Turning the tables. Florence Sophia interviews me, George Fourie, about Martial Arts Business, training brazilian jiu jitsu, marketing, success and life.
IN THIS EPISODE:
- The three key strategies to pivot and grow your martial art business
- AIDA Model: What is it and how to use it in your marketing
- The most important element that many school owners forget to add on their ad campaigns
- Why some martial arts businesses fail
- How to stand out from the crowd with your martial arts business
- How to create a sustainable game plan for your martial arts business
- And more
*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.
So, I'd like to talk about marketing, because how marketing applies to that. Because without the marketing, you really don't have the business and you're not able to teach, create the impact that you want to create through martial arts and live that lifestyle. So, it always comes down to the marketing side of it. Though you can be a great teacher, if nobody knows who you are, it's always going to be a struggle. And I mean, 99% of the school owners I speak to, it's always, “How do we get more students?”
Hey, it's George, I hope you're well. So, a bit of a different podcast interview for you today. I just got off a podcast interview where I was the one being interviewed. So, it was a little different – me sitting on the other side of the fence, getting asked all the questions – it was a lot of fun. And so I decided to actually share the podcast interview with you here. Yeah, thought it was a good idea – we discussed a couple of cool things.
First 20 minutes – more or less sort of life background stuff – but I think about 18 minutes in, we really got into some real good actionable marketing steps, things about business, life, and general. So, I had so much fun, it was great, and I thought it would be good to share the podcast with you today, simply because I'm always the guy asking all the questions.
So, perhaps you'll learn a bit about me, if you're curious about that. If not, you've heard all that stuff, skip the first 18 minutes and get into the nuts and bolts because we really discussed a couple of real good concepts, actionable stuff for your martial arts business. So anyway, the podcast was with Florence Sophia from Toronto. You can check out her website at bjjyoga.com, and also her Instagram handle is @jiujitsuyoga, right, @jiujitsuyoga, and website bjjyoga.com. Anyway, here we go. Hope you enjoy the episode.
FLORENCE: We are alive. Hi, George. How are you doing?
GEORGE: Good! How are you, Florence?
FLORENCE: Very well! It is 8pm in Toronto, Canada, and 8am in Australia.
GEORGE: That's right.
FLORENCE: In Perth. I can't believe we are speaking from such a distance away from each other.
GEORGE: It's all good, the future looks good for you guys.
FLORENCE: Right? The world seems smaller than what it is actually with technology. Amazing. So, let me start by introducing our guest. I am Florence Sophia, I am your host today. And we have an amazing podcast – ‘Wired to Win' is the title – Game Plan and Strategies for Martial Arts Business. I am so much looking forward to this conversation with you, and thank you for making the time to be with us today, George.
So, George is the founder of Martial Arts Media. And from a former computer programmer he turned into a successful online marketer. He found his passion for martial arts by following his son's journey, and fast forward eight years later, you're now a purple belt. Congrats on that, that's an amazing achievement.
GEORGE: Took a while!
FLORENCE: People don't get there. Yeah, yeah, a lot of tears and sweat, I bet. So, George works with a new group of school owners and community called Partners, and we'll get into it shortly, where the focus is generating more income, more impact, and leading the lifestyle that martial arts provides.
Your success comes from your expertise in online marketing, coupled with your ability to bring in tested principles from outside the industry and apply it to the gym and school owners. That's amazing. So, tell us, George, what are the things that are interesting to you that you are working on right now? And also why is it interesting to you personally and professionally?
GEORGE: Probably, if I had to go with the most recent, it would be just completing the 75 Hard Challenge. I don't know if you're familiar with that?
FLORENCE: Yes, I did two days, I lasted two days. Yeah.
GEORGE: Where did you get stuck?
FLORENCE: Going back to work. The weekend was fantastic. I had the time and then the Monday came, and yeah, it's just challenging when you have a busy work schedule. But, I do intend to get back to it and also with the weather being nicer, it's going to be easier for the… Right, so, one of the items for our audience who doesn't know about the 75 Hard is 45 minutes of workout outside, which sometimes, yeah, with the snow might be challenging, which I'm sure you don't have the challenge in Australia.
GEORGE: Yes, so we probably, the outside workout is probably a lot easier in Australia. And now, when you move on to phase one, you've got to add cold showers to the mix as well, which, in summer, yeah, it was easy to do. But the 75 Hard Challenge, yeah. So, if you don't know, it's a challenge that you do for 75 consecutive days, doing five things – two workouts, 45 minute workouts a day, one outside, read 10 pages of non-fiction, follow a diet, no cheat meals or alcohol. And I'm missing one… Water! How could I miss that? A gallon of water, so, that's four liters of water a day? Yeah, so it's a real simple thing.
But it's, to be honest, and I've done a lot of personal development, you know, working on myself over the years. But that's probably hands down the best thing I've ever done, because just that reinforcement of daily habit, to really understand what habit and discipline is – that really ingrained it in me and it's not something you pick up in a book, not something you read, you just got to do it. And once you've done it, it really transforms your life in so many ways. Yeah.
FLORENCE: I'm actually curious, you completed the 75 days, right?
GEORGE: I did the 75, yeah.
FLORENCE: How was that journey? How did you feel along the way to keep yourself motivated through it? Because I bet, you know, I know a lot of people who go halfway and then have to come back and like me, you know, lasted two days. But it takes a lot of discipline, like you're saying, to get to the 75 days.
GEORGE: Yeah, a big part could be accountability. If you're in a group of, and you got to choose your group wisely, of course, but if you have a group of motivated people that are doing it, it's a lot harder to fall back on what you're doing. And yeah, and just obviously wanting to do it, the thing is when you follow it on the app, but the further you get into it, the stakes just become higher. And you know, if you're 20 days or 30 days in, and it's 11 o'clock at night, and you haven't done that second workout, you suck it up, and you do it, because you don't want that little meter to go down to zero.
And I've never been one for challenges and doing this type of thing. I always thought it was what, “Yeah, I don't know.” It didn't catch me until I did it. But how was the journey? So, what I decided to do was, I figured, well, I've got a daily routine of training jiu jitsu at 12:00. So, I figured, well, I'm going to not change the rules, but I'm going to, I'm just going to do it a bit differently in the sense of I will have jujitsu every day, which is kind of an hour to 90 minute workout.
But then I'll do my second workout, which might just be like an evening walk, like a brisk walk outside, and could do that for 45 minutes. So, that was my plan, right? I'll just do jujitsu every day. And which is always a great plan, until injuries start to creep up. So, which they did, because I got a shoulder injury, and I'm now sitting with tennis elbow, which is, anyway, we're not going to talk about injuries, right? Because we talk jujitsu and injuries could go, they could, yeah.
Yeah, so, my shoulder injury came back up and I just decided to work around it, like really work around it. And I know it needed rest, but uh, I just carried on training and really, it just paid off. And two, three weeks in, my shoulder was better, routine got back on track.
The hardest part was traveling. Because we had a holiday booked. And so we've got on the plane, this is the first time I've gotten the plane after this whole, you know, pandemic thing, hit. And I felt sick, really sick. I remember being on a coaching call with my clients and I couldn't talk. I really couldn't talk. I just, no words came out and so that week was probably the hardest part of it, because I had to really…
FLORENCE: Push to stick to it and not give up.
GEORGE: Again, just having to start over again. And I had the deadline of, my deadline was – the 75th day was Christmas. So, I wanted to have a good meal on Christmas Day.
FLORENCE: That's a good deadline.
GEORGE: So, I knew stopping and restarting, then, you know, going over. Anyway, but um, yeah, that's kind of what got me through it. So, if you are going to do something like, just make sure your deadline, make sure that you've planned out, you know, obstacles in between of what dates can come up that might throw you off course, travel, birthdays, celebrations, etc. And have a good group of people that are cheering you on.
FLORENCE: Yeah, that's wonderful. So, talk to me about your journey from the computer programming industry to being, you know, the successful online marketer that you are today for martial arts businesses.
GEORGE: Okay, so, that's a, whoa. What's that about, a 26 year journey compressed into a little bit? But it's something that really fell from one thing, and I'll skip a lot of gaps, because I don't want to go into, bore you with too much detail. But I mean, I started computer programming after school, I'd never done martial arts, martial arts was never, as a kid, the right thing, it was surfing, playing drums. That was really my passion. And after taking some time off after school, I was like, “Alright, I've got to go do something.” And I've got to go study marketing. Like, that's what, that's what it feels like, for me. You know, this feels like a calling.
And I remember, you know, people giving me advice, as people that care about you always do, telling me that, “No, you shouldn't do marketing, everybody does the marketing!” And so somehow I stumbled on “I'm going to do computer programming.” And so I started computer programming, which was actually quite funny, because when I walked into the class, the first day, I recall sitting around all these kids that have obviously been programming for life, right? And they just tapped away, and here's me trying to figure out where do I actually put the computer on? That's how amateur I was with technology.
And so, yes, I started computer programming, which was really interesting in the sense of problem solving, and learning, but halfway through, I started selling computers to my classmates. And so that just got me into business.
So, I kind of just fell back into what felt natural – was marketing. And so yeah, after studying, I had two paths. One is I go follow the corporate lifestyle, or number two is I become an entrepreneur. And so I thought I would give this entrepreneur thing a go, and that's the early 20s, you know, where things really began, you know, we started knocking on doors and trying to figure out how we're going to get clients. And I think we got our first client out of pity more than anything, you know, two young guys knocking on business doors.
GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah. And so that became a thing. And we became super successful, you know, like the talk of the small town. And we did well, and about two years in and now this is going back in time, if you know, the year 2000, where all computers were going to die. Well, obviously, that didn't happen, right?
But we couldn't navigate our business through that and we crashed in more ways than one, you know, financially, egos… Yeah, so I lost a lot of money and that was it. I parted ways with computers for a good ten years. And then I've got into sales and marketing, more like a default profession, not chosen. I'm from South Africa. So, in South Africa, sometimes employment opportunities are not great.
GEORGE: Yeah. So, I just started in sales and marketing. And that was, you know, when I started in sales and marketing, I really understood why my business failed. It's the lack of understanding, marketing, and sales. And it's probably the best education I've had in life, is just going through that sales process, because when you have sales managers that are really drilling you and really putting the pressure on you to understand yourself and what you are projecting to the world and how that is affecting your business. Yeah, that was life changing.
FLORENCE: It wasn't a failure. It was a lesson.
GEORGE: Yeah, everything is disguised as a lesson, right? But yeah, fast forward the life story. I moved to Aus. I broke my neck actually in a car accident. That was probably the biggest wake up call of all, broke my neck, and I look back on it and you know I think what sort of really struck a nerve is, I was in hospital and yeah, I had a big neck brace on, I had a hemorrhage – I've still, if you can see, I've got a cut.
FLORENCE: Yeah. Yeah.
GEORGE: I'm lying in hospital and a doctor's looking at me and he laughs! And I'm like, “Why are you laughing?” “Yeah,” he says, “Guys like you, we normally just don't operate.” And I say “Why?” And he says, “Ha! Because you're dead in 2 weeks,” and he walks out. I snickered, but it hit me so hard.
You know, like, it was just, you know, the kind of the thing that hit you between the eyes and was like, “Whoah, okay, well, what if that was it?” What if that was my life? I was 27, 28 at the time. And then I planned my exit strategy, like, how am I going to leave South Africa? How am I going to live life?
And yeah, I got a job on a cruise ship in the States, moved to the States, around Los Angeles, New Orleans. We cruised through Alaska, did all that. And then I, yeah, I landed up in Australia. It was going to be a holiday, turned into life. And then yeah, here I am in Australia.
Where are we at in the life story? Yeah! So, I got back into sales and marketing and somewhere along the line, I picked up a computer and looked, actually, in reality I landed up in Australia, and I didn't have a valid working visa. I'm legal now, any authorities listening.
FLORENCE: Congrats! That's a big milestone.
GEORGE: Yes. I mean, well, I was expecting a son, and I was in Australia, I couldn't leave to go and apply for a visa, and my son was going to arrive. Like, it was a bit of a juggle. And in that time, I had a lot of time on my hands, and I bought a computer and I got back on to marketing.
And that became a blend for me, right, because now I had computer programming knowledge, but I also had a lot of sales and marketing. And I started looking at business opportunities. And I spent my money on a lot of stuff, just trying home business opportunities, and network marketing and selling ecommerce products, and just a lot of trial and error. And that's why I just don't take for granted what we have now – because now we have Facebook groups and knowledge is just infinite, you know?
Back then, 2006-2007, there wasn't much around, right? There was Google, there was MySpace, and you know, you could search and you can find stuff. But it was really hard to, you know, if you just a newbie starting out, there's nobody to ask. I got into a book and this was probably the most foundational book that changed me into, you know, like, that really taught me about marketing was Perry Marshall's Definitive Guide to Google AdWords.
And that really taught me the foundations of how does marketing work? How do numbers work? And I still have that same type of conversation with school owners every week, because those foundations still don't change – understanding your lifetime, your lifetime customer value. How much can you spend to get a customer and understand those metrics? That's super powerful.
FLORENCE: So, tell us what, what has jiu jitsu taught you, and what aspects of the digital mindset are you applying? You know, in times of uncertainty, like right now in the lockdown.
GEORGE: So yeah, so look, I guess just for some context, I started training martial arts just after that, wasn't jujitsu at first. I figured that I could only train jiu jitsu after getting punched in the head. And the doctor said, “That's not good.”
FLORENCE: I don't think it was recommended.
GEORGE: No. And so yeah, so I got into martial arts and, you know, so I have been doing jujitsu for the last six, seven years, I believe. Anyway, but just skip from that story. What has jiu jitsu taught me? Well, really resilience, problem solving. Being okay with obstacles and learning how to overcome them. You know, we're fortunately in a completely different situation, compared to I know, you guys in Canada for having a super tough, in the UK, and so forth.
You know, for us, you know, we've moved past it. And so things are a lot different here, you know. We can walk freely and you know, no masks, etc. We continued with, you know, normal day-to-day life, but uh, yeah, for the most part, what it's taught me is just being in the moment, being able to navigate through problems. And there's always options, but there's always a second option. There's always options to go beyond the situation of what you're dealing with.
FLORENCE: I can definitely hear the resilience in you. I do relate to that aspect of jujitsu. But tell us, like, moving on to the main topic of the night – martial arts, businesses and end strategies – what would you say are the three key strategies to pivot and grow a martial art business? Especially, you know, when everything seems to be going wrong?
GEORGE: Okay, so, so it's a big question, right? And I want to be conscious of, you know, your audience and where people are at, and especially if they, beyond the pandemic, or, you know, still navigating out of lockdowns and so forth. But for me, because I help school owners with marketing, you know, I'm not an instructor, a teacher or a school owner, marketing is where we help the lead generation. So, I always start there, because the same advice I could give a school owner that's trying to get to 100 students, we got school owners that have, you know, a client base that have multiple 1000 students, and they're still applying the same principles.
So, I'd like to talk about marketing – how marketing applies to that, because without the marketing, you really don't have the business and you're not able to teach, create the impact that you want to create through martial arts and live that lifestyle. So, it always comes down to the marketing side of it. Though you can be a great teacher, if nobody knows who you are, it's always going to be a struggle. I mean, 99% of the school owners I speak to, it's always, “How do we get more students?”
FLORENCE: Yeah, one of the strategies I heard, actually today, is, you know, you are, you are successful, when actually you don't need to brag. It's the other people who do that for you. Which I, you know, for me, was like an aha! moment.
GEORGE: Yeah, so, and in that sense, right? So, if you've got a great product, and you can get your students to talk about it, I mean, you know, that's magic, you're never going to be the power of a good referral. So, so first up! And this is why I always, what I've grown to learn is, you know, everybody asks the question, “How do we get more students?” But it's a loaded question, because it goes way deeper to that – “Well, are you keeping students? Or are you getting the leads in, but you're just not converting them?
So, to go back on your question – how do we go about this – there's the three core things. And I'm happy to dive deeper into it, but the three core things start with one – irresistible offer. So, you've got to have a good offer that people can resonate with and that kind of gives a no-brainer effect. And I always start there, right?
Because if, you know, when people come to us and say, “Well, you know, been posting these Facebook ads, they're not working.” That's probably the first place we normally start, is how does the offer look? And just to clarify, the offer is the transaction that people have got to do to take the next step. So, is it a free trial? Is it a paid trial? What do they have to do? And how attractive is it?
And so there goes, a lot of science goes into creating that offer, because it's got to communicate value. And sometimes there's a disconnect, you know, as martial artists or a school owner, that, you know, you understand the value of martial arts, but the person looking to start, they've got no clue. And it's, you know, to tell someone, they're going to get confidence or fitness or self-defense. Yeah, but what does that really mean? So, some packaging the offer in a way that communicates value, and it's a no-brainer. And the risk is on you, the school owner, not the client, to take the first step.
That's the most powerful thing that you've got to do. So, that's number one. Have a good offer. And then number two, how do you get the offer to market? So, look, there's always talk about this social network, but you know, for the most part, the easiest way always is for Facebook, Facebook ads. If you follow the right formula, and you know how to grab attention, pique interest with a good benefit, present your offer, and then number three.
FLORENCE: Sorry, what is the right formula?
GEORGE: Yeah, so the formula we always use is, and people are super familiar with this, but if you go a few levels deeper, but the formula we stick to always is, it's called the AIDA principle. A-I-D-A, but I'll break it down for you. So it stands for, A's for Attention, I for Interest, D for Desire and A for Action. So, attention. Attention is you've got to stop people in their tracks.
So, if you think of a platform like Facebook, you know, people are mindlessly killing time, you know, nobody's really looking for something. And so, if you have to compare a platform like Google and Facebook, Google's got intent, because people are actively typing in the thing that they're looking for; where Facebook, they're not. People are just looking at cat videos or whatever they're doing.
But you could target, you can target so accurately with Facebook, that you can put the right offer in front of them. And that's why the offer is so important on Facebook. So, you've got to stop people in their tracks. So, how do you do that? Well, you can call them out, just say, Toronto parents. Yeah, that's simple, you call them out, but 70% of why people will stop, will be your media. So, your photos, and videos should be on point.
Now. People will say videos are better – they could be, if you're super good at video, but most people aren't. And even people that are good at video, miss the points of the true benefits. They might be a good video editor, but it's not resonating with people that they're actually going to stop. They can't see themselves in the picture. But a picture is easy, right? A picture is, “Can I see me or my kid there?” And so that covers attention, right? I've stopped.
So, now I'm paying attention, and so now you have got to grab my interest. And so there's two ways we go about interest – one is to ask a question; number two is a benefit-driven headline. I'm not such a fan of a question. And a big mistake I see people make is stacking the questions, so – do you want this? Do you want that? Do you want this? And you know, your prospect might be sitting there – yes, yes, yes, no. Right?
So, you've got to be, you've got to make sure that if you ask a question that it actually answers ‘yes', but you're probably still gonna have to follow up with a benefit-driven headline anyway. So, I just start with a benefit-driven headline. Yeah, so easy formula, the easiest formula still is this, I think, so many people claim to have made this popular, but I know it as how to benefit without pain.
So, how to get the thing that you want, without the thing that you're trying to avoid. So, you could look at your audience and think, “Okay, well, what is the thing that they get the most out of their training, jujitsu or martial arts?” And if you don't know, just interview 5, 10 of your students, you'll get a clear insight real quick. And then, what are they, what don't they want? Are they sick and tired of the gym? Are they sick and tired of people posing in the mirror at the gym? Are they, you know, what is it that they don't want? And so this is how you create this polarizing effect.
FLORENCE: I like it. How do you get the thing you want, without doing the thing you don't want?
GEORGE: Exactly. And that framework, it's probably the simplest place to start. So, going a bit deeper, the thing that you want is not a jujitsu class. That's the vehicle, right? The thing that you want is what the jiu jitsu is going to give you, or what the martial arts is going to give you. So, what is that outcome that's going to resonate with people? You know, is it confidence? Is it self-discipline? Is it self-defense? Is there, like, what is that higher level? I mean, you can go way deeper than that as well, because what do they get out of self-defense?
But I mean, that probably comes up more in a conversation. But that's how you establish the value, right? So, you got to remove the value from just the vehicle. It's what does the vehicle give? And so this really helps people, I think, in the sense where people get hung up with their art, and sometimes people will tell me, “My art is so complicated. I don't know how to explain it.” Well, you don't, because you're the only one that at that point cares about it, right? A new prospect – they typically don't understand the difference between karate, jujitsu, muay thai, most of them just don't.
FLORENCE: They're looking for a feeling, for an emotion.
GEORGE: Yeah. So, most people just aren't, maybe there's a fraction of people that are educated, but they probably know where they want to go anyway. So, the general population that you're talking to don't. Alright, so that's where we are, right? Now, you've stopped them in their tracks, attention. You've gathered some interest, now some desire.
You know, desire, depending on the price point of your trial, you might need a few bullets, like short, little benefit-driven sentences, but typically if you and I, you know, what we do is we would have like a paid trial, like we work with this sheet that, you know, numbers that we've tested and price points that we've tested. So, it kind of takes the thinking a bit out of it. But if that offer is below $100, then you can typically just get away a desired section with a good offer. So, if you have a really good offer, and it's crystal clear, it's well communicated – that could be enough.
FLORENCE: And what if it's higher than $100?
GEORGE: If it's higher than 100, you might want to have some bullet points to back it up.
FLORENCE: And those would be the benefits?
GEORGE: Yeah, those are just the extra benefits, what they get with this offer. So, kind of before the offer. And then action, like what do they need to do to get this thing? And so two big mistakes that school owners make here is, one not having it. Yeah, that is probably the biggest mistake is people just don't tell them. They do this perfect ad, but then they're like, what do I do to get this thing? So, telling people super clear what they got to do.
Now, this is where you got to be, you've got to abide – we talk about abiding by the platform rules. A lot of times, I'll see people have like a flyer, and they put the flyer on Facebook. It was a great flyer, but now it's on Facebook. So, it's great in print, but it's not a great ad. And on the flyer, there'll be a ‘Call Us’, phone number or email. Now, I don't know about you, if you've ever tried to click on a phone number or email address on a phone – doesn't happen, right? So, imagine most of your people looking at an ad and looking at it and, “What's the number? They don't have a pin? I don't know, what do I do?”
FLORENCE: And then they forget.
GEORGE: “And then I'll do it later.” They've got all the intent to do it later, but they just won't, because you've lost them, right? So, what's the simplest way to have a call to action? Well, what we've learned over the years, and I guess, I'll say that – six years ago, when we released our first Martial Arts Media Academy course, which was, which is a marketing course, our advice was also different.
We would say, have a great landing page, and send people to a great website or landing page. Now, I never start there. Will having that be an added asset? Yeah. But now, we just want to sell the conversation. We just want to have more conversations, because if you have more conversations, we can have more conversions.
So, we just go for what is the best way for people to get in touch. Easiest is to send a message. Or you could do like a lead ad in Facebook, where you gather the names, emails, and so forth. But again, depending on the level that people are at, we just go for the messaging. So, those are the three things right?
You have to have a good offer, the formula to put in front of people, and then what is the call to action. And you can do those three things at scale. Because I see people do that with 10, 20 students a month, to hundreds. That means staying focused on it, getting better at the method, kind of like your martial arts, right? You don't just go practice once and do something new.
But I think as business owners, we get bored with our marketing before anybody else does. So, we want to try something new. But if you've refined that and you know your offer converts, then you can improve the offer by the messaging, and then you can improve the conversion by the way you actually follow up on the messages.
FLORENCE: Alright, so just to recap, we have an irresistible offer number one, number two was how to get the offer into advertisement, and that is AIDA. What is next? What comes out?
GEORGE: Master your messaging. So, your follow-up process, and that's for the call to action. So, mastering the follow-up process of taking people from curious, to serious, to sign up. So yeah, we typically use Messenger for that. We've got what we call the Messenger Signup Method, which is just sort of a process where you go on, how do you build relationships fast and establish value and then take the orders.
FLORENCE: I like that. How do you follow up to have them from curious to serious? Generally speaking, why would you say martial arts businesses fail? Or how do they plan for risk management?
GEORGE: Risk management. Wouldn't say that I'm the best person to answer that, but on failing, things that I have come across, a lot of it, well, everything in business starts with mindset. That's sort of the overarching theme. And with mindset comes beliefs about money, ethics on charging money for martial arts. And a big one that's probably never spoken about is the peer group, because if your great, great, great master teacher that you learn from, doesn't charge for martial arts, or, you know, maybe they've got different philosophies, and that's passed on to you, that creates a lot of conflict.
Because if you want to try and grow a business, but your martial arts master who is truly a master at martial arts, is not a master at business, but is a master at martial arts is enforcing those beliefs and mindset onto you, you're going to face a crossroads, right? Because you're going to have to let go of that to move forward. So, a lot of it starts with mindset, and I was on a, we host this virtual event, it's called the Martial Arts Media Intensive.
We used to do it physical, but hey, digital is great, because I can run the events and go home. I can access the world, so it's always better. And I was going through this process, and somebody brought up, somebody was chatting about… We were talking about sales, and he mentioned, “I'm too honest a man to be good at sales.” I was like, “Whoa, whoa, we got to talk about that. Right?” Because for you listening, you know, maybe there's something else that you're attaching to it, right? Maybe you've got a different type of belief.
So, you can take this example and, you know, work it into your own scenario. But we really had to dive deep into that, because if you feel that you are too honest to be good at sales, how are you going to move your business forward? How are you going to present your martial arts to someone, if you feel that what you're doing is unethical? You will sabotage your own success, day in and day out. So, you've got to get clear on that.
And the easiest way to really get clear on that is just go look at your students, like if you're teaching martial arts, do you change lives? How many lives have you changed? Are people better off after training martial arts with you or not? If they're not, you probably shouldn't be in business, right? But I think for 99% of martial arts school owners, you change lives. And I know, you know, we skip that part of my story. But you know, it definitely changed my life when I got into martial arts.
And I wish I was a kid, you know, and I had a martial arts instructor convince my parents to get me started when I was a kid. I know the benefits now. I mean, I'm 44 now, but, you know, I started in my mid-30s. I see the benefits now and I see how that's helped my son. And that message needs to be enforced.
So, you have to be able to communicate your value, and understand the value that you provide, and the value that you provide is not on the mats. It's much higher. And this is what really helped us help school owners during the pandemic. Because what do you do in a pandemic, when the vehicle that you attach to, which is your martial arts training on the mats, camaraderie, friends, high fives, that community?
If that's missing, then how do you transfer that experience without the vehicle? And that's what you got to think about, right? Well, how do you do that? Well, how do you take your community? The missing element? How do you take that online? How do you continue being a coach? How do you continue being a coach and make sure that people move up? And what content? Can you provide the support? That challenges your thinking in big ways, because that's the vehicle.
FLORENCE: And also, you value, you know, I would imagine the value you're bringing to the community has to speak from a place where you're understanding yourself as a business owner, what you and the gym is bringing to people's life. So, how do you translate that into your sentence? How do you translate that into a powerful value proposition?
GEORGE: I don't know if it's much of a, how I can put it in a sentence, but it's more of a – give me a better scenario, like let's say, are you talking about a current circumstance?
FLORENCE: Let's say there's, around Toronto, there's like, I don't know, hundreds of jiu jitsu gyms? How do they create a message that is different from all the other gyms? And is not saying come to train with me, I'll build your confidence, I'll help your child not to be bullied, right? How do you separate yourself from everybody else who is offering the same, basically?
GEORGE: Offering the same? But how do you go about presenting that message through to people? So, maybe this helps. Last week on our Partners Power Hour call, I was with one of our Partner members who is based in the UK. And I think the UK and Canada are still in, I mean, I know for the UK, they've been in lockdown for about a year, but now things are starting to look up. So, we looked at, alright, well, well, what's the plan? How do we navigate through this?
So, for them, they're still doing their online classes, they're doing things online. I know jujitsu can be a bit trickier, because how do you do it online, but there's many successful models that you can look at of people doing that, like if you look at what the Gracies are doing, you can take things from that and apply that.
Now, some people might look at that and say, well, that's the Gracies, and that's them, and we can't be that. But, wrong, because you're the coach, and you've got your community and your community listens to you. And where would you want him to get the content – from someone else or from you? So, you totally got to be the leader, if you're trying to step up as a leader.
FLORENCE: That's a powerful statement, is don't be afraid to kind of steal from somebody else and give yourself that permission. Yeah.
GEORGE: So, just a bit more context on things that, you know, we really saw school owners struggle with, is when things are going up and down, you know, how do you stay positive? Right, it looks like the whole world is crumbling, you know, locked down, not locked down, we're open, we're not, break up, you know. And so you have to divide empathy and sympathy, and sympathy – what I mean by that is, when things go wrong, I see school owners jump straight to Facebook, and they take that emotion of sympathy with them of how life sucks. And it goes, that energy goes out in their posts, their communication.
And it's kind of like saying, “Hey, all of us, we've all got our heads in the sand, and I understand because I've also got my head in the sand and let's all have our heads in the sand, and life sucks and we'll wait for better days. Or you can have empathy, and take it as an opportunity to lead – meaning, it sucks.
And then give yourself permission to go have a sulking moment of how life sucks for an hour or two hours, get it out of your system. And now I have to find your message. Okay, and this is the hardest thing, but like, okay, so what? What's the plan? Because if there's no plan, and this is, you know, when we saw all these cancellations, you know, when people run out of the future with you, they cancel.
So, you know, when things shut down, they're like, well, we'll cancel, because what's the plan? Yeah, so it's important to have the plan. And I'll get back to how we're doing this with one of our school owners in the UK, you've got to have the plan. And having empathy is understanding the situation, but then turning the wheels.
And so we did this with Don a few times where like, “Okay, we're locked down. Well, how are we going to handle this?” And the messaging was something like, to his members, right, “Okay, we're in a lockdown. It happened again. It's probably going to happen again, too. Right? But, what are we going to do? We're martial artists, are we going to let this get in our way? Or are we going to actually just commit and get the thing done and train and be better off when we open, because when we open, this is the plan that we're going to do X Y and Z. So, if that helps in one part.
So, what are we doing with our client in the UK? Well, they know that, I think by the end of this month, they can, I forgot the exact dates, but I think by the end of March they can do more outside training. April, they're looking at opening doors, and then they're moving into summer. Now, one thing that we noticed in Australia was schools boomed at times when they wouldn't normally boom, meaning like right before December or as people move out of the pandemic, people were just keen to get on with life and gyms are just booming, right?
I spoke to someone yesterday, doubled his business from last year. So, things are really looking up, right? Martial arts school owners that have moved past it are thriving. And so for us looking at, in the UK, we were looking at all right, well, so we've got these four dates, we've got the end of the month, we've got something happening in April, we've got summer, etc., coming up. So, how do we plan the campaigns? Well, the secret to that is having your message to market match on point. So, the right message, at the right time, for the right person. And this has been the trickiest in the pandemic, because you've got, as much, whether you agree with governments or not, what they say, goes, right?
So, you can hate it, love it, and fight it. Like, that's what is said. So, what can you do if you just ride the train, you can piggyback on what it is that they're saying, and you can draw the good news out of that. So, we're preparing the campaigns, and we're going, “Well, we've got these four dates.” And the minute the announcements get made, then it's good news. We're open, you know, it's sending the message out that we're ready. Let's go, right. So, you know, if things have been tough, and you're looking at the next few months, and like, what's going to happen? Well, be prepared, right? Because your time is coming, and the boom is coming, but make sure that your messaging is on point at that day, because the message one day before lockdown, and one day after, it's a completely different message.
So, you've got to be prepared, that your message resonates where people are at mentally, at that time, and move past it. And just know that for every 50% of people that don't want to continue on with life and are paranoid and everything else. There's another 50% that are.
FLORENCE: In terms of the messaging, would you say, for the messaging to be on point, is to say what's in the moment, or divulging a part of the plan? And where the gym is, like, what's the vision?
GEORGE: Depends on where the marketing message is at. If it's for retention, it's definitely more about the plan. If it's for marketing, and attracting students, in ads, I would have been more in the moment of what it is. And, you know, if there's sort of a glimpse of the plan, that's ahead of opening dates etc., do that. But you know, something that could really work to your advantage in all this, is waitlists. You know, wait lists and scarcity is a really powerful thing. And if you're dealing with restrictions, and you can't have enough people on the mats, follow up or waitlist. People understand demand and supply is a scarce thing. And that can drive a lot of people to make sure that they get on the list for when you open or when you have a spot available as well.
FLORENCE: Nice. So, if someone had to start a business today, where do they start? And how do they create a sustainable game plan?
FLORENCE: So, the question…
GEORGE: It is, so look, I'll just give my perspective, right. And my perspective, I would say, simplify. And what I mean by that is, you want to, obviously want to have a good product, you want to be good at something, delivering something good. And be clear on what that is. And, and then again, going back to market, well, where is your market? Who are your ideal customers, and how are you going to get a message out to them?
And you can go back, actually, to my initial marketing advice, get a great offer, find a way to put it in front of people, follow up with them. And do that until you have a sustainable customer base, and then you can get all fancy and everything else. But I'd want to do that before I build websites, get a flashy logo, do all this stuff that feels like I'm an entrepreneur, but I'm not, because if you don't have a customer, then you got nothing.
So, I'd focus on like, what is the minimal viable way I can get started, deliver the thing? And perfection is a killer, right? So, just go, because you're going to learn when you go, be clear on what you're offering to people, what benefit they get, find a way to get that started, even if it's not running ads, and it's just in your sphere of influence. Friends, family, sometimes they're your first customers, right? A lot of people have had a mum as the first customer. But you know, just start somewhere and get that out and just refine that. And avoid, have horse flap blinkers on and just fill the customer base.
FLORENCE: Great advice. What would you say are the biggest myths for online business marketing? What are the things that someone should avoid? And what are the absolutely must to implement?
GEORGE: Lists to avoid? So, I guess, be careful where you get your advice from. That's a tricky part, right? Because in today's world, you can buy the course on how to be the expert, and that's your intro into business. It means that someone hasn't applied any of what they learned in a real business, or maybe it works in another business, and they haven't adapted it into a model. So, just be super cautious who you get your advice from based on what you want to do. That's probably the biggest thing. People will always sell on their strength, right? So, people will always sell what they sell.
So you know, people who are selling websites are going to tell you that you need the best website, if they selling course on AdWords, they're going to tell you AdWords is the way to go, if they're on YouTube, they're going to say YouTube is the best way to go. So, you know, people are always going to sell to their strengths. And that's why I, and I was that guy, you know, we used to do websites, and yeah, that was the go-to thing. But I realized it took a lot longer for people to get where they wanted to go. And so we stripped it all away, and boiled down to the three things that I shared earlier – the offer, get the message, right, get the follow-up.
FLORENCE: And if you don't know to whom to go for advice, they should come to you, George, and before we close, I want to be mindful of our time. I know you have a call in in about eight minutes. If people want to follow you or just get in touch with you. Is there any, you mentioned there's a master class you're providing? Where can they find you? And how can they contact you?
GEORGE: Yeah, the easiest way probably is martialartsmedia.com/scale. I don't know if I can help you, but that's what this little form is about. It's like a six step form. It just tells us who you are, what you're doing. It gives us just a bit of a gauge on what you need help with, and if we feel we can help you. We'll have a chat anyway. But yeah, if we feel we can help you we jump on a call and we will chat about the details. We only take on clients that we can help.
So, I'm very transparent on that part. You know, don't want to try and help people if we can't help them. We typically only work with martial arts school owners, that's jujitsu, taekwondo, any martial arts of all sizes. So we've got different programs depending on where you're at. But that form is the best place to start – martialartsmedia.com/scale. Let me know exactly what it is that you're struggling with and we'll see if we're the right guys to help you with that.
FLORENCE: I love it. Thank you. So, the website is…
FLORENCE: Awesome. And we'll put it into the show notes. Moving on in two minds. Sorry, go ahead.
GEORGE: Yeah. And if you log on today, our new website is going live like three days ago, so if it's down, it's just because they are moving. Supposed to be done yesterday.
FLORENCE: Exciting. All right, we will share the link in the show notes. If you could go back before you started your online business and give yourself that conversation knowing everything you know today, on top of the pandemic, you know, everything that happened? What would you say to yourself, you know, and what would you say to yourself the day before you started the process of preparing yourself for what is to come?
GEORGE: Think less, do more. Just execute. Perfection is a killer. Perfection will kill progress. Think less, do more. Do get a result. Assess the result, improve on it.
FLORENCE: I love it. I think let's do more. Let's move on to the fire, rapid fire questions – our favorite of our audience here. And so I'll just, you know, come up with a couple of rapid fire questions and you can just answer with whatever comes to mind, okay? What is true?
GEORGE: What is true is there's always an option. There's always a plus side, there's always an option. You always have options.
FLORENCE: Love it. What is missing in your life right now?
GEORGE: I wouldn't say it's injuries, because I've got those. Good waves.
FLORENCE: Good what?
GEORGE: Good waves, good waves in the ocean. Yeah.
FLORENCE: Do you surf?
GEORGE: I surf, yeah.
FLORENCE: Yeah. Nice, amazing. What is the greatest fear moving forward that you will overcome next? So, you've done the 75 Hard. What's next?
GEORGE: Well, I mean, my biggest fear is still jumping out of a plane. But I can't say I'm gonna address that one, but fear of just not living to my full potential, more than anything.
FLORENCE: Beautiful. Life is a journey. So, you know, like you said, keep your jiu jitsu mindset and go for that fear, right? That's what makes us grow and stronger. What is your favorite, by the way? You have your own podcast, and is that weekly, monthly?
GEORGE: It's weekly and sporadically. So, I interview martial arts school owners, that's how I got it started. I'm just wanting to learn from martial arts school owners. It's called the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. And then I, you know, as I've gathered knowledge of marketing and things, I sporadically just share thoughts and ideas that are current in the moment, and then we feature the odd case study with our clients, and so forth, as well.
FLORENCE: And then I've seen bits and pieces on your IG, @GeorgeFourie. So, I encourage anyone in our audience today to check that out, those are really great and inspiring.
GEORGE: Thank you.
FLORENCE: Virtually all the tips and techniques that you sharing, so good for you. What is your favorite podcast? Besides yours, of course, that you would recommend?
GEORGE: The Martial Arts Media? I don't listen to too many I go in and out. I guess the longest podcast that I've listened to is one of my mentors, James Schramko. From superfastbusiness.com. That's probably the most value driven podcast there is. The others I sort of move in and out of. I'll listen to a bit of Joe Rogan, if I'm interested, a bit of Tim Ferriss. I like Franklin's podcasts, super short, marketing advice. Those are the ones that I typically dive into.
FLORENCE: Awesome. Imagine the world is coming to an end. And these three lessons that you can share with the world? When will they be?
GEORGE: Wow. The world is coming to an end. Well, the lesson is, go out and live. Go make the best of it.
FLORENCE: Beautiful. Thank you so much, George. I want to acknowledge you for the work you are putting. I want to congratulate you for allowing people to tap into their potential. And thank you so much for joining us today and spending this hour together, I can wait to share this podcast and have the world discover what you're doing. And I hope you know I definitely took so many golden nuggets from our conversation.
And I'm sure you know everybody listening today and who will be listening from the recording will get you know, maybe we will need to have a second follow up because I still have a lot of questions. So, thank you so much. I don't know if you have any closing words.
GEORGE: No, not really. Firstly, thanks. Thanks so much for having me, it was really great to speak to you. It's always find it funny when I'm on this side of the chat, because I'm always the guy asking, asking all the questions. Yeah, I guess just for martial arts school owners, you know, if it's been a tough year, but sitting in an area, which I'm thankful for, and I don't really like to say it's so great here, because I'm conscious of how people are struggling and you know, we got clients in the USA, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, you know, it's all over. And, you know, we had to really draw the positives of what's good and what's, you know, what's good in the martial arts industry, which a lot of people haven't been talking about.
Your time, if you are struggling, your time is coming but sympathy, empathy, get your, you know, get your mind right, whether you like it or not people look up to you as a leader. So it's, it's your opportunity to lead people through it at the misery out into the misery, so be careful what you say on social media. Be careful of getting rowed up into politics and having ranks, because it's never a winning conversation you know? So look after your own mind I know I know it can be tough but you know look after yourself first go do something like the 75 Hard Challenge or something like that if you're if you're really struggling to get momentum back and yeah, just be in the moment and make it happen, because life is good and there's good things coming.
FLORENCE: Just wire yourself to in, like the title of our podcast. I love it.
GEORGE: Choice, by choice.
FLORENCE: Thank you so much, George.
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