The Difference Between Martial Arts Advertising and Marketing

It’s time to stop advertising and start marketing your martial arts school! If you are asking, “aren’t they the same thing?” the answer is no. Advertising is specific to one concept and one ad, like advertising a new member special. Marketing encompasses several elements and a long-term strategy to build your brand and name recognition.

Stay Away From Reactive Marketing

Too many school owners practice “reactive marketing,” which goes a bit like this:

The school owner decides he needs some new students. As a result, he comes up with an idea for a new advertisement. Bam! An ad is created on the computer, flyers are printed and then the ad is placed in the local newspaper. The ad might be well designed and have a catchy message, but it’s just a reaction with no cohesive marketing strategy attached. Similar ads can be found on similar flyers or in the same newspaper for other schools in the area.

These ads are not as effective as having a strategic marketing plan, which can be accomplished by asking yourself the five “W’s.”

The Five “W’s” That Help Create a Marketing Campaign:

1) WHO: Think about who your target market is for the campaign. Are they hardcore enthusiasts? Newcomers? Women? Kids? Fighters?

2) WHEN: Determine the best time of year to reach your target audience and for how long you want the campaign to run. Marketing Campaigns need time! You can’t just run one ad and hope it works. Consumers need to see your message over and over again before they act. Special campaigns like “Back to School” or “New Year Specials” should be planned months in advance.

3) WHERE: Use a variety of media to get your message out. Your message should hit your target market in different places (newspapers, online, posters, flyers, radio, event hand-outs, etc.) but should be coordinated and released during the same time period.

4) WHAT: Have one, and only one, offer/promotion for your target market at a time. Multiple offers and specials at the same time will only dilute your message and confuse potential customers.

5) WHY: Make sure you and your team knows why you are running the campaign. You should have a very specific reason for sending out each campaign. Are you trying to get new memberships? Are you offering a new class? Are you reaching out to a new demographic? Are you interested in building a fight team? Are you expanding to a new location?

After the campaign is over, take the time to sit down and measure the success. What worked and what didn’t? What will you tweak or change for in next campaign? With proper planning, you can identify cost-efficient and timely methods that work for you!