Here’s Your Martial Arts Marketing Wake-Up Call | ITF Taekwon-Do

Home / Taekwon-Do / Business / Here’s Your Martial Arts Marketing Wake-Up Call | ITF Taekwon-Do
Here’s Your Martial Arts Marketing Wake-Up Call | ITF Taekwon-Do

Taekwon-Do Marketing

Let’s start off with a dictionary definition of marketing from

mar·ket·ing:  noun \ˈmär-kə-tiŋ\: the activities that are involved in making people aware of a company’s products, making sure that the products are available to be bought, etc.

Mostly when instructors think about “the activities” mentioned above, what comes to mind is placing ads, doing demos, getting a big sign or banner, doing a referral contest, putting up flyers and posters, and I’m sure there are a few other things you could add.

All of that is marketing, but consider that it’s a very narrow view of marketing.

In the definition of marketing where it mentions “the activities”, I’d like you to consider, what that is referring to is EVERYTHING that happens in your school.

Yes, I said EVERYTHING.  This may take a minute to wrap your head around, but when you get it, and you will, you will see your school in a whole new light!

Everything your students see, everything they hear, and every experience they have in your school is constantly making them aware of your product.  In other words, making them aware of Taekwon-Do and whether or not they want to buy from you.

From the moment a student walks through your door and meets you for the first time, every conversation they have, every student they meet, the clothes you are wearing, the cleanliness of the school and the classes they see, all contribute to their buying decision.

Their entire experience of being there is part of how they are being made aware of your product, how they are being marketed to.

Then what happens after they enroll with you?

You are still marketing!

Why?  Because you are either preparing them for an upgrade, or you are working to retain that student.  The average student lasts approximately 11 months.  That means that most will quit before ever getting to green belt.

Each month when your students or their parents write that check or see the withdrawal from their account, they are either happy about that payment and see the value, or they are wondering why they are spending their money on your program.

This takes me back to last week’s article “Are You A Taekwon-Do Professional?”

Everything you do – how you greet someone, how you answer the telephone, how you interact with the students, how you interact with the parents, your enrollment process, how the classes line up, how classes are taught, how testings are run, how special events go – all of it is marketing.

All of it is either making your students and prospects want to stay or want to go.

That is one reason why scripting out things such as your sales process and phone procedures is critical.  This way everything everyone is doing is consistent and you can easily find out what’s working, what’s not, and make adjustments accordingly.  It also makes it easy to train other staff members, allowing you to start duplicating yourself and maximizing your efforts.

Here are 5 quick, simple, easy and mostly FREE things you can do to improve retention and improve your overall “marketing”!

1. Bow to new prospects when they arrive at your school-
You want to set the tone for your relationship with that student or family.  By just the simple act of bowing before shaking their hand, they know they’ve just walked into someplace unique and that you are serious about what you do there.

2. Put stars or dots on your floor-
Ever seen 12 four year olds line up in perfectly straight lines on command?  Do you know how impressive that is to a parent?  It’s easy when they know exactly where their spot is.

3. Use last names-
No more Ms. Kathy or Mr. Jim!  Your students wont’s say it, but they don’t want a buddy, they want an instructor.  At a minimum, use last names with black belts and above, and with the parents.  It’s amazing how many schools have gotten away from this simple, respectful, formality and how many parents appreciate it even if it makes them a little uncomfortable from time to time.

4. Bow to the parents and guests-
When you bow the class in, take a moment and have the class bow to the parents and guests (make the parents and guests stand and bow back).  Again this may make them a little uncomfortable and think it’s a little awkward at first, but this little gesture of recognition goes a long way.

5. Have a uniform system for every action on your workout floor-
When its time to get gear on or take a break, does your whole class rush like an angry mob to their bags or the water fountain?  Or does your class march off the floor, line by line, systematically, in order?  It will take a little training on your part, but the more structure the students have on the floor and the more the parents see everything structured on the floor, the longer they will stay!

These are just a few simple tips to get you started.  But now it’s your job to look at what is happening at your school from the prospects perspective and think about what is going through their mind.  Ask yourself what kind of message is your uniform sending?  Your waiting room?  Your workout area?  Your class structure?

Remember, white belt goggles!


1 TKD Logo


About the Author:

John HeadshotJohn Karstadt

Senior Instructor – Karstadt Taekwon-Do

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.  He has won 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *