sure that you offer multiple types of t-shirts. Many students will want all the alternatives that you have! Provide the option to purchase different styles of gear. Sell accompanying items such as a case with a weapon. You also want to offer impulse items such as key chains, headbands or anything else with your school’s name on it. If you have an enthusiastic student, they will want to share their love your school with a broader audience.

5). Sponsor a booth

Booths are a great way to increase new students. You can usually sponsor a booth at fall and spring festivals, carnivals, parades, fundraisers or special community events. Adam noted that his schools use a “confidence board” at events to attract attention and get visitors to their booth. His team lets kids break a board at the booth. While the child is breaking the board, one of the instructors will collect information from the parents and offer a free lesson or trial on the spot. If the parent doesn’t sign the child up right away, the on-site team makes sure to follow up directly following the event with the aim of getting the prospective to the student for an introductory lesson.

Looking for additional ways to grow your school? Get your copy of our free Martial Arts Benchmark Report. It features the most detailed financial performance information available in the martial arts industry.

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