Archives for March 2017

32 – 30 Tips For Martial Arts Business Owners From Industry Experts (Part 2)

A continuation of the 31st episode, here’s the second batch of tips from martial arts experts that are equally valuable as the first.

martial arts business tips

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • How traveling can help widen your knowledge in running a martial arts club
  • The benefits of hiring top-level instructors to teach at your martial arts school
  • The importance of marketing and matching it to the right prospect at the right time
  • The advantages of having your school accredited by the government
  • Why it pays to invest on your martial arts premise and facilities
  • How to overcome tall poppy syndrome
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Commit to your passion: if you want to succeed with your martial arts business, just go all in focus on that.

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another MAM Business Podcast, episode number 32. And we are continuing from last week. Last week’s episode, which was 25 tips, 25 tips for martial arts business owners from industry experts, part 1. And this week, we're going over to part 2. So we are working our way through episodes number 15 to number 30 and we’re going to be covering tips from those. So, as always, you can find the show notes on martialartsmedia.com/32, the number 32. And that’s it. I’m going to jump straight into part 2.

26 – Get out of your comfort zone, travel, and train with people that are at a much better level than you.

Starting out with number 26, Justin Sidelle, who is one of the head coaches at Bali MMA. And if you want to go take an awesome tropical holiday combined with awesome training with top-level martial artists, Bali MMA should be on the top of your list. For me, it’s again, here in Perth, where I’m based, it’s a really quick holiday, it’s a bit of a common holiday to go to Bali, because everybody just does it and it’s cheaper to get on a plane and go to Bali for a weekend, then to drive down south a few hours. So it’s a very common holiday, but it’s a very diverse place. And you can have multiple experiences: if you’re into surfing, awesome beaches, awesome surfing, there’s great shopping, there’s great entertainment, and of course, Bali MMA.

So if you want a very diverse holiday on a tropical island, put this on the top of your list. You’ve got Justin Sidelle, who’s one of the head coaches – I believe it was started by two brothers, Anthony and Andrew Leone and you also have Tiffany Van Soest, who is an undefeated glory world kickboxing champion, Muay Thai champion and the tip of that would be, something that Justin Sidelle mentioned in the interview was, when Tiffany walks onto the floor, everybody shuts up and listens and takes note. And training with her just lifts the game and lifts the level of everybody on the mats.

So that would be the tip: go train with people that are at a much higher level than you, get out of your comfort zone, travel, and train with people that are at a much better level than you and obviously learn from that. And I know that’s something most martial artists do, but hey: go do it on a nice tropical island, why not?

27 – Give back to the community.

Number 27, something that’s a big part for Justin and their team, is to give back to the community. And they work with a couple of orphanages and do a lot of donations and do a lot of community work as well. They’re living in the tropics and they are giving back to their community.

28 – Hire top level instructors to teach at your martial arts school.

Alright, moving on to 28 was from episode 17 with Con Lazos, and the topic was recruiting externally. You know, most martial arts school owners rely on grooming students to become their instructors, to become their first black belt, but if you don’t have time for that, Con’s suggestion is, get people that already have a following, or an established top level instructors and recruit them to start teaching at your school. And one of those people that do teach at Con Lazos’ school is Richard Norton, who has featured in multiple and multiple movies and then his home ground when he is based in Australia. That was tip number 28.

29 – Groom students to be the best versions of themselves.

Number 29, groom students to be the best versions of themselves. So invest into your students to become the best person they can and that is through education, through teaching them how to be a better instructor and all the rest.

30 – When things get tough, believe in the technique.

Alright, number 30 from episode 18: Paul Schreiner. And Paul Schreiner is a head coach for Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York. The tip was, when things get tough, believe in the technique. If the technique is going to work, it’s going to work against anyone. It’s not going to fall apart, even if your opponent is bigger and stronger than you. And Paul was put onto me by Jess Fraser, who trained at Marcelo Garcia Academy and Jess obviously travels all over the world and trains with a lot of people and the one thing that stood out for her, was Paul, his coaching ability and his ability to communicate martial arts in a systematic way that’s easy to understand and grasp and learn from. And his take on jiu-jitsu, the idea that you’re working towards is perfection, this excellence perfection that isn’t attainable, but the excellence, the near perfection is something that we can experience and just try to sharpen ourselves. I really liked that, that was awesome.

31 – “Jiu-jitsu is the marriage or the union of two things: the technique and the will to win.”

All right, 31 on coaching: as a governing principle, I’m always trying to strip down, rather than elaborate whatever I’m doing. A lot of times, in the past, I was given credit I didn’t deserve as a good coach. When I’m looking back, I don’t think I was, because I was a good explainer of moves. And I think that’s almost one of the least important things about coaching now: being the teacher, being the explainer of moves. It’s more about getting your student to be able to do it and understanding how the moves connect and the art of redirecting your opponent's attack against them. And a cool quote from BJ Penn: jiu-jitsu is the marriage or the union of basically two things: the technique and the will to win. Alright, awesome.

32 – Invest in your own premises and property.

Number 32: episode number 19, with Fari Salievski. This was the second episode with Fari: use your martial arts business as an avenue to invest in other things, such as your own premises and property.

33 – If you’re not doing recurring billing, get onto that.

Number 33, the start of the recurring billing in Australia and how essential it is to your business.

Number 33, if you’re not doing recurring billing, get onto that. This episode was a lot about the start of how recurring billing started within Australia and how Fari spearheaded that movement.

34 – Keep your marketing simple, don’t hype.

Number 34: keep it simple, don’t hype. Try and minimize your debt, minimize unnecessary expense.

35 – Don’t let the tall poppy syndrome get you down.

All right, number 35, episode 20 with Kevin Blundell: big topic, hard to combat tall poppy syndrome. And I’m lining up an interview with, this is going to be a big topic because it’s funny how the world works: when you’re successful, everybody wants to drag you down and wants to insult you and criticize your technique and criticize your business and you’ve gone McDojo. Everybody would rather almost see you fail or be mediocre in a way. And a big topic was getting over that whole tall poppy syndrome. Don’t let the tall poppy syndrome get you down and move at your own pace, do what’s right for you, your students and your family.

Kumiai Ryu Martial Arts System

36 – Undersell your membership but over-deliver.

Number 36: undersell your membership but over-deliver.

37 – Have your school government accredited.

Number 37: government accreditation creates credibility and a point of differentiation. That’s a strong one, especially if you’re surrounded by schools that are kind of backyard schools, and look, hey, this is not a negative if you’re starting in a back yard. It depends obviously on your goals and what you want, and maybe it’s a stepping stone for you. But if you want a point of differentiation and that’s what this podcast is about, about giving you that edge, then why don’t you go for something like that. Why don’t you get a government accreditation and have something to show that you are qualified to work with kids and manage kids within your facilities.

38 – Remove trial intros completely and replace it with paid trials.

Number 38, remove trial intros completely to simplify the onboarding process and replace it with paid trials. One thing that Kevin and his team at Kumiai Ryu do not do is free intros. They do not a free intro at all, they offer a paid trial system, normally $49 for two weeks and that is their trial. The trial is, pay and train and work on the conversion from that point.

39 –  Match your marketing message to seasons celebrations.

Number 39 was by myself and I spoke a bit about, match your marketing message to seasons celebrations, and this is something that Paul Veldman already actually covered. I want to extend on that and the tip would be, one marketing channel is not enough. And Dan Kennedy is a top copywriter that always used to say, one is the most dangerous number in business because remove one and you have nothing. Have two, and you still have something. I would say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, because if that basket goes, what have you got left? What have you got to fall on? Have multiple channels of marketing happening that you can rely on.

Yes, it’s good to focus, obviously put your focus on what’s hot, Facebook marketing. Which is hot right now, but make sure you have backups. Because they’re not always going to be running smoothly as well. You might be running a great campaign this month and it dies off a bit, so when you have multiple avenues of marketing happening, then you’re always covered for the downtime in whatever channel it is that you’re working with.

40 – Keep your marketing message clear and concise.

Number 40, keep your marketing message clear and concise. Use strict deadlines with your offers, time and date. If you say something ends tomorrow, make it 5 pm tomorrow. Be strict on your deadlines.

41 – Bigger profits equals better facilities, better equipment, and a better service.

Number 41 from episode 23, Fari Salievski: bigger profits equals better facilities, better equipment, and a better service. And I’ll recap back to episode 20, where Kevin Blundell mentioned, if you are earning one dollar, you are in business. The backend of the conversation was, a lot of people charge $5 a class, or $10 a class, or they don’t charge a premium. But at the end of the day, when you’re charging a dollar versus a $100, you are in business.

Fari Salievski

And when you are in business and you’re providing a service, now you have an obligation to deliver, because somebody is paying for this service. So why not charge a decent premium and deliver a better service with better facilities, whatever it is that you do, upgrade your equipment, provide more staff on the mats, be able to do more with the bigger profits that you are making and provide a better service, which leads to better retention.

42 – Check your statistics.

Number 42, check your numbers. Are you paying up to $1500 per phone call to retrieve lost funds through your billing company? So keep a good eye on your numbers.

43 – Own your digital assets, your own website.

Number 43, from me on episode 24: own your digital assets, your own website. If knowledge is slowing you down, grab a page builder to speed things up, so don’t let it be the stick in the wheel. If you’re struggling to get going with your marketing, just do something, get something going. But at the end of the day, you want to be building assets and as you build assets in your business with equipment and facilities and location, you want to be doing the same with your online properties.

And the best way to do that is to focus on putting content, premium content on your website. Yes, they should go on Facebook and all these social channels, but your website is yours and it’s the one things that are going to be constant. Social media channels might come and go, their popularity might come and go, but your website, as long as your business is there, you’re going to have your domain name and that’s where you should be putting primary content.

44 – Ensure your marketing message is matched to the right prospect at the right time.

Number 44, episode 25: make sure your marketing message is matched to the right prospect at the right time. Are they ready for your offer, or are they not sold on martial arts yet? So we do a lot of this in our coaching, where we talk about the different levels of the buying cycle, where a person is at. And sometimes, a person is not ready for your offer. It’s great to go directly for the offer, but depending on your market and how people feel about martial arts, or if they’re not familiar with your brand, your marketing is going to have to stretch a bit further than just that offer. You’re probably going to have to put a lot more content out, to get, to sway people on the benefits of martial arts and to point out the problem that they have that martial arts can solve.

45 – Why not run a martial arts open day for an hour only?

Number 45, number 26, Darryl Thornton: run a martial arts open day for an hour only. And this focuses on the power of having an event based marketing them. Think about you running an open day and it’s 5,6 7, 8 hours long. Your staff start off on a high energy and then their energy drops and all of a sudden, you have people rock up when their energy is low, so there no structure into how things are happening, because people are arriving at different times, and unless you have a super sequenced structure for a solid 8 hours, people are just going to arrive at the wrong time for the wrong thing. So having an event based, where it starts at a certain time, everybody gets there at the same time, it follows a structure, and then at the end, you are able to present an offer. And that is how Darryl received more than 70 sign up son the day of his open hour.

martial arts open day

46 – Travel and widen your martial arts knowledge and skills.

Number 46, travel and grow your martial arts knowledge by experience in a different country with a different culture and widen your knowledge.

47 – Incentivise your prospects or students to the next level.

Number 47, Paul Veldman for the second time on the martial arts media business podcast: incentivise your prospects or students to the next level. If they take a paid trial, what is their reward for signing up now to create urgency? In their case, what they were doing, what they do is, remove their joining fee and if they do that within a certain amount of time, within their trial period, then they will waive the joining fee and that way creates a bit of urgency.

George Fourie Paul Veldman

48 – Reward your existing students with lock in prices.

Number 48, reward your existing students with lock in prices. This is something that was taught to Paul Veldman by Ridvan, Master Ridvan Manav from Australian Martial Arts Academy in Sydney. The concept is rewarding your existing students by locking in their membership fees. So whatever that fee was that they joined at, lock it in at that price and make it known that they are being rewarded for being a member by keeping the price the same. And that way, when people want to think about maybe quitting, sometimes they’re going to stick it out over that hurdle because they’re thinking, well, I might want to come back, but if I come back, it’s going to be more, and it just keeps people a bit more committed to their martial arts journey.

49 – Value reputation over money.

Number 49: reputation first, dollars second.

50 – Make sure that your branding resonates with your target market.

Number 50, episode 28, Matt Ball: make sure that your branding resonates with your target market. And the conversation started where the branding was all focused on a fighter type image, with skulls and everything and then they had a look back and after working with Dave Kovar and his team, they had a look back and realised that it’s not really something that’s going to gel with the mums and to bring in kids and so forth. So they changed all their branding and made sure that it resonates with a family environment. So for you, depending on what type of gym and school you run, make sure that your branding resonates with the image that you are trying to project out to the public.

Martial Arts Business

51 – Don’t turn your Dojo into a McDojo.

Number 51, if you associate success with a sleazeball salesman, you will never push yourself and potentially sabotage your success when it gets in reach.  That’s a deep topic because I hear a lot of people talk about that and say, you know, we’re just starting out and we want to be successful, but I don’t want to turn into a McDojo, I don’t want to be ripping people off. And it’s this kind of attitude, that it is noble to not be successful, it’s noble to not charge for the service that you provide. And at the end of the day, martial arts changes lives. It should be a lot more expensive, if people know the benefits, it’s life changing.  

I don’t think anybody should be ashamed about charging a premium, whatever that is within reason. I mean, look, there’s probably people that do rip people off, but I think people are too quick to jump to the McDojo conclusion and at the end of the day, I think it would rob you from yourself of being successful, because now you think, well, the minute I start making money, I’m going to be a McDojo. And everybody thinks I’m going to be McDojo.

By having that association, you end up sabotaging your success. And I’ve read something interesting in a book the other day, that we do everything for status. And the first part of it was, hang on: I don’t think so, I don’t do things for status. And because you think people do things for status, as in a way to have a fancy car or look good, but the reverse side of it is, people do things for status because they also don’t want to look bad. You don’t want to look like you being the loser as well, so status goes both ways. And a lot of people do things for status, so it’s a deep topic and I’m actually going to do an interview with someone next week, hopefully, but if it’s not next week, the week after. But we’ll go deep into this topic, about the association with success.

52 – Commit to your passion.

Number 52, episode 29, Stuart Grant: commit to your passion. If you want to succeed with your martial arts business, just go all in focus on that and make that work. And importantly, make sure that you’ve got your family on board with you, your partner, your wife, your loved ones. Make sure that they know that this is what you’re going to be doing, that they know there’s going to be a few obstacles to come through to go through, but this is the journey that you’re going to take and commit to it, go all in and work towards that success, which Stuart Grant does. Just go have a look at episode 29 and go look at the video tour of Westside MMA, it will blow your mind, it’s fascinating.

martial arts success

53 – Study marketing.

Alright, 53: study marketing. Stuart actually learned the skills of Google AdWords and Facebook marketing himself and this is something that not a lot of people take on and I take my hat off to him, especially the Google AdWords side, because I think you’ve got to be quite technical minded and you’ve got to really commit to learning these skills. Study marketing and look: if you need help with that kind of stuff, whether it’s hard to do it, you need some advice about it, or you’d like it done for you, then hit us up. Go to martialartsmedia.com and get in touch with us and see if we can help you with what you want to achieve. Moving on to the last episode and the last two tips.

54 – Travel and get yourself educated.

Number 54, Matt Wickham: if you’re not getting the martial arts coaching in your town, get in a car, drive. Get on a plane, and if you have to, it doesn’t matter where you have to travel, get yourself educated. If you’re not getting the education you need where you are, it’s time to broaden your horizons, start traveling.  Go visit Bali MMA, go visit matt in Echuca. Go travel to an event and get educated.

matt wickham

55 – Travel changes your perspective.

Alright, and the last one, 55: travel changes your perspective. It probably goes hand in hand with 54 and why not invite top martial artists to your school, so that your students get the same education. So if you’re not going to travel, make a plan. See what’s already happening. If a top name is traveling close by to your area, see what deal you can do. Maybe you can save some money and get top training at your location. And as the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

There we go. I hope you enjoyed the top 55 tips from martial arts business owners and experts. For show notes, go to martialartsmedia.com/32 and I look forward to being back next week, I’ve got a great interview, a few great interviews lined up, so I look forward to that. I’ll be back with you soon, have a great week, chat soon – cheers.

 

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

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31 – 25 Tips For Martial Arts Business Owners From Industry Experts (Part 1)

We’re down to our 31st episode but this isn’t your typical podcast interview. This is a recap of the first 14 episodes, with tips from martial arts experts.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The first step you need to take to go full time in your martial arts business
  • Change this one thing on your website and your conversions will skyrocket
  • What it takes to manage a thriving martial arts business
  • Beginning with the end vision in mind
  • Knowing your market and matching your message to them
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

TRANSCRIPTION

Hi, this is George Fourie, and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast Episode 31. We are going to do something different today, which is a bit of a recap. And I'm going to split this into two parts. So we are up to number 14. So up to episode number 14, we're doing the recap. And I going to give you the top 25 learnings, findings, gold nuggets, whatever you want to call them from the first 14 episodes. So there are a lot of cool things in this episode.

I actually wanted to do this in one shot but I realized that there's a lot to talk about so

I'm breaking it up into two parts. In the next episode, we’ll probably have about 30 tips. So for now, there's the top 25 tips from the first 14 episodes and a lot of the message you'll see, a lot of things start to overlap, a lot of the message is in sync with some of the previous episodes.

And that's a good thing because when you hear people saying the same things, and these are successful business owners, then you know that this is gospel.

This are things that are working across the board. So pay attention to those things. So as always, the transcripts are available on https://martialartsmedia.com/31, the number 31. And I'm going to jump right into this and start off with number one. Here we go again.

So number one and episodes number 1, 2, and 3 were Phil Britten and Graham McDonnell from the WA Institute of Martial Arts.

1 – At some point you have to burn the bridges.

And what I was referring to, of course, is when you're running a full-time job and you try to build the gym on the side. At some point in time, something is going to have to give go.

Something is going to have to let go and you're going to have to burn the bridges at some point in time.

It's most likely not going to be a smooth transition. Most people take a lot of risks to go from a part-time business owner to a full-time business owner. So there's going to be some risks involved by taking that step but at some point, you're just going to have to cut the ties and just go flat out and say, “Alright! This is it I'm going all in. And when you doing that, you might be struggling for cash. You don't have support. And if you are struggling for cash, why don't you focus on private sessions, part-time sessions, do part-time session training during the day or whenever you have time and filling those gaps to boost the cash flow while you are transitioning to a full-time successful business owner.

2 – If you want to grow your school, stop doing everything yourself.

So invest in the systems and try and start putting the focus on your students and your instructors. That you can get out of the limelight out of your business. So this of course, depends on your model and how you want to structure things. All right, so number three and this sort of goes in with two but…

3 – Before opening your second school, why don't you take a holiday or travel away for a few weeks and see how your systems hold up.

And I know Tim Ferriss talks about becoming redundant and the way he does it is, if he wants to test systems and his business, you'll go away for a couple of months in a place where there's no internet and no nothing. And then he cannot take charge of everything himself. Obviously, you don't have to go something that's that extreme. But when you do an exercise like that you are forced to cut all ties.

So you have to let go. And that really forces you to look into your systems and how your business is set up so that you can take that next step. So valuable exercise to do; take more holidays and see if everything's in one piece when you get back and if it is not, you know where your systems are failing.

All right, point number 4. And this was the black belt story from Phil Britten. The story goes something like that and I'll get to the message right at the end of this but this is about…

4 – The Black Belt Story

“…a mum that spoke about the fee increase for the next level and the instructor said to her, “Look how about I do this for you. What have you invested in the last four years?” And let's just pick a figure say that was ten grand. So you invested $10,000 in the last four years with your child to do martial arts. And now they are a black belt. Now if I was to give you that $10,000 in cash that you would have to take away all the skills and all abilities and all the life lessons that your child has gained over this time, would you take the $10,000? And then the mum thinks and says, Not at all.

He said well let's double it. I'll give you $20,000. But if I give you twenty thousand dollars, you've got to take away all the life skills, the abilities and all the lessons that your child has learned while he has been learning martial arts and of course, she turns it down.”

So the moral of the story, of course, is put the focus on the value that martial arts delivers and not the cost.

All right, so where are we at. We are at point number 5. Point number 5 was from me and that was,

5 – You should not have prices listed on your martial arts website.

Never a good idea. I'm going to jump back a little bit.

Now, generally speaking if you're a martial arts school and you go in for entry level type, you're focusing on kids and people that are not familiar with martial arts, you should definitely not have your prices on your website because people don't know martial arts. And if people don't know about martial arts and what it's about. Then when you put the price, the only comparison they can make and derive from is the price and not the experience. So now they become price shoppers because that's the comparison point. Whereas when people have experienced the benefits of what it's going to do for them or their child then they might have a different story.

So it's never a good idea to have prices on your website. But, there's a but, let's say you have a different type of job and let's say Justin Sidelle, for example, who has Bali MMA in Bali and they run different type of system because people want to take their holiday In Bali and they still want to come a train for a week or two weeks or so forth. So they have their prices listed on the website. So if you have that type of school where you're providing a service for people that are maybe travelling or you have a high level type of club, which is known among fighters or jiu jitsu practitioners or something that people that are already established in martial arts come and train at, then that could work for you to have the prices up for certain packages and memberships and so forth.

At the end of the day, I would rather say, no don't do it because when you put it there, you gotta know how to place the value on what your training provides (in the wording – copy). And most people don't do that and most people just put the price on strike.

Number 6, Rod Darling.

martial arts school marketing

6 – Talk about the results that people want. Your product is the obstacle.

And what was discussed, we're talking about the benefits especially if you're doing Facebook ads we were talking about Facebook ads, Facebook marketing in this episode. Talk about the results that people are after, the benefits that they're going to get from martial arts and not talk about the training itself. The training is the obstacle. People don’t want to talk about the training but they do want to focus on the results. It's the result that they want. So when you focus on the result, that's something that people are striving for and that's something that they can relate to. So talk about the benefits.

7 – Be specific with your targeting and keep it simple.

With your Facebook ads, be specific. You only need to talk to one person; you can't talk to everyone. If you know that's the common thing at newspapers and flyers, you put a message out there for everyone. You can filter it with your copy and say woman only and so forth. People to talk about the customer Avatar, who's that one person that you're having a conversation with.

And if you can visualize that one person, who they are, it's a mum, she's in her late 30's and her kids are five and eight years old. This is the type of lady that you are talking to. You can structure and customize your marketing message and tailor it to that person. All right, be specific with your targeting and keep it simple.

Number 8. And this is something we preach about website copy.

8 – Don't talk about I and we. Talk about YOU because the person wants to hear about themselves, their wants, their needs, their aspirations.

They don't care about your rank and the gold medal that you won and the tournament that you won. They care about themselves and can you provide value for them or for their kids. Can I lose weight through this? Can I learn self-defense? Can my kid become confident? That's what they want to learn. And Rod said it best, don't be wee’ing all over yourself, meaning don't put the wee’s on your website.

Over to number 9, Michelle Hext. There was a lot of deep value in this. A few things I'm going to draw from here…

Michelle Hext

9 – Have a vision then plan your steps backwards.

Okay, have a clear vision of what you want. There are a lot of great nuggets in there about niche’ing down as well.

And I want to go to Number 10.

10 – Have self-awareness to assess when something is pulling on your self belief.

So, when you have obstacles in your business. Some things don't feel right. Seth Godin talks about being the intruder (Imposter).

Everybody feels like they have that internal dialogue happening like, can I really do this? Can I really be doing this? Is this really me? I think he talks about Barack Obama, being the president does probably the same sort of intruder type of perspective sometimes. He has an internal dialogue, asks himself: “Me? Am I really the president?” Well, not the president anymore.

That conversation of doubt and everybody has that doubt and if you're having that doubt, have self-awareness to assess where something is pulling on yourself. Believe and try and work yourself through that. All right. So that would be on episode six.

And we're moving over to number 11 with Paul Veldman. So first up…

11 – Know your demographic without being everything to everyone.

And on 12…

12 – Grow your students confidence through leadership programs.

So that's confidence within your students, have leadership programs that boost their confidence and take them to the next level.

13 – Market for a season or a reason.

And that is being in sync with what is happening in your community, being the season or a reason. Is there a reason something is happening in your community or is there a season happening. Is it Easter, is it Christmas, is it Valentine's Day. How can you follow, how can you piggyback on that trend that is already happening in your marketplace and attach your marketing message to that.

14 – Spot the quitting signals from your students.

And Paul mentioned:  “We run a rule of three that every student and every class has to be encouraged and acknowledged at least three times. So the first one is, ‘Good day, how are you doing?’ And have a look at the card and they see the training pattern and they can see that at the start of the year, the students are training a lot.

Mid-year, they kind of dropped off. And in the last two months, you can barely see them and address things accordingly. So if you spot the quitting signals then have a talk and have a chat and see where they are at and what is holding them back from their training.”

All right number 15 with Sean Allen. Sean Allen was all about…

15 – Structuring your martial arts business to suit your lifestyle.

So how can your business suit your lifestyle and for him, he's moved down to Margaret River, he surfs every day, some of the best surf, and he runs a small niche school, which he is very passionate about, because number 16…

importance of martial arts in physical education

16 – Use your martial arts school as a vehicle to get the message out about education you value most.

Education about climate change, education and helping empowering kids through his program. And he is always full. He has a waiting list for his small school and is not into growth for growth. He is into living his values and living a good life and teaching his message through martial arts.

Number 17, Brannon Beliso. Brannon is all about service orientation.

17 – Focus on providing a valuable service to your martial arts students. No contracts or upsells, service and care, which leads to retention.

Brannon believes in no contracts, no constant upsells but rather placing value in the service that they offer and treating their students with gold. And by focusing the way that they focus, they try to keep the retention through the value of their service and not being constantly on the sales process of constantly having to upgrade for this and this black belt program and so forth.

martial arts merit badges

So that's the constant message that Brannon Beliso spoke about and also about the way kids and their values and how they are used to just getting things, instant gratification and how martial arts can teach kids discipline through not getting rewarded… or getting their awards but not getting rewarded as if getting a black belt tomorrow when they started today.

All right, number 18. Should you use a Facebook page or profile to promote your business?

18 – Use a Facebook Page to promote your business, not a Facebook Profile.

I'd like to think we've kind of evolved from that conversation and it just shows you, this is early last year and this is the big thing and I still see a lot of people use their of their personal profile to promote their business. But the better way to do it is you've got to have that page because if you don't have a Facebook page, you can't advertise your business.

Advertising on Facebook is a core part of your marketing. It's one of the top places to advertise right now. So if you have a page, why don't you post your content on your page first and then share it to your personal profile because your personal profile in the beginning especially will get a lot more reach because Facebook values their audience and they would rather have pictures of birth of a cousin or something in your news feed than your business.

Well, debatable if your ads are relevant to your audience, but no so much free content. There is a thing called Edgerank where Facebook likes to filter out business-type posts. So you've got to be strategic with that kind of thing. But for the purpose of this point, post things on your Facebook page and share them onto your profile.

That was number 18, over to number 19.

19 – Message to market match. Say the right message to the right person at the right time for them.

So where are they in your buying cycle? That was from me. Where are they in your buying cycle? What have they seen? Have they been exposed to your brand and what message are you going to be putting in front of that person at that point in time.

Number 20 was from episode 13 with Jess Fraser.

20 – If you have ladies training Jiu Jitsu at your gym, get them involved in a ladies community (like the Australian Girls In Gi) to get training support from other ladies and build relationships.

And Jess Fraser has the Australian Girls in GI community and she was talking about how having that type of overlapping community. And it is in overlapping community it seems that ladies are training at multiple gyms and they have this one community as glue if you want to call it that because ladies have different experiences with jiu jitsu and they express different problems and having this community involved that ladies can share their experiences with jiu jitsu keeps it all together.

And I was talking to Martin Gonzalez from Vanguard BJJ and I had a training session with them one night and they were very hospitable. I went for a burger and a couple of beers with them afterwards and he was telling me that Jess has done amazing things for jiu jitsu for ladies that most people are just not aware of. And he was her instructor right at the beginning and he says he remembers when it was pretty much heard, she was the only lady and she's the 12th female to earn her black belt in Australia.

But at that time, the Australian Girls in GI community was pretty much nothing. It was just her and she was just pushing to get it going. And now, with all the time, and the investment and the commitment, there's a there's a big community of ladies doing jiu jitsu and she is very responsible for that in Australia. So for the ladies, check out Australian Girls in GI.

21, Hakan Manav from Australian Martial Arts Academy. All right, on number 21, firstly, Hakan Manav is an extreme athlete. He is a super smart guy and if you go search for any of his training, videos tutorials on Facebook or YouTube, you'll find tricks and techniques that are just mind-blowing. And he's had big shoes to fill with his dad, Master Ridvan Manav, he's been been in the industry for 35 years. The Australian Martial Arts Academy also recently celebrated their 35th year anniversary. And I got a lot of good things to share.

21 – The skills, discipline and coordination taught in martial arts will help you in all other team sports.

Hakan got first-hand experience and proof that the skills and coordination taught in martial arts benefit other sports. He experienced that when he was taking up soccer.

22 – Invest in your education. A business degree will help you develop the frameworks and systems for business success.

So Hakan got the best degree he could in the top university in Sydney and a lot of the frameworks and systems come from his education and just applying everything he learned into the martial arts school.

23 – Develop a leadership culture where everyone is looked after and make sure that everybody is consistently improving.

So they had the leadership culture and everybody is investing into their education and everybody's always raising the bar. And that's how the Australian Martial Arts Academy run 120 classes, seven days per week!

Number 24, the core difference to know between Google Adwords marketing and Facebook marketing.

24 – The difference between Google Adwords and Facebook Marketing. Google searchers have intent, they are looking. With Facebook, you are generally interrupting the browser. Consider your approach accordingly.

The big difference is Google starts with intent. So you have a person who is already searching for something martial arts-related, something martial arts in their area, something martial arts or different types martial arts and doing comparison. So this is the person that's already on the lookout. With Facebook, you have a very direct targeting. But the person might not have intent. So it's more of an interruption based on how you capture this person's person's attention and work from there.

25 – For both Facebook marketing and Google Adwords. Remarketing / Retargeting can bring your biggest conversions.

Remarketing or retargeting as it's called is a method of attracting people that actually see your ads and have ads show up to them at a later stage. You might see that when you go to a website, to Amazon, eBay or somewhere. And then the next minute, you're seeing an eBay ad on Facebook and that is retargeting. So you can get very strategic with this and all about being relevant with your conversations to people.

And that's it for this episode. We will continue either next week or the week after, depending on the scheduling of a very cool interview that I've got lined up. So depending on that when we will release the other half of this episode. So, still a lot to talk about. Lots of cool tips that we're going to be sharing.

And again, show notes on www.martialartsmedia.com/31, www.martialartsmedia.com/31, the number 31. Thanks! Chat you soon. Cheers.

 

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30 – Matt Wickham: Running A Building Business By Day, Martial Arts School Owner And Instructor By Night

Matt Wickham shares his journey of running 2 businesses simultaneously while hosting the world's best martial artists in their small town.

matt wickham

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The benefits of inviting top martial artists from all over the world to come and train with your students
  • The importance of advancing your martial art skills and upgrading your credentials constantly
  • How traveling to various martial art schools helped Matt Wickham learn new techniques in running his martial arts business
  • How he manages to operate two businesses consecutively back to back in a small town
  • Keeping the work and family life balance
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

TRANSCRIPTION

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another martial arts media business podcast episode and were up to number 30. And today I have with me a kind of a legend in the industry, Matt Wickham, who a lot of people are familiar with, although he operates from a very small town in Victoria. And that's part of the topic, we discuss operating a martial arts school in a very small town, where obviously your marketing reach is a lot smaller then it would be in a big city and how he manages to operate with both of his businesses, side by side. So he's into the building industry and that's a family business, and then he has his passion, his martial arts business.

But even operating in such a small town, he still manages to pull all the big names into his school and he invites people from all over the world to come and train with his students so that he can pass on the knowledge that he's been able to gather throughout his own travels. So great episode and lots of talk about that. I'm going to keep this intro very short today and we're going to jump right into the episode and chat with matt. As always, you can find all the transcripts on the website, so martialartsmedia.com/30, so that's the number 30. And again, if you reading this episode – the podcast players are right on the website, they're also in the app, so if you have a mobile phone, you can just download it and get the episodes delivered straight to you.

So that's it from me, let's jump right into the episode and please welcome to the show, Matt Wickham.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I have with me Matt Wickham.

MATT: Good day how you going?

GEORGE: Good good. Let’s start with, where exactly on the map are you? I was attempting to visit you on my recent trip to Melbourne, but you’re just outside of Melbourne is that right?  

MATT: That’s right. I’m situated on the Murray River, on the border of New South Wales and Victoria, it’s about two or three hours from Melbourne, in a small community called Echuca, population is probably, in Echuca I think it’s about 12000, across the river there's an extra couple of thousand, so in the community there are about 20,000 people.

GEORGE: OK, so really small town. So, I guess let’s just start from the beginning and I had a look at your website, there was a whole list of credentials, I couldn’t really get to the end of the website, there was a lot of credentials. In your words, who is Matt Wickham?

MATT: Who is Matt Wickham, all right. Matt Wickham is a country boy that from the age of 12 started learning martial arts and just fell into it. Actually, I probably fell into it, but it was partly because I loved seeing Bruce Lee and from Bruce Lee, then getting a slight bullying sort of thing from school, a mate of mine told me to start doing some martial arts so I started from there. When I got to around about 18, one of my instructors sort of said, “Look, you'd be pretty cool at running a class.” I belonged to a football club in my local area – it’s not actually in Echuca, it was out of it. And the local football club there closed down, so there was a lot of kids that didn't do have a lot, that had to travel into Echuca, which was a half an hour away from where I lived at that stage.

matt wickham

So I thought I would start up in the local hall there in a Zen Do Kai martial arts class. So an 18-year-old, had no idea about teaching anything. I had my instructor come out, run the first class and then he just sort of said – here you go, there's the class. And basically, I just had to learn from there. While that was happening, I also did my apprenticeship in building with my father, it was sort of a family business that kept me going, and once I finished my apprenticeship, probably around about 20 -21, I wanted to branch out and learn a bit more about martial arts. And I moved to Melbourne for about 18 months – didn't have a job, just went down there and just picked up any sort of work I could just to keep going, but every night I wanted to learn any sort of martial art.

So I did classes in Kendo, Ioto, I did Aikido, Muay Thai and also like advanced classes in Zen Do Kai. Tried to travel around different clubs to see what sort of stuff instructors were doing in Zen Do Kai system. And at that time I had no work, pretty broke and wanted to keep training, but I just realized I had to come back to Echuca. And my father was getting a bit older and a bit hard for work, he needed the extra help, so I moved back to Echuca just sort of early, probably 92 I think it was. And then I got back to my old club, and I said, oh this is the things that's going on and I just started to show them all the stuff that I learned over the 18 months in Melbourne.

And they didn't really seem acceptable about what I wanted to show them and I was a bit put back by that. Because I thought, well, here’s some stuff that I’ve learned from high ranking instructors in Melbourne. Because we’re so isolated, sometimes with isolation, you're afraid to see something new come up. So I decided to open up my own club and I opened up a full-time facility in the centre of Echuca, upstairs above a hairdresser salon. Had no idea how to run a martial art or a business. So I went in, advertised, set it all up with mats and started running kids’ classes to Muay Thai classes and Zen Do Kai classes. I was doing about 2-3 classes at night, morning classes, and working during the day with my father in his building business. And I was really, really, really struggling to keep the business going.

The odd night I would have, when I first started, the Muay Thai was really massive and big, so I had huge classes in this tiny little shop in Echuca and that was the only thing that was keeping me going. And the kids turning up, I had huge kids’ classes, but I had no business idea on how to run a business, or how to keep things moving along. And I just got so busy with building, that I was just burning the stick from each end and just decided I need to pull back. So I pulled back on the teaching and I just hired a hall and I started back into a hall, teaching twice a week in a local church hall and still helping out with the building business.

And suddenly my father, it was getting a bit too much for him, so I ended up taking over the building business and I did a few business coaching classes. Trying to manage both was really hard, really tough. My passion was really the martial arts and teaching and learning myself and weekends, traveling to seminars, trying to learn as much as I can. And I found that from a small community, people do really want to travel, to learn extra stuff, I was keen as mustard, I would travel because I knew that was the only way for me to advance my skills. So I would travel two to three hours, just to do an hour seminar, or a 2-hour seminar, and then come back and keep that motivation going and learning for myself.

Because when you're teaching classes, you don't sometimes get that chance to keep your own skills up. The building business, my father retired and I ended up taking over the building business from then on. And it got pretty heavy, I ended up having about 3-4 guys working full time in the building business. I was working on the tools during the day as well as doing quoting at night time after training and seminars and classes. And today, I'm still even building today, but the struggle of getting things perfect, I wanted things to be perfect in my martial arts training and my coaching, but also in my business.

And then I got married and had kids and you know family life, they want things and I knew that my martial arts was at that stage, it was more just like a hobby and an opportunity came up that I knew one of my instructors bought this business and upstairs, there was a huge area that I thought, well, we’re looking at about 2000 at this stage, huge area. And I said, I’ll hire that out to help out with the rent as well, it’s nice of him to do that, it was in the main street of Echuca. So I opened that up, and again, I went in full steam ahead, pulled down walls and set up. I had a full time boxing ring setup, I had heaps and heaps of people coming in and taking classes and I was running all the classes, doing all the classes myself and not asking for help or coaching any people to becoming instructors.

Again, just doing too much, it’s pretty hard on your family as well, when you're trying to make a dollar. But again, I wasn’t really prepared for running two businesses properly. And I did some more courses to try and get my head around running two businesses and also making sure that I can have a balance between work, my hobby, which is my martial arts, and also my wife. Again, I ended up putting a lot of weight on, because I was just doing stuff, I wasn't doing things properly, I wasn't looking out for myself, I was just keeping things moving along and I just lost track of myself a lot.

And I found that, because I lost track of myself and what I was doing, was reflecting on my passion, my martial arts and classes sort of dropped down a lot. I kept on beating myself up, thinking, what's going on, because I believed that I was teaching great stuff, trying to keep up with the times, with good tuition and stuff like that, but I thought, obviously it was something to do with myself, because I looked overweight. I was probably 30kg overweight, I put on a lot of weight.

Didn't do a lot in the classes myself, I wasn’t demonstrating a lot. And I started to get instructors to help out with classes. They were great, they were doing a fantastic job in the classes, but I wasn’t really structuring, I didn't have any programs set up to help these instructors, I didn't give any clear guidelines on where to go and how to do stuff. I was really just stretching it really thin between both businesses. The building business was going great, I had these guys working, I relied on them a lot to keep things moving along.

But then, the quality of the building started to collapse a little bit, because I wasn't watching what was going on in the building business, because I wasn't on site as much, I was quoting and keeping these gentlemen going for work, but my timbers let me down a little bit. It was getting to a stage that I had to do something about it, so ended up contacting, I did a course, and they were talking about business coaching, and I thought, well, I think I need to do this to get myself back on track. I had no idea, most of the stuff I was doing was very self-taught, in regards to business and marketing and done courses from here to there and in the building industry, they have courses all the time and I just did a few of those, but not really understanding.

I just sort of did them and just did a bare minimum of each area, not really focusing a 100%. And I think to myself when I look back, I should have really just focused a 100% on one business, because I could have made it a lot better than what it is. And also for me I think, being in my father’s building business, I didn't want to let him down. As a martial artist, you don't want to let you coach or your instructor down and my father was very passionate about his business and I didn't really want to let him down and I didn't really want to see that his business had failed if I stopped.

And I still do today think about that and part of that is what I wanted the business coach to understand is and he showed me that I should be able to run both businesses very successfully, so that was a line that we wanted to take in that direction, trying to keep both businesses running successfully, but manage them in a way that you have control in what you're doing. Also, some things, flaws in my personality that I needed to sort out as well. I had to work out, I was overweight, and he said Matt, you need to look after yourself, the number one person is yourself, I was letting my family down and everybody else down because I wasn't looking after myself.

GEORGE: Two things: sorry to interrupt you there. I just want to go back: firstly, you mentioned when you started traveling and you started to get out of your comfort zone – I wouldn't say comfort zone, but out of your town and having a look at what other martial arts schools were doing and you mentioned the people in your town weren’t really open to that. Can you recall what were the biggest takeaways that you wanted to implement in the martial arts arena in your town that wasn't being done already?

MATT: There were a few things. When I did the traveling around, for me it was quite easy to go and travel. At that stage, I was only looking at what the classes and the teaching process was, so I was learning off the instructors on how they teach and the drills and the techniques on how they teach a particular way and the techniques that they do. I love doing that, I love watching instructors and watching them how they communicate and how they demonstrate, I was learning off those guys. But something that I wanted to bring back to Echuca was – and that I'm really passionate about as well, when I first started my training, no one was willing to travel to do a seminar.

I don’t know if they were just frightened, the fear of getting to a seminar and going, I'm not good enough to be here, I'm not sure what it was. But I still do this today, I try and bring the expertise to Echuca, I know it’s only a very small town, but I want the people, my students to get that opportunity that I went out and got beforehand. So I try and bring people to Echuca to say, hey, these guys have done this, they've become real champions, they're fantastic instructors. So I try, sometimes it’s cost me a lot of money to ring people in, but I want my students to experience more than just what's in my own club.

For example, just in the last day or so, I've just locked in Robert Drysdale to come to our club. And it’s in a small town, we've got 20,000 in Echuca, we're 2-3 hours away from Melbourne and we've got a UFC fighter, 6-time world jiu-jitsu champion coming to Echuca. So I've had a lot of opportunities, where I've asked these people, would you be interested coming to Echuca, I want to expose my students to these professionals, these legends, these mentors. I just want people to see these people and say, hey, we can be there, we can have the opportunity to be as good as these guys.

GEORGE: And how do you go about that, to get a big name like that out to you, to your town?

MATT: George, I'm just very lucky.

GEORGE: It’s got to be some magic dude!

MATT: I've had some great mentors and great coaches over the years, and my Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach at the moment, I started doing jiu-jitsu in the late 90s and I got onto this great coach and he's given me these opportunities and I just see these guys and I think, I want to train with these guys. And they themselves have this opportunity and I just tap into it. So I was very fortunate that my coach had Robert coming to Australia and I said, he actually said, why don't you have him to Echuca – we will, we’ll have him here in Echuca.

Also we've got coming up Dave Kovar coming up to do an instructor boot camp and instructor college. And again, instructors around this northern area that I live in Echuca don't get that opportunity and I'm trying to help the martial arts community around here to give them the opportunity to come and learn from these professionals. And Dave’s helped me a lot over the years and how I got to Dave Kovar was from Sean Allen, and Phil and Graham from Perth. These guys were talking about Dave Kovar, and I was fortunate that he came to a club in Bendigo, which is about an hour away from Echuca and Melbourne and he was there and I just sort of said to him, is anyone interested in a seminar sort of thing and that where we got hooked up with Dave.

It’s been about 3-4 years that we've been associated with Dave and he's sort of helped our business grow by his guidance, it’s fantastic. So going back to what you're saying, those are the things I took away from those clubs. But the only thing I regret now, I wish I knew how they marketed those clubs back then. Marketing now is a huge thing for a martial art cub to keep going. And I wish that I took more notice of how they ran, what sort of programs or teaching to more detail, that's what I’m finding interesting nowadays. I’m trying to get people through the door, because you know that the hardest step for someone to start martial arts is to get them through that door.

And that's what we find that, at our club at the moment, that that first step is the hardest. And also first time, first time stepping in the club – am I going to get hurt, am I going to get kicked, am I going to get punched, what's going to happen? So over probably the last, it was in 2010 I started up a new gym, started up a new full time facility, and this time I wanted to make sure I set up, so with the help of Phil and Graham and Sean Allen and Dave Kovar, I put in a program, a teaching program in place and then I just started to set up, tried to make up a community, a community spirit within my club.

Using Facebook – now I use Facebook a fair bit to market my club, to try to create a community within my club that people are having fun, it’s a family friendly club, that's how I promote it. So if someone's coming in for the first time, they know that it’s a family friendly club, they're going to feel comfortable coming through that door. We set up with our marketing stuff, it’s more about the community spirit in the club. People are training together, smiling, having fun and learning, and then you see them also training hard, competing in kickboxing, jiu-jitsu tournaments, showing the different levels that we can take them.

That's where we're on at the moment in regards to our marketing, we're focusing more on trying to create a culture or a community spirit within our club. Not trying to push advertising so much, I don't try and push that we've got free sessions coming on, or this and that. It’s just small marketing on the community spirit type of thing. Get people involved in our community, it’s a friendly place, everybody’s friendly sort of thing.

GEORGE: For sure. It sparks a conversation I had earlier with Brannon Beliso from America. And this is really my question to you, the leading question: we were looking at how – it’s a discussion that keeps on coming up, how the same marketing doesn't work in two different locations. So you can't have the same marketing message and think it’s going to work in location A and location B, depending of course on the dynamics.

And this is something that we've been finding and we’ve been talking about his two locations that, what works in San Francisco doesn’t work in Millbrae. And it’s something we've been seeing a lot with Facebook marketing as well. So my question to you is, what have you seen that people are doing in Melbourne and in the bigger cities from a marketing perspective that you've tried to implement where you are, which is a smaller town, that simply just doesn't work with the people and the community?

MATT: That's a really good question, because what we see in Melbourne – I know in Echuca, my fees aren't as much as Melbourne and we're trying to educate people. For me, I had to educate people around the town because some people don't know where we are and what we do, and in Melbourne, there's a lot more people there and I see that they're putting up special deals and stuff like that and I tried them here, putting up a special deal from even something that Matt was working on the five, beginner classes sort of thing, we tried that for a short while. It worked in some classes, but we couldn't retain them. That was probably because of our following up and stuff like that, but we found this community sort of spirit thing working better for us, we're trying to get people educated about it, in the area what we actually do at the club, instead pushing the hard push: come in and get your free lesson, or there is a special deal on.

We’re working on that at this stage and we tried heaps and heaps, you know what it looks like, it’s all trial and error. And I still don't think I've actually hit the nail on the head yet, we're still trying to work it out, what works for us in Echuca. Because I know other guys have different marketing programs and I’ve tried some of that, and as you said, does not work for us, or I tried it but I had the wrong recipe. I think that you have to have the right recipe to set that up and if you don't understand it properly, I think that's when you sort of lose, if you don't know how to do it properly.

GEORGE: And here's the thing with that – sorry to cut you off there again: these deals and paid trials as we like to call them, it’s something we've had great success with our clients doing paid trials, but then sometimes, we also don't. And the reasoning, my reasoning behind that is, when you put up a great offer is, you're putting an offer out to someone who is already sold on the idea that martial arts is going to work for them or their child. So you're more than likely talking to a person that's already done some research and they're ready to take their credit card out.

But then, there are five different conversations happening, five different type of people, because there’s a person that is just completely unaware of martial arts and what the benefits are, so they're not even looking for martial arts. And then, you're going to find a person that, maybe there's a problem: their child is getting bullied, they're lacking in confidence or something. They know they've got a problem, but they haven't linked martial arts yet as the actual solution. And then there's one step up that may be the person that sees, all right: martial arts is the solution, but where do I do it?  And then maybe they know and you can go and level up and go, OK, this person know martial arts is the reason and the answer, and they know about you, Wickham’s Martial Arts, but they still don't know if you're the right fit for what they are doing.

So if you look at marketing that way, it’s not really as easy as putting an offer up and especially I think in an area like where you are, because you've only got so many people to work with. So just putting up an offer all the time, you could eliminate four different types of people that are not yet aware of martial arts, or interested yet, or it's not engaged, it’s not in their radar whatsoever. And with those type of people, you've got to market completely differently, because you've really got to educate them and pinpoint the need, or create the need before they would even look at the offer.

So yeah, I really think this is a bigger play in smaller areas, because, in a place like where you are, where there are 20,000 people, for you to run things like Google ads and things like that, it wouldn’t really bring much results, because there’s not that many people actually looking. And I could be wrong, but just statistically: we looked at running ads for someone in Darwin, and we kind of said, look, it’s probably not the best way to go, because there's just not enough people searching for martial arts training through Google. So there's got to be those different ways, and I like your way of community, because community is trust and community can get people to talk, and that's the thing, it’s probably going to work the best for you in the smaller type area.

MATT: Yeah, yeah, exactly. That's right. Cause people in a local community, there's so much other things going on, but we want people to feel part of the group, and people do, at the end of the day, they want to feel part of the club, they want to feel part of the gym that helps them and also that can be contributing in some ways. So yeah, definitely, that's what we’re working on, the community approach. We hit the nail on the head, we tried marketing deals, but it just hasn't worked as much, hardly at all really. So that's what we’re working on, that community spirit, to show that we have people learning and having fun and they're progressing along and kicking some goals in their personal lives.

GEORGE: Awesome. And on the goals, I see on your website, you've got a list of 15 school rules – can you elaborate a bit more on that? Is that something that you're very strict on?

MATT: That's basically about the Dojo rules when I first started, that was one of my instructor’s basic rules at the gym. He actually gave them to me a long time ago and we actually put that on the website I think by mistake, but I like keeping it there and just setting some rules for the club that everybody can read and say, OK, these are the basic rules in their classes: that everybody has to work, some basic guidelines at the club. Showing a bit of discipline, respect, so that's what the rules are basically up there for.

GEORGE: OK, awesome. So back to running two businesses: you were saying that you discovered a few things and so forth, but I'm going to guess that at the end of the day, it’s gotta be, you in the building industry, that's a whole project by itself, I guess it creates a big time commitment as is. And then you've got the martial arts school. How do you go about juggling both businesses, side by side, by night, affecting your family life completely and so forth?

MATT: I have a great support family; my wife is fantastic. And her parents were in the building industry as well, so she has a bit of an idea of what the building industry is like. She's very supportive of me, and she gives me lots of time to keep on these things. But usually, when she says she needs help, she needs some support, I'm there 100%, I just drop everything. For my family I just drop everything, for them. But I'm very fortunate to have great support. I've got three kids, Melvis is 17 and I've got twins, Mitch and Chloe, they're 15. Mitchell now does, he trains every night, does martial arts, or both of them do martial arts – Chloe actually now teaches our 6-10-year-old kick boxing classes and Mitchell competes regularly in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so we travel all around the place doing competitions and stuff now.

And I really love seeing these guys being involved in the club. My family is sort of involved with martial arts, which makes a huge help with me. And I know down the track, building now is getting very competitive, I'm competing against the larger building contractors and I've always done houses and renovation, stuff like that. It’s getting to a point now that even the trends that I’m looking at now for work is the renovation, so a lot of it change the direction of the building business over the years so I don't get too busy and I don't want to be traveling out of town, because I won’t be able to get back in time for classes.

So it's restricted me on how far I can go with my building business, so I don't take on as much when I could take on and also, having the martial arts at night time restricts me from going out and having meetings with clients as well. There is some good points and bad points. For the bad points, I don’t get the opportunity to push my building business more by talking with clients after work, or show them around houses and jobs, stuff like that, spending the quality time and the one on one time that I really want to, without employing someone else to do that. It’s getting to the point now as I get older as well and because it’s so competitive in the building industry, it is making it a lot harder nowadays to keep motivated for me, especially keep me motivated to keep the business going, when my passion is still much for martial arts.

And I love just teaching and learning and I'm not quite there in regards to the martial arts business as well, I've got so much more to learn: setting up programs and setting up certain things to keep going, so I have a legacy setup, that's what I really want, that legacy that it’s still there when my kids get in their twenties and they can start running more classes if they want to. There’s an opportunity for them to take over the business. I don't think Mitchell wants to take over the building business, I'm not really sure, but you never know, we don't know what direction our kids will take. But it’s definitely getting harder for me now as I get older, running two businesses, more so running out of steam, running out of motivation. You've got to try and advertise both businesses, I find it really hard.

The goal was, in 2010 when I started up this new martial arts centre that I wanted to get to a place that we have enough members that I would probably fold back and just do small jobs on the building, small renovation jobs and focus more on the martial arts business, so I can put a 100% into that business. Because I see myself, there's opportunities there to grow that business and I think for me, I feel like I'm letting myself down not pushing 100%. But on the other side, I don't want to let my father down by letting his business just vanish, because he's worked so hard over the years. That's probably something inside of me that I have to sort of work out and in time, it will sort itself out I reckon.

GEORGE: For sure. What would you say the next step is for you with your martial arts business and moving forward?

MATT: Next step would be – George, for me, over the years, I’ve been trying to set up, trying to focus on my coaching with instructors, instructing students to take the next level. I want people to, as I said before – a legacy. I want to set the gym up to a point that people can actually have a job in martial arts. Have a job in teaching martial arts. When I first started martial arts, people would go, oh, is that your hobby? And I would go, yes, that’s a hobby. But even now, they ask me the question, is that a business, or is it a hobby? What am I doing? Now I say it’s my business: I've got two businesses that I run, it’s not a hobby, it’s a business.

And I think back 20 years ago, martial arts were looked at as a hobby and it wasn't looked at as a martial arts business. And last year I was happy enough to travel up with Matt Ball to America to see Dave Kovar's business over in America and then sort of resonated with me in saying, yes, we can do this. This guy has done it. And I think that's what I want to do. I want to set my focus on setting up Wickham’s martial art as more of a full time business, instead of a part time business. So that's sort of the direction I think I would like to take it in the future.

GEORGE: Awesome. Well Matt, it’s been great chatting to you, and if anybody wants to know more about you and your school and the town you live and so forth, where can they find out more about you?

MATT: Probably on our website, www.wickhamsmartialarts.com. That's probably the best idea to get all that. On Facebook as well, were very heavily in Facebook community as well, so you can find the Wickham’s Martial Arts page on Facebook.

GEORGE: Cool, well link to that. And I also see mattwickham.com.au. A personal one.

MATT: Yeah, that’s mattwickham.com.au.

GEORGE: Here we go, cool, two websites to check out. Awesome Matt, thanks a lot, I hope to chat to you soon.

MATT: All right, thanks George.

GEORGE: Thanks.

MATT: Thank you.

GEORGE: Cheers.

And there you have it – thank you very much, Matt, for coming to the show and sharing your story with us. If you want the see notes, you can download that from martialartsmedia.com/30, and if you're enjoying these podcasts and you like to learn more or have any suggestions for any shows or so forth, you can contact us on martialartsmedia.com, but also you can head to Facebook and if you want to leave us a bit of a review, that would be awesome.

I know it's very hard to leave reviews on the podcast apps like in iTunes and in stutter, so you can find us Martial Arts Media on Facebook if you go to the direct URL, it's facebook.com/martialartmedia, not with the s, somebody, unfortunately, already took that. But if you just type in the search box Martial Arts Media, you should be able to find us there.

Thanks again, thanks for listening and we're going to be back again next week for another great episode and I will chat with you soon. Thanks, cheers.

 

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29 – Martial Arts Success Story From Humble Beginnings – Westside MMA’s Stuart Grant

Get inspired by a true martial arts success story. Stuart Grant's Westside MMA is a raging success, but that was not always the case…

martial arts success

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Stuart Grant's humble beginnings with a handful of students
  • How his wife contributed to his martial arts success story
  • Shifting from a fight career to a thriving business
  • The only 2 online marketing strategies he uses – Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising
  • What you discover from running the numbers with your online marketing
  • A different and exciting type of grappling tournament that's gaining popularity
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

TRANSCRIPTION

Good day, how are you doing – George Fourie here from Martial Arts Media business podcast and this is episode number 29. Another exciting episode today, I have Stuart Grant from Westside MMA and this was a great interview and I don't know if you've ever walked into a martial arts gym and you just, you kind of feel the energy bounce out at you, you just feel, Wow there's something magic happening in here. And that's the experience you get when you walk into Westside MMA and I'm posting a video on this page as well, which you can find if you're listening on martialartsmedia.com/29, and have a look at the video.


I actually took a tour with Stuart through his gym and it’s just phenomenal. It’s really an immaculate place. And that's not something that fell into his lap, it’s something that he had to work long hours hard for, had a lot of support from his partner, and he's got quite a fascinating story and something that he does that is of course close to my heart is, he uses the power of Google AdWords and Facebook to grow his business. So that coming up shortly.

Something I just want to quickly mention: I see there's a lot of people downloading the transcripts of the episodes, which is great, and you can find the transcript of this show on martialartsmedia.com/29. And of course, a lot of people prefer to read, but I also saw a few comments that people actually thought that it wasn't possible to listen to the podcast, so they actually just went to the website and they didn't see the actual play button or they’re probably not familiar – if you're not familiar with the app set you can use to listen and people end up downloading the transcript and just read it.

So if you are reading this, and you're not aware that you can actually listen to the podcast, there are several ways you can do that: if you are on the website, there will be a play button, so on this one, martialartsmedia.com/29 and you'll look for a little audio player, you can play it through there. Then, if you have an iPhone, you can use the podcast app that's like a purple app and you can search for that, all in iTunes and you can just search for martial arts media business podcast, ours will come up and you can subscribe to it, and every week when we bring out a new episode, it’s going to download onto your phone, so you can listen to it directly onto your phone.

And if you don't have an iPhone and you have a Samsung or any type of a phone that is on the Android platform, so on the Google platform, you can use an app called Stitcher, I believe Google also has an app for podcast, but I know Stitcher radio is definitely the one you can use. So same deal: you can download the podcast every week and listen to that way.

But hey – either way you like to consume the information, of course, the reason why we do the transcript is because we know a lot of people do like to read, or you don't have time or maybe you want to skim through it – however you prefer to consume the information, we want to make sure we give you the various options. So just wanted to bring that to your attention if you are reading the podcast – you can listen to it as well and listen to it on the go while you're driving around, or driving to work or driving to the gym, or whatever it is that you're doing.

Alright – that's it from me. I want to introduce Stuart Grant from Westside MMA. Awesome interview, I hope you’re going to get great value from it: please welcome to the show, Stuart.

GEORGE: Good day everyone. Today I have with me Stuart Grant from Westside MMA – how are you doing Stuart.

STUART: Excellent, thanks for coming out.

GEORGE: Cool. And a brand I've been seeing around in the martial arts arena and Stuart's also, I just saw him recently have a great event, here locally Melbourne and I stopped by and I thought I’d have a chat with him, just find a bit more about what's going on here and talk about his success with Westside MMA. So welcome to the show Stuart.

STUART: Thank you very much.

GEORGE: Cool. So I’ll guess we’ll just start from the beginning – who is Stuart Grant?

STUART: Just a lad from country Victoria who wanted to get into martial arts and started as a kid and had a dream to have a gym.

GEORGE: Ok.

STUART: And I've got one now.

GEORGE: Alright. So, going back, your beginnings of beginnings- how did you get into martial arts?

STUART: I’m from Stawell, which is three hours west of Melbourne. A small country town with one option – well, two options. It was football and there was one martial art in town, that was the one I did. And football as well, but I wanted to do martial arts and there was only one choice. That's when I started.

GEORGE: Ok, and how old were you when you started?

STUART: Eight.

GEORGE: Eight years old?

STUART: Yeah.

GEORGE: Ok. And which style?

STUART: It was Zen Do Kai freestyle.

GEORGE: Zen do kai freestyle, OK.

STUART: I started with that and I got to my teens and as all teens do, tried other things: basketball, tennis, football and then in my late teens went back to it as well and that's where I stayed.

GEORGE: Ok, cool. You've also had a professional career I believe?

STUART: Yeah, a short one over a couple of years and now the gym is a bit busy to continue that. Wife keeps telling me that I'm done.

GEORGE: You're done.

STUART: She's normally right.

GEORGE: All right, cool.

STUART: They're always right.

GEORGE: All right. So, the professional career, do you mind telling us a bit more?

STUART: Muay Thai.

GEORGE: Muay Thai?

STUART: Yeah, Muay Thai. Started straight in the professional ranks. Competed in events like Rebellion, Warriors Way, Brute Force, just here in Melbourne. It was good, got a lot of people here for the gym, a lot of exposure for the gym on those events as well, them being good events and I think putting on some good fights.

GEORGE: Ok. So what came next? You've grown up in the martial arts arena, started to compete and so forth – how did things sort of evolve to where you are today.

STUART: Next question – it just happened. I started the gym – it wasn't a gym it was just a concept, an idea in the scout hall, on a pretty average sort of floor. Myself, a couple of pairs of Thai pads and kick shields and hope that people would come because I didn't have any funding to back me and I was just a guy with a passion and a dream. That's where it started, I put a little four-line ad in the local newspaper and suddenly, a few people came and I got enough members to get a small gym. So then it was a gym, 250m2 in a factory. It was I think about 20 students, which was I figured I’d set where I could actually move into a small factory.

And I wasn't alone, I shared it with another instructor from a different style and we shared the rent. And it was not long after that that my members started to grow a lot, his weren’t, so he left and I took over the whole lease and the whole factory and we started to push what I wanted to do. So three years in there, growing, I was doing the Muay Thai, MMA – I was still doing the zen do kai then, but it wasn't what I was wanting to do and the direction I was wanting to go. And then I got Brazilian jiu-jitsu in it as well.

Three years, at the end of our lease, and we needed to make a choice, we maxed out the capacity there and there's a lot of factories around and I was sort of 500m2 and it was a choice that me and my wife had to make, cause she's the one that pushed me to do what I want to do: if you want to make it work full-time, you've got to do it properly and so we sat down and spoke about it and it was a matter of: do we take a small step from 250 to 500m2, or, there was this showroom that we've seen where we currently are and it was a 1000m2, so that's a massive jump, or in our heads it was.

But we took the plunge and believed in what we were doing and went for it and here we are – well, kind of, because, within 12 months of being in our current location, we needed more room, and there was like a doorway into a spare warehouse behind us, so now we've got 1500m2, 4 mats, 6 days a week.

GEORGE: Awesome. Now, just to go back a bit, because I mean, the place here is immaculate. I haven't actually walked into a martial arts school, MMA gym like this, just the different components you have and the way it's laid out. And then you've also got the fight store in the front, although that's leased?

STUART: They sublease it from us, but that was part of the plan when we moved in here was to be able to have a pro shop, for our members to access, so we let the guys from MMA fight store in there.

GEORGE: Ok, cool. I mean, you were saying there was this time when things were happening and you the partner in the same locations, but things were going the direction that you wanted: did you have all this in mind, was this a vision that you had at that point in time?

STUART: The idea of having all the different disciplines under one roof was the idea; the size that it’s got to was not in my head. We far surpassed the idea of numbers, if you talk numbers, long ago. So now it's just a matter of continuing to learn within myself how do I manage the gym, how do we keep growing the gym and how do we keep providing for the people that want to get involved in mixed martial arts and different disciplines.

GEORGE: And just for everyone listening, how many students do you have under one roof?

STUART: 750 now, just that.

GEORGE: Ok. And the different styles that you are catering for?

STUART: We've got MMA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, submission grappling and wrestling. And that's classes for kids age 5 and up and we do have a minis program, which is 3 and 4-year-olds, which is just the broad specter on martial arts skills.

GEORGE: Ok. Something that always comes up when we talk how school owners, gym owners try and market their business is the different age groups and markets you're really working, because you've got kids, so you're more dealing with the mum and then you’re working with adults, you've got a lot of fighters here as well, so you've got that component: how do you make it all delve under the one roof?

STUART: The joys of Facebook marketing and the targeting options.

GEORGE: Yes.

STUART: We only do Facebook and Google AdWords: no print media, no local newspapers, no shopping centers anymore – just target marketing through Facebook. AdWords.

GEORGE: Fantastic. And how's that working for you? Do you combine a lot of the elements between the two platforms, or…?

STUART: In a sense, yes. We’ve got some re-targeting happening.

GEORGE: Yes.

STUART: So that's a good thing about Facebook and the way that works.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's a conversation close to my heart, especially the retargeting part – I think this is something that people miss a lot, because a lot of things that we are seeing are, people are on mobile phone, or they might have had a toilet break: they're doing things at different times in different locations, so the progress of somebody making a decision, or getting to a conversion, happens on so many different devices or locations.

STUART: And it’s all the stuff I've taught myself, no training in marketing or sales or anything. Just teach me, get in there. I know how it works, what do I need from it and make it happen. Same has really happened with the gym: I made it happen, so I did the same with the marketing.

GEORGE: And how did you find that journey especially learning? I know Facebook is something that people learn a lot – I haven't actually met someone that has really mastered, that has really found Google AdWords and be able to master that by themselves, as in a gym owner. I mean, there's a lot of people that do it, we provide it as a service, but how did you actually gather the skills and figure it all out?

STUART: A lot of trial and error and just looking at the figures. Jumping at the analytics and just seeing where are we getting our website clicks from, changing the demographics of it and just continually looking at the stats. It was something that I had to tell myself, I need to do it.

GEORGE: Yeah, awesome.

STUART: Interesting trying to figure out what all the different stats mean.

GEORGE: And I think it would probably speak volumes to how you do everything else, and especially, something I find in Google is, you can make a lot of mistakes, but the knowledge that you gain from what people actually respond to can change your entire way you actually approach your message on the floor as well.

STUART: Yeah, and you see a lot of ads pop up, especially on Facebook and I wonder why am I seeing this ad? Especially when it's, for instance, another gym, similar to ours, but they are 200km away – why am I seeing your ad?

GEORGE: Yes, small things.

STUART: Yeah, but it’s important.

GEORGE: It’s so important.

STUART: Yes, there's some things that I want all of Victoria to see, all people around Australia to see, but they’re few and far between. The people close to us are going to see everything specific to what we’re doing. It’s just a matter of understanding I think, understanding what you need, what you want people to see and how to get it to work for you.

GEORGE: Yeah.

STUART: And there are so many tools within both Google and Facebook that allow you to be specific.

GEORGE: Definitely so. Awesome. So just going back, just another step: how did you get this all sort of funded? How did you get it all going initially? Cause you've got your part time, you were going part time, you said you had a handful of members?

STUART: Yeah, I was working part-time and teaching part time and my now wife, who was one of my first students, she was helping me along and she was seeing that I was doing everything. Back then, there weren't heaps to do, compared to what is being done now. And she knew what I wanted to do, she knew what direction I wanted things to go and she knew what my dream was. She just came home from work one day and said, Stu, if you want to really make this work, if you want to make it happen, leave your part time job and focus on running the gym. Make the gym what you want it to be.

And I did, I left my job, just focused on doing the gym work and it started to improve a lot. Obviously, when you put more focus on something, not just your job: if you put more focus on your fitness if you put more focus on your nutrition, it improves. So the gym improved and then it improved to the point where she realized it was getting busy for me to handle and she had quite a stable and successful job. She decided she was going to leave her job and we were going to work together and build the gym even more. It was her push that essentially got us where we are.

GEORGE: That's awesome.

STUART: Well, everybody's got somebody – I'm lucky that my somebody believed in me and wanted to help us make something together.

GEORGE: Definitely. There much in just having somebody to support you to push through. And then the element of focus: someone once told me, you can't stay at two light bulbs at the same time, you have got to tunnel that focus into one thing and that’s the only way you can really make it work.

STUART: Absolutely, absolutely.

GEORGE: Looking at your whole set up here, I mean, I might do a quick video that we’ll put on this page, on the episode: just run me through, what's the day today, events that happen throughout here?

STUART: All right: we don't do morning classes, or early morning classes, never had. We tried them briefly, it’s just not the area that has the people for that sort of class. We run a minis program as I said, for 3 and 4-years-olds, that's Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 10 in the morning, that’s the early classes. The gym opens to general public on weekdays, Monday to Thursday at 11.

We have midday classes, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Muay Thai and MMA, and the gym is open throughout the day with those classes, and then from four o’clock is when it starts to really pump in here with the kids’ classes starting at 4:15, last classes for the seniors finishing at 20:45. So we’ll have back to back classes on the three mats, the backend mat, the Muay Thai mat and our fight training areas as well. Kids’ classes, women's classes, senior classes, run throughout the night from 5:45 to 8:45.

GEORGE: Ok, cool. And then beyond the classes, you've also got a lot of focus on events?

STUART: Yep. As you mentioned earlier, we just had our first event on the weekend, which was Lockdown. Lockdown is the submission grappling series that started in Queensland and they just looked to expand nationally this year and I wanted to sort of look into it, how we could do an event similar down here. So Ross Cameron from Queensland and I got together and now I'm the Victorian representative for Lockdown. We started our event here on Saturday, which was a really good success for our first event.

It’s different to normal grappling comps, the biggest difference I guess, from looking at it, it’s not done on a mat, it’s done in a competition cage, so that's the biggest difference. And unlike other grappling comps, there are no points, there's no points for sweeps sweeps or anything like that. It’s essential if you can look at an MMA with no striking, that's the direction we’re sort of going with it. We want to see people seeking the submission, looking to control their opponent, looking to dominate their opponents position. So that's the emphasis on Lockdown.

GEORGE: And then, how long does the fight go for? Does it just go until the submission happens?

STUART: No, it’s not a submission only competition. If there’s no submission, it goes to the judges. So theres are 5-minute rounds for the adults. For the Kids/Colts division, it’s a 3-minute round. So Kids/Colts are 10 and up and then the Colts are the teenagers. So there are 3-minute rounds and we do have two judges. If at the end of the 5 minutes or the 3 minutes there's no submission, it goes to the judges. If the judges can't decide a winner there's a minute break, and there's the second overtime round, 3 minutes for the seniors and 2 minutes for the juniors.

If there is no decision after the overtime rounds, there's another overtime round for the seniors – no third overtime round for the juniors. But essentially, with the rules set, it’s difficult to get a draw after the first round, cause generally there's somebody who's winning the fight and the way you want to look at it from a judge's’ point of view is, which person would you prefer to be: would you prefer to be that guy that was on top holding the other guy down, or would you prefer to be the guy on the bottom, busting your gut to get off the bottom? That’s how we try to look at it, or a simple way to look at it: which would you prefer to be to try to determine who you think is better.

GEORGE: Ok. So you have one cage pretty much, where this is happening?

STUART: Yeah, the way Lockdown works, divisions are stated, so we have start times at 8 am, 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm, so divisions know when they're starting and they’ve got that two-hour period for the division to run. We have our divisions start time set and the way the matches run, they're just five minutes: your match goes – winner, next match. So they rotate through really quickly, everyone's ready to go, they all know that their division is on for that bracket, so they're all ready and waiting just for their name to be called.

They walk in, they match, they walk out. It’s a double elimination competition too, so you may lose your first or your second match, but you’re not eliminated, you go into a separate section of the draw and have your chance to fight your way back and you can still win the division after losing your first or second fight, so you get a second chance, with the exception of the final, there's no second chance in the final.

GEORGE: Ok. I guess going back to the focus: do you find that, from a spectator’s point of view that there's a bit more of an excitement fighting element to it because it’s in a cage? Normally, a contest or a tournament is a lot of going on on the different mats, but the element of focus and focus on the cage, how are you finding that?

STUART: Very good, because there's only the one match happening at the time, and also the rule set focuses on action. So there's always something happening and we're big on the referees urging the competitors if they're stalling. They’ll stand them up – start again. If you’re stalling on the ground, or if you're stalling while there’s wrestling against the cage, or you're just trying to catch your breath, the referee will stop and start you again to keep that action moving.

GEORGE: It sounds good.

STUART: Yeah, it’s an exciting format. It's new for Victoria, so we're looking forward. We're having 6 events through the year and the way that it works is, as an individual, you'll earn points throughout the year and at the end of the year, there's a division champion, and also at the end of the year, you'll have points for your team, so you'll have a championship team. The concept, the way it is run nationally, division champions will have a chance to fight off against other state champions.

GEORGE: Cool. So right now, just in Victoria and Queensland?

STUART: Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and West Australia, with a view to be in New South Wales really soon as well.

GEORGE: Sounds good.

STUART: Yeah.

GEORGE: Cool Stuart. The last question I'm going to ask: what's next for you because you've arrived at this place, you’ve got an awesome setup, you've got 750 students going through your one location – where to now?

STUART: There's a plan but let's not go there right now.

GEORGE: For sure. Alright, cool. That's awesome, I love the secrecy. When that time arrives and it’s out there would you be open to another interview?

STUART: Absolutely.

GEORGE: All right. That's cool, I'm going to hold you to it.

STUART: I’ll be there.

GEORGE: All right, that's awesome. Cool Stuart, thanks for your time and if people want to know more about you and what you're doing, where can they reach you?

STUART: You can jump online at westsidemma.net, that’s just the info about the gym. The gym, or jump on Facebook, facebook.com/westssidemma, jump on there, were pretty active on there. All our traffic basically is through our Facebook and social media that way.

GEORGE: Awesome. All right, I'm going to hold you to that round two.

STUART: Sure, you know where we are.

GEORGE: Cool, thanks, Stuart – cheers.

And there you have it. Thank you, Stuart, what a humbling story of how he started out. Humble beginnings, I always love a success story, anybody that puts their heart and passion into any business, especially martial arts, because it’s close to my heart of course, but anybody that puts their passion into a business and works hard for it and whether you get support or not, sometimes that's what you need. You just need someone to back you up and help you push through those tough times and turn it around and turn it into a success. I love success stories, it’s amazing.

And the fact that he's actually taken on a lot of his Google AdWords and Facebook by himself – that is quite a task. If that's something that you don't like, it's something that we love here at Martial Arts Media. That's what we do, we live and breathe the online marketing stuff. So if you want your time back and you want to focus on the things that are important to you within the business, we keep up to date with everything that's happening in Google and Facebook and we tailor it to your business and we take on that journey for you and see what works and resonates within your business.

Keep track of the winds, eliminate the fails – rather say eliminate the learning curves, because it’s never a fail, it’s always just a lesson. So that's what we do, we're hands on with all this advertising. And look, we shoot straight: we'll tell you what's going to work and what's not, and we're happy to help you with your digital marketing. We do it for you. In the beginning, we'll spend a bit more time, because it’s getting to understand your approach and your business and what resonates with your brand, but the longer we work together, the easier it is for us to understand how you approach your business and we can help you with your marketing and free up some of your time, while getting great results and getting great leads through your system, through your business of course.

Alright, that's it from me. Thank you for listening. As I said, show notes are on martialartsmedia.com/29. Next week again, another awesome interview, looking forward to speaking to you then, catch you then – cheers.

 

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

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28 – How To Double Your Martial Arts Business In 2 Years Without Selling Your Soul

Want a successful martial arts business, but don't want to be ‘that guy'? Matt Ball talks about changing your mindset and breaking through barriers.Matt Ball from SMAC with George Fourie
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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Creating a warm environment where people feel welcome
  • How a student tragedy motivated a change of logo and design
  • The power of a 5-week introductory program
  • Why you need how you view success in order to succeed
  • How managing Matt's martial arts school from an iPad in a hospital bed was a blessing in disguise
  • Lessons from traveling to martial arts tournaments
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

It made me change my whole concept, my whole thought concept on it. You can be successful and be a good guy, what I'm doing is I'm basing my ideas of success on the wrong preset.

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another episode of the Martial Arts Media Business podcast, episode number 28. I have another awesome guest with me today, who is Matthew Ball from SMAC and SMAC stand for Somerville Martial Arts Center, which is where Matthew is from of course. And we talk about the word SMAC and the possible negative connotation it has to it, but I guess more importantly, the whole change that they went through in branding, from being a hardcore fighter type image, with skulls and skulls on the car and everything and transitioning that to a friendlier, family environment, and how they had to go by changing their branding, their public image. And it’s something that caused them to double their business, in a short span of only two years.

So we talk about that, it was a really fun conversation, especially before and after, but we kept in all the good bits for you. And we also talk about Matthew's first management episode, where he was actually forced to manage, because he was in the hospital on his back, and that was the first time he actually had the whole bird's' eye view about his business and was able to manage it better from that perspective. And we also had some deep discussions about association with success, internal blocks that you might have that don't allow you to succeed, that you almost self-sabotage yourself every time you get to this point of success, because you don't want to be associated with being that guy, that successful guy that everybody hates, and how Matthew had to fight that, work through that to change his association of what it means to be successful and helping others.

Now, I want to jump into a theme that's been happening and I've been talking about it in the last few episodes and it’s all tying together and it’s something I keep on talking about, because it’s something that works, and this is event based marketing. And the more I talk about it, the more I explore it, the more I discover. And the more answers I get and the more I'm doing campaigns for martial arts schools, the more I'm learning about the psychology of why things work and why they may not work and we adjust.

Look: marketing is definitely a journey. We as an agency, we have some great wins right off the bat, and we help clients and they get a flood of new students, and then sometimes we don't. Sometimes we're doing the exact same campaign on just two different pages or two different locations, but the results are vastly different and it just proves a point: that there's no one size fits all with marketing. Your audience could be different, your interaction with your audience could be different, your relationship could be different, the competition you have is different, the type of people could be different – so different messages resonate with different people and how do you get past that? Well, you've got to commit to the journey and the journey means testing.

Testing your marketing strategies, keeping track of what works and what doesn't, because if you can eliminate what's not working, you're getting one step ahead of what is working. And that's where the whole Pareto principle, the 80-20 concept just speaks volumes in direct response type marketing because 20% of your efforts will generate 80% of your results. It’s finding out what that 20% is and that's the journey, that's where the real work is. Look: everybody can put up advertising and do that kind of stuff, but when it’s not working, you've got to know where to find the problem and where to diagnose and how to solve that problem.

So, that's gone a bit off topic on what I wanted to say, but it’s a very important thing that I've been experiencing over the last few weeks. And going a bit further and something that we really spoke about with Matthew is the event based type marketing. I’m not going to give a spoiler, he'll explain the whole process and concept. And after the episode, I will give a few insights, on how I'm seeing the objections and things that come up when we do campaigns and how this psychology really applies to it, so look out for that.

I’m going to jump right into that now. As always: you can find the transcripts and links and everything about this episode on martialartsmedia.com/28, the number 28 and that's it from me for now, I want to get straight into this interview, so please welcome to the show Matthew Ball.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I have with me Matt, or Matthew Ball, one of the two.

MATT: Matt Ball is fine.

GEORGE: Matt Ball from SMAC, which stands for…?

MATT: The Somerville Martial Arts Centre.

GEORGE: The Somerville Martial Arts Centre, all right. We're just going to be chatting about a few things, travel within the martial arts industry, a few recent successes and so forth. So – welcome to the show!

MATT: Thank you very much, thanks for coming down and speaking to me.

GEORGE: Awesome. So I guess we're going to start from the beginning – so. Who is Matt Ball?

MATT: I started in the Bob Jones martial arts group, in zen do kai when I was about 13 and I'm now 44. I've continued within the Bob Jones martial arts school throughout that time. In 1996, I decided to go full time and entered into a couple of business writing competitions for the two previous years, Shell corporation and the Rotary club used to do business comps. And it was a really great way to be mentored, it was my first experience with mentors outside of martial arts, that helped me develop my business plans to the point where I thought that I could possibly be successful stepping away from my job, which was in a bank at that stage.

So in 1996, I moved out and my main aim was to teach at high schools during the day and then at night time to run my classes, so from 4:00 till 8:30 at night each day. I had a lot of promises from schools in that first year that they would employ me for the following year, and it looked really great on my business plan. And then when I started calling them up, they informed me that I had to have been booked in a year previously for some of them and it was all requirements and that first year was a little bit rougher than I first anticipated.

But once we got through that, that business really took off and in the end, before I sold that part of my business, we were teaching it around about 40 high schools each year, there was 5 or 6 people working for me to assist in that, mainly teaching self-defence, but also some Muay Thai and some boxing for fitness type classes and things as well. So it was good and then, and now we're in 2017 – around about 2003, I moved into a full-time premise. We were at the time operating out of three different halls, within the same area, all within the 5K radius of each other.Somerville Martial Arts Centre - Matt BallSo I decided to take the big leap and try and bring it all into the one place and I felt that I had enough members at that point to do that. So I've been teaching children and obviously adults for a long time, but I decided I want to focus more on the adult and team market at that stage and we dropped right into competition, room fighting for boxing and Muay Thai predominantly. So we went into trying to develop that sort of market, so the imagery that I chose and the logos I chose were turned directly towards that market and we probably left the child market a little bit behind.

And at first I was happy to do that, that was my goal, but after some time, I realized I'd probably swung too far the other way. And we had Dave Kovar from America at our club and I was talking about our member base. And at the time, it wasn't massive, but it was close to 200, around 170 members and 80% was over the age of 15. And he said, Matt, that's great, most people would love to have adult numbers like that, but you do realize that you can still have a lot of kids and still keep those adult members as well? And I went, yeah, I'm an idiot.

So at that time, we sort of changed our logos, we changed around our gym a little bit. People, when they used to walk in, the first thing they would see would be a boxing ring, and then another boxing ring. Often people would be fighting and sparring and the kids have to walk through it. On our wall, we had the Krav Maga gear, so it all looked military, knives and guns and things. And it was amazing when Dave said it to me, I walked outside, I walked back in, and I went, who would bring their kid here?

And then I walked in further and I went, if I was a guy walking in here, I wouldn't feel comfortable training. It was intimidating. I was more surprised that we managed to have as many members as we did in that sort of environment. So even though we really worked hard at being a really encompassing gym and friendly and everything, the facade didn't show that, so that was my first big lesson.

GEORGE: So, backtrack a bit: there was a few question in there. So, you were teaching at multiple schools at the time?

MATT: Yeah, that's right.

GEORGE: Was it a challenge, did you lose members, moving them all to one location?

MATT: I think because we were in such a small area anyways, it ran about a 5K radius, we didn't really lose any members. We probably lost some members, because the fees had to change, the fee structure had to change slightly. So even though we offered them more classes, that isn't what everyone wanted and because our overheads have gone up a little bit, we had to increase it. But the members, by and large, were amazing. The first couple of months of being here, it was half building site – half Dojo, or training gym.

We had the wooden floor finished on the first weekend and that was done by 10-12 members turning up and helping me construct. And then we had to sort of section bits off, and over the months, we could slowly get more of the gym operating and cleaner. And rather than losing members, I think that it actually made us really strong at that period, because everyone had some ownership over the place. Even if they weren't working on it, they were a part of that journey of, let’s do something special together. And it really put a really good community feel, that probably lasted for 5-6 years before the next group sort of came through and didn't know anything about that part.

GEORGE: Well, you did a great job on the environment and I’ll put little pictures with the podcast here, but it’s really got this Melbourne feel. Anybody that's been to Melbourne, there's always graffiti and posters stuck up. And just that in the contrast with the wooden floor, it almost looks like you're in an antique coffee shop almost. Something else is happening here other than the gym, obviously because it’s empty as well, there are no people.

MATT: Yeah, we find that most people when they come in here who have trained at other places will remark on the feel. They'll actually come back out now, whereas, before it was a bit intimidating, they'll come back out to me and actually grab me and say, man, it just feels so comfortable here! I don't know quite how we've done it; I can't say that it was all purposeful. Some of it was, but some of it was being just by osmosis. But yeah, when you hear people who train come up to you and say how they just feel comfortable in your space and how they love it, it’s a really special feeling, it’s great.

GEORGE: Definitely. Now, let’s go back to the transition, because if you were this hardcore fight gym. And Somerville Martial Arts Centre also shortens to the acronym of SMAC, so I can imagine initially when you had the branding, you mentioned earlier the skulls and things, it was really for the hardcore fighting market as such. And then, with the acronym of SMAC, it really goes with that. But now you've changed the branding and you've changed the image that you can accommodate for the appearance, but you've still got SMAC on the T-shirts and so forth?

MATT: A part of it is age as well. When we moved here, 13 years ago, I was just in my early thirties.  Maybe just 30, and I was training with fighters intensely, so all that is inside you and you want to express that part of you and what better way to express it than on a really big building and all over your car and that's the thing: I probably got caught up in the moment and in my age again. And without any professional help from marketers or anything, because there wasn't a lot of money and I think as a martial artist, we tend to think we can do everything on our own – I quickly learned that's not the best way to do it, but that's a whole other story.Somerville Martial Arts Centre - Matthew BallSo that whole feel that we came into was pretty hardcore and like I said, that was actually a purposeful thing. I wanted to aim for that market. Part of the reason I wanted a full-time center because I wanted a ring that we could use all the time. I wanted hanging bags that we could use. Just trying to train people in a hall for a competition – it can be done for sure, but it’s not easy. You can't have people coming outside of work times to get extra training in, and not getting that experience of being in a ring and they’re just not getting the hours of punishment on the bags that you sort of need for that internal discipline that they develop from it.

Not only power and strength, but more that discipline of keeping them going, when they really don't want to be doing it anymore. Yeah, we set that up and my first car that I had when I moved in was a Mazda 6 or something, so it didn't look too bad. Then I got an Alpha Romeo, a little sports type car and I had stickers like several skulls and fading in the background it almost looked like a biking emblem, not an Alpha Romeo. And what I realized pretty quickly, I gave it two years, was that I just alienated the whole new family market. The families that were with us loved us still because the teaching hadn't changed, but we weren't attracting any new families.

When the realization came to me, what am I doing, and this isn't who I am. I’m not that aggressive, nasty guy. I don't look like a bikey or anything, so it was a confusing image I was giving to people, the juxtapositions were too far apart. So yeah, changing the logo – we actually changed the logo using a tragedy that we had. We had one of our young guys commit suicide, who was working full time at the center and was also competing at quite a good level in fights and he met a girl overseas and the relationship had gone south and he, unfortunately, committed suicide. And one of his friends created an image using a boxing image that everyone put on their cars and stickers and things like that from his friend at work and stuff.

So about two or three years after that tragedy was when I was looking for the new logo. And I was trying to be careful, I didn't want to idolize what he'd done, I didn't want other people to feel that that's a good way to get recognized, but also in my heart, I wanted to remember him and I felt that the logo captured what we were going for. So we changed it to a circle with the image of a boxer, someone in a victory stance in the center of it. We came up with a motto of “Commit to excellence” and put a name on it and I feel it’s a much friendlier, much more encompassing. It encompasses not only boxing and Muay Thai, but it also encompasses our martial arts and that striving for excellence.

So I think that the image is more about that. The trouble with running a gym where you teach multiple martial arts is trying to find an image that encompasses them all, and that's been one of my hardest things. So now when I advertise, we advertise each martial art we do separately, even from kinder kids to kids’ karate, we advertise separately and on separate websites and on separate social media advertising, so we can really target the groups. But the umbrella brand is still SMAC and that's still the name at the front of the gym. But the first contact people have with the marketing will be very much just that style that they're looking at like I said, kids' karate or adults' karate, or the Muay Thai kickboxing, will really associate to that. And that's worked really well and I'm hoping that that way of structuring the branding can continue to work as effectively as it has.

GEORGE: I'm kind of just thinking about it because it’s something that I've noticed a lot and I think it’s a difficult thing to do because you've got all these different target markets. You've got this fighting group, and then you've got the mom for the kid, and then maybe that adult that just wants to release stress after work. So you've got to have these different conversations. Like I always saw it, what is in the focus: is the focus actually just one level up and then the value of “Commit to excellence” and that your motto is really, all your emphasis goes back to the value, instead of the actual art that's being used to achieve the same result?

MATT: I think that there's definitely a part of it. The “Commit to excellence,” not only can I use for that idea of, it’s not going to matter what you come into, we’re going to help you achieve: it also helps me every day. So when I get a little bit lazy or my discipline lacks: for instance, we iron on patches onto our kids’ GIs and a couple of parents were saying, oh, they're peeling off. And I said, we usually just iron it on and then you can stitch it on later on. But then I thought: I've got a sewing machine here – why am I not just sewing them on? It’s not that time consuming for me to do and if I'm committed to excellence, I'm committed to excellence.

So the motto is not only for the students, but it’s also for me. But going back to what you're saying about attracting people is, yeah, I found the most successful clubs that appear as financially successful clubs just focus on one style. And I can understand the desire to do that and if I was saying to someone who wanted to set up a gym, what should I do, that is the line that I would say they should do – but it’s not what I like to do. So what I understand is the best thing to do isn't what I want to do. So this is where this breaking it down really came into its own and it’s really helped, it’s one of the measures that's taken us from about 10 years of staying at 170 members to right at the moment of 540 active members.

And it’s happened over two years and when I said, OK, I'm going to have a separate website for everyone – and they're really just landing pages, basic information about what we do, how to join and just the information on that class and what sort of person it suits. Now when someone rings, most people that ring have an idea of something that they want to do, but probably about 30% don't – they're just, I want to do something. So then we talk about the general benefits of martial arts, but then we try and find out what sort of person they are: are they someone that likes to spend time trying to perfect something before they move on, or are they the sort of person that just likes to keep doing it and as they make mistakes, they'll just try to correct them as they go.

So if they're the sort of person, I just like to get going, man, I don't want to spend time planning stuff out – if I'm talking about an adult, I’ll say that Muay Thai will probably be the best one for you to start in, because we keep it pretty quick, the techniques require skill at a higher level, but they're fast to learn for you to feel like you're getting somewhere. If they're the sort of person that says, I like to plan things out, I like to try and perfect a skill or a technique, Ill practice it over and over until I get it right, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, well then, zen do kai would be the direction I would take those people in.

With the boxing, it’s more often someone will ask about boxing, but they'll say, I don't like kicking, or I haven't got a good stretch, I don't want to move my legs around much, I just want to get into it – what we often find is, once we get people in here, they see the other classes going on, and we’ll probably get 15% who will change around, because the thing we did put them in wasn't the right one, so they'll move on. We've found the best way of doing that is, we've actually been running 5-week beginner programs.

So we find that the 5 weeks gives us a really good time for them to commit, so we know they're serious. So no free classes, they join the 5-week program, they get the uniform or the gloves, so they're set up from the start, and by the end of those 5 weeks, they have a really good understanding of what's going on. They're only stuck with other beginners, so the class is just set up just for them, they're not involved in the whole class, they're not trying to catch up, they're not trying to learn as things are racing too far ahead, the instructor’s not having to divide his time between them and the higher level people.

So we found that that gives them a really good grounding. Then they come into our classes after 5 weeks, like someone used to be after 13 weeks, because they've just been out of getting that basic work is done, so they feel better about it, we feel better about it and they've had a real good chance to see if martial arts is for them, without having to invest a massive amount, but enough to know if they are serious, not just, I'm going to come in and try a class because I'm bored this week.

GEORGE: That's interesting. We do a lot of the whole paid trial type system, and there's a lot of approaches to it: a couple of weeks training, maybe only a few classes, for the purpose obviously, because you obviously want the conversion at the end. It’s interesting that you go that whole dynamic of 5 weeks because you can get a real true assessment. Do you find at the end of 5 weeks that some people they are suited, so they're going to continue this one style, or that you determined that they need to be in a different style, or that you shift them around?MATT: I would say it would only be about 15-20% that at the end of it, we would direct them to another style. So for instance, we’d have someone – and it mainly happens in our boxing group, because our training’s all amateur boxing for competition training. So even though we know that only a small percentage of the group will ever compete, we train everyone as though they're getting ready for competition. A lot of people, because boxing is the in word, come in to do a fitness boxing group and even though we explain that that's not what it is and we actually have a fitness boxing class, most people still cannot understand, until someone is punching back at them, so even though in that 5 weeks they won’t spar, but they'll still do drills, we call them stick and move drills, so where they'll get jabbed at and parried off and move around, so they're getting used to it.

So what we tend to find is that at the end of 5 weeks, we’ll have a few of those people going, I liked it all except, I don't like the sparing, I'm not into that – is there something else I can do? So then fitness boxing might be the thing. Or even we’re finding, often the older guys that feel that way, they think they want to do it, but then they go: I'm 45 or 50 – do I really want to get hit by a 20-year-old? It’s a really good question to ask because I don't think it’s a good thing either. We've found those guys are going into the Krav Maga and same with some of the ladies and it’s been a great release for them, because they're still getting to work hard with someone, they're still getting to push each other around, they're throwing strikes with real force, but it’s in a much safer environment, it’s not in that sparing environment where it’s quite random, it’s more set.

And they'll actually probably end up training harder in the Krav, but it’s a much better fit for them. So that's probably the main one we find that switch and change. With the kids, it’s a little bit between kickboxing and karate, we find that mom felt that their child was this sort of child, but he's actually probably more this sort of child, and he's bored within 2 seconds when we’re talking about breath and balance and stance. But man, you get him hitting a bag, he’ll do it 400 times without wanting to stop. We’re probably a bit more shuffling in that class.

But overall, we find that what they start is probably what they continue to stay in. We have very few that don't finish the 5 weeks, but we don't capture everyone at the end of the 5 weeks. So at the end of the 5 weeks, we have probably about 30% who will say to us, I absolutely loved doing the 5 weeks, but I'm not ready to commit for a longer period of time. So I'm not sure if that's in our sales pitch that we’re getting that wrong, if we’re getting it wrong in our follow up, or if people are just buying it as a 5-week package: man, I’d love to do Krav Maga for 5 weeks and get some basic self-defence: I wouldn't mind doing 5 weeks of boxing, I've never tried it before – and that doesn't matter to us, because we're still making money out of them.

It’s still not a wasted lead for us, they're leaving saying that they loved it, so they're going to tell someone else about is and it hasn't cost us anything. We’re charging $90 for the 5 weeks and they get a set of gloves, which we can get wholesale on a good price, or they get a uniform, again, which we can get at a pretty good price. So by the time I take advertising fees, our instructor fees and the gift that they get, we’re still making a little bit, not much, $10 a student, it averages out at $9-$10, so it’s not much out of the 5 weeks. But then if I can capture 70% of those people to continue on their training, that's when we obviously start to make a bit of the return.

GEORGE: Going back to, because you mentioned that over the last two years your business has doubled and how the changing in branding played a big role in that: what else contributed to that big growth?

MATT: We had a number of things: working with Dave Kovar, release some stuff within me that have been holding me back I think. I found that most of the mentors I worked with up until that point when it came to trying to be financially successful, or successful in a business, it came down to finance. And it came down to, no one ever really said about trying to rip people off, but it always sort of had that feel in the end: lock them in on this, once they're here, never let them leave. It had that feel like, it didn't matter what they're getting out of it, you've got to keep them. And it didn't sit right with me, I don't like that. I don't like being involved in that when it’s happening to me, and I don't like doing it to other people.

So I always felt like there was something stopping me from being successful, because I'm thinking, well, to be successful, I've got to be like them, and I'm not going to be that. So I'm just going to coast along where I'm at. And then, doing the work with Dave and meeting him and seeing the sort of person he was and then going over to America and meeting his team, because I went, this is all really good, but does it really work this way? You know when you're learning off someone and you go, yeah I can get up and say how it should be, but how is it really?

GEORGE: Do you practice what you preach?

MATT: Yeah, do you practice what you preach. And are your guys following the steps that you've put in the process for them, or are they doing something else, and you're out here talking, but they're working something else. So I went over there and watched his club a couple of nights and got to meet him properly, have a relaxed talk and meet all his staff at all the different levels, from the person that does the intros, to the girls and guys at the desk, to the people instructing classes – man, it was impressive. The skills of his students were still good, it wasn't like Mickey Mouse nothing, it was good students.

The instructors were incredible instructors, I don't just mean physically, but they knew what they were doing, and they were young, but he trained them so well. The office staff, everyone, and they all worked as a team, there was no, oh, don't talk to her, or, he doesn't really know what he's doing, you should come and speak to me. They were talking each other up, everything just felt good about it, so it made me change my whole thought concept on it: you can be successful and be a good guy. What I'm doing is, I'm basing my ideas of success on the wrong preset. So that was probably the biggest hurdle. Once I got over that, I was happy to then go back to graphing my student numbers and charting everything. So when I first started…

GEORGE: Can I just stop you there on that? So, the big obstacle you had was your association with success?

MATT: Yes, for sure. And I still find it in other things too. I have done some work, I'm trying to get rid of it, I was seeing a psychologist for a couple of years to help work on that as well and I found that my time with the psychologist was amazing. It was like a business coach at the entry level because it was what I needed at the time. I didn't need work on my finances, and putting my plans into place – what I needed was, one of the hurdles, you've been doing this for a long time now: why are you still bumping up against these same hurdles? And with a psychologist, you get no answers, but it allows you to question yourself on different levels and things and I found that to be fantastic.

My Systema instructor, Alex Kostic, I've been training with him for around 10 years and he's from Serbia and he's studied psychology and he's always talking about how people should go and see a psych. We want to get fitter, so we go see a PT, or we do a martial art. We want to think better, but we don't speak to the professionals on how to do it, we want to deal with our situations in a better way. And it took me about 7 years of him constantly talking to me about it, but when I finally went to see the psychologist, I could go in there thinking, I'm not going here because I've got a problem that needs to be solved, or a mental problem that I'm dealing with: I just wonder how it can be better.

And that was another big breakthrough for me. Maybe turning 40, got me a few breakthroughs. So those couple of things helped me get over those big hurdles, put me back in the mindset of growth and development and then I could put that same mindset back into the business and I could put it back into my martial arts training and how I want to continue to grow. So those things, and then the other things that really helped us grow, a few of our instructors sort of came of age, they got to the point where they were doing really good work and you could really trust them with classes, so then we were able to grow the classes and develop more times and spaces.

Again, that came to me actually giving them feedback and again, it came from a slight tragedy: I had a bad thing with my back, I blew out a few discs and had some badly pinched nerves and was stuck on the ground for about four months before I could get surgery. And it meant that I was managing the gym with my iPad, so watching the classes through the security camera and sending messages on, can we do this, can you do that, when you teach the class tonight, the guy at the front is a little bit messy, clean that up.

And for the first time ever, I was actually managing the staff and managing the instructors and giving them really clear guidelines. So what would normally happen was, I’d turn up, they'd come in to help me with the class and I’d say, take the blue belts. What? No, no, just take them. Or such and such has got a fight coming up, go and work with him, and no real clear instruction, no good feedback. But being stuck on the ground for three months…

GEORGE: Blessing in disguise.

MATT: It was the best thing. It sounds horrible, but it was the best thing ever. Made up Facebook groups working communicators, groups for instructors, smaller groups, and then when I got back, we would talk before class on what they were going to do, I’d give them some other ideas to help with the ideas they had, at the end of the class, we’d give feedback on how the class went and we try to keep that going. So it’s now 2.5 years later, so all these things, they've all accumulated, but that learning to manage properly was a God sent, you know? Being stuck on the ground.

GEORGE: That's some really deep stuff there, I mean, you say just those few things, but just that – yes, you're removed from the gym, but now you actually had the bird's eye view, you can actually see what's going on because you're not in it, so you've removed yourself. And then the mind stuff, I mean, this is something I work on all the time, and I've got my own philosophies about it, but my belief this stuff comes from the way you grow up, the way your parents talk to you about money, that’s expensive, this is this, you can't have this, the whole tall poppy syndrome thing that’s alive and well in Australia – as soon as there's success, let’s pull him down, that whole crab in a bucket thing.

And I think all those things – you talking about, and I’ll re-listen to this, but it was kind of in the sense of, I was doing everything the same, and then I changed my mindset and my thinking and my obstacles, and then everything else changed. And it’s almost like it’s just that internal change, your beliefs. I guess your relationship with money and how you link success because you had this vision, these guys, they're a bit dodgy, they're trying to be sneaky and a bit on the scum side to kind of lock people in and keep their money. And your values just don't agree with that and that’s your only model of success and then, you're kind of like, I'm definitely not going to be that, I don't want to be that guy.

MATT: That's right, and if you haven't got those role models to look up to, it’s hard to create your own role model. But you know, with you talking, well how much difference can one person make? It took a lot of people for it to happen to me, but I was the only person in the end that needed to change for all the other things to change, and then it’s changed for everyone in the gym too, for the better as well. Now there are more people involved in martial arts, so they're getting the benefits of that as well. I had an interesting discussion with one of my higher ranks and we were talking about direction and things. And I was talking about the need for growth and he was dead set against the need for growth, he was telling me that that was a narrow way to be looking at some of the things or at martial arts development.

And I found that it was a little bit of a shock and a little bit hurtful too because the growth is about getting other people to experience what I think is absolutely an amazing journey and has been so helpful for me, that I want other people to be a part of it. His mindset is still in, he's thinking success is what I was thinking success was as a martial artist. And he's thinking that when I'm talking about growth, I'm talking about salesmen and ripping people off or something. It’s like, he needs that paradigm shift to say, that's not what I'm meaning: what I'm meaning is, getting people to love it, getting people involved in it. Giving them what we've had and what we've enjoyed for 30-40 years.

GEORGE: I’m on a completely different level than you are. I started martial arts in my mid-thirties and I can tell you, it changed my life, I know that. Why didn't somebody sell me, 10, 20, 15 years ago, why didn't someone put their foot down and tell me, you need this! This will put you on the right path, you know what I mean?

MATT: A 100%.

GEORGE: There's so much value in martial arts. And you don't want to go down the route of being slimy and locking people in and doing all this funny stuff…

MATT: But you need to get the word out there!

GEORGE: But at the end of the day, you've got to experience it. And if it’s going to change your life, I think martial arts school owners need to do whatever they can to install that message and get people over that obstacle, over those fears that are holding them back of actually just getting started and just get them started.MATT: The third biggest thing that helped change our whole number system around is part of that 5-week program, it was that we then had a date to advertise to. So rather than just advertising for new members all the time, which ended up never happening. So I'll get some flyers out, or I'll put something in the paper, or I'll put something on Facebook – well, there's no date to have to do it by, you know? But when I know that I'm starting my next course on March the 6th and I haven't got anyone in there yet, I know that I've got to be advertising to March the 6th. And there no use me advertising kickboxing if that course is zen do kai.

So I'm only going to advertise zen do kai for that group to get in on March the 6th. So it’s made me invest money in my advertising, it’s made me look at how the advertising campaigns work, it’s made me look at the results of the advertising campaign because they're very obvious. I don't just go at the end of the year; how many people did we have this year? It’s more like, well, how many people did I get to join u that month? Six. OK, so next time we do it, we got 8, what did we do differently? Or next time we do it, it was three – yeah, but it was the middle of winter and most people… so we can start to really look at things for having that date I have to have it done by, and that was another…

GEORGE: I'm so glad you mentioned that because I've spoken about it a few times and I spoke earlier to Darryl Thornton from Shukokai Karate and we were talking about events and deadlines and he just had a huge open day where he signed up 70 people and it was an hour! And there were so many people in the hour, and then 19 came back on Monday. And we were talking about this whole psychology: it’s not 5 hours, where people can come and go when they please. It’s one hour, where they get to spend their one hour of energy. They can only be there 12 to 1, that's the hour and they do something very simple, they run their event, everybody gets to take part, it’s the pride of the school, it’s what all the students are looking up to, they just want to do this one thing…

MATT: It’s coming again!

GEORGE: Yes, we want to do the open day! And they do one offer at the end and it’s not high pressure or anything, but this is the offer for the day and the whole psychology goes back to exactly what we were just talking about, this whole event for your marketing, that it’s not, people can just walk in when they please and join. You can only join in this window; this is when the offer is.

MATT: And we find that people actually appreciate it. Sure, we’ll get a percentage that won’t appreciate it, but the most, when we explain it to them, the reason why we have everyone start on this date is because we find in the past people just needed time to tag along, it’s not a great learning experience. But if we can really sell to them: in this beginners’ program, we go step by step, you're only with other beginners, the instructor can concentrate on you guys and really give you a good platform base –man, I want to do it!

When I'm telling other people about it, I’m going, I wish I started like that. My first class, I got winded five times. I started in stretch jeans and had to do squats with someone on my shoulders. Why did I keep coming back? I have no idea, but I don't need to give that same experience to someone else, I can give them a much better experience than what my first experience was.

GEORGE: That's awesome. I've got one more question for you, because I know you do a lot of traveling and so you've got a lot of people on board, within the fight arena and the fight scene –  what's been your biggest learning curves, from traveling abroad with martial arts and the fight shows and so forth?

MATT: I think the biggest learning curve, there's probably been two. The first one is probably just a funny one, but a lot of guys don't do much for themselves and you learn that when you go away with them, and they ask how they're going to get their underpants cleaned, every little thing – oh my God, this guy has gone from mom to his wife, and there's been nothing in between. The girls are much better, the girls tend to be self-sufficient, but the guys can be pretty hopeless, so you end up being a bit of an everything to them on those trips. But the main thing I've found is that martial artists are martial artists.

When I first started traveling, I was really quite nervous going into another gym, or a studio, or a seminar, because you didn't know what quite was to be expected, and you were representative of everyone from your system – you're not, but you felt that. You sort of go, if I'm the only guy these guys will ever meet from our system and I'm an idiot, if I don't do well, then it’s not going to look good on my whole system. What I've found is, if you just get in there and have a go and laugh with them a bit and enjoy the session, everyone takes you under their wing and then because you've got something in common, they want to show you around, they want to take you out for dinner. They will help you get to places that you would never get to when you travel.

So most of my trips, a vast majority of my trips are around martial arts. So it’s either learning or further competitions stuff. With the competition stuff, the main thing that I've found is that Australia is way up there on our levels of professionalism in the way that we were in or shows and competitions, but also on our levels of competitors. And I've also found that, particularly in the Muay Thai, that everyone's there to help each other, so we’re in the change rooms – there's no animosity generally in the change rooms. It’s generally very, very friendly. If I've traveled away and I haven't been able to bring a bucket because there was no room, someone in the change room is going to give me a bucket.

The last fights, we were at world title fights, on a line fight, we were stuck in a place called Connecticut, we were in the Indian reserve in the middle of nowhere – apparently, it’s the biggest casino in America under one roof, but that didn't mean much. There was no way to buy anything, the next town was 40 minutes away, we had no cars. Guys helped us out with pretty much everything, even down to adrenaline for stopping cuts, which we needed. So yeah, I find that martial artists in general, through my vast experience with them, the vast majority are decent, good people. Sure, there's going to be that guy that wants to test you a little bit more, that's had a bad day, but that's everywhere. That's in the supermarket, or in my own club from time to time, but man, I just love traveling and meeting martial artists, it’s just the best thing ever.

GEORGE: Awesome. Matthew, that was awesome.

MATT: Thank you very much.

GEORGE: Glad to have you on this show and maybe we’re going to have you do around two for the fight stuff and chat a bit more about that.

MATT: Thanks very much for letting me talk and I've been loving all the podcasts. I've learned so much off all the different people you've had on. In fact, some of the ideas that helped turn me around are from different martial arts podcasts and things that I've listened to.

GEORGE: That's excellent. And before we go, if people want to find out more about you, where should they go?

MATT: They could have a look at www.smac.net.au.

GEORGE: smac.net.au.

MATT: Yep.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Cool, thanks, Matthew, cheers!

And there you have it – thank you, Matthew, for a great interview, it was good fun. Learned a lot, like always and touching back on what I mentioned about event based marketing: if you look at the whole psychology of that, just putting a dead end to the purchase, the big thing with martial arts is the long term commitment and people fear long-term commitment, it’s just something that you've got to process. And as I spoke with Paul Veldman about the different stages of the conversion: somebody comes in for the paid trial, that's that. Now there's a whole new conversation because there's a whole new state of mind and there’s a whole new person really, because they've experienced what martial arts can do for them, or not.

That conversation is going to be completely different and you've got to think of it as these little baby steps that are climbing up this ladder to get to the ultimate conversion at the end of the day. And the psychology of putting that whole deadline in place, there's a lot of things here: there's the psychology of the deadline again – I know I repeat myself often, but the deadline of, it’s a 5-week program, so people know that that's what they're committing to, 5 weeks, and it’s actually nice for a student knowing that, hey I can actually sign up to this, and in 5 weeks, I've accomplished something.

In my mind, I can feel that I've done something worthwhile, and this comes back to an objection that I see coming up with the whole paid trial system, is a lot of people say that, even though the paid trial is so good, they don't want to disappoint their child, because they don't want to put the child through this whole process of enjoying the martial arts journey and now the parent has got to say, sorry, we just can’t do it, we can't afford it, it’s not going to work. And having that deadline, having that package deal with someone – maybe you don't even have to do anything different: what Matthew does is put something in a 5-week program and if you can package it as in something that really delivers a result that people aren't scared to commit, because they know for the 5 weeks, they're going to walk away with something and certain skills, that is a great way to frame things.

And look, obviously your intention is to keep them as a long term member, but removing that fear, that risk, that risk of commitment, risk reversal – we talk about it a lot in our copywriting stuff, risk reversal: how can you remove the risk completely and take on the risk, the risk is all on you as the school owner. So how can you do that, how can you take all the risk, eliminate it all from the person that's contemplating whether martial arts is going to work for them or not? So remove all barriers, make it easy for people, get them on the floor, get them trying things out and then into the next step of the conversion.

Alright, that's it from me, just a few insights, a few things that I've come up with. For next week, we've got another awesome interview for you and that's it. Show notes and all links and everything are on martialartsmedia.com/28 and I will speak to you next week. Have a good week, chat soon – cheers!

 

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