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Martial Arts Marketing Essentials

By Mike Massie

”Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Marketing is the Lifeblood of Your Studio

How important is marketing for your success? Without any reservations, I can tell you that it’s the lifeblood of your business. As I emphasize in the manual, no matter how good your product or service is it doesn’t matter one bit unless people know about it.


"Hello Sir,

I just wanted to thank you so much for the tip you gave me a few months ago regarding how to set up my website for maximum impact.

It took me a few months but I’m pleased with the result and the response has been fantastic. We gained 10 new students in the month of August.

I apologize for not having bought anything from you yet but I won’t be unsubscribing from your list any time soon, so the reminder is always there. You’ve been a big help.

Best regards,

Ray Mannion
Oneonta Taekwon-do"

When current and aspiring martial arts school owners contact me for help increasing their enrollment, one of the first things I inquire about is their marketing. How and where are they advertising, how do they track their advertising results, how much is their advertising budget, and so on.

I sometimes get crazy answers in return. For example, "We were getting a lot of students from our advertising, but it got too expensive so we quit doing it." Or my personal favorite, "We want to start doing more advertising, and I think that when we get more students we"ll be able to afford to do so."

Good Marketing Doesn't Cost - It Pays

Obviously, the school owners in the above examples were confused about the importance of good marketing. Also, they were misinformed about the actual cost of implementing a marketing plan.

You see, good marketing doesn’t cost you a thing – on the contrary, it pays for itself, many times over. Let me explain…

Lets say it costs you $400 per month to run a weekly ad in your local newspaper (and please don’t email me to tell me newspaper advertisement doesn’t work – if it didn’t, the newspapers would have gone out of business by now). And, let’s say that ad generates 20 inquiries per month.

Now, out of those twenty inquiries, you should be setting appointments for at least 12 introductory lessons (by the way, if you’re not converting at least 60% of your inquiries to appointments, you need to work on your phone presentation).

Additionally, 10 of those appointments should make it to their first lesson (that is, if you are calling them to confirm on the day before or the day of their first lesson).

Of those, at least 80% should make it through your introductory course (once again, if you’re losing more than 20% of your intros before they complete your course, you need to work on your presentation).

And, 90% of those students who complete your intro program should enroll as a member of your studio on the final day of their intro course (if your numbers are lower than this, you need to work on your closing skills).

So, of the 20 inquiries your ad generated, you should have ended up with 7 new students. At an average down payment of $200 each (on the low end), those 7 new students should have generated a minimum of $1,400 of revenue for your studio. That means you made a profit of $1,000 off your print ad that month.

Success in Marketing Takes Perseverance

As you can see, when your advertising works, it pays. The problem is, most studio owners will try a form of advertisement once or twice, get less than desirable results, and then say, “I tried that and it doesn’t work.”

Let me ask you something… if one of your students was learning a new self-defense technique you had taught them, and they practiced it once or twice then came back and told you, “I tried that, and it doesn’t work” – what would you say to them?

That’s right – you’d tell them to keep practicing because they hadn’t mastered the technique yet. And marketing is no different. It takes practice, dedication, and sometimes, a lot of trial and error to make it work.

So, pull out your Small Dojo Big Profits manual, re-read the chapter on marketing, and keep practicing – eventually, your efforts will pay off.


Mike Massie has been a full-time school owner for more than 15 years of his 25 years in the martial arts, and has started two successful martial arts schools from scratch. Mike provides business coaching for instructors who are starting their own martial arts schools via the his coaching site. Click here to join.