I just spent the last weekend in Las Vegas and if there’s one thing I hate more than losing my own money (which is why I don’t gamble much), it’s when someone else is losing it for me!
Las Vegas was built from the ground up to leave you hungover, exhausted, broke and with the burning desire to come back and do it all over again. Everywhere you look there is the promise of quick riches. Everyone knows the odds are stacked against them… BUT THERE’S A CHANCE!
When it comes to your Taekwon-Do school’s advertising, wouldn’t it be great if there was a person, a company or a product that you could just turn it all over to? Or if there was some way to pay someone who could consistently and reliably create advertising that would send a constant flow of students coming through your door?
Of course, I already know the answer to that question, but we both know that no company is capable of providing such results. However that doesn’t stop them from making you think they can do the impossible, making you think that… THERE’S A CHANCE!
Like most other martial arts school owners, you probably are not an expert in advertising and it’s natural to look for an outside expert, a guru, a wizard that you could just hand everything off to and say, just deliver me customers while I hang out here and teach class.
It’s natural to be happy not having to deal with the advertising and sales of your business because that’s the part of running a Taekwon-Do school that you know you’re not an expert in. Only problem is, the advertising and sales of your business IS YOUR BUSINESS.
When you try to give away that responsibility and that control, for starters you’ll find that there are very few options available and on top of that, most of the people who will take it (and take your money along with it) are not as qualified to make advertising decisions about your business as you are.
You might be saying to yourself, “If the advertising experts aren’t as qualified to make advertising decisions about my business as I am, then we’re in big trouble!”
It’s actually quite the opposite.
To understand this, you must first understand the message-market-media match and how advertising is advertised and sold.
I could go into extraordinary detail about the message-market-media match, but for the purpose of this article the cliffs notes version will be sufficient.
Before doing anything, you must first do the research to determine who your target market is. Then you must create the message you want to get to your target market. A message that is an exact match for something that they want, desire, or a problem they have that you can solve. Then, depending on who your market is and the message you want to get across to them, you choose the media that is the best vehicle to get your message in front of your market.
Now for the advertising.
When Taekwon-Do school owners want to (or need to) bring in more students and get ready to do some advertising they make the mistake of jumping all the way to the media stage. They start thinking about what paper they should run an ad in, what flyer they should send out, or wonder if they should by some advertising from the val-pak rep who stopped by last week. They do this without giving any thought to what it is they want to communicate and who they want to communicate it to. Only after you are clear about those two should you deal with the media you want to advertise in.
Advertising companies, sales reps and “account executives” (fancy name for sales rep) don’t know if you have defined your target market or if you have crafted a great message that is the perfect match for them… and frankly they don’t care. They just want you to buy some ad space. Heck, they’ll even sell you on having you let them design your ad for you by their “professional graphic arts team”! This might make your ad pretty, but it doesn’t mean it will produce any better results.
There are countless ways of advertising your business. Unfortunately most business owners don’t know this and are SOLD on whatever advertising and marketing they do, which, as you can now see is completely backwards!
Whether you use an advertising agency or you are approached by a sales rep or “account executive”, you need to know that you are not dealing with someone who is looking out for your best interest. They may be a great person, but ultimately they make their living earning commissions on the ad space they can get you to fill. Often, the first thing they want to know is what your budget is and then they start putting together a package of what they can offer you.
They’ll have all kinds of reasons why you should use this media, be in this magazine, do this radio spot or create a commercial for your business. They will all be really great reasons, but even they make the mistake I mentioned earlier made by the business owners – jumping straight to the media you will use with little to no regard for the market or the message you intend to get across.
In essence, they are gambling with your money.
They make no promises or guarantees about their effectiveness and have actually positioned themselves in a no lose situation. If the ad works, then they can say they did their job and take credit for it. If the ad doesn’t work, then they can blame any number of variables that don’t involve them. Maybe it was your name, your logo, the colors you used, the picture you used, etc.
Now are you starting to understand why earlier in the article I said that you are more qualified to make advertising decisions about your business than the “professionals” are?
This takes all the guess work out of choosing where and how to advertise. When you are clear about your market and your message you can make informed and accurate decisions about what media you want to use. Rather than them coming to you and selling you on what type of media you should use to advertise your business, you’ll be able to seek them out and do this on your time and your terms.
It makes dealing with the sales reps that do come knocking easy to deal with. You’ll know right away if what they have to offer is right for you or not.
Prepare yourself, do your research, find your target market, know the message you want to get out and don’t spend another dollar with someone who is gambling with your money!
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do winning numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com