View Full Version : Low Budget Advertising Techniques

10th December 2002, 15:56
What are some other techniques owners/managers use to remain in the publics eye?

11th December 2002, 06:12
due to the stream of people applying the last few years our school hasn't been advertising, but only relying on word of mouth. If you are good and students are enthusiastic they will tell friends and family!

Ron Rompen
11th December 2002, 10:34
Try 'Bring a Friend to Class'.

Deliver flyers door-to-door (works well if you have youngesters to do the work, AS LONG AS you have a responsible adult with each team of 2 or 3 kids).

Offer overnight training sessions for kids, at a reasonable rate, and then add a second person (hopefully a friend) for half price. Make sure there is lots of different stuff to do, not just 'karate' training.

Mitch Saret
12th December 2002, 17:41
One of the things I have started is a VIP program. What this is, is a coupon for two semi-private lessons, a free month and a uniform. You print these up on your computer, 4 to a page, and hand them out appropriately. The only actual cost to you is the uniform, and those are less than 15 dollars.

For simplicity we will say your tuition rates are $199 Down and $99 a month. They may or may not be. Adjust to what your tuition is.

They make their appointment and take their first intro class. At their second semi-private intro class, you present their uniform. After the class, you give them two options for the free month. A) take it now with no obligation. At the end of tyhat month, if you decide to continue, it's $199 down and $99 a month for 11 months. Or B) Convert the free month into a $100 credit towards the down payment and let them sign up for 6 months. That leaves a payment of $99 and 5 more payments of $99. Most people pick option B.

Again, I just pulled numbers out of the air to make it easier. The one thing I have realised, is you do need a substantial down payment to make the students feel a commitment. Figure what your monthly tuition is, times 12 for your annual rate The down payment should be double the monthly rate. So if you do $45 a month, keep that rate but make it a $90 down payment, and then 11 payments of $45.
Just what has been working for me.

Prince Loeffler
14th December 2002, 16:23
I usually carry flyers with me all the time. I usually go to laundromats,social events, chamber of commerce & swap meets.

The flyers I carry are small ones. Chat with anyone you meet and give them a flyer.

Talking to prospective students gives you the one on one interaction. This helps those who have never been in a dojo. when they know someone, it gets them to the door.

Prince Loeffler

17th December 2002, 05:00
Originally posted by Ron Rompen
Offer overnight training sessions for kids, at a reasonable rate, and then add a second person (hopefully a friend) for half price. Make sure there is lots of different stuff to do, not just 'karate' training.

A similar thing works for adults as well... if you can rent out a hall cheap you can have a dinner for adult students, and have them invite significant others / friends / family. Cook up some spaghetti (its cheap) and a lot of times you can get a lot of sig. others of dojo members to join because they have now met the people who train with their loved ones and realize they're not all crazy. :D

31st December 2002, 20:00
I am very interested in this topic as well. Our dojo moved from a very visible strret facing loaction with foot traffic, to a nice place surrounded by warehouses. I have been passing out buisness cards, and leaving them in places where interested parties might look ie. slip them into a pair of boxing gloves at a sporting goods store or whatever. Each card has "free class with card" and a phone number written on the back, in addition to the normal buisnes card stuff. So far this has not really helped. I think these ideas are great once you have somone walk in the door or for children's classes. The dojo I train in is geared more towards adult clientle.
I've tried demonstrations for high school/college young adults but that did not work as well as I hoped it would.
Neil Stewart

Terry Ham
1st January 2003, 01:27
For simplicity we will say your tuition rates are $199 Down and $99 a month. They may or may not be. Adjust to what your tuition is.

Mitch Saret, Hi I like the ideas but, I was wondering why the down payment.. is this with a contract? If so do contracts work well for you?

1st January 2003, 23:44
If you have a website for your dojo, how about this:


Happy selling.

York Karate
2nd January 2003, 03:03
I have had the most luck with signs
These are the type you place on the side of the road like a real estate sign but made of plastic they are getting me calls 20 to 1 compared to my yellow page add.

I also give each student 5 gift certificates for 2 weeks free training. This gets them to bring their friends in to try it out

Mitch Saret
3rd January 2003, 01:39
Sorry it took so long to reply, I just haven't been able to get back to the boards.

To answer Ham's question, I call it a training agreement, and it is easily cancellable.

Here is my reasoning.
First, we must agree that learning a martial art takes a committment, and I think we can.
Next, we must agree that student service is a must.
We must also agree that you deserve appropriate compensation for your services.

Now, if this potential student is serious about studying martial arts a one year commitment shouldn't be too hard to "sell." But there is also the option of a six month arrangement. Less of a committment, but still a substantial amount of time for them to learn something.
If there is a problem offer a 30 day money back guarantee. But word it this way: "If after thirty days you are not satisfied, we will refund up to 100% of your tuition already paid." This makes them determine how much they want back, and think twice about leaving. The reason for a substantial down payment is twofold. First, consumers are used to it. With major purchases that will be financed monthly, a substantial down payment is always required. Second, if they have more invested in something they are more likely to use it. How many times has someone given you the 1st month dues/tuition, get their free uniform, and never come back? It's happened to me, and I sure it has happened to others. The down payment can reduce that. Another reason for an agreement of time is primarily for those looking to make a living with their school. It shows a value, a net worth. It provides a basis for establishing your income. If yopu were to try to get a loan for a house, a car, whatever, and all you had were people paying on a monthly basis, with no guarantee of future income, banks consider that bad risk.

Also, you should really look at charging by the year instead of the month. You can give discounts for those that pay a year or six months in advance.

York Karate
3rd January 2003, 11:42
Good day

I must agree with Mitch, contracts are the way to go, They provide you a steady dependable revenue stream to run your dojo on and you need this.

I offer a 3-month introductory program with a 100% money back guarantee in the first 30 days. After that for children I offer a 6 month and 12 month program and for adults a 12 month program. I do offer a month-to-month membership for adults but it is 32% higher to handle the risk associated with month to month memberships.

I donít like full upfront payment because 1. I have to provide a discount to get the money
2. it is harder to budget when you have a full years money on hand instead on a regularly monthly revenue stream.

I also use a billing company to handle the payment transactions. This keeps me one step removed from collections. As well they manage not only collections but allow me to accept credit card payments a good thing for a small club. As well they provide full online reporting so I donít have to invest in software applications to run the dojo. Perhaps as I get bigger this wonít matter but for now I want to focus on teaching not collections so it is a big help.

You may also wish to look at NAPMA http://www.napma.com/
They provide a great deal for clubs from newsletters to print ads etc all for a low monthly payment. I have found them a big plus because they provide a lot of the sales, marketing and promotion tools as well as business advice I need without telling me how to run my dojo ie the program I teach. I think good business and good teaching should go hand in hand.

Have a great day

Mitch Saret
11th January 2003, 21:51
I used to use the business cards with the "one free lesson" moniker attached at the bottom. Now my business cards are just that, no msarketing. I now carry VIP passes that offer the free month as described above. It seems to work better, there is more incentive to call or come in with a free month than one class.

18th January 2003, 04:18
Well, thanks for reminding me to revisit our advertising strategies, such as they are.

Our school is one of those true "non-profit" entities, but we are naturally interested in increasing enrollment. Print media advertising was always a bust for us, and we're still carrying a tiny Yellow Pages ad that's leaking cash flow. Our website, however, has provided an excellent return on the cost to retain the url (with the great help of our webmaster--thanks Henry). Our promotional offers of free weeks has brought people in, but not retained them well.

Our primary problem, I believe, is that our instructors are consistently focused on providing quality instruction, but almost no one has the drive to maintain an enegetic marketing strategy. For instance, we have no real follow-up to the "free lessons for a week", as Mitch describes above. It sounds like he's turned that promotion into an ongoing thing (quite properly), whereas our school is not capitalizing on the opportunity to sell to those who come in for their free stuff.

No, we will probably never adopt contracts. That doesn't mean we can't be successful, though. It obviously points to the need for some enthusiastic promotion, and we haven't hit on the right formula yet.

Kids seem to be the focus of a lot the marketing efforts here. Would it be reasonable to assume that for many schools the children's programs pretty much pave the way for a happy adult curriculum?

-Will Graves

Mitch Saret
20th January 2003, 20:16
You can still have quality instruction as well as retention. First off, let me say I am not well off. In fact, since going full time I am struggling, but getting less so. My bills were based on another paycheck plus health insurance that someone else paid 2/3 of and automatically deducted it from said check. I have, however, continued to grow. At this time I have either replaced that paycheck OR paid for my (and my wife's) health insurance, but not both.

The VIP plan I am using is direct from United Professionals. If you have several instructors and they teach different classes, after each class if they would mail out 3 good job notes to kids in their class it would help a great deal. Also, 3 follow up calls to new students would help. All before they left or before they started. An extra 30 minutes is all it would take.

Also, if you take the approach of a training agreement, that may alleviate your concern over contracts. I mean, be realistic, you are going to be there for them, shouldn't they commit to learning from you. In all seriousness, if they tell you after 2 weeks that they are not happy, or they are not learning, or whatever, maybe they weren't really looking to train.

On the back of the agreement is a 3 day right to cancel and the consumer's rights, as required by law on any contract in the U.S. And I also tell them that I want to make it easy for them to sign up. It's just like a gym membership. How many people do you know that have a membership to a local gym or fitness place, is having an automatic payment made every month, yet hasn't been there in 3 or 4 months? It happens all the time. Now, I am not saying we should take advantage of that fact and have people paying and not taking classes. What I am saying is we treat them with respect and they should do the same. If you keep attendance records, when someone misses 2 classes in a row and they haven't said anything about it, they should get a "we miss you" type of card and a phone call.

If after a month and a half I haven't heard from them I cancel their agreement and no longer collect. I don't think this is too aggressive and allows a way out for the unhappy, or whatever, student.

4th February 2003, 06:20
A few ideas that seem to work well for us.

#1 Put your business cards where the interest first started. We will normally go to the local library or book store, find the Martial Arts section, & go crazy with your business cards. One in every book.

#2 Schedule a month dedicated to one aspect of training. For example, thoughought the month of May we are concentrating on womens self defense. Go to your local YWCA, Womens Shelter, College Campus, & Salons (belive it or not) & set up fliers. See your numbers soar. Next go to your local Martial Arts store & talk with the sales staff ask them to give out one of your business cards with every sword sold. On the business card have "One free sword care & safety class, from your friends at Generic Dojo"

The trick is to cause traffic. Most of us here teach combat arts, and have a hard time keeping student due to the harsh reality of combat training. If only a few stick with it, well than that's a few more than we started with.

Just my thoughts,

Richard Elizondo
Wan Yun Loong Combat Lab