I can’t begin to tell you how much money I’ve wasted on trying to find effective ways to advertise my Taekwon-Do school.
I’ve tried coupon mailers, local papers, radio spots, flyers, putting cards on people’s windshields in parking lots, lead boxes, approaching random people about Taekwon-Do in the mall or grocery store, little boards with coupons that tear off all over the city, ads on grocery carts, demos at Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks games, even did a television commercial, and on and on. You name it and I’ve probably tried it.
At the time I was doing everything I could to bring new students in and was getting varied results, but there was never anything that an ad company offered me that could consistently and reliably bring in new students.
Now that I’ve been studying marketing and specifically marketing of Taekwon-Do and other martial arts schools, I see that I’d fallen in to the trap that most school and club owners fall into.
The trap is making the mistake of listening to constant flow of people who approach us with new opportunities to advertise our schools.
Why is this a trap?
Because the advertising people you are dealing with have no real ability to predict what kind of results working with them will produce and there are so many variables that go into whatever media you are using and how the ad is created that it is difficult to accurately tell why some ads don’t work and why some do. And even the ones that do, still produce mediocre results.
Additionally, the advertising sales people don’t care if you produce any results. Their job is to sell ad space and they earn their paycheck by getting as many people as possible to advertise with them.
When you consider that they are incentivised to get you to to buy ad space rather than helping you produce results, you can start to deal the reality of what’s happening and with these people more effectively no matter what kind of pitch they have.
I’m still waiting for the guy to show up at my door and tell me that if I advertise with him that he’ll guarantee me 15 new students a month or I get my money back. Unfortunately that’s never going to happen and ultimately getting those new students in the door is up to you.
If you can’t count on the advertising “experts”, then who do you listen to? Where do you turn to decide what advertising to do?
How do you escape the trap?
You escape the trap with what my marketing mentor Dan Kennedy coined as the message, market, media match.
You first have to start with your message. You have to clearly identify what you want to communicate about what you offer. What is unique about you, what makes you stand out above any and all of your competitors?
At my school, we guarantee smarter, stronger, safer, more respectful students in 6 weeks or they get their money back. There’s a number of things we utilize to back this up and have the parents involved a great deal. The bottom line is that we want to impact every area of our students’ lives.
Once you have your message, then it’s time to identify who you want to to get that message in front of. This is where you determine your target market. You may know the type of students you want to attract, but if you don’t, look at the similarities of your best students and their families.
There are companies that you can go to and ask for contact information for just about anything. You can buy a list of names and addresses of married home owners who have 2 or more kids who live in a 5 mile radius from your school who make $100,000 per yr. or more and read parenting magazines.
After you determine your target market, you can now get to work on where and how you should advertise. The media you use to advertise should be entirely dependent on what your target market does, what they read, where they hang out, what their kids do, what their interests are.
If they have kids in many activities then maybe it would make sense to sponsor a little league team or have a banner up at the field where they play. If there’s one store in the area where they all go, then maybe the shopping cart ads would be a good idea.
There is no bad media out there to advertise with. The question isn’t what media should you use, rather it’s where is my target market and what’s the best way to get in front of them where they are.
Once you can answer this, then everyone who comes knocking trying to sell you some advertising will either be consistent with what you need to get your message to the right people or it’s not. And it will be easy to spot and easy to decide.
Now you are out of the trap, you can confidently determine where you want to spend your advertising dollars and your advertising is being done YOUR terms!
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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org