Martial Arts School Owners

Twenty Tips to Finding New Students


 Twenty Tips to Finding New Students

The concept of finding students is just like that of a person panning for gold, back in the days of the gold rush.  A person would scout a location and then pan for hours on end until they found enough gold to call it a day.  Unfortunately many business owners leave right before the big find is just about to happen, basically giving up way to soon.  There are students all around you it is just a matter of getting the word out and finding them.  So the next time you have some time to kill or you feel like you are done for the day, ask yourself have you really done everything you could to find new students you want in your school.

1)     Interview all of your parents and find out their affiliation to the local PTA, Chamber of Commerce, Little League teams, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Research which parents and students may be a strong asset to you in finding new students.

2)     Ask for referrals and put your referral system in place. Don't let this slip by you. This is your best source of new students. I can't stress enough how important this is.  No matter what I do to market or advertise my school the referral program is always the top income generating source of advertising.  Get my referral program by joining next level as a premium member. 

3)     Start hosting Martial Arts Birthday Parties. Birthday Parties are a viable source of income for you, as well as a great source of lead generation. If you are already doing them, but don't have a packed schedule, then offer them for free. We do this and have many different options. Inevitably we end up bumping the free parties up to the next level and make money anyway. We then give out free month passes to all the party-goers. ( All members can download a copy of our flyer in our downloadable business library)

4)     Start a flyer and door hanger campaign. Make it a regular part of your weekly activities. Deliver flyers door to door and in local stores. Of course you must make absolutely sure that you follow all the local laws and codes of your town.

5)     Call and mail a discount coupon to all of your old students and missed trial classes three to four times per year. This will help you bring in a few old faces back into the school.  

6)     Do a regular scheduled buddy day. In our organization we have one every month in fact we do a buddy week. This encourages people to bring their friends down and try to get them to sign up without the stress of setting up a special class. 

7)     In fact start a student drive contest. One of my clients have turned this into a real motivational tool for retention while also getting referrals. They have involved instructors as captains as well as dividing the schools into two teams and pitting them against each other.  The theory of healthy competition.  They have acquired 15 new members in 6 weeks, just off of the contest. 

8)     Encourage your students to carry V.I.P passes with them everywhere. It is up to them to help the school grow and to help you keep new faces on the floor. Remind them that the best way to flatter you is to tell a friend. (don’t forget we have amazing deals on printing these passes just email us on the contact link on the side bar)

9)     Do a parents show. This is a great way to highlight the students and put on a fun filled day of martial arts seminars, and special promotions. Invite everyone down including neighbors, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  Offer everyone a free week of classes just for showing up.

10)   Do a anniversary gathering.  One of my Elite Coaching clients has turned this into an extravaganza, with Casino Wheels, raffles, demo's and a pot luck lunch.  Their goal is to gain community awareness at the same time. Asking all students to bring one non training member of the community.  This is just a win/win all the way.  Don't forget to get the free press.

11)     Do specialty seminars for the community and send a press release to all the local papers on the topic you are teaching. Get as much press as you can. Maybe even donate some money to charity.  At the same time teach seminars on Stranger Danger, bully-proofing, women's self defense.  Turn  those people into students.

12)Get students to give you a list of all the activities they are involved with other than the martial arts. After you see the list, go back and ask them for phone numbers that they can share with you for their special activities, coaches, scout leaders, club members, etc. Then approach these people and offer them a free trial class or membership.

13)Start a Business directory within your school. Ask you of your clients if any of them are self employed.  If they are ask them if they would like to become part of your school business directory.  This can be used for sharing with your existing clients but also for you to network.  Once you have the names, offer them free passes for all of their employee’s.

14) Business appreciation with the other business' in your community.  Go around to each and every business and ask them if they would be interested in giving passes to all their employee’s and sharing in a marketing exchange.  You give their flyers our in your welcome to the family packet and they put your V.I.P. card and flyers on their counters in their store.  

As I always like to do is promise you one thing and then over provide and give you more.  This is another 200 Guerrilla Marketing techniques, you can use within your school.  Enjoy. 



1. Marketing Plan

2. Marketing Calendar

3. Identity

4. Business Cards

5. Stationary

6. Personal Letters

7. Telephone Marketing

8. Toll- Free Number

9. Vanity Phone Number

10. Yellow Pages

11. Postcards

12. Post Card Deck

13. Classified Ads

14. Per Order/ Inquiry Advertising

15. Free Ads in Shoppers

16. Circulars

17. Community Bulletin Boards

18. Movie Ads

19. Outside Signs

20. Street Banners

21. Window Display

22. Inside Signs

23. Posters

24. Canvassing

25. Door Hangers

26. Elevator Pitch

27. Value Story

28. Backends

29. Letters of Recommendation

30. Attendance at Trade Shows


31. Advertising

32. Direct Mail

33. Newspaper Ads

34. Radio Spots

35. Magazine Ads

36. Billboards

37. Television Commercials


38. Computer

39. Printer/ Fax Machine

40. Chat Rooms

41. Forums Boards

42. Internet Bulletin Boards

43. List-building

44. Personalized Email

45. Email Signature Mktg.

46. Canned Email

47. Bulk Email

48. Audio/Video postcards

49. Domain Name

50. Website

51. Landing Page

52. Merchant Account

53. Shopping cart

54. Auto-Responders

55. Search Engine Ranking

56. Electronic Brochures

57. RSS Feeds

58. Blogs

59. Podcasting

60. Publish own E-zine

61. Ads in other E-zines

62. Write Ebooks

63. Provide Content- Other Sites

64. Produce Webinars

65. Joint ventures

68. E-Bay / Auction Sites

69. Click Analyzers

70. Pay Per Click Ads

71. Search Engine Keywords

72. Google Adwords

73. Sponsored Links

74. Reciprocal Link Exchange

75. Banner Exchanges

76. Web Conversion Rate


77. Knowledge of your Market

78. Research Studies

79. Specific Customer Data

80. Case Studies

81. Sharing

82. Brochures

83. Catalog

84. Business Directory

85. Public Service Announcements

86. Newsletter

87. A Speech

88. Free Consultations

89. Free Demonstrations

90. Free Seminars

91. Publish Article

92. Publish Column

93. Author a Book

94. Publishing-on-Demand

95. Speaker at Clubs

96. Teleseminars

97. Infomercials

98. Constant Learning


99. Marketing Insight

100. Yourself

101. Your Employees and Reps

102. Designated Guerrilla

103. Employee Attire

104. Social Demeanor

105. Target Audiences

106. Your Own Circle of Influence

107. Contact Time with Customers

108. How you say Hello and Goodbye

109. Teaching Ability

110. Stories

111. Sales Training

112. Use of Downtime

113. Networking

114. Professional Title

115. Affiliate Marketing

116. Media Contacts

117. “A” List Customers

118. Core Story- Solution to Problem

119. Create a Sense of Urgency

120. Offer Limited Items/ Time

121. Call to Action

122. Satisfied Customers


123. Benefits List

124. Competitive Advantages

125. Gifts

126. Service

127. Public Relations

128. Fusion Marketing

129. Barter

130. Word-of-Mouth

131. Buzz

132. Community Involvement

133. Club and Assn Memberships


134. Free Directory Listings

135. Trade Show Booth

136. Special Events

137. Name Tags at Events

138. Luxury Box at Events

139. Gift Certificates

140. Audio-Visual Aids

141. Flipcharts

142. Reprints and Blowups

143. Coupons

144. Free Trial Offer

145. Guarantee

146. Contests and Sweepstakes

147. Baking/ Craft Ability

148. Lead Buying

149. Follow-Up

150. Tracking Plan

151. Marketing-on-Hold

152. Branded Entertainment

153. Product Placement

154. Radio Talk Show Guest

155. TV Talk Show Guest

156. Subliminal Marketing


157. Proper View of Marketing

158. Brand Name Awareness

159. Positioning

160. Name

161. Meme

162. Theme Line

163. Writing Ability

164. Copywriting Ability

165. Headline Copy

166. Location

167. Hours of Operation

168. Days of Operation

169. Credit Cards Accepted

170. Financing Available

171. Credibility

172. Reputation

173. Efficiency

174. Quality

175. Service

176. Selection

177. Price

178. Opportunities to Upgrade

179. Referral Program

180. Spying

181. Testimonials

182. Extra Value

183. Adopt Noble Cause


184. Easy To Do Business With

185. Honest Interest in People

186. Telephone Demeanor

187. Passion & Enthusiasm

188. Sensitivity

189. Patience

190. Flexibility

191. Generosity

192. Self Confidence

193. Neatness

194. Aggressiveness

195. Competitiveness

196. High Energy

197. Speed

198. Maintains Focus

199. Attention to Details

200. Takes Action
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“Run your events like they were

a Motion Picture”


Exterior Parking Lot Martial Art School - Friday Evening

Mr. and Mrs. Smith pull up with their 8 year old son Trevor,

Mr. Smith Driving shuts the car off and turns looking into the back seat.


“Okay kiddo, tonight’s your first night at the Parent’s night out at your martial art school, you excited”



“Yeah I can’t wait dad, this is gonna be cool,  Sensei has been talking about it all week.”


All three get out of the car as they approach the school.


The door opens up and there is Sensei’s head student - he greets the students as they

walk in the door with a high five.


The Smiths enter and the music is going as Sensei greets them. 



(The Sensei bows as Trevor and Mr. and Mrs. Smith approach.  )

“It’s great that you made it, I am so excited, you are going to have a blast just like we promised.  Take your shoes off, put them in the cubbies and have a seat their in seiza (sitting position) along with all the other kids we start in 10 minutes.  You can talk, just remember the rules of the school.”


Little Trevor does exactly as he is told as he walks over and joins his friends.  Sensei hands a Little letter to the parents called a Ransom note. This was designed to get the parents to fill out explaining what they will be doing for the next three hours.  This is nothing more then a written testimonial to be used on future flyers for other special events………..  


Every special event, promotion, belt advancement or first class can be thought about just as if you filming a movie.  Think about it, a movie just isn’t an idea on film it is a combination of many carefully thought out events.  We as business owners are the directors who orchestrate our very own little world which we call the customer service experience. From the very first stage we come up with a concept, the event (movie) which we want to make reality.  We then start casting for the people to be in the film – your staff, as well as all the others who play the most integral role – your students, who participate in the film.  Once this is done, we distribute our script, the story board of everything that goes on from the beginning to the end.  This basically is your agenda for the day or night and the actors and extra’s are your staff and student’s. 


Once you have worked out all the fine details, and designed a professional flyer, you then promote, making sure you fill the room with students (actors).  The night of the event is carefully put together by the owner or staff so there is nothing left to chance.  Just like a script writer puts the vision on paper with every detail from camera angles, to the mood, to the back ground setting of each shot.   We are not looking to control everything to the point it becomes stale and rigid, but it is essential not to leave things to chance. 


We as business owners control every thing from the smell, visual and over all customer experience our clients receive. The more we put into the details the better we are at having a positive outcome.  Our goal as business owners is to look at all facets of our business in this way, creating the environment – the vision and end result we want.  Very often our customer service experience isn’t thought about this way.  Simply putting together a script for our staff to memorize is all we need to do, from how a person is treated when the enter the school for the first time, to the school tour.  With some careful thought you create your overall vision of everything you do in your business if you think about it as if it were a movie.   Just like James Cameron did when he created his movie “Avatar,” you too can create you own little world filled with positive and memorable experiences that last a life time.  Good luck. 

Ninja Marketing Tactics
In this section you will find a host of different tips on marketing your martial arts school.  Of course the goal is to actually put a few of the items spoken about into action each and every week.  There are a few types of marketing approaches that are readily used in the martial arts industry and are referred to as Grass Roots, Direct Response, and Lead Generation. 

Our Goal is to help you sift through the many ideas and put a few of the marketing systems in action.  My goal as a consultant and active owner of a martial art school is to help you break the cycle of analysis paralysis.  This means that you are frozen in, indecision.  There are so many great ideas out there which tell you all about the concept but it doesn't tell you the how too.  So what this creates is in a three step process.  1) You have to figure out if you like the idea or not 2) If you do, then you figure out how you institute it - by putting together or inventing or designing ads, concepts, systems of tracking etc.  3)  You then have to figure out whether this is the right time or not to put this marketing system into action.  This one is probably what creates people's fear or lack of action.  I am sure you can attest that at times you are frozen in taking the step forward.  A great quote it "it is better to have a poorly planned marketing campaign then to  wait until you have a really good one figure out." 

Here is an exerpt taken out of my book "Martial Arts Business 101 - Hooyah Living the Dream."  Available on  Enjoy!

Marketing Through White Noise

    I see 10,000 ads per week? Is that possible?  When I first heard this statistic, I thought, No way!  Ten thousand is far more ads than I see in one week, especially since I don’t read the paper, watch the news, etc.  But then I jumped in my car and drove my daughter to school. It was 8 a.m. and the drive was only about 10 minutes, but before I knew it, I’d probably seen about 200 ads. You may ask, “How did you do that?”  I didn’t even have my radio turned on. The first ads I saw were on a series of cars and trucks, advertising everything from Mary Kay makeup to plumbers, construction companies, and cement services.  I soon realized that I was singing a 1-800-Mattres ad, leaving off the last “S” for whatever they said I should.  Then I noticed a sale poster in the front window of a golf store getting ready for spring, and boom - it hit me.

    I was being bombarded with marketing.  So it’s no wonder that when we tell our students in the school and their parents that we have a special activity going on, they seem to ignore us.  It truly isn’t disrespect or negligence on their part, it is life.  They are just doing what they do normally and filtering through the mounds of messages that are thrown at them.  Sometimes information they really would like to know gets filtered out with the “trash.”

    So what do we do to get through?  What is it that will separate us from the rest? Well, this remains a huge problem with marketing today. I just recently read that marketers intend to get more personal helping people with their purchase decisions.  For example, a person will walk into his or her favorite clothes store and a computer will recognize the customer and say, “Hi, Mrs. Smith, welcome back.  Do you know there are specials on that blouse you bought last month?” Well, if this is how marketing will be done, where do we stand as Martial Arts schools?

    Here is my opinion of our situation.  I believe, and I have always believed, that the only way to expand your business is by personal contact.  If we were selling products, we could be less personal and still market our wares.  We could just do more direct mail to sell more “t-shirts,” and although you should be doing direct mail, to have a really strong impact on students, parents and prospects you need to connect with them. You need to ensure that you and your company are the most important thing on their minds when you are talking.

    When was the last time that you gave someone a call and asked to have 10 minutes of the person’s undivided attention? If the person is busy and can’t talk then, ask if you can call back at a better time.  Confirm the best time to call so that you can have his or her undivided attention.  Another good strategy to get through the clutter is to set up review appointments with clients and with parents to go over their children’s progress.  What you really want is some quiet time with them away from all the white noise of all the other marketing companies breathing down their necks.  A bit of quiet time will enhance your relationship, and will give them a chance to think about what you are saying.

    This is a time for you to sell upgrades, deal with student issues, make sure that the parents are on the same page as you are, and talk to them about special events.  Sometimes it is not possible to get an appointment personally to sit with the student and the client, but you must make every effort to speak to them personally. In our school we have many systems in place that help us communicate.

8 Ideas for Personalized “Marketing”

1. Regular e-mail to all clients with an e-mail newsletter and positive stories.
2. Direct mail for all of our specialty programs: Black Belt Club; Team Leadership; Master Elite; special events; etc.
3. Flyers for seminars handed directly to the clients, to enhance word-of-mouth advertising.
4. A free yearly calendar either in paper form or on your website with notations for all of your events, school closings etc.
5. Scheduled telephone calls to students and clients at 2,4,6,8 and 10 week intervals.
6. Missed attendance calls and “we miss you” calls.
7. Sales calls, former student calls, missed trial class calls, etc.
8. Announcements in class.

    These are just a few of the ways that we promote our programs and get the word out.  Even with all of this information, there are still people who do not know about events that are going on, Holiday school closings, and so on.  This is not their fault; our messages may be getting lost amidst the white noise of marketing.  The most important tip that I have for you is to be in touch with your clients regularly and to try to get your clients to understand that your messages are much more relevant to them than all the white noise they are ignoring.  They should want your communications with them to be picked up on their radar.  They must know that you are deserving of their attention, along with their favorite places, things and people.