134 – Martial Arts Business Events: The Partners Intensive Live 2022 Review

Live martial arts business events are back! Here’s what we covered at our private Partners Intensive members event, and details about the next one.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • A look at what's included in the 170-page Partners Intensive workbook
  • What’s wrong with most martial arts business events
  • A walkthrough of Ross Cameron’s world-class martial arts facility
  • Nailing your socials with vertical videos
  • Google’s bigger comeback
  • Creating martial arts curriculum using the Curriculum Creator 
  • Getting young instructors to run high-level classes
  • How to Run a 6 Figure Open Day   
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. So today I'm going to give you a full review of our most recent martial arts business event, our Partners Intensive, which was a private martial arts business event for our private clients, and our Partners members, and it was held in Brisbane, on July 2022. 

martial arts business events

So I'm going to give you a full review of just what we covered, what we did, and what made the event cool, different, and exciting. And stick around, I will also share with you how to access the recordings of the event and how you can potentially be invited to the next one, or on martialartsmedia.com/134. But let's jump into the details.

All right. So our Partners Intensive, that was it. If you're watching this, I'm holding up a big, thick workbook, 170 pages of strategies, notes, models, and things that we worked through from front to back. Why so many pages? Well, you didn't ask that, but I think I'm just going to tell you, because you think, “170 pages. That sounds like hard work.”

Well, it actually means less work, right? It means that we did the hard work upfront. And in the sessions, our members were able to take notes. The strategies were already done for them. And it was a great way to just really refine things and keep track and walk away with a clear plan.

martial arts business events

So let me start with that. Events. Now, I don't know what type of events you've been to. There are great events, and there are not-so-great events. And then there are events that you think are great events and you feel like it was a great event because it was, but when you look at the content, you kind of walk away with a scatterbrain. You walk away with all these ideas. And you're on this dopamine high, so you feel really good about attending this event. And you've come back with ideas and you think, “Oh, wow, I've got all these things that I've got to do.”

And so you're on this mental high because of the event. But now you get home and now you got to make a plan. Now you got to put this all together. Now you got to make it practical for yourself. And that's hard to do if you don't have a structured strategy and an outline for you to be able to take everything and implement it fast, because, let's face it, information without implementation means squat.

martial arts business events

So you might feel good about the event and you might have gotten a lot of ideas, but if you weren't able to capture it and capture the strategy of how to implement it, it sort of becomes like that whole long to-do list of stuff that just never gets done. And so it doesn't take long, and you look at it, and it probably causes more overwhelm than actual results because you just can't get to the things that were mentioned.

So I'd like to say we go about it a little bit differently. Now, our events are for our private clients. So these are paid for events by us, our members who pay to be in our program, and so we run the events for free for them. We structure it over three days, and we make sure that our members can walk away, get the strategies, but also get the work done and be able to implement. And so that when they get home, they have a clear plan and they know what to do. All right.

Partners Intensive

So I'm going to jump into exactly what we did over three days. So first off, this event was really special because one of our Partner members, Ross Cameron from Fightcross in Albion, Brisbane, created a… When I say world-class, I don't even think it does it justice, but their new gym is a combination of a complete lifestyle center and a gym, martial arts gym.

So what I mean by that, is that I'll just get Ross's permission before sharing it, but I'd love to post it below in this episode. So if you go to martialartsmedia.com/134, there will be, I say, “Will be,” because he'll say, “Yes…” We did a walkthrough of his facilities and we posted this in our private members' group, but I'll share it on this page so that you can get a perspective of actually what this gym is about, and it will really inspire you for whatever it is that you want to add or fine-tune in your facilities.

So it's a complete lifestyle center, meaning you walk in, there's a coffee shop on the side. There's a patisserie where you can pick up pastries and really healthy meals. Then there's a bar. And then you walk upstairs and you walk into Fightcross, which, you got to see the video, right? But it's like wooden panels. It just looks spectacular, the vibe, the feel, the everything.

There's a gym at the back. There are different areas for fitness, fitness classes, and so forth, and then a large mat space at the back and a cage in the corner. When we hosted the event then, this was an event that we probably won't be able to repeat really because, well, we'll need a bigger space next time. Now, Ross's gym is huge, but, obviously, the space where we were able to host a conference can only host so many people.

So it was really great to have that type of experience and be able to host the event at a martial arts gym/lifestyle center of that caliber. It was really good to have all our members get together there. And we were able to do things on the mats as well as in the conference facilities. So really special to have done that. Thanks to Ross Cameron for opening up his facilities for our members. If you're ever in Brisbane, hit him up and go have a look. It's mind-blowing. So, that's the first thing I want to say about it. Just the facilities were, it was just a spectacular environment to be in.

So then we got to work, right? So for three days, we got to work. And let me just cover some of the content that we went through. So first up, we started off with our Progress Snapshot, just all our members looking at things that they have done over the past couple of months and the results that they got. We also had a session called Mimic the Masters, where some of our members shared some things that they were doing well, and then we had a round table discussion about that.

martial arts business events

Then my friend, Pete Tansley, Pete Tansley spoke to us about nailing your socials. So you can follow him on Instagram, Pete Tansley, P-E-T-E, last name T-A-N-S-L-E-Y, all one word. Also, check the show notes, obviously, for a link to that.

So, Pete Tansley spoke to us about nailing your socials. So we were talking about vertical videos, how to get traction on it, how to plan it, and how he creates an astronomical amount of videos. I think he created 30 videos in 17 minutes, something crazy. And he really brought a great diverse flavor and experience to the event.

Now, obviously, our clients are all martial arts school owners. Pete is very well-known in this fitness industry and works with Fitpros. And so he gave his perspective of just building that personal brand and how we could adopt it for martial arts schools. So a really, really valuable session.

Then we jumped into Google. So we had a goal that by the end of the day, our members would have either new Google Ads up and running, for those that didn't have any Google Ads or those that already had Google Ads up and running and had their setup optimized. So if you've listened to my podcast for a little while, you'll know that we focus heavily on Facebook, and that's what we do. We've also started diversifying back to Google. 

And if I say, “Back to Google,” Google is where I learned how online marketing works. That was before the Facebook days. I know I'm giving away my age here. But that's really where I started. I started learning how Google Ads works, and how direct response marketing works via running Google Ads. And the first time I ever worked with martial arts schools, we were running Google Ads, and we got great results from it.

Google is, I don't want to say, making a comeback because it's always been there, but there are a lot of things developing with Google that I'm really excited about. And I feel that if you're not taking advantage of what Google is doing, then you're not running a complete customer journey. So yep, you might have great Facebook ads, but then people search for you and they don't find you.

Now, a lot of people say, “Yes, but when we type in our name or this, people find us.” Yep, that's great, but it's typically only for one keyword. And if you're coming up in the organic search results, it's easy to come up just for your name or something else.

But you've got to remember a few things. Number one, there are about 10 to 15 spots on the Google front page that can be occupied. So the more real estate you own, the better. And you probably won't come up for all the other keywords, all the other terms that people are typing in. And by the way, Google has expanded way beyond just the search mechanism.

So yeah, very excited about that. So the first session we did was hands-on, more about the theory. And then we all pulled up our laptops, and I was able to walk around the room and help everyone get their Google Ads up and running. So, that was great. Cool. So, that was day one.

Partners Intensive

Day two. On day two, we had my friend Costa Prasoulas from Zeus Academy in Sydney. He covered a process that we called the Curriculum Creator, where we went through a strategy of how to extract a curriculum from your mind and structure it in a way that you can build an asset within your curriculum. We went into the real detail about how they go about breaking down a technique, which I found really interesting, breaking it down between not just the actual technique but a whole framework around it, behind the history, the founding fathers, the etiquette, et cetera, et cetera. And so we did.

In the conference room, we went through the whole strategy. Our members were able to, we had a bunch of sticky notes, they were able to write down all the techniques and strategies and be able to map it out on a big board and structure a curriculum.

And then after lunch, we went to the mats. And we went over the various styles as an example. So Costa, with them, they teach Taekwondo, they do Muay Thai, and they do jiu-jitsu and Hapkido. So we went over the different styles and how we could bring this curriculum together and what the crossover was between different techniques so that you get more of a visual experience of how it all fits together.

So, that was day two. A lot of it was martial arts, martial arts training, and curriculum. And then we rounded off, the last session of the day, and this is always a killer, was our Mastermind Session. And the Mastermind Session was just 90 minutes of pure gold. It's also the one session we could not record, because the Mastermind, you got to be in the Mastermind to get the value out of the Mastermind. So mastermind's kind of just a round table, and everybody brings something that they're working on or stuck with, and we use the power of the room that everybody gets clarity on that.

Partners Intensive

That was Saturday. Saturday night, we had some fun. A good night out in Brisbane City, which was great. And then Sunday, we had an epic day. Sunday morning, we had Brett Fenton. Now, Brett and I created a program way back, and I'll link to it in this episode, called The Instructor Team Blueprint. So I might butcher the numbers a little bit here, but Brett runs about, I think it's 74 classes per week, and he only teaches 6 of them. So he's really empowered his entire instructor team to run the classes, with complete autonomy.

And so we wanted to do an add-on of the course, Instructor Team Blueprint, and we covered a session, Young Instructors: High-Level Classes. And we did a video breakdown of how his instructors go to work, and how they run the classes. A really, really valuable session.

Partners Intensive

Then we jumped into The 6 Figure Open Day™. And so Cheyne McMahon, one of our top members, did a session on what they've been doing to run a 6 Figure Open Day. In the most recent one, I think they got 89 signups on their Open Day. If you're in the States, you might refer to it as an Open House, States or Canada. The same thing, we just call it an Open Day. And we went through the whole process. This was a really heavy session with just strategies, how we go about promoting it in Facebook groups, just community groups, which is really gold, how we go about running the Facebook ads, and how we structure the ads.

The real gold is how to sign people up before the Open Day, from the Open Day, and after the Open Day. And the beauty of it is the whole Open Day runs in 90 minutes flat. Yeah, that was a really good session on how to get local communities involved, how to get food trucks involved, how to get local radio involved, etc., etc., etc. Last but not least, we ran a session to map out a 6-week plan, so like a 6-week cycle. And so all our members were able to take all the notes, everything that they covered, and map it out into a plan to execute over the next 6 weeks. That was our event.

Partners Intensive

Now, if you would like to join us for our next event and come as my guest to our Partners Intensive, at the time that I'm recording this, we are planning to host the next one somewhere in North America. That's all I can say right now. We also run these online throughout the year. Now, if you'd like to join us for our next Partners Intensive, then I'd like to invite you to come as my guest. Now, the way you can do that is on this page where we host this podcast, martialartsmedia.com/134, the numbers one, three, and four, go to that page, and there's a button where you can download the transcript.

And on the next page, you'll find a little calendar where you can book a time to chat with me. It's 10-15 minutes. The purpose of the call is really a quick marketing brainstorm to see how we can potentially help you. And we can chat about whether you would be a fit to attend our next event or not. It's not a sales call. It's really just a chat, a low-key chat, between a little bit about marketing, what you're doing, and to figure out if you would be a fit for our next event. Go to that, book a call. Otherwise, if you don't want to book a call, just send me an email. Go to your email client and just email me at george@martialartsmedia.com. Send me an email, just with the subject line, “Event,” and we can chat via that.

Partners Intensive

And if you do want to get access to the recordings of the event, all the content that we create is always recorded. We had a video crew that recorded all three days. That is currently being edited and uploaded into our members' portal for our Partner members. So for that, same strategy, same way to get in touch with me, send me an email or just go to martialartsmedia.com/134, download the PDF transcript for this episode. And on the next page, book a call with me, and we can have a chat about whether that would be suitable for you or not.

That's it. I hope this was useful. I hope you got a few things out of it. Before I wrap it up, I really want to say this, and I should have said this in the beginning, it's been a rough couple of years, right? It's been a rough couple of years with events and doing everything online. And I think people like myself are probably way more ready to live in this online world because I've been living in this online world for way prior to COVID. So it was just business as usual for me, but I know it was a lot to adapt for a lot of people. But there's one thing that just can't be beaten and that is face-to-face human interaction. You can watch content online and you can sit and watch an event online, but come on, you know what it's like.

Partners Intensive

When you're in the same environment where you can still be distracted, where your phone can ring, where somebody could walk in, you still don't have that uninterrupted time to focus. And events are not just about the content. It's really about the people that you meet and the conversations that you have in between. So, yep. You got to book the flight. You got to clear your diary. You got to have the conversation with your wife to look after the kids, unless, of course, you bring them along and they can have a bit of a break and you tag a holiday onto the back of it.

Hey, we work a lot and do a lot for our members, and our students. Why not use the business and claim a good holiday on tax as well? Use the business to your advantage. But at the end of the day, right, and I'm preaching to the choir, and you've probably been to a lot of events and you agree with me on this 100%, but nothing beats going to live events and meeting people and having those conversations in between the sessions, and that's really where the magic is.

So anyway, get in touch with me if you want to join us for our next event. And thanks for listening, thanks for watching. I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Download the Martial Arts Media™ Mobile App.

It's our new private community app exclusive for martial arts school owners, with top courses, online events, and free resources to help grow your business.  Click here to download it for iPhone or Android (any other device).

2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy Membership and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month to get to 100+ students. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, get started with our 7-day risk-free trial – Click Here

3. Work With Me and My Team Privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, fill out the form and apply HERE … tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details – Click Here

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

133 – Should You Have Prices Listed On Your Martial Arts Website? (Round 2)

Here’s my attempt to end the age-old debate about the pros and cons of having your club fees listed on your martial arts website.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • The honesty vs dishonesty debate about prices on martial arts websites
  • The pros and cons of listing prices on your martial arts website
  • Getting the best results from your martial arts website
  • How an irresistible martial arts offer boosts your conversions
  • When is it actually a good idea to list prices on your martial arts website?
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. Today, I'm going to revise one of my first podcast episodes discussing, should you have your prices listed on your martial arts website? 

Should you have your club fees listed? If you don't, what should you have listed? And if you do, how does that impact your sales and your conversions? And if you don't, are you just hiding stuff and being all weird? 

All right. Let's dive in. Make sure you stick to the end, and I'll share with you a cool resource that you can have on your website that boosts your conversions and helps you sign up more students. All right. Let's dive in.

Having your prices listed on your martial arts website, should you do it or shouldn't you do it? I see this topic come up often, and I just dug through the archives of the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast, and I actually covered this on episode number four, my fourth podcast. It was 2016. And I wanted to have a look if my stance has changed on it. And I could say, “No, it hasn't,” but I want to give some context to what that stance was and where the exceptions to the rules are.

First up, short answer, is it a good idea to have your prices listed on your website? No, it's not a good idea. Now, what I've been noticing over the years is people get really weird when you say that. People go the whole honesty and dishonesty route. 

People get really angry about this, that if you don't put your prices on your website, you're hiding stuff, and you're not being ethical, and you're being sleazy. And it gets really nasty, which I find really odd and weird. 

I want to explain the psychology of why it's actually not a good idea to have your prices listed on your website, and it's actually the reverse. If you don't have your prices on your website, you are serving your potential prospects way better. You are able to establish way more value around what it is that you provide.

Let's dive into a few scenarios. As a recap of what is discussed in episode four, in the younger version, I had no beard and maybe the camera's a bit better. Hopefully, I've got this podcast thing a bit smoother, more relaxed, and better after a couple of years down. 

All right, let's just cover one scenario. You've got a mom sitting in front of her computer. She's thinking about enrolling her child in martial arts. In context, she's never done martial arts before, she doesn't understand it, somebody might have told her it's a good idea, somebody might have mentioned it and said, “The benefits are X, Y, Z,” or she's done some Googling and researching, or maybe she's got a child that's being bullied. She's kind of figured out that martial arts could be a good thing for her child, but she knows nothing about it.

All right. She knows nothing about it, so she starts searching and she finds a couple of websites. Maybe she finds you and she finds another school. You know the other school, you know that you provide a way better service, provide a way better martial arts than the other school does, and this person is searching and all that they can compare with is price. Right?

Because let's face it, no matter how good your website copy is and whether you've done a really good job of conveying what your message is, your values, et cetera, when somebody doesn't know what they're looking for, there's one thing that they do understand and that's dollars.

So, they're going to revert to the dollars and think, “Well, if that club's this and that club's this, well, martial arts is martial arts. They don't know any better.” Potentially they're going to go for the cheaper option. Right? Because there's no value attached to this figure. The price of a martial arts class, how do you justify that? 

So, because your price was listed on your website, you might have missed the chance to have the actual conversation with that person, because they just looked at it, and said, “Well, it was expensive. That's not what I want to pay.” And rightfully so. They don't want to pay that because they don't have any value attached to that price. They just see a price and a number, and they think they don't want to spend it.

Now, what if that person sat in front of you, and you showed them around your school, and you showed them the impact that you have on your students, and the value that they get, and your environment, and the club, and the quality, and the level of the instructors, and they got to experience that. Would they change their mind on the pricing? If they see, “well, this club is much cheaper, but you provide all this service.” 

Would they have gone with you? Probably, yes. Right? Because they got to experience the surrounding, but also they got the opportunity to build a relationship with you. Right? So, this is where it's way better to not have a price on your website because the price is not what should be discussed.

Let's face it, the cost of martial arts classes, people could say it's expensive, but compared to what? Because people pay way more for a car or way more on a night out. People spend so much more money on things compared to martial arts. So, saying it's expensive is, well, against what? Because they're spending more money on other things. You have got to think of the value that you can attach to your martial arts classes.

So, what do you have instead? Well, you should be looking at, well, where can you have a conversation? Where can you have a conversation with your prospect? So, your website should rather be optimized for conversions and conversations. Can they make an online inquiry, enter their name, detail, number, and email, and inquire online? Or maybe you have a chat icon on your website. Or your number is visible and they can contact you directly, or you can have an irresistible offer. 

What is an irresistible offer? You can download it on this page. Martialartsmedia.com/133, the number 133, and you can download our template, irresistible martial arts offer, the PDF worksheet, and we'll give you all the options of which numbers to use and how you can create an irresistible offer to promote your martial arts school.

Now, why would you want an irresistible offer instead of your club fees? Because the person that is just looking at the martial arts school, and they've never done martial arts before, and they might be nervous to give it a shot, but if they see an offer that’s irresistible, and there's value in it, and it feels risk-free because remember, this person is not… they're not sold on martial arts, potentially. Very few would be. Right? But more than likely, they would not be sold on martial arts hook, line, and sinker, so they're probably going to be hesitant. Right? 

So, we want to give them something that's of value, that they can try out, and what do we know? We know that if they try it out, and they're going to walk in, and they're going to experience it, then yeah, that person that was skeptical or was looking, has now completely changed to a person that's engaged and sold on the idea of martial arts, almost all martial arts school owners will tell me we've got no problem signing people up once they're through the door. Right? Because that's where the experience changes. 

So, why would you want to put obstacles in the way of them getting through the door? Makes sense. Right? I hope it does.

Now again, I've seen people get a bit weird about this. And I've seen well-respected martial arts school owners and coaches get really weird and hung up about this. Maybe because they were annoyed with a certain group that maybe appeared like they were unethical and spammy and they promoted not having prices on the website, and then they just deemed the idea as how those people approach the business world. And I can understand that. 

But what's important is to just take a step back and think, “Well, if I'm trying to serve my potential students the best, and I know I provide the best service, and the best martial arts, and create the biggest impact on my students, then I've got to do everything humanly possible to make sure that happens,” and that you can sign them up and change their lives, because you're really doing them a disservice if you don't sign them up. It's really in their best interest.

Now, what I didn't cover the first time I covered this topic was exceptions to the rule. Where would it maybe be a good idea to have your prices listed on your website? I want to be funny, but it's probably not funny. I say this tongue in cheek and not. You hate money. You think everybody is a McDojo that is more successful than you and charges more money than you, has more students than you, and you don't want to attract any more students. Right. Maybe true. Maybe not. Let's just take that for a grain of salt.

But here's a real exception to the rule. Right? A real exception to the rule is your brand exceeds the availability of students that you have. You have a huge reputation in the industry and people that… maybe it's an MMA or jiu-jitsu, or you are just seen as a professional martial artist that people typically follow and want to train with. So, your brand and reputation way exceeds the market demand. And you want to let people know that you are the premium martial arts school, and this is what you pay and you don't want time wasted. Now, just be careful about this. 

You obviously got to be in demand to be able to repel the people that you don't want to train with you, and we've got a few clients like that, where the leads are just so many that we structure our irresistible offer in a way that is a few hundred dollars extra, that the average inquiry will probably look at it and say, “No, that's not for me.” It does repel people, and they don't take up the offer. 

So, number one, your demand exceeds your supply. You've got leads coming in, everyone wants to train with you, and you put your price at a premium and you want people to know that. Or you are super famous and you are well known and respected in the space, and you want people to know that you are the premium provider. 

And then number three, you have a martial arts school at a holiday destination or place where people visit often and maybe they just come for two weeks or three weeks, and you've got packages available where people can train. Then that'll be a good idea to have your price listed on your website because then people know when they travel, what is available, and what they can do. Other than that, I still stand by episode number four, the best idea to not have your prices on your website.

What to do next? Well, if you want to know what you can put on your website, the one thing that makes or breaks in the conversation is the irresistible martial arts offer. Now, obviously, there are a few more components. Right? But if somebody has been looking around, and they're comparing clubs, and they're looking around and they get to your website and you provide an irresistible offer that feels like the risk is on you as the martial arts school owner and not on them, it feels like they can try it out. 

We know we don't want them to try it out, but we want to remove the risk of them trying it out. Then head over to this podcast page, martialartsmedia.com/133, and download the irresistible martial arts offer worksheet. And that'll get you started.

Anyway, thanks again for watching. Do go check out episode number four, just for its good value, and just for a laugh, a laugh just because it's super old and probably good to know that I haven't changed my stance on any of the things I discussed a good five years ago. Anyway, thanks again for watching. Thanks for listening. I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Download the Martial Arts Media™ Mobile App.

It's our new private community app exclusive for martial arts school owners, with top courses, online events, and free resources to help grow your business.  Click here to download it for iPhone or Android (any other device).

2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy Membership and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month to get to 100+ students. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, get started with our 7-day risk-free trial – Click Here

3. Work With Me and My Team Privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, fill out the form and apply HERE … tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details – Click Here

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

132 – Pros And Cons Of Hiring A Martial Arts Digital Agency

Many martial arts school owners long for a martial arts digital agency that delivers new students on demand without having to lift a finger. But Beware! This pipedream could cost you your business. Here’s the pitfalls to avoid and what to do instead. 


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Pitfalls to avoid when working with a martial arts marketing agency
  • Who owns your digital assets?
  • Local digital marketing agency: Do they have proven, irresistible martial arts offers? 
  • What media should you use when running Facebook or Google ads?
  • Why most martial arts schools don't need a marketing agency
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business podcast. In this episode, I'm going to be talking about digital marketing agencies for martial arts schools. Martial arts, marketing agencies, however, you want to word that.

Do you need one? Do you need to hire an agency? And if you do, what are the pitfalls to avoid? What should you be avoiding? What questions should you be asking? What should you be looking out for? All are covered in this episode.

Make sure you stick around to the end and I'll share with you how you can download an actual checklist with everything discussed, all the questions to ask, pitfalls to avoid and so forth. All right, let's jump in.

All right. So let's talk about digital marketing agencies and do you actually need to hire one? I've got to start this one with a short story, and the story actually involves how I, one time, lost a valued podcast listener by my actions and I don't regret it. I've got to share the story. I've probably shared this in a previous podcast, but I think it's relevant if you haven't heard it. It's a relevant story for what we are talking about today.

All right. A couple of years ago, a podcast listener reached out to me and said, “Hey, George, love the podcast. Got a quick question. Which channels are the best for advertising a martial arts school? Is it Facebook or is it Google? Facebook ads or Google ads?”

And I replied, “Good question. It depends on a few factors, which it does. Facebook strategy works like this. Google strategy works like this. If I was doing this myself and trying it, this is the one that I would go for, which was Facebook in this case.”

I said, “Curious, just why are you asking?” And he replied and said, “Thanks for the information, but I'm actually starting a digital marketing agency for martial arts schools and I just wanted to know which channel works best.” And that got me fired up a bit. I said, “Hang on. You're opening a marketing agency and you are asking me which platform to advertise on. How are you going to actually take people's hard-earned money and run ads for them if you've never done it yourself?”

And then his response fired me up even more. And he said, “Oh, that's okay. I'm just going to hire someone offshore to do it for me and run the agency that way.” And that made me boil over.

And I can't recall the exact reply that I messaged back, but I said, “Look, the world does not work like that and you cannot take people's hard-earned money and charge them and think some magical person offshore is just going to know what to do.” Now, there is a way to use an offshore person, and I might share this in this episode, but that's definitely not the way to go about it.

And so I wanted to start that with caution because, well, as a warning, really, if someone is not charging you a premium fee to run ads, which is quite a hard thing to do, they're probably not going to do a very good job.

Now, I must admit the industry's come a long way and I've been doing this for a long time. Facebook wasn't around when I started digital marketing. I started by hard trial and error, wasting a lot of money. It was way harder to run ads back in the day than it is now. So things have evolved. The industry has evolved and agencies have also evolved, but there are a few pet peeves and pitfalls you got to watch out for.

Pet peeves I have about agencies and pitfalls that you should watch out for, and there's this dream scenario for martial arts school I know is you could just do what you love. You could just do the teaching. You could just show up. There are always students and you just do what you love.

That is the dream scenario and you could definitely achieve that, but is an agency always the answer to do that? And I'm going to say no because I've played on both sides of the coin. This is purely from my experience. I want to give props to really good agencies that are out there and that have really evolved in the martial arts space, but I still want to approach this with a word of caution because I've seen the pitfalls and I've seen how things adapt. At the end of the day, you as the martial arts school owner are worse off.

Another just trip down in history, memory lane. So the way I got started in this industry before I started our Partners group, where we helped martial arts school on a scale worth marketing and attracting the right students, increasing sign-ups and retaining more members, we were an agency and I started my agency with this dream idea. If we could just do everything for martial arts school owners, they would be better off and I really believed that. 

And I really wanted to create something magical for school owners in that way, but as we ran it and as we had clients do this, I felt that every time things didn't go right, or worst case, we parted ways with a client, the client is always worse off. The client is always worse off running by just throwing their entire energy and faith into a marketing agency to deliver leads for them every month and month-end.

When you part ways, you're always worse off because now you're left with nothing. You've got nothing. And so again, you're looking for this magical agency to do everything for you, and that was always a big concern for me is when somebody is doing the lifeblood of your business and they are responsible for it, and they're always doing it.

What if that service is not what it is a month later, or they grow too big, and now the service starts to deteriorate and they're not on top of the strategy and they need to scale, so they need to get on more clients and they need to hire more staff. And now the person that you hired, isn't even touching your account anymore and your costs are going through the roof.

So for you to be better off, I'm going to go through a couple of things that you should be watching out for, pitfalls to avoid, and things to consider when you are hiring an agency.

By the way, if you're listening to us or wherever you're watching us, go to martialartsmedia.com/132, that's the numbers one, three, two. I'll have a checklist where you can download all these questions and that you've got just a guide for the right questions to ask if you're ever going to hire an agency.

All right, here we go. First up, let's just start with a few pitfalls. Who keeps the data? Number one, if they're going to run your ads, who keeps the data, and this goes hand in hand with, are you going to be better off? Meaning if somebody comes and they're running the ads for you, then who keeps the data? Are they hanging onto the data or will you actually get the data?

Meaning if you ever left the agency, are you going to be better off or are you going to be back to square one, back to where you were before you started with the agency and you've got no way to generate more leads? So you've learned nothing. You've gathered nothing. You've gained nothing other than, of course, the leads that you got. But when you leave the agency, you're back to square one.

And so with that, the follow-up question to ask on that, whose ad account do they run the ads from? Is it your ad account or is it an account that they have and they just run your page through that? Because if they're doing that, that means they are keeping all the data. I had a local company here that I helped out in Perth, Australia, just another nightmare story from an agency.

They had developed a website for this martial arts school and they were running the Google ads and they never handed over admin access. So they'd spend five to $10,000 on this website with combined services. Well, mainly for the website and they didn't get handed over the admin access to the website and they didn't want to hand it over when they moved. So they made it super uncomfortable for them.

So they'd paid for something that they had no ownership rights to because they had no login details to the hosting company or the website company, and I was just shocked that any company would hold a business hostage like that.

And that's the first time I'd seen that unethicalness in an industry. And I picked a big fight with them and called them for what it is because they knew what they were doing was unethical. After a long fight, they handed it over, but it really opened my eyes to realize that hang on, when agencies are trying to scale, they take shortcuts.

And so they'll take your money and they won't set up an account for you in your name. They'll run it on their account, which means they always keep the data and they hang onto all the assets. A big thing that you've got to watch out for. Which accounts are they running it from? And are you going to be better off when you leave?

All right, let's go to the next step. What type of offer are they running? Now, if you are running a niche agency that's in the martial arts space, hopefully, they've tested some offers. But if you go looking for the local agency, the problem that you're going to find with the local agency is they probably have not fine-tuned the right offer for a martial arts school.

So they don't know what strategy works and that is something that takes experience and it takes a lot of testing. And so if you are the guinea pig and you are the first guy that they're testing, they're not going to know if it's going to be a free trial, a paid trial.

They're not going to know which wording to use, which copy. They might be as experienced as they are, but they are used to running ads for corporate-type companies. And so they've got this corporate type strategy, which means the strategy they're going to use for you is going to cost you a lot, and it's going to take a long time for you to get results.

How much experience does that company actually have with martial arts schools? Are they going to get you the results that you want or are you going to have to burn through a lot of money before they get to a result? All right.

So let's talk about strategy. What strategy are they using to generate leads? And are they on top of these strategies? So here's something that's happening in the digital space right now. At the time we're recording this 2022, there's been a lot of shifts and things happening on platforms.

Facebook has still been the dominant ad platform. There are emerging platforms, more Instagram, which is under the Facebook umbrella. TikTok is doing a lot of things. So are YouTube ads. So there are a lot of things happening, but is the strategy that you are using going to work now and in the long run, or are they hanging onto an old strategy, which means it doesn't really work that much on the platform anymore.

And so you're spending way too much money to generate leads. So now you've got this massive fee for the agency and your ad costs are way higher because they are doing the wrong strategy to get you the result.

Now, maybe you don't have to touch it and that's okay, but you're burning through a lot of cash and way too much cash for something that could be actually done if it was really, really simple, because I'll go through quickly, something that we do with our martial arts school clients. We work on getting the offer right. We spend a lot of time on this.

We've helped our school-owner clients generate way more than 7,000 paid trials through our process. So it's something that we've refined and tested, so we know it works in different styles for karate, four TaeKwonDo, for jiu-jitsu. We've played around with various offers in all styles and modified it.

We know what offer works best for which style and which offer works best in a scenario. So how are you going to sign people up afterwards? Is it going to be a free trial or you're going to run a paid trial and then sign people up? What's your sales process going to be because it's all got to be congruent. Your front-end offers really got to be congruent with your sales process on the back end.

And so if an agency doesn't know that flow that works, number one, and that compliments your strengths, well, there's going to be things that break in between. That's a big thing to consider.

First up, we look at how we craft the irresistible offer? Now, you can run a bad ad with a good offer and get great results, but you can't run a great ad with a bad offer. So we know that if we craft the perfect offer for our clients, they're going to get results. And then we go through the process of how to run an ad that gets results. And how do you go by testing and refining the process so that you'll get the best results from your ads? And it's a really simple process and formula.

And then after that is, well, how do you do the follow-up? How do you follow people up and how do you use a strategy that is congruent with how the platforms work right now? Because as we speak right now on Facebook, for example, if you are sending people away from Facebook, meaning they got to click on a website link or go to a page, that's great, but Facebook doesn't want you to leave Facebook.

Your strategy to optimize for people clicking away from Facebook is way more expensive than if you had the conversation within Facebook. Got to admit, this was a hard pill for me to swallow because I'm used to being the website guy and developing landing pages.

And so it took a lot of adjusting for my mindset first up to adapt to that, but there's a simple strategy like we use our Messenger signup method where you can follow up with people within Facebook and your conversion rate is way much higher and your cost per lead is way, way less. What is the strategy that your agency's taking, and is that congruent with how things work today?

All right, let's look at another thing. Media. Okay. Media means videos or photos, for example. What are they going to use, and have they tested it? If they're going to recommend the video, well, there's a whole list of boxes to tick with the video.

Now, generally speaking, people say video is better on social media. It is, but generally speaking, not on ads. Video for the most part is not better on ads. And look, there's an exception to the rule and I'm generally speaking, generally.

If people think video is better, then everybody says, “Hey, let's go do video.” Well, can you craft a good video? And that doesn't mean a video that's got a logo circling for 10 seconds, where by that time everybody's left or it's a video that the videographer student, maybe someone that's got great intentions and they're a student with you and they created for you, but have they crafted a video that conveys a structured sales message and gets people to take action?

That is a whole different ball game. So just because you can edit on video software does not mean you can create a video that's going to drive a conversion. Completely different thing.

What media should you use and how are they going to go about that? Now, they might say, “Well, we've tested these stock images,” and that's great. Now, I've got a bit of a pet peeve with stock images because again, it's not congruent and it looks fake. People can see what is fake and what is real.

And here's the thing, they've probably seen everybody else use the same images in your area as well. Do stock images work? Again, an exception to the rule, but do you really want to portray a fake image about what it is that you offer and then people arrive at your school and there's a complete disconnect about there's no congruence with what they saw and what they're getting at your school.

What images are they going to use and what are they going to recommend? So they're probably going to say, “Look, use these stock images.” All right. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't, but in the long run, it's going to tarnish your reputation, and it's going to do damage to your brand at the end of the day.

We got a strategy we followed. We did a course with Francine Schaepper. We did The Smartphone Photography Masterclass, and in that, we cover the process of how do you take the photos? And it's not rocket science. It's the kind of thing that when you learn it, you know it and you know what to look for. 

And there's a whole bunch of things that go into that, but it's something that you got to know. And if you don't know it, then you, depending on this agency, deliver all these results for you, but what are they going to use to get the message out and is it going to be congruent with your brand?

So we teach our clients just the basics, what to look for, what type of photos should you be taking, and how many people should be in the photos. Smiling faces is always a plus and go about the testing and then roll the ad out and just do the testing. So it's really a simple process to follow if you know what to do.

And so that for me begs the question, do you actually need an agency? Now, what I'm not saying is you have to be running the ads and be hands-on all your life in marketing. But the danger is, if you give your lifeblood over to a marketing company, you have to hope that they're around today, in 3 years, in 5 years and 10 years. So you've not only got to hope that they're a good marketer, but you've got to hope that they're a good business owner and know how to run an agency.

In the agency world, there used to be this thing of there's a breakpoint at, I think, it's 20 clients, that when you've got 20 clients and 20 ad accounts to run, the agency owner typically breaks because they just got to keep employing staff and keep employing staff, unless they're just doing a cookie-cutter approach and doing the same thing for everyone. In our experience, that is not a good strategy to go by.

One of our frequent guests, Kevin Blundell, we were chatting about running ads way back. And we were looking at ad accounts from two different locations and we were running the same offer in two different locations, with the same strategy. One went through the roof and the other one crickets. And so when somebody takes a blanket approach and doesn't assess things specifically for your location, again, you're going to spend way more to get the results and probably it's going to be costly.

And then the danger is, let's say they did deliver. So let's say you got the guy and he was a great marketer. He's a great marketer. So he is a great marketer and he's getting the results, but now he hits that benchmark. Well, he's got 20 clients plus. Now, he's got a scale. And so now employs the staff member to run it, and the staff member still needs to learn the strategy and experiment. And the person that you hired gets more and more detached from the actual process and your ads start to decline and decline and decline and decline and decline.

And so here you are, and you're like, well, this isn't working anymore and you don't know what to do because you are disconnected from the strategy. You don't know the offers, you don't know what works, and you don't have access to the data.

And so you decide, all right, well, I'm going to do the next thing and look for another agency to run this, and here you go back on the train. The lifeblood of your business is always dependent on somebody else looking after it, and you just have to have the hope strategy. You hope and pray that they deliver for a long time.

And so when it comes to the way we go about it, we know that most school owners don't need an agency. Number one, you can save a lot of money doing it yourself, but the other thing is you get an insight about your business that you will not get when you work through an agency because you know what offers work, you know what people respond to, and that is something that you don't just do in your ads, but now you start duplicating that across the board with internal marketing and running flyer campaigns or internal flyers or other advertising platforms that you want to work on.

So you've got the insight and you know what people respond to because you've got a hands-on overview. Now, does that mean you've got to always be hands-on? Definitely not. But if you've got the strategy and you know how this works, then finding the hands to do that is really easy.

We've got a few school owner clients that we work with that are growing the family business and they've either got their kids that are taking over the business, or they've got other instructors that want to be hands-on in the business.

And so slowly, they're just handing over the reins to them. They keep the data, they keep the strategy and they hang onto it and everything grows within the organization, and that way everybody's hands-on, everyone knows which strategies work, which offers work, and you can get students on-demand without knowing that the livelihood of your business is dependent on X, Y, Z business and you got to hope and pray that they're going to be around in the next five, 10 years.

Anyway, there was a lot more that I wanted to cover. I have spoken about a few of these things before, but I just wanted to give you a good perspective on what to look out for, and what to watch for. Head over to martialartsmedia.com/132, numbers one, three, two, and you can download a resource, just all the questions and all these things that we've just discussed, what to ask, what to look out for, and hope that helps.

Anyway, thanks so much for watching and listening. I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.

 

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131 – 10 Must Haves For Your Next Martial Arts Location (Plus Downloadable Checklist)

Kevin Blundell goes through 10 essentials from The Location Analyzer Checklist – the must haves for your next profitable martial arts location.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Using The Location Analyzer Checklist to pick the perfect martial arts location
  • Putting your passion for martial arts aside for clear business decisions
  • The 3 most important things to consider when choosing your new location
  • Why you should ‘visit for the vibe’ of your chosen location
  • Setting up your school where people live vs where they work
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

We found that the yoga studio was having an open day so we, ironically, had an open day at the same time. And yeah, we got quite a bit of interest from there and students who joined. 

GEORGE: Hey, George here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media Business podcast. And today, I've got a repeat guest for the fourth time. I think this is a record, Kevin. 

KEVIN: Yeah, I think so, George, and I think it's about our fourth time we've had a chat. 

GEORGE: So just for a recap, way back, this goes a couple of years back, so the first episode was 20 – 100 New Martial Arts Students in 5 Weeks Without Sleazy Selling. We got back together on 115 – The Strategic Mindset Behind Running 23 Successful Martial Arts Schools. And then, 129 – Success By Design – Foundations Required To Setup Your Next Profitable Location. 

So today, we're getting back together and it's a bit of a follow-up from the process of talking about The Next Profitable location. And we were discussing The Next Profitable Location Blueprint. Today, we're going to do a bit of a deep dive. And one question that comes up a lot is, what are the things to look for when you set up your new location? 

And so, in the course that we created, The Next Profitable Location Blueprint, we've got a worksheet that you can download at this episode. So, depending where you're watching or listening, it's at martialartsmedia.com/131, the numbers 131. And it's called The Location Analyzer Checklist. 

We're not going to dive deep into Kevin's story. You're going to have to go through all those podcasts I just mentioned. So, we're going to dive straight into the good stuff. Are you happy with that, Kevin? 

KEVIN: That'd be great, George. 

GEORGE: All right, perfect. So, we've got The Location Analyzer Checklist in front of us, and these are 13 steps altogether, things that you should be checking out for when setting up your next location. And we're just got to go top to bottom. We'll probably have time for about the first 10. 

And we're just going to discuss them and jump straight in. All right. So, Kevin, so Location Analyzer Checklist, if we start from the top. Number one, think with my head and not with my heart. 

KEVIN: People are very passionate about martial arts, that's why we're all in this industry. Sometimes that passion can override some sensible analytic thought processes. So, what we try to do is get our guys to focus on, “Right, think with your head and not with your heart.” 

And what I mean by that is pretty simple, is okay, sure, be passionate about what you want to do. But at the same time, go through a defined checklist. Hence, why we've developed this Analyzer Checklist to enable people to do so. 

GEORGE: Where are areas that you might get… Like, let's say you find this location, are there certain elements where the love and the enthusiasm can take over, and you can step into the wrong environment really quickly? 

KEVIN: Yeah, I've found, and not only within my organization but many people around the world I've discussed this with, that they may get something well within their budgetary range, for example. But later on, they've got to pour so much money into advertising and promotion, it would've been better to have a little bit more expensive rent, but a better location, that's for example. 

They may believe it's ideal to be close to where they live instead of maybe a few kilometers further away or a few miles further away. You've got to really step aside from what suits you the best to what's going to make the business function properly and your school successful. 

GEORGE: All right. Number two, commercial property versus light commercial or industrial. 

KEVIN: Yeah. This is, again, one that you really need to think through thoroughly. Ideally, your location needs to be relatively close to where people reside, not where they work, unless you're going to focus on purely daytime only classes. So commercial property is more like your shopping centers and neighborhood shopping centers. 

Light commercial is a combination of a shop front with a facility out of the back, so more like your retail outlets. And then industrial is purely industrial, where you're in there where there's mechanics, cabinet makers, carpentry, transport hub, all those sorts of things, warehouses. 

So, you need to weigh up what's going to be most appealing to your current and/or potential clients in the new location. 

GEORGE: All right. And not mentioned here, but probably worth adding. You mentioned setting up your location where people live versus not where they work. Do you mind elaborating on that? 

KEVIN: Certainly. Look, people need to come home from their work, and in the city that could be anywhere from a 30 minute to a two-hour drive. And when they're home, if they're going to do an activity, it needs to be in the area that they reside close by. 

So, they can come home, get organized, come and train. And then they're only 10, 15 minutes back to where they reside. As opposed to if it's in where they work, in that area, most people don't live in commercial areas. They reside further out. 

So, it's important to do that demographic analysis before you proceed with even looking for premises, which is another topic. 

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. All right. So, number three, do my neighbors operate 24 hours a day? Sounds almost obvious, but probably worth investigating, right? 

KEVIN: Yeah, very important. I found an ideal location in a city, and I thought, “This is great.” But then I realized that nobody went home at 4:30 or five o'clock in the afternoon. The business kept going and going.

And I drove there one morning early and they were still going. So, they had three eight-hour shifts, and it was a slight industrial place, and the noise was continuous. Traffic was continuous. And yeah, it was just, unfortunately, not an ideal location. 

So, depending on the nature of the business, George, that's the key thing. But however, importantly, you need to identify, is it going to be operating 24 hours a day? Instead of between 7:30 till 5:30 as most businesses do. 

GEORGE: Are there any businesses that are complete no go, that if they're within close by neighbors that you avoid? 

KEVIN: Yeah, look, if you share a combined, I suppose, car park space, and they're a heavy transport company, and they're coming and going all the time, you've got to think about the safety of your students coming and going. The hours they come and go, it's dark when they leave from training. Is it well-lit? 

Most importantly, which leads into our next point, is it a business that creates a lot of dust, like a tire place or a carpentry shop or metalwork? Is that going to float through and into your beautiful new setup and your mats? 

So, these are pretty much common sense things, but sometimes when you're leading with your heart and not your head, these are overlooked. And it's not until you're entrenched in and embedded in there that you come to the realization that, “Hang on, this is not very… I'm constantly cleaning the mats. I'm constantly cleaning my pro shop, my waiting area, and my office.” 

So just a little bit of research makes a big difference in the end. 

GEORGE: Perfect. And so, we combined number four there, dust in the air being generated by neighbors. And I guess, if you really, just as you emphasized point number one, if your heart's so into this place, it's easy to make that… You're thinking, “Yeah, okay, but we'll be okay.”
KEVIN: Not always. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

KEVIN: Unfortunately, not always. And if you're locked into a 3×3 lease, which is three years with an option for three years. That's the minimum I suggest also, is three years minimum. That way, you've got a bit of an out in case things don't quite go as well as you anticipated or in that particular area. 

And we need to look at, is the environment great for students and parents? And this is a really big one, is that don't go there during the middle of the day when everything seems to be going along. You need to go there at your ghost timetable time. 

So, you need to set up a timetable that you're going to run in that area, and you need to look at getting to the facility. What's the traffic like in that area? And is it well-lit at nighttime, as I mentioned previously? Is there parking space? Does mum and dad have to walk more than 150 meters? 

It's not suggesting they're lazy, but it becomes… Anything that's a barrier for the students, and the parents especially, you want to make sure they're eliminated. So most importantly, is it safe, well-lit, easy access? 

GEORGE: All right, perfect. And I just want to define the points there. So, number five was, is the environment great for students and parents? With that, number six, enough parking? And number seven, is it safe? 

KEVIN: That's all integrated, but enough parking is probably the key thing before you can even proceed with the location. Because various councils or municipalities have various requirements with parking. And that can be crucial in you even being able to use the facility so you need to investigate that thoroughly.

And enough parking for your students and the parents during your go time, when you're operating it the most. And importantly, ticking off, is it safe? And safety comes in many ways, and that is, do you have to cross three or four high traffic areas? 

Are there big trucks around? Is it well-lit at night? Is there access to public transport if you're in the city, and how far away is that? And is it a safe thoroughfare to that public transport? 

So, these are a lot of things that you need to look deeply into before you make the final decision. 

GEORGE: Okay, number eight, who opens up when we start?

KEVIN: Okay, this is a good point, George. You need to look around what other businesses are either operating or opening at the same time you start. Now, when I say start, I refer to your actual afternoon, evening class times. 

Generally, depending on the area, if you're in a light commercial, most businesses will be closing down. But not only that, some may still be open. So, this can be a little bit of a draw for parents, if they know that not far away, they could do some shopping of some descript whilst their child is participating in a class. 

You just need to go there at the time of your ghost timetable. And basically, just see what happens. 

GEORGE: Yeah, one of my friends here in Perth, they've got a big location in an industrial area. And they've been growing and growing and growing. And they're at this mark of 600, 700 students. And the biggest war that they have right now is council and neighboring businesses that try to do everything to shut them down.

Because they just take up all the parking. He's offered to buy the building next door at way above market value and they just refuse. But I think it's really to consider the capacity of right now as well. 

This is the amount of students we're going to have at this moment. But if we scale to a certain point, what's going to be the complications of that as well? 

KEVIN: Okay, well, yeah, that's a good point. And there are a number of cases where we can't open until 4:30 PM as part of the council approval. Because I went and saw the other businesses and said, “What time do you finish?” And they say, “4:30 to 5:00.” 

I say, “Well, look, we've got people coming in,” and I set down the details of what time we open and shut. And they were quite happy because at 4:30 they were shutting their doors, and we were opening ours. So, it really wasn't taking up that parking space, especially in a big shared area, in your light commercial area. 

It's like a big U shape. And it usually has hundreds of car parks. And yeah, you certainly don't want to be taking that. 

The only guy that was a bit iffy was a pizza guy, takeaway guy. But when I said, “Oh, look, our guys are going to be hungry.” His eyes lit up and so he became a friend. Because I said, “Well, I'm going to be generating new business for you.” 

So, you just need to make sure that you find out who opens up at your start time, that's for sure. 

GEORGE: Perfect. And I think we can sort of add to that, we will share the bonus at the end that elaborates on this, but I think it's worth also considering who your neighbors are. And how can they benefit from you being where you're at?

KEVIN: Well, certainly, I've got plenty of stories about other businesses that are very happy that we're there. They've even decided to keep their business open a little bit longer in the afternoons to enable some of our parents and students, pre-class, to go there. And that's a coffee shop. 

So, there's a whole story in that, but that's one example. There was a retailer down the road, which was sort of like a convenience store and just had a few grocery items. And he said, “Oh, I generally close at 6:00 PM, but now, I'm closing a bit later because you're here. 

Because people are coming down and grabbing some grocery items.” So, you form relationships in your area. 

GEORGE: Excellent. Okay, so number nine. Number nine sort of mergers with number eight, visit at the times when I will be open. 

KEVIN: Yeah, as I've mentioned a couple times now, George, it's really important just to go there, and park across the road or in the car park. And do a bit of work on your laptop or your device. But just keep an eye on who's coming and going and get a bit of an idea. 

And you'll see the car park empty quickly at 4:30 because the staff don't want to be hanging around. Or conversely, if there's another, like a gym in the area, “Wow, it's filling up really quickly at this time,” because people are coming to use the gym when they knock off work. 

So, you just need to just go and see what happens in the area. Also, an important thing is, if you drive into the area, what route can you take, and how long? How heavy is the traffic in the area at that time? Or the distance from public transport? 

One of our Sydney locations is directly across the road from the train station so it's the perfect time. So it just depends on the area. So go there and have a visit. 

GEORGE: Perfect, cool. Number 10, will parents be inconvenienced? 

KEVIN: Yeah, this is a tricky one. And that is, if they do work further away, come back, and they've got to get their kids to class at 4:00 PM or 4:30, you need to be really mindful of what happens in that area. We have a number of locations that have what they call after school care or OOSH or whatever it is, and all those sorts of things. 

So, a lot of the kids go from school to there. But we've managed to liaise with them to get them to drop the kids off. They pick them up from school, they spend an hour at their facility, and then they drop them round in their bus to us. Which is a real win because we netted a lot of children out of that one particular location. 

Because the guy there was, “Oh, well, they're under our care, but we'll drop them off.” And the parents pick them up directly from us at 5:30 or six o'clock when they get home. So that's, again, about forming partnerships and seeing who's in your area. But you got to be mindful of the parents. 

You start your class too early, and both parents work, have they got a carer or a grandparent that can drop the child off? So, we have early and late classes for children to facilitate a better outcome. And that's worked really, really well. 

GEORGE: Perfect. All right. So, I said we were going to stop at 10, but I think we have time to actually just go all the way. Let's do it. Number 11, and this is a big one, internet and mobile reception. 

KEVIN: I found a great location but I just couldn't get phone reception. So, I went and asked a few of the businesses in the area, and they said, “Oh yeah, it's terrible here. The Internet's shocking. 

They reckon they're going to do something,” and all that. And as you know, if you've got a CRM that you have people checking in on, you can't operate your business, unfortunately, unless you've got Internet and mobile reception. You can, but it's a little bit antiquated. 

Plus, you want to provide the service if people want to come in and whilst they're waiting, do homework or study or something. We have study benches at our locations where they can download their information. So, you need to do that. 

You go to, what is it? Speedtest.net, I think it is, or use a mobile app just to see what it is, and go from there. Nowadays, it's not too bad, but four or five years ago, it was a shocker. Some areas just didn't have it. You can have workarounds, of course, but again, the less inconvenience for everyone, parents; students; and staff, the better. 

GEORGE: Yeah, this is… My family always laughs because whenever we go check in at any Airbnb or any hotel, the first thing I do is I pull up the speedtest.net app. And I just check what we got? Or well, in that case, whenever you're at any resort or hotel, the Internet is… Everybody promotes free Wi-Fi, but it never actually really works. 

So, it's always good to get, and most people don't really ask for Wi-Fi anymore because everyone's got enough data on their mobile. But if they're going to be using their mobiles, it's also worth checking to see what type of reception is in that area.

KEVIN: 100%. And just those little things like that, just make a big difference. Again, it's like the dust floating in on the mats. At first, it's okay, then it's manageable, then it's frustrating, and then it's just down right annoying. 

So, you just got to make sure you cover all bases. There's a lot to think about, and that's why we use these really defined checklists, such as this one we're discussing today. 

GEORGE: All right, perfect. So, number 12, and then a bonus. So, number 12, ideal distance to manage from but remotely, minimum 30 minutes away and maximum 60. 

KEVIN: There's a lot of information here. But just an overview for everyone, George, the ideal distance is 30 minutes away from your current location, if you're in a big town or a city. And, or if you're in a country environment, where you have one city and then another one, and you're going there a couple of times a week or you're going to manage it or whatever. 

Or you've got current staff traveling down there, the maximum, you want to be 60 minutes away. But you need to be at least 30 minutes away from your current location. Otherwise, you'll have people scavenging your current location, depending on your arrangement.

So, if it's going to be under license, or if you're going to be an owner, operate in partnership, so you need to look closely at that. So, it works quite well if you own both locations and they're relatively close. And you've got a big dividing thing, like a major highway, and you might only be three or four kilometers away. 

And it might work really well because people never go across the major highway. They do everything on that side. Whereas, in a rural environment, towns are generally 45 minutes apart. 

And as you go further out in the country, that gets further distance apart. But in the city, 30 minutes from your location might only really be six or seven kilometers. But it's far enough away for a new lot of students to come and join there.

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. So, for that number 12, thanks for the context. In The Next Profitable Location Blueprint course, we've got a module that goes through a bit more in depth of this, called The Location Identifier. All right. 

And then the bonus, are there any businesses that already serve my target audience, gyms, yoga, and so forth? 

KEVIN: This is a really important one. A lot of people get concerned, in the industry, about, “Oh, there's a gym across the road, or there's soccer fields, or there's hockey fields, or netball course,” or whatever. To me, that's great because that means you've got active people in the area where you want to have more of an audience. 

So, if you've got a martial arts' facility, big signage, looks quite clear to see, and you've got netball courts, then adjacent to that is a soccer field, rugby league field, AFL field, or field hockey, that's great. Or if you've got a gym just across the way, yoga studio, Pilates studio.

Now, some of those people may not necessarily want to do martial arts, or want to do it immediately. But they might go, “Hey, this is a great idea for my son or daughter,” or someone they care for. And they may drop them off while they go and do their workout. So, we've got a situation at one of our locations, there's a gym. 

Well, there's actually three gyms within… You can throw a tennis ball. They're very close by. And we're finding a lot of people are starting to make inquiries. 

We've only been there for a little while now. But they're starting to drop their child off and go and do their workout. So, it works really well. 

And in due course, people start doing the martial arts. And then because it's goal-orientated with belts or other mechanisms to measure graduations, you find that they find that a little bit more exciting to do than just going to do yoga or to the gyms, which is great. 

Great facilities in a good location, but it attracts your sort of client. And then it's a case of making sure there's opportunities for them. And also, if the gym's having an open day or whatever, you can jump on the back of that. 

And I talk a lot about that in one of our other topics, and the success riding on the back of someone else's marketing program. It makes a difference. So, we found that the yoga studio was having an open day so we, ironically, had an open day at the same time. 

And yeah, we got quite a bit of interest from there and students who joined. 

GEORGE: Perfect. So, thanks for that, Kevin. So, if you want to download the actual checklist, The Location Analyzer Checklist, you can just go to martialartsmedia.com/131, so numbers 131. And we are running a workshop called The Next Profitable Location Blueprint Workshop. 

There'll be a link on the same page that you can access. And I'd also like to mention that The Next Profitable Location Blueprint course is also now live. And you can access that from this page, or go to thenextprofitablelocationblueprint.com. 

Kevin, thanks so much. Any last words before we head off?

KEVIN: George, yeah, look, I think most people have a conceptual idea of opening another location, or even enhancing their current location. But the tools that we've developed are very useful and are proven and very successful. So, jump on the workshop at least and participate, have a look, and see what you… 

There are some tools in there for you. But the course is very comprehensive and it has really worked well. So hopefully, it'll bring you the same success. 

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. Awesome. Kevin, thanks so much. And I'll see you on episode number five, I guess. 

KEVIN: Yeah. Sure, George. Thank you very much and much appreciate it.

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Download the Martial Arts Media™ Mobile App.
It's our new private community app exclusive for martial arts school owners, with top courses, online events, and free resources to help grow your business.  Click here to download for iPhone or Android (any other device).
2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy Membership and become a Case Study.
I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month to get to 100+ students. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, get started with our 7-day risk-free trial – Click Here
3. Work With Me and My Team Privately.
If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, fill out the form and apply HERE … tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details – Click Here
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130 – How To Attract More Adult Martial Arts Students

If you’re struggling to attract adult martial arts students through your paid ad campaigns, try this instead.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Do this before running adult martial arts ad campaigns
  • How to cross-promote martial arts to adults
  • Upsell to students without sleaziness
  • The perfect time to cross-promote to adults
  • Do this if your adult ad campaigns aren't working
  • 9 Conversation starters that lead to more martial arts students
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business Podcast. In today's episode, we're going to be talking about how to attract more adult students. How to get more adult students on the mats, and what to do if your adult ad campaigns aren't working.

This is a conversation and question that comes up often, and we are going to dive into the details, and I'm going to give you a simple, simple solution on how to do this. You're probably going to kick yourself when you hear it, but it's that simple. But in order to execute the simple strategy, we're going to have to take a bit of a broader approach and give some context about how the whole strategy works and fits together.

Make sure you hang around to the end, and I'll share with you a really cool PDF resource with nine different conversation starter strategies that can elevate this process and get you much better results. All right, let's jump in.

Not sure what this is like for you, but most successful owners that we work with, and the school owners that have got a fair amount of solid student base, don't really struggle to attract the kids. It's more a question of how do we get more adults training and how do we get more adults on the mat? Now, there is the rare case that this is in reverse. Right? Depending on what type of club you run and what type of style you have, what type of style you teach, maybe your focus is 100% adults and not so much kids. There's obviously the rare occasion.

But generally speaking, this is the case. What do you do if you want to attract new adult students? We talk about this in our Partners group often. And typically when we start working with school owners and we start looking at the online process of how we going to attract the right students, increase the signups and retain more members, it's easy to lean towards, the adults is the student base that we need, and so if we want to go run ad campaigns we want to run directly for adults.

Now this could be both good, but also not so good, because if you've never actually run ad campaigns before, running it for adults is way harder. Right? It is way harder to run ad campaigns for adults. If you haven't mastered the process yet, then it would be a bit harder. It's always better to start with what's easier, what works, which is campaigns for the kids, and then graduate yourself up to running ads for adults.

The only reason for this is just getting used to and accustomed to the system. Well, how do we pick the right ads? What is the right media, the right images? How do we split test them? How do we make sure that we pick the right one so that we reduce our cost per lead? And then how does the whole follow up work?

Now, most school owners like yourself don't really have a problem signing people up when they show up and when they're in front of you, but you've still got to get them to show up. Working that whole process of making sure that all the leads that you speak to are actually going to show up, and you can take the whole process from there.

That's probably the first pitfall to watch out for. If you want to jump straight into running ad campaigns for adults, it's totally doable, and our clients do this successfully, but there is a steeper learning curve to really master it and get it nailed down. All right, so that's the first thing.

Let's jump into the solution. Well, where do you start? Well, the good news is if you want to attract more students, and you already have a client base of kids that are training with you, then you already have the perfect pool of prospects waiting for you. Right? And that is obviously the parents. The parents are the people that are paying the fees, and hopefully you've got a fairly good relationship with them and the students are enjoying the training.

If that's the case a cross-promotion is the perfect way to get more adult students on the mats. Where do you do this? Well, there's a good time to make an offer and a great time to make the offer. Good time is to, if you haven't yet, go make the offer right now. I'll give you an idea of how you can do that. The best time to do it is getting your timing right.

I'll tell you a little story. Now, I'm not a big car guy. I love a lot of other things, surfing, drums, jiu jitsu obviously, but I'm not a big, big car guy. I'm more like A to B practical … Where we live, an SUV 4X4 type thing is essential. Not essential, but it's great to have, right, because we've got the space, we've got the beaches and so forth.

Anyway, we were in the market for a new car a couple of years ago, and most people are pretty fearful of walking into a car yard. I love being in sales and marketing situations because I feel there's always room to learn. There's always something that you're going to pick up, some little technique, or in this case, a reminder of something that you might have forgotten about.

In context of this, so anyway, we look at a car, and we purchase a car, and we sit down with the sales rep and we've just bought the car. Now, if you think back to the last time that you bought something significant, something of significance, something that you really wanted or desired, there's some level of emotional high that you feel once you've made that purchase. Right?

There's a bit of a dopamine hit. You feel good. And so, we are sitting there and obviously, we feel good, and the sales rep asked us, “You've got the car. Have you thought about tinting the windows?” I thought, no, probably not. “Are you looking at traveling locally? You might need a tow bar for a trailer or caravan.” I thought, oh yeah, we probably do. “Do you want this? Do you want that? Do you want the roof racks?” Oh yes, of course, I surf. I definitely need the roof rack.

And so goes the upsells. Right? Do you want this insurance that you probably don't need and your other insurance covers it, but this insurance sounds cooler, so do you want to get this one? You know what I mean, right? But it wasn't done in a distasteful way, because it wasn't like it was a … I think internet marketing terms, I think it's called upsell hell.

You just go through all these upsells, and it's ridiculous. But as long as the upsell is actually complimenting the purposes that you just did, it's pretty good. Right? In this case, we've just spent a big chunk of money on a car, and all these little add-ons are really just providing extra value. It feels like a no-brainer.

That begs the question. When is the best time for you to make this offer to parents? Well, it's just when the kids have signed up? One thing probably to consider is, let the sign up process go through first, focus on the one, and it's the old concept. Right? You can't focus on two things at the one time. Focus on the kids. They are there to sign up, and then transition over to the adults.

And just ask the question. Just ask, what about yourself? Have you ever trained in martial arts before? And just open up that topic of conversation. If there's ever going to be a good time to open that topic of conversation, it's going to be in the heat of that moment, right, because they've just signed up their kids. They're probably happy with what they see, what they've experienced, and the kids are happy, and you're probably going to have the kids say, “Yeah, mom. Yeah, dad, how about it?”

That's a quick, just short way of doing it. It's like thinking as well of the McDonald's concept of, would you like fries with that? It's just an add-on to the offer that makes life better for everyone. When do you make an offer? Well, when you've just made one. Now, I want to give you something that can make this a lot simpler.

Another little backstory. One of our top clients, Cheyne McMahon from Australian Karate Academy, when we started working together, he sent me a message on Facebook.

I just got a friend request, and Cheyne sent me a message and he says, “Hey, I just listened to your podcast episode number 44, and I did this thing that you said, and I've just signed up two new students.” I was, “Wow, that's awesome.” Awesome, number one, that he listened to the podcast, but more importantly, number two is he actually took action and implemented the strategy right there and then.

We got talking a little while ago, and talked about these little conversation starters. Right? Because essentially all that you are doing when trying to sell something, is you're actually just trying to start more conversations, because the conversation will lead to the conversion. Right? How do we start more conversations?

In our Partners group, we got working on, well, if that's the case, then how do we just start more successful conversations? How do we get more conversations going? We created a tool and a resource which we call Conversation Carrots. Think of a carrot. It's something that you dangle in front of someone, and it's a way to start conversations.

What we did is, we created nine variations of this. It's really simple. It's just ways to start conversations and move things along. If you have a list of prospects that maybe haven't responded to you in a while, or haven't engaged, this resource will be perfect for that. You can send out an email, and you can just start a conversation, either with directly making an offer, or starting a conversation that's going to lead to the offer.

It's called Conversation Carrots. Depending on if you're watching this video on the website, the button is below. But if you're listening to this on YouTube, or Spotify, or iTunes, or anywhere else, go to martialartsmedia.com/130. That's the number 130, for episode 130. Click on the big button, download the resource, let me know what you think. That's it.

If you've got some great value out of the show, please do me a favor and just hit the share button wherever you got it, or leave us a great review. Always welcome. Always great to hear from any of our listeners, especially if you are implementing anything that we share and get results from that. All right. Thanks so much for listening, watching.

See you in the next episode. Cheers.

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Download the Martial Arts Media™ Mobile App.
It's our new private community app exclusive for martial arts school owners, with top courses, online events, and free resources to help grow your business.  Click here to download for iPhone or Android (any other device).
2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy Membership and become a Case Study.
I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month to get to 100+ students. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, get started with our 7-day risk-free trial – Click Here
3. Work With Me and My Team Privately.
If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, fill out the form and apply HERE … tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details – Click Here
Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.
***NEW*** Now available on Spotify! 

129 – Success By Design – Foundations Required To Setup Your Next Profitable Location

Kevin Blundell shares 3 essentials from The Next Profitable Location Blueprint that’s helped them open 20+ successful martial arts locations. 


.
IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What’s the population needed for a successful martial arts school, and how far should this be from your existing location? 
  • The ‘drivers science’ behind choosing your exact new location
  • What to avoid in your environment when scouting for locations
  • Accessibility and geographical location: what are their impact on your martial arts business?
  • Why should you take advantage of ‘The Next Profitable Location Blueprint'?
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hey, it's George Fourie – welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. In this episode, I'm chatting to repeat guest, Kevin Blundell, from Kumiai Ryu Martial Arts System. 

Now, if you've listened to the podcast over the years, we originally spoke on Episode 20 – talking about signing up 100 new students within five weeks. Then we got together on Episode 115, talking about the strategic mindset behind 23 locations. 

And this episode is really special to me, because if you listen to Episode 115, that is where this whole new journey began. Let me give you a few insights. 

So, Episode 115 was actually a recording from our internal, private Partners event that we hosted for our Partner members. So, three times a year we get our Partner members together and it's a combination of masterminding, networking, and bringing speakers together – and just learning and growing and sharing information and networking together. 

And after the event – Kevin spoke at the event, which was the recording of Episode 115 – and after that, we started talking about this process of opening another location. Now, Kevin is one of the most humble and sincerest guys that you'll meet and won't always reveal the depth of knowledge that he has within the industry. 

But when you speak to him, you'll know that he's very methodical and everything is systemized and designed for success, step by step with absolute certainty and clarity. We started talking about how to go about opening, successful location after location; and they've rinsed and repeated this process 20 plus times, very, very successfully.

And so, I spoke to Kevin about, number one, speaking again at one of our events, but how about, we actually just look at the whole process and the blueprint, and map it out and see if it's something that we can share with other school owners. And that's why I'm really excited about this podcast, because we're just in the process of putting together The Next Profitable Location Blueprint. 

Martial Arts Location

So, depending on when you're listening to this, we are hosting a Partners Intensive Event that for the first time we opening up to the public, and if you're listening to this a bit later, the program will be ready to go and available, which is the full course – The Next Profitable Location Blueprint.

So, we chatted a bit about the first steps. If you're looking at opening the next location, what are the things that you got to look for in… Firstly, why do you need to do it in the first place? How do you go about probing the population? What have you got to look for? What is the minimum number of people that you should have in a town, if it's a rural town? What is the best structure to set up your location, and all the rest. 

So, we're going to jump right in now. Wherever you're listening to this podcast or watching, make sure you hit the subscribe button. If it's on YouTube, hit subscribe. If it's on your favorite audio channel, make sure you subscribe – that you get notified when our next episodes come out and look for the notes and the links to the show notes. Episode 129. 

So, we're at martialartsmedia.com/129 – check the show notes. There are links available to the event depending on when you're watching or listening to this, there'll still be time to jump on. Otherwise the program should be available. Have a look, and if you're looking – seriously considering opening up the next location, it might be worth checking out. Alright, but let's get into the magic. Let's jump into the show. Let's do it. 

Kevin, so in the context of opening a new location, we always ask the marketing question first. But in reference to opening a new location, what has been the best marketing campaign or promotion that you've done that's been most successful for you? 

KEVIN: We've had a number of successes, but one that comes to mind is when we open one location, we systematically went around creating rumors and whispers. So, we, you know, we joined some local Facebook groups, we spoke to local sporting groups, and we just said, “Hey, it's a new martial art school coming to town.” 

We had a few people in the geographical area, and we asked them to do, just in their day to day activities, just say, “Oh, by the way, there's a new martial arts school coming to town,” and it piqued a lot of people's interest. So, it was really good how it unfolded for us. 

GEORGE: What was the result of doing that strategy? 

KEVIN: What was really going… On our opening week we got 50 paid trials for the first week before we even commenced. During the construction phase, you know, I was present a fair bit and went to hardware store, service stations, you know, just interacting with the local community – and I always told them what was going on. 

And funny enough, a lot of those guys booked in, paid for their trial, and were there that first week. Some are still with us in that area. So, it's really good, it's really successful. 

GEORGE: Fantastic. So, Kevin, I wanted to bring you on, we've got – and depending on when you're listening to this – but we've got an event coming up, and we've put this program together called ‘The Next Profitable Location Blueprint'. If I think of any martial arts business owner in the world, and I think who would be the renowned expert on this topic, it would be you – just because you've done this so many times and successfully and run a multi-million-dollar organization with your multiple martial arts schools. 

So, if we're to just start from the beginning – if I'm a martial arts school owner and I'm looking to open up my next location, I want to grow my growth, where do you start? 

KEVIN: A lot of trials and tribulations to get to where we are now, but I certainly feel confident we've got it pretty accurate. Certainly, over the last number of locations we've opened, we've been very successful, as we followed the blueprint from day one. 

Probably the most important thing is once you establish your why – why you want to do it and what you want to achieve – is to find the geographical area you want to be in and one of the key things is, you know, if you're going to own both the locations, you need to be able to manage those. So, anything more than an hour's drive away, becomes a little bit untenable, but if you're, you know, 30 to 45 minutes away, it's an ideal location. That's the first thing. 

So, you just basically look at the map and, you know, if you're in a city, do you know how many suburbs away you want to be? How busy is it to travel there? If you're in a rural environment, what's the next largest town or city, and how long is it going to take to get there? You need to account that in, because that's one of the key things, if you are running both locations, you certainly need to have that measured from the start. 

Probably the next thing is, once you decide where you'd like to go, is to physically go there yourself and just have a look around, get a feel for the place, just see what happens. And there's a lot of subheadings under that of what we do, that primarily is just see. I know it sounds a bit, you know, of a sort of fly by. 

You've seen your parents' way of setting up a business, but get a vibe, it really is – get that vibe for that area. And you can get that over a couple of days, visits, you know, just by interacting with the community, having a look around, and obviously doing your research. 

GEORGE: Perfect. So, I want to talk a bit more about visiting for the vibe and so forth. But let's take just one step back – before you've even visited the town, what are you looking for? 

If you, like, draw up a map and you're looking, “Alright, well, I'm here and I'm looking at a radius of about 30 minutes to an hour from where I'm at for my next location.” What are the things that you're looking for? And what type of research are you doing to determine where you are going to set up? 

KEVIN: So, once I've gone to the place and had a look physically, just to sort of satisfy myself, that's an area. So, these two things correlate together, and that is… Then I go on and I look at the Bureau of Statistics, I look for the population in the area, I look for the medium income, I look for activities, you know – is it a sporting town or is it a retiree town? Is it a low socio-economic area or is it a, you know, wealthy area? 

Generally, somewhere in between those two is an ideal area, young families. You can plonk yourself in a very wealthy area, but people, you know, haven't got any time and then you put yourself in an area where there's a lot of folks that just haven't got the resources to participate. So, you have to weigh all those things up so you can do your research. 

Our local government area websites have a lot of information. So, we systematically go through and tick off – look at the Bureau of Statistics, your local government area websites, and you just see, you know, even news articles. I've done research on news articles as well, just to see what sort of people are in that area, and if they would fit into your martial arts school community.

GEORGE: And what about sports activities and things like that? Is there anything you look at? Are you concerned about competition or anything like that? 

Martial Arts Location

KEVIN: Look, I think if you go to an area where there's a lot of sporting activity – we've had a lot more success where there was, areas where there wasn't. So, you know, do they have a soccer competition, a touch football competition, basketball, hockey, how many teams they got, you know, and that's easy. 

Just look at the local associations, you know, for example, the Hockey Association for field hockey, you know, football, all sorts of things, swimming, whatever sporting day. Even look historically at the sporting pages for that area, you know, to see the prowess of the athletes that come out of there. 

Because if they're a sporting town, it's, you know, you do run into the thing of ‘we only can only train in the summer, because winter,' and vice versa. But once you get people involved, you know, they'll work it out, and you'll have them there training all year round. 

So, you know, you want to look at that. In part of a scenario, where, as I say, you might have a lot of retirees or people, there's not much action happening, you might have a level of success, but I just found that, you know, really looking into the area you're going to make a big difference. 

GEORGE: Fantastic. If we had to look at population density, and how big are communities, is there a set number that you think of as a minimum? Especially if you're looking at like a rural town that's close by, that there's just not enough people in the vicinity to make it work? 

KEVIN: I look at percentages. So, if you can get 1% of the population to participate… 15,000 is a good benchmark, so if you've got 15,000 people who are within 30 minutes of where you're going to set up your new martial arts school, generally you'll get 150 people there as a rule. 

Obviously, this varies from location to location, but that's been the formula I've used, probably for 30 years. We have a lot of rural locations. You know, some initially were just community services into small areas. But you know, as we went along and became more proficient at what we did, we identified around that, around that 15,000. 

So, although we do have some schools, where there's a very small population, and for 5000 or 6000, they have over 100 members. So, you know, it really depends on the community. So, that's everything – dovetails together. It's really important to make sure it all marries together when you're doing research. 

You need to be honest in your assessment, but sometimes you get a little bit, you know, look at things through rose colored glasses. So, it's really important to make sure you're honest with your analysis. 

So, let's say you visit a town and you like the vibe, and it feels good. Has there ever been a moment where emotions clouded the actual logical “business brain”, and maybe the decision making didn't go in the right way? When I wore a younger man's clothes, yes. Because I thought everyone should do martial arts, and I couldn't understand why everyone everywhere in the whole world wasn't doing martial arts; but the reality came along pretty quickly. 

So, you know, you can make a clouded judgment, but with my overall approach now, if you follow the analysis, and you follow the steps, you'll get past that and make you feel… 

For example, we looked at a number of locations, Jason, you know, other towns near where I live at the present time. And one up north was closer to the one in the south, but once we went there and did our due diligence, we found that the one that in the north just wasn't going to support a full-time center and, you know – be great for little community martial arts in a hall type place, you know, it'd be fantastic for that. 

And there's some great martial arts schools there, but they don't ever have any great numbers, because it's just not that environment. 

GEORGE: And can you recall what the distinct trigger that made you feel that that's just… What is it about the town that you felt or the research that told you that it's just not going to work there? 

KEVIN: Well, initially, the vibe just wasn't there, and there was, just the atmosphere. Then when I did my research, you know, sporting groups and socio-economic, and it started to really throw up a lot of red flags. And I just thought, before I proceed any further with this, I'm not going to make a quick decision. 

So, I sort of left it for a few weeks and came back and re-went over the material and chose the other location, which was a great success. So, I guess, you know, a vibe is not a thing, but it just comes with experience. But having the opportunity to look at statistics, income, age, population demographics, obviously… 

Then what's happening in that town – was it a, you know, highway town or was it bypassed? You know, like, there's lots of little things that, you know, added up. And it just didn't add up right, and I made the right decision, 

GEORGE: I just want to go back on the distance, because we spoke about within a half an hour's drive. And I think anybody that's in a city might think, “Woah, nobody's going to drive 30 minutes to get to martial arts in a city environment,” right? But your experience in a rural town is very different, right?

KEVIN: In some of our rural locations, we have people drive 100 kilometers, or 60 miles, as we know it, each way to class twice a week, you know, well, without fail, and have done that religiously, year in and year out. So, in the city, I find that if you're more than, say, probably about 25 to 30 minutes, that's a maximum amount of travel, but generally, it's 15 to 20 minutes. 

But you still don't want to be parked on top of, you know, in an area that you're not happy with, you need to have a good area. So, you still need to do the same due diligence. We have locations in major capital cities as well. So, we understand how that works. So, there's sort of, like, you just need to make sure what, you know, public transport – is that available? 

One of our locations in Sydney, the train station is straight across the road from where they've got the dojo, which is the martial arts school, you know, and it's a great little location. 

So, it's not a full time one, it's a community hall, but he's got such a great relationship there. He can set up, you know, he has a set up team – they set up each night – has 150 members, and he's just killing it, you know, it's just great. It's a really good, great location. 

GEORGE: Fantastic. So, let's talk about that – location, right? So, you've done your research, your decision-making process has evolved and you're confident that, “Alright, I've found the place, I've found the town or the suburb where I'm going to set up my location.” 

Now you start looking for an actual venue, for an actual facility where you can set up. What are the elements that you go through to assess where a good location is, or whatnot? 

Next Profitable Location

KEVIN: It really comes down to a lot of things. But the major thing I found is accessibility. As I said, in that Sydney location, we had a choice of a better venue, but it was buried. It was so far away from public transport, whereas this one is, people just step off the train and walk across the road. So, it's probably not the best venue, but it's been the greatest venue. 

So, you need to look at, you know, if people have to come off a main thoroughfare and turn more than three times, they usually just don't bother with it, you know. What I mean by that is, from going on a main thoroughfare through a city or regional area and you just turn left, right, left, there it is, it's been a little formula I've used. 

And as people know, you know, around here, being involved in setting up a martial arts school, you can spend a lot more on advertising, if you've got a place that's pretty much not known about. So, sometimes I see the rent as an investment in my marketing, and I balance that. 

So, if you've got a big signage, it's easily accessible, and it's in an area that may have other activities similar to yours, like a gym, massage therapist, you know, indoor center of some activity. When people come, it really is a factor in making the decision. You don't really want to be next to a trucking company on one side, a diesel mechanic on the other, you know, or a noisy sort of industrial area. 

Because it just might be cheaper, but you'll be punished in the long run, because people just don't want to bring their kids there. So, it really comes down to thinking like a parent bringing a child or a person who's, you know, finished their day at the office or even a tradesperson. 

You know, they try to come somewhere where it's nice, it's clean, it's easy to get to, good parking, well lit. And lighting is a key thing, especially when I try to visit other martial arts schools and, you know, you need a torch to get in through the carpark. Just little things like that, that makes a massive difference.

GEORGE: Kevin, I find it interesting that you mentioned that you favor accessibility to the actual venue itself. Now once you've found this venue, how do you then… Do you do random visits at random times of the day? Or how do you just further assess if this is, you know, before you sign on the dotted line? 

KEVIN: Yeah, I think that's really important for people setting up a new location – actually go there during the key times you'll have a timetable. So, at this point, I would have a ghost timetable, written out roughly what days and nights we'd run classes based on other locations and what works already. 

And then I go to the area, and sort of drive around and just see, because of the, you know, there's always going to be schools nearby, or businesses closing or whatever. You just need to get a feel, as a parent, you know, dropping your child off, getting there after work, you know, how hard is it to get there? You know, some locations are gridlocked at 3:30pm, so you might have to review your timetable. Nighttime is always important. 

The safety of your students as they come and go, and the parents' parking accessibility, walking distance from public transport. You know, is it a safe walk? You just want to think about all those things, and whilst you may not be able to tick every single box of that list of things I mentioned, if you can get close, it'll work much better for you. 

GEORGE: Okay, so we've covered a lot of the foundational stuff, and I want to be respectful of your time. But I do want to cover something and this is a question that always comes up a lot, you know, different business structures and how you go about it. Now, you mentioned that you select a location that's within the 30 to 60-minute range. 

But obviously, the goal is for you to open the location and not completely run it forever. So, you want to have somebody else in charge. Now I know you've got a few business structures, three that you potentially work with, but if you don't mind sharing, what is your favorite business structure for your next location to open up, and why do you prefer that? 

Next Profitable Location

KEVIN: With my experiences, I've tried many different formulas. I find under license seems to work the best for me, and that means we have someone who is growing within your organization, and then they can branch out and open the next location. Now that person would obviously be one of your instructor team, or ready to become part of your instructor team and have the financial backing to put themselves into the position. 

Sometimes we do work out a financial arrangement of, like, helping set up as part of the license agreement. They're primarily under license, so it gives a person autonomy. It gives them their own identity, still under your umbrella and infrastructure, which enables them to be very successful, because all the hard work is already done. 

GEORGE: Alright. Kevin, we've got lots more to talk about and I'll lead into that, but if you don't mind sharing, we got together a couple of months ago, and I started asking questions just about your process. And you spoke at one of our events prior – for our Partners group, the Partners Intensive – we decided to get you back on, depending on when you're listening to this, we either have the full program released or you're still in time for the event. 

But we decided to get together and my job was to extract all your knowledge and help put it together, and we've come up with the whole format, the whole blueprint, “The Next Profitable Location Blueprint.” And do you mind just sharing a little bit? Why the program and who will benefit most from that? 

KEVIN: Over the years, you know, by default, I started public speaking at seminars and events, being privileged to do it pretty much all over the world and met a lot of fantastic people along the way. And every time, you know, people would ask me, how do you do this? How do you do that? And I'd sort of give them a rough idea, and after our discussion, I thought, “Well, it'd be remiss of me not to package it up, so other people have the opportunity to, you know, get their next location up and profitable and running successfully, without having to go through all the pitfalls.” 

And my ideas aren't grandiose or, you know, unrealistic, they're all measurable and they're all obtainable. So, you know, I think it's a great opportunity for people to plug in. And, you know, have a listen, and we've been very successful, and I wish nothing but success for everybody else in the industry. 

GEORGE: I have to add that is a really modest way of putting it, from the perspective of helping. Kevin, you know, putting all this together and breaking down the modules from how to fit out all the facilities, how to maximize your space, the organic marketing approach you take, which I have to say – next level – you know, and this coming from a marketing guy! 

This is just setting up the right foundations to get your school growing and thriving before you take on any paid type marketing campaigns. Yes. So, the approach is just, I have to commend you. It's really phenomenal. 

KEVIN: Well, thank you, George, and I truly hope, you know, people do take the opportunity, because they will benefit. It's, you know, we call it The Next Profitable Location Blueprint because it really, it's about your next location, we want it to be profitable. 

And the blueprint is your map, it's clearly, you know, and we've done all the heavy lifting, and if you follow the steps, you know, I've had nothing by success so far, and you've got 40 years of mistakes, condensed and cleaned and polished and out the other side already, so, yeah, well, thank you very much. 

GEORGE: Perfect, and we'll leave all the details where you can access either the event if you're on time or the actual recorded program. It'll be on martialartsmedia.com/129, the numbers one two nine. Kevin, thanks so much for sharing so generously, and we'll speak again. 

KEVIN: Thank you very much, George. Looking forward to it.

 

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128 – 5 Factors That Make An Irresistible Martial Arts Offer

An irresistible martial arts offer can be the ‘make or break’ of any promotion to attract new students. Follow these steps to turn your offers into winners.

IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Being uber specific with what’s included in your irresistible martial arts offer
  • Should you give away free items with your martial arts offer?
  • Do this and you instantly increase the value of your martial arts offer
  • What’s the best price for a martial arts paid trial offer?
  • This turns any martial arts offer into a ‘no-brainer’
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. In this episode, I'm going to be talking about irresistible martial arts offers.

So what is an irresistible martial arts offer? And do you even need a good offer? Well, of course, you do. And that's what this episode is all about. So we're going to dive into the details of what it is that you actually need to include in your offer. Does it need to be free? Does it need to be paid? What do you add? Do you add different items? How do you package it and so forth?

And I can tell you what, with all the school owners that we've worked with over the years, whenever somebody shares with us a campaign that's just not working, or they're struggling to get traction on the ads, or just a general internal promotion that's not really getting results, it's almost always due to a broken offer.

So you can run a really bad campaign with a great offer and still get great results, but you can't run a great campaign with a bad offer. So we're going to dive into the details on how you go about creating an offer, what it even is, and how you craft it so that it gives your future students the confidence to take the first step and start training with you on their martial arts journey.

Hang around to the end. I'll share with you where you can download our PDF, called The Irresistible Martial Arts Offer, and it will show you step-by-step the process that we go through to create your irresistible martial arts offer in just a few minutes.

All right, let's start with the basics. What actually is an offer? Well, an offer is, and if we go straight into referring to martial arts terms, it's a combination of how you package different free classes with potential free items. And how you package it in a way that the value exceeds the price if it's a paid trial or the actual value that's being presented for the commitment that needs to be taken to take advantage of the offer.

So that brings up the question, should your offer be free, or should it be paid? Well, it really depends, and I'm not going to dive into that, but if you do go to martialartsmedia.com/124, I did cover for a recent episode on free trials versus paid trials for martial arts and comparing the different platforms and when you should use which one. But either way, it's always important that the value exceeds the actual commitment or the financial commitment of the offer. So that's a bit of a bonus tip, I guess.

So I'm going to cover five points of what actually makes an irresistible martial arts offer. All right, let's dive in. Number one, be specific. Be specific with anything, and I think this is just copywriting in general, and this is if I say copywriting, I mean, sales copywriting, not copywriting, that's like the legal thing, normally at the bottom of a website, right, with different terms.

So when crafting good sales copy, it's important to really be specific and in a way almost dumb things down. There's a rule in copywriting, it says you've got to write for third-grade level because you don't want to leave people to look at something and have to think about what you just wrote.

So it's important to make things so specific and so simple, that even the obvious things that you think people would maybe know, that you still state the obvious, right? So you've got to state the obvious. You've got to be super specific in how you present what is included in the offer. The minute someone's got to think, you potentially just lost them because now they're trying to figure out what your offer is.

So being super specific is very important. So what should you be specific on, well numbers and what they get. So let's start with the beginning. What are you giving away? Is it a couple of classes? Is it one day? Is it one class? Is it five classes? Is it seven? Is it one month?

If I had to be technical, if I had a month trial versus a four-week trial, I'd rather have a four-week trial because four is more than one, right? It's a little play on words, but guess what, crafting an irresistible offer, a lot of the mechanics is having a well-structured play on words so that the perceived value does increase, right?

So this is partly important, it's not going to be the make or break. You can't trick someone into thinking that it's a good offer when it's not, but it's important to have a look at some of these elements. All right. So that's number one, be specific.

Number two is what are you giving away? What is included? Is there a free item included? So let's assume you are running a paid trial. And in fact, most of these elements are references to you running a paid trial. Although there's a lot of overlap that you can use if it's a free trial as well. If it's a free trial, you might not be giving away a free item, unless you've got a good backend process of where you sign people up.

So on the front end, you're running a paid trial, for example. So let's say you include a free item. Including a free item is really important, and it does increase the perceived value of your offer. And this might sound funny, but it also helps people rationalize the value in their mind because let's face it, how can anyone determine what the value of a martial arts class is if they've never actually taken a martial arts class? I mean, we'd all want to think, yep, everybody's just going to love it and they understand the value.

But if I'm looking at an ad or promotion and I've never taken a martial arts class before, then how do I know what the value is? But if there's a free T-shirt, a free uniform, or free gloves, that's something tangible I can actually visualize. And in my mind, I can rationalize the value of that item. All right. So number two, include a free item.

Number three, state the value of the item. Okay, now sometimes we break this rule and I'll cover why that is in point five, but include the value of your actual item. So I don't know an item's value unless you tell me what it is, right? So if there's a free uniform, well what is the value of that uniform? I need to know that this is a good, valuable offer. So if I'm paying, let's say 39.95 for the offer and the uniform is worth $85. Well, now I can immediately actually see that the offer is pretty valuable and it's a good deal.

All right, now I'll tell you what the rules are when we don't use this and when we do not include the value of the item, is when the value of the item is actually less than what the paid trial is worth. And I'll show you how we get around that in point five. All right. But in general, it's good to include the value of the item, right?

Number four, pricing. So again, obviously for a paid trial. For a paid trial include what the pricing is. Now, what type of numbers do you use? Well, odds typically convert better than evens when you're running ad promotions. Don't ask me why. I didn't make this up, I didn't invent this, but this has been tested by so many marketers online and typically the odd numbers convert better than even numbers. That's just a given fact. I like to start with facts and look, it's always good to prove your own tests wrong.

So if you do want to test even numbers, go for it. But rather start with a tried and true and tested first before you try and prove it wrong by going in a direction that's not really proven. All right. So what's up in numbers. Well, if you download the worksheet, the PDF that we included in this episode, we'll actually share with you the price points that we've tested the most. We do that in free items, in classes, in items, value, etc. And what we're discussing here of course is the price points. So I'll share with you how you can get that in just a minute. All right, so that's point number four.

And number five, number five is we talk about either the savings or the total value. So we use this if number three just doesn't look great.

Let's say our offer is 69.95 and we're including a free T-shirt, that's worth 20 bucks. To mention the 20 bucks included, it just doesn't give so much of a wow impact. So here's what we do instead, we talk about the total savings or the total value. So how does that work? Well, if I'm giving away four weeks' classes and I'm including, let's say just a free T-shirt. So what we'll do then is we'll calculate the value of the four weeks of classes and included with the T-shirt and now we can say in brackets, total value X. Or what we could also do is we could look at what they would save.

So what would it cost them to train those four weeks and buy the free item? And we will deduct that, and then we'll work out what the savings is, right? So that is an alternative for you to use. And that's really it.

Now, if you want to get practical and you want to get stuck and you do want to create your irresistible martial arts offer, then what you want to do is just download the PDF and we'll show you exactly what numbers we use, what type of free items, what price points, and exactly how you can go and structure your irresistible martial arts offer so that you can increase your conversions because that's what it really is about.

It's really about including a great offer in your ads so that when your potential students look at it, they can go from curious to serious, to signing up much easier and much faster. And you get much better results with your ads. All right. So where do you get this? Go to martialartsmedia.com/128, so that's the number 128, and just have a look below the video of this podcast, you'll find a link where you can download the free PDF, Your Irresistible Martial Arts Offer. And go ahead, let us know how you go with this.

And if you've got value from this video, don't forget to share it and I will see you in the next episode. Have a good one. Cheers.

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Download the Martial Arts Media™ Mobile App.
It's our new private community app exclusive for martial arts school owners, with top courses, online events, and free resources to help grow your business.  Click here to download for iPhone or Android (any other device).
2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy Membership and become a Case Study.
I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month to get to 100+ students. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, get started with our 7-day risk-free trial – Click Here
3. Work With Me and My Team Privately.
If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, fill out the form and apply HERE … tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details – Click Here
Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.
***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

127 – [Case Study] How A Traditional Karate School Generated $30,000+ In 72 Hours With This Simple Campaign

Richard Fall shares how they generated $30,000+ in 72 hours for his karate school with The 72 Hour ‘Cash Boost’ Sale. 


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How Richard and Kim generated $30,000 in just 72 hours
  • How asking for help leads to faster martial arts business growth
  • Why action takers are the money makers
  • The power of surrounding yourself with like-minded people
  • How to get over the fear of charging what you're worth
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. Today, I have two special guests with me, and in fact, this is my favorite type of episode to create. Look, we have great interviews on our show, but these ones are a bit more special for me, because this is a case study interview. And so, a case study interview is me interviewing some of our top clients and documenting the journey that they've gone through working with us, and celebrating the great result that they have achieved. 

And so today, I have Richard Fall, and Kim Comeau, from London Karate Club in Ontario, Canada. And we actually met via this podcast – I was chatting to Kim on Instagram, she was, “Hey, we actually listen to you every day!” And we got chatting, and we started working together, and it's been really such a great pleasure working with Richard and Kim, and seeing what great results they have achieved. And we're going to chat about that, because just recently, Richard and Kim went through a process that we call the '72 Hour Cash Boost Sale', which is exactly what it is. And they managed to generate $30,000 in just 72 hours. 

Now, that's the highlight, right? And hey, we got to talk about the highlights first. But it wasn't that easy to get to that point! Yep. The cash was collected in just 72 hours, but there was a lot that had to happen. Mindset, just belief in the process, belief that it can happen, and just being comfortable in creating a promotion like that without feeling like they're being sellout or cheap, or, you know, just being weird about how they operate their martial arts school. 

So, we're going to jump into the details, just how they worked through it, what they went through, the change of mindset, and really how any school owner could achieve results like that on a continuous basis, if they committed to the process. So, we'll jump into the details, and just for a bit of context, the strategy, it's something that we do in our Partners program.

Our Partners program is our flagship program that you've heard me speak about before if you've listened to us before. It's a group of school owners that we work with around the globe, we get together weekly and, you know, work through different strategies on how to attract the right students, increase signups, and retain more members. And so, the 72 Hour Cash Boost Sale is a process that you can run about four times per year, and it's just a great way to boost your cash flow. 

We'll dive into the details and I'll tell you how. So, jump right in. If you – depending on where you're listening or watching this episode, you can get the show notes on martialartsmedia.com/127. That's the numbers one-two-seven.

And you can also download our eBook, ‘The Ultimate Facebook Ad Formula for Martial Art Schools'. And that's it, jump into the episode, I'm sure you're gonna enjoy it. And wherever you're listening or watching make sure that you subscribe, that you get notified when we have a new episode. Enjoy.  

So, Richard and Kim, what's been the most profitable and most successful marketing campaign and ad campaign that you've done recently, or up to date? 

RICHARD: Most important one that I've done and the most profitable one I've done was the 72 Hour Sale that you set out for us. Like, I've had goals in the past that I've made, but I've never surpassed what you had mapped out for us in the 72 Hour Sale. I think moving forward, the most important, yeah, that was the most important one that stood out in my whole running of the dojo career. 

GEORGE: That's awesome. And what was the outcome? What was the result? 

RICHARD: The outcome was around almost $31,000, which is what we did. Like, we had a goal to sell 20 memberships, and we were okay at only selling 12. Twelve was our minimum, 20 was our goal; and we did 20, right on the nose. So, we did 20 memberships right on the nose.

GEORGE: That is pretty cool, right? 31,000 in between the COVID madness and things like that. How did that impact the business? 

RICHARD: The impact on the business? We… It was to the point where COVID was kind of taking away from my business what I had made up to that point and it actually fueled the dojo to be, or the school to actually be able to carry forward into this year. So, I had no worries carrying forward into this year. 

So, it actually helped me out quite a bit, with just the money part of it. Just the money part and the worries of being able to pay the bills, being able to pay employees, and, you know, taking care of business itself. So, it took a lot off my shoulders stress-wise that way, and really gave me a good kickstart for 2022. 

GEORGE: Love it. Alright, so, before we get into all the other good stuff, welcome to the show and thanks for jumping on! So, a bit of context. I've been working with Richard and Kim for, I don't know, maybe about almost a year, maybe? 

RICHARD: Almost a year, yeah. 

GEORGE: Before we jump into everything else, firstly, you're sitting behind an awesome wall. But I've got Richard Fall and Kim Comeau from London Karate Club in Ontario, Canada. Just give us a bit of a round up. What do you do? What do you teach? And yeah, just a bit of a background; a quick, brief background about the business.

Martial Arts Business

RICHARD: I'm the owner of the London Karate Club and my teacher is Master Meitatsu Yagi out of Okinawa, Japan, and I've been training with him since 1985. And I've been training myself in karate for about 42 years. And yeah, so, we teach Meibukan Goju-Ryu, and we just teach karate, we don't teach anything else but karate. 

And, you know, we leave all the other stuff, jiu jitsu and that stuff, to the professionals that handle that stuff, and that's what we do. I follow the family religiously, and I travel to Okinawa when I can. Just over the last few years, I couldn't travel and see my teacher, but it's  – we're moving forward. We're moving forward towards seeing each other again. 

GEORGE: Awesome. And the important right-hand lady sitting next to you… Kim! 

KIM: Yeah, so, I've been training for about 20 years now, and I joined the London Karate Club about six years ago. So, I've been training under Sensei Richard Fall for six years. And I've also traveled to Okinawa and have credentials internationally, or black belt gradings and stuff. I came on board to help with the backend of the business. So, a lot of the advertising and Facebook and social media stuff.

RICHARD: She was also the first Canadian woman to win a tournament in Okinawa. 

GEORGE: Wow… and you just left that out, right?! 

KIM: And that… 

GEORGE: Of course, yeah. Any other credentials that are hidden from us, Richard, that we need to, we need to bring to light? 

RICHARD: Ranks don't really matter, but I'm a 9th Degree Black Belt. Hanshi under Dyson, say, Meitatsu Yagi in Okinawa, which makes me the highest rank in my style in Canada. So… 

GEORGE: Amazing. 

RICHARD: Allows me to do international gradings myself, and on behalf of my teacher, and we're hopefully going to soon connect Zoom classes with them, so that we can reach out to the entire world, right, with him and try to see if we can get some movement for him, you know, as well. 

GEORGE: That's cool. So, now I know you're very passionate about your karate and you're a purist at heart and can see it in the display behind you there. Do you want to just give us a quick round up – what are we looking at in the background there?

martial arts business case study

RICHARD: So, the three people behind me, the black and white picture above my head is Master Meitoku Yagi, the founder of Meibukan Goju-Ryu, who I have a third degree under, and fortunate to meet in 1990. To over Sensei Kim's head is my master, Master Dai Sensei Meitatsu Yagi, and then the guy that's just below is Ippei Sensie, his son. The kanji behind me means great well, so it means to move forward and the opportunity to make great wealth. 

GEORGE: And what else have we got?

RICHARD: Well, we got, we have the rope above my head, on the shrine there, that's from the tug of war in Okinawa. 2013, I went over and we did the festival of rope. The festival of rope is the longest tug of war in the world. They do it every October, it's kind of like an Oktoberfest, but it's to usher in good crops. They used to be to usher in good crops, and then what all would do, all the territories around the area would come together, and they would do kata in the Kokusai-dori, which is the main strip in Okinawa, and I had the fortune to be able to demonstrate my karate in with the Okinawans as well.

GEORGE: That's cool. So, you treasure that, and the history and the heritage, how do you bring that into the school and into the teaching?

RICHARD: When our students move forward, they have to actually learn history. So, as they move forward, they have to know who the master of the style is, who the creator of the style is, and what our history is. So, we go all the way from Chojun Miyagi to Meitoku Yagi. So, the founder of Goju-Ryu, Goju-Ryu is one of the major styles that make up all of karate in the world. So, Chojun Miyagi passed on, his family passed on the style to Meitoku Yagi Dai Sensei, and then passed the style onto his son. So, our lineage is a pure straight line. 

So, right straight from Chojun Miyagi, all the way to me is a straight line, there's no fragments in between at all. So, the culture is carried forward, because bringing my teacher here, he's very big on history. And I know history has a part of understanding where you come from, but it's not the end-all be-all, right? So, you can't, with me being part of, understanding history, I've always found that I'm humble. 

So, being too humble sometimes can shoot you in the foot, because you don't feel like you should charge as much for what you're doing. Because it's more spiritual to you, right? It's more inside that you feel gratification, through teaching, right? So, as I was growing up, going through, growing up as a child, I wasn't a very good teenager. I was actually getting into a lot of trouble and causing problems. And then that's when I first got introduced at around 15 and a half to karate, and karate actually saved my life. Two people that I hung around with actually committed murder and it could have easily been me. 

So, I owe karate my life. So, I kind of took that for… I've been in business for probably about 32 years now, and never really made a huge success. I'm still doing a part-time school, and still working a job during the day. I know, George, that makes you cringe. But I'm trying to get past that guy who is still afraid to step out of what he does as a job and get into something that he does for a passion.

GEORGE: Alright, so, you mentioned and I want to get back to Kim on just what part of that attracted you to training under Sensei Richard Fall. So, but on that, because you bring up a point, and this is a point that comes up a lot. I think the connection between the spiritual aspect and what martial arts mean to you personally, and then there's the business side, that's what's got to happen. 

Somehow, in most humans' brains, we make this connection, or there's past programming, that money is evil, or money's bad. Or there's somebody that's a real, you know, I don't even like the term dojo, but there's, you know, people that are just teaching real watered down, poor martial arts, and they're charging an arm and a leg and they're ripping people off. We didn't, I don't really see much of that in Australia, but you know, if you watch McDojoLife, you'll probably see, you can probably see it all, right? But I think there's a lot of danger there, right? Because you don't want to be that guy, and so now you link old programming to you know, money, how money is bad. 

And if I'm going to make money with my spiritual thing, that means so much to me and has impacted my life in such a positive way, and now I start focusing on the money, I'm going to be perceived as that guy… and I think that's a big thing that a lot of martial artists get stuck with. How do you feel you've overcome that? Because I think you, you might not be giving yourself as much credit is due, right, because you've moved a few mountains. How's your perspective changed over the last six months or so?

martial arts business case study

RICHARD: Well, I think when working with you and with Martial Arts Media and Partners, I think talking to everybody in the community kind of helped me to realize, “Hey, there's a lot of good martial artists out there that are charging what they're worth.” And like I said to you before, I have a hard time relating to people that have 400 students, 350 students. 

I used to have 250 students, and I did it all by myself and I realized that I can't do it by myself. That failure, that I went backwards, actually taught me a lot, that if I can get there, once I get there again. I just have to get it in my mind and the tools to be able to do it, right? And I think by joining the group and the Partners has kind of helped me, kind of start that machine and get those wheels moving, that see that, “Hey, you know what, it's not bad to make money at doing what you're doing, right?” And it's not bad at – teaching your craft and getting something for it, right? 

I put a lot of time and effort, and since Kim puts a lot of time and effort into making things happen, and the Facebook ads, all that stuff is something that you taught us, and like I said before, is that we're very thankful for that. And, you know, there's a point in time where money is tight. And I said, “Well, what did I do? Like I stepped into this thing, this commitment. And maybe it's the wrong thing to do at this time.” And the only thing I could cut is things that are new, and I'm grateful that I kept on going with Partners, because it's really teaching me a lot how to move forward, and how to move past that barrier of, you know, is it okay to make money? 

GEORGE: Cool. I remember there was a, I mean, we've had many conversations after but I remember, in our, the game plan call that we have as onboarding when school owners join our Partners Group… I remember this, it had an impact on me as well, because I remember talking to you, and I remember seeing something go off in your mind, that you realized, “Oh, hang on, like, I can charge what I'm worth. I'm, you know, I'm more valuable than the way that we are going.” Can you recall that moment? I recall it, it really stuck with me.

RICHARD: That was when we had a private, kind of a private, call. And you sat down and showed me the map of what I could do, and I think that moment, I realized that, “Hey, you know, I'm actually a part of this game, too.” And like I said, I did it by myself before, I can't do it by myself. 

I'm thankful for the person sitting beside me, because she does a lot, and she does a lot of stuff that I can't do, right? And not that I can't do it, I can probably learn it. It's just, it's difficult being, you know, I'm 58 years old, it's kind of hard to teach an old dog new tricks, as they say, right? That's not a Canadian term, either. That's actually a real term. 

GEORGE: I've actually heard that one before. 

RICHARD: But it's showed me, that showed me that I can make more, and since you showed me that, we are making more. Like, we got more people coming into the dojo, more than ever, with our Facebook ad. We're averaging about nine to… Well, I send it to you every week, right? Nine, and we just went up from nine, and went up from there; and, you know, we never had that traffic before. 

Growing pains is a good thing. It's scary, but it's a good thing. And we just, we're floating our boat in a little bit rocky water that we don't know, but we're navigating through it, right? And we have you to help us along the way, to navigate through that. So yeah, that moment, I do remember that moment, that moment that you had showed us the way to do it. Yes. 

GEORGE: That's cool. So, Kim, we want to hear a bit more from you there. No pressure. But I guess first, just as a quick side intro, right, what of the history and what of that attracted you to starting with Sensei Richard Fall?

Martial Arts Schools

KIM: I just moved to the city, and I was looking for a place that was… I was doing Goju-Ryu and I wanted to keep with that. It was actually a friend from way up north that told me about the London Karate Club. So, I did a class here. And I was kind of hooked, because I was doing it, I was training for about 15 years before, and it was a little different. I liked the lineage, how pure it was. It wasn't, like, branched off to different people. It was very direct. And I really liked that I could do the same style that I was doing for, like, 15 years, I can continue that, so… yeah, and then I just was hooked. I was like training every day here, and I continue to do that still to this day. So, yeah.

GEORGE: That's cool. Now, you also implement a lot of the marketing and so forth. So, how does your role work within the club? 

KIM: Okay, yeah, so I started with being more social media, like, with getting stuff out there for our club and just putting it out there on Instagram and social media. And then I was just making positive progress with it, and it just turned into a manager role here. So, I've done sales for 15 years. So, I know a lot about that, and I have a lot of stuff that I can offer and I'm able to do for Richard. I also went to school last year, when I was let go of my job, and I did coding and website design. So, that's when I started getting into redoing the whole website, and it's going really, really well. And yes, so, I'm just continuing to keep going forward. 

GEORGE: And keeping the marketing engine rotating… 

KIM: Just going, which is a consistent thing that you do like every single day. So, yeah. 

GEORGE: Love it. Ok, so, a quick couple of questions just on, I really wanted to bring the two of you on as my favorite Canadians, first and foremost. Getting a better understanding as well from just everything that you do, just the history and so forth. I want to take this opportunity as well, and just ask a couple of questions just about, you know, us working together, like what's helped you most. Although you have revealed a lot of that, just going into a couple of things, right? So, first up, like, when we started working together, you mentioned a bit about the money thing and the value in the belief, but what were the biggest problems that you were facing at that time? 

RICHARD: The biggest problems that we were facing is that, in my mindset, I didn't want to be the lowest guy, I didn't want to be the highest guy, I wanted to be the middle guy. And being the middle guy, I gave away a lot of free two-week classes, which are two-week courses, which kind of shot me in the foot, because it's, uh, they're tire kickers, right? They don't really want to pay a big amount of money. 

So, we would get maybe one, maybe one or two, one or two people from that, right? And it didn't really pan out, right? It didn't really pan out for us. So, I was kind of trying to feel my way through it, and then it really, the success I had, like I said, I've been doing this for 32 years on a part time basis. There were five Meibukan schools in London, and I'm the only one left. So, I'm very, I'm a very dug-in person. I'm a very perseverant person, right? 

So, I think, by the mindset of giving stuff away, I always gave it away, instead of selling it, right? So, moving on to meeting you, Kim and I used to listen to podcasts all the time. They kind of got me hooked. I said, “Well, let's…” I let her listen to you, and we listened to you. I even used to listen to you all the way when I went to work or home. I found it very interesting. I'm going, like, you know, I wonder if this guy is really true blue, real guy, right? 

So, I think Sensei Kim, I think Kim reached out to you. I'm going, “Holy crap, he actually listened and he actually, you know, got back to us, right?” So, that's kind of what got that ball rolling, was actually Kim calling you or sending a message to you, and yeah, then it went from there, right?

GEORGE: And what was the big goal? I mean, at that time, what was the big aim? The big goal that you wanted to achieve? 

RICHARD: I wanted 300 students, that was all. 

GEORGE: 300 students, why did you want 300 students?

Martial Arts Business

RICHARD: Because I think moving forward, I want to have a living doing this. I want to get away from my day job and do this as a living. Like, I want to have what Lindsay Guy has, I want to have what Cheyne McMahon has, I want to have what Ross has, right? I want to have that and not because of… No, good for them, I just want to have that for me. As at the end of, when it's all said and done, I can say, “I built that.” I made that happen, right? And it was always – I came close but never really made an achievement. 

So, I guess it's seeing my baby, which is the dojo here, the school, to become what I want it to be. You know, this gem that I want it to be and I want those students just, not to blow my horn, I teach a really good martial art and I want those students to move forward and them to become teachers. I want them to become senseis of their own dojo, right? And that is why I want to get to the point of becoming bigger, right? 

GEORGE: So, out of that, while working together, I mean, what's had the biggest impact? And what's helped you the most? 

RICHARD: Of growing now? I think the social media part. I think Facebook – Kim can answer that as well.

KIM: Yeah, for sure. Definitely the Facebook ads, and learning about them, and how to advertise and catch people's eyes for the ads. That's been a huge impact for us, like, I received messages, like, 30 messages a day. So, that's had a huge impact on us for sure. 100%. Like, we've had to actually make classes built around beginner classes. So, that really pushed us forward too and it started us thinking about how we can gradually bring them into our family of London Karate Club. So… 

RICHARD: So, when you had that challenge, that 72 Hour Sale, I remember saying to Kim, “There's no way we win this, there's no way.” We've got Brad who has 400 students, you got Cheyne who has 350 students… This little dojo of 100 students, there's no way we're going to be able to beat these guys, right?
So, we did give it our best. We gave it our best and hoped for the best. And I just had one more day, I had one more encore day in my pocket, and we sold four memberships on that one encore day, right? That moment showed me that I can move a mountain, right? I can make it happen, right? And it's refreshing that something can make you and bring you up and lift you up like that, right? 

And, you know, why did this little dojo, this little school, beat these guys with all these students? Right, perseverance, right? It's perseverance. It's like the Rocky movie, right? You know, the guy who doesn't think he's going to win, and all of a sudden, he's there, right? You know, now I know moving forward. And like I said, the other night, I'm looking forward to moving forward with you, and I'm excited for what's coming, right? 

GEORGE: So, just a bit more on the 72 Hour Sale, I think just for context for anyone listening. I know a lot of people run like a Black Friday sale or Christmas sale. We've got this method in the Partners group called the 72 Hour Sale, because it was created before we created anything for Black Friday sale, but it can be used as a Black Friday sale or Christmas sale or any valid reason that you really give it. 

So, you can run it four times a year, twice a year, you know, whatever. Whatever mountains you're trying to move. In our Partners Group, we put together these challenges every so often. So, we run on six week cycles, and we put together a challenge, and we just see who gets the most numbers. Who would have thought martial artists are competitive? 

Everybody tends to rally up and get stuck in, right? And, so, we ran the six-week challenge. You could tell us more, right? But like Richard, as you were saying, you thought it was not possible, because you've never done something like this, and then you ended up with the number?

RICHARD: Right. I never thought you could do that in 72 hours. I never thought in my life. I've never done – that was the best sale – and that was the best month I've ever done. Like, ever, ever! And it was, like, it opened my eyes. If you really put your mind to it and really put everything aside and just focus on that number – focus on that number – 20, 20, 20. 

And that's what I was focused on, I was focused on 20, but in the back of my mind, I would have settled for 15, right? But that last day I said to Sensei Kim, “We're not settling for 15. We're not settling for 16. We're going to get 20.” And we got 20! And well, the way we did it was that we took – it's not just selling individual memberships, we started involving families, right? 

So, we had one lady who signed up for a family of three, right? So, we took the first number as the number, and then the other ones would kind of it's a little bit smaller, right? So, we actually sold family memberships and went there. So, we made that number just by being a little bit creative, right?

GEORGE: And that number, the dollar number, was 31? 

RICHARD: Just almost 31,000. Was 30,880 odd dollars. Yeah. 

GEORGE: That's nice. Bonus, right? 

RICHARD: It was…

GEORGE: Especially if you haven't done that! Now, I think what's more important from that, and you were sort of mentioning that as well, is how does that make you feel as in what you can achieve next? Like, I mean, it's nice to grab the cash and money's great, but what impact does it have on you? 

Martial Arts

RICHARD: It shows me that I – everyday sales – if I really ramp it up and really focus on what I need to focus on, and it shows me that I can make this as a living. It shows me that if I really had to spend all my time and effort at this, that I will never have to go through that door for someone else again… because really, when we go to work, and we're not working for ourselves, working for somebody else, that door becomes a dreadful, dreadful entrance, right? The shrine that's behind me, you see the gate of training there.

I have the gi of training at the door of my dojo, and every time I pass over that, the world stays behind. This is my world, right? So, I want that door. I want to walk through that door every day. I want that door to feed me every day. Feed me that positivity every day. And then, Kim and I, we work on positivity stuff all the time, right? We try to keep ourselves positive. I said, you know, through this 72 Hour Sale, we can't be negative, we got to be positive and we got to think positive, right? 

And it just shows me that I can make a living at this, right? I can make a living at this, right? And I gotta shake off those fears, right? Like fight full contact in Japan and shoot fighting – getting punched in the face sucks. It really sucks getting punched in the face sucks, right? I did a 20 man fight in Okinawa for my 8th Dan. It sucks, bare fist, fair enough, it sucks. But that stuff's easy compared to… To me, that stuff's easy compared to shaking off the fear of going into business for yourself. But it showed me, the 72 Hour Sale showed me that I can do that – I can shake off those fears. 

GEORGE: Yeah, and hats off to you because it's not, I mean, we provide the strategy and the formula… and it's great that we've got so many smart cats in our group that we can test different strategies, and we even refined things that last few days, and how can we change the offer to make it more valuable. 

But it should be said that none of this happens if you don't have a great product – and that means you deliver great classes, teach epic classes and deliver great martial arts classes. So, nothing happens without that. Last few questions, if you had to answer this: I almost didn't join, because…? 

RICHARD: I almost didn't join, because I didn't know if I could make the commitment to afford it. To be honest with you, George, what I did was – hoping my wife doesn't listen to this – during the first part of COVID, I, well, leveraged my house to keep this place open, because nobody was here – was just me, right?

And the first part, I didn't know how to do Zoom, we didn't know how to do Zoom, right? We didn't understand it, and then – we joined – it was the Partners that helped us with Zoom, right? We joined Zoom, we joined Partners, and we had to figure Zoom out. And so, what we did is we bought a year subscription for Zoom, and now we're teaching Zoom classes when we're locked out. 

And people are coming out – people don't like it so much – but the people are coming out, right? Because it's information. It's information. And I, like, I picked up a student through Sensei Kim in the UK, and he's training now and he's enjoying it, right? So, I mean, Zoom has its place, and you know, it taught us that we can touch and get involved with a lot of different people around the world. 

GEORGE: Love it. 

RICHARD: I was afraid I wouldn't be able to commit to you. That's my biggest fear. That was my biggest fear. 

GEORGE: Now can I ask, Kim, what did he really tell you?

Martial Arts

KIM: It was, that's what it was. It was, you know, can we keep putting money into this and you know, keep going and going forward at the same time? That's what it really was. And we just decided like, “Hey, let's just do it.” And like I said, the 72 Hour Sale, I think really opened us up to what we could do. It did for me too, because it – we were just a small dojo in, you know, in Canada, London, Canada, and we blew it out of the water really. For the short time and the work that you put into it, we got a lot out of it, and it just tells me that we can do a lot more.

RICHARD: Well, the other thing is though, when you sat down and went through the four-week sale with us, the four-week program? We used that four-week program, it brought a lot of students into us. So, that was the moment that you were talking about, when you saw the, “Hey, I can do this.” When I, when my wheel started changing, was that day and that's why I stayed. And also, just the feedback I get from all the people just sitting by – I don't talk a lot in the meetings – but I'm absorbing. 

I'm absorbing what they're saying and, you know, we're very much a paper and pen dojo. We haven't gotten on to a lot of apps and sign-in apps and stuff, and we're trying to figure it out now. Like, we're trying to figure it's got to be easier, right? So, we're getting a lot from the group and the Partners group and we're very thankful to be a part of it. Like it's, it's really helped us a lot, George. You guys have really helped us a lot. And I kind of like you a little. 

GEORGE: Ah, cool. So… 

RICHARD: Just a little bit, just a little bit. Take it easy. 

GEORGE: Okay, just a little, right. Good. I was glad to say that the, you know, the South African Aussie accent wasn't, you know, anything weird. 

RICHARD: Your Canadian accent is better than your Aussie accent. 

GEORGE: I do my best, hey! But one last thing, who'd you recommend us to, and why?

Martial Arts Schools

RICHARD: I would recommend you to anyone, anyone who's looking to make gains in their schools, and to just all around, make their schools a better place, financially wise, and even with the stuff that you guys help us with, with getting classes scheduled and figuring out timewise… I would recommend it to any martial artists out there that really, really are struggling and martial arts schools all struggle, we all struggle. 

And if you want to be able to move forward in your craft that you love so much, I would recommend it to anyone, any school. Any school out there can always use the martial arts Partners, Martial Arts Media, and… nothing but good things, nothing but good things will come from it. 

GEORGE: Thanks so much, Richard and Kim. Thank you. And if that's you, and you're listening to this, and you do need some help. Best way to do that probably if you go to martialartsmedia.com/scale. We've got a little questionnaire you can just add your details there, and we'll reach out and have a chat and see if it's the right fit for you. No Canadian Club whiskey or anything was sent over as a funded endorsement. Do you guys even drink Canadian Club or is that just a thing? 

RICHARD: No, no, that's, that's so… no, no. 

GEORGE: Right, because I discovered Fosters beer when I lived in the United States, which is this big one liter can of beer. I was like, “Oh, wow, this is really cool.” And then when I ended up living in Australia was like, “Where the hell is Fosters?” Like you cannot buy Fosters. It's not a local Australian beer and nobody drinks fosters here. So, it's just an American thing or a North American Canadian thing. I don't know if you guys get it in Canada, but I think the attraction was it was just this big one liter can of beer. Yeah, right. So, Canadian Club is not a? No? 

RICHARD: No. It's not really good whiskey.  

GEORGE: Cool. Hey, Richard, Kim, thanks so much for being on. I'll speak to you soon. See you on the next call. 

RICHARD: Great. Thank you for having us, George. We really appreciate it.

KIM: Thank you. 

RICHARD: Appreciate everything you've done. 

GEORGE: Thank you. 

RICHARD: Thank you.

 

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126 – Ed Carr: How To Rise Above Bullying Through Martial Arts And Live An Empowered Life

Edward Carr shares how he’s built 2 thriving clubs through word of mouth, while helping his community combat cyberbullying and live an empowered life.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How to harness the power of word of mouth
  • Tips to boost martial arts community engagement 
  • How to encourage bullied children to share their experiences
  • Edward’s book against bullying, Lift Them Up: How to Rise Above Bullying and Live an Empowered Life
  • Effective ways to build a strong online presence
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hey, George Fourie here. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. So today, I have a special guest with me: Edward Carr from New Hampshire in the United States. And so, Edward owns two locations, Tokyo Joe Studios and Team Link MMA, both at the same actual location, in the same facility, on two separate floors.

So, we chat a bit about that divide, and also how he's built a thriving business. 320-330 plus students, mostly on word of mouth. And, look, always when someone says word of mouth, I'm always curious, because it always means there's a strong program, a strong product, and much more to it, right?

And so we chat a lot about things that they've done in the community, their community promotions, also his book against anti-bullying, that positions him as an authority. And all this, how it helped them thrive through the pandemic, and almost not losing any students after being locked down for a full year. So, we're going to jump into that.

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Alright, let's get into it. So, Edward, over the last couple of months, or just in general, what's been the top marketing strategy and lead generator for you?

EDWARD: It would be a lot of word of mouth, a lot of word of mouth and online. You know, some online advertising definitely helped out, but the word of mouth has been incredible-  with all the students promoting, you know, the school and, you know, me being involved in the schools a lot, also has helped out quite a bit, you know.

Just like I said, just promoting and having fun, and, you know, going from there. And just letting the kids know, you know, letting everyone know, you know, what we're doing, what we're about, promoting safety, you know. Letting them know, like, even though the pandemic, you know, people are still nervous, you know, having all the safety stations everywhere, and all that.

Just making everyone feel comfortable, and then having them go out and telling all their friends, “This is a place to go to exercise and have fun”, and, you know, how do kids learn.

GEORGE: So, if you've got great word of mouth, it's always a sign that you've got a great product, right, and great training and good program. But other than that, how do you feel you kind of orchestrate a lot of word of mouth? And what do you think? What do you think escalates it?

EDWARD: Every time someone competes or does something. Well, we've had a few big name fighters, you know, fight for us. That always brings in a lot of students, people see it, they watch it on UFC Fight Pass, you know, they go from there. We've had a lot of kids… Muay Thai tournaments, grappling tournaments, and karate tournaments – they're starting to do them again and that's always been great.

You know, kids want a medal, a trophy, they're all happy, they tell their friends, you know, and that's the type of word of mouth stuff that's happening. I wrote a book, and it was on bullying, and I got that involved in the schools. So, you know, they're, you know, me being involved in the schools and helping out and talking to the children, you know, about bullying and this and that, it's also been huge.

So, it's a good word of mouth, you know, think, you know, for me, you know, to do all that. Like I said, there's been a little bit of online, you know, stuff, I've done some, you know, contests here and there, you know, for everything, get the students involved, you know, and just try to work it, make it a grind.

GEORGE: What's the book called?

EDWARD: Lift Them Up.

GEORGE: And it's available on Amazon?

EDWARD: Yeah, it's available on Amazon. Yeah, Amazon, the book is called Lift Them Up: How to Rise Above Bullying and Live an Empowered Life. You know, just as in deal with this typical boy who deals with cyber bullying, you know, it goes through the whole… You know, everyone thinks bullying, you just, you know, pick on someone.

But, you know, a lot of people don't realize there's a whole cyber bullying, internet bullying, texting bullying and all this. There's so much out there that people don't understand or realize. So, you know, I mean, it's done well. I've sold like 400, 500 books, I can't complain.

GEORGE: That's perfect. Well, I hope you sell 4000, 5000 more after we do this podcast, right?

EDWARD: Absolutely!

GEORGE: If you don't mind sharing a little bit of insight, because I mean, it's a whole different planet, just like you saying, you know, it used to be bullying, face to face. But, you know, if I look at kids today, I think they're dealing with this whole – a whole different form of bullying, that's, it's pretty intense. And I don't know, I sometimes wonder how kids have actually got to deal with that, right?

If there's, especially if there's a group of people that are bullying you, or doing cyber attacks and just being nasty kids, what's your advice to kids on how to deal with that?

EDWARD: Communication. A lot of kids tend to hide things, you know, and I have a lot of kids that feel very comfortable coming to talk to me, and not even their own parents, or teachers, because they're afraid or scared. And it's just communication, I'm trying to, you know, when I talk to them, I want them to feel comfortable.

I want them to realize it's okay to talk to the teachers, it's okay to talk to your, especially your parents. Let them know what's going on. Too many kids out there just bottle it up, and unfortunately, you know, bad things do happen. And you know, a lot of times they'll bottle that up and hold that negative energy inside, and they explode, and something negative can happen off of that, you know.

And that's all, the key, you know, is communication. Letting them know, you know, that people are out there that, you know, these people in these positions care for them and want the best for them – and want to help them out.

GEORGE: And so, is that something you do on the mats, like mat chats and things like that?

EDWARD: Yeah, we talk a lot about that, you know, on the mats. At the end of every class, I usually have, like, a little, you know, 2 – 3 minute mat chat with them. And we're always talking about bullying, you know, certain situations, you know, just how to train, you know, how to deal with it, you know, how to use your words first, you know.

Everyone thinks, a lot of kids think too, you know, how to deal with things they don't understand either, gotta make them aware. Like, they think, “Okay, I know karate and martial arts, I'm just gonna go beat the bully up.” That's not what it's all about, you know, trying to get them to realize you go talk to them, try and make them – be their friends or walk away.

If there is a self defense situation there, then of course, you know, deal with it in the proper way. But definitely learn how to use your words first, and your brain. I always tell them to use your brain first, speech smart.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Cool. So, talking about online, moving through the pandemic, and you mentioned earlier that you managed to maintain almost a full student base, how long were you locked down for? Just curious.

EDWARD: About a year. It was about a good year, you know, and, you know, you weren't allowed to have any, I could do one-on-one classes. I had a couple people, you know, that would, I would make sure at 12 o'clock, they could come in, it was just them, no one else could be around.

I'd have to give a half hour's worth of time in between, so I could clean and sanitize and then could have another private – but that was it. No group classes. I could do family classes, but I'd have to do them outside. So, thank goodness, a lot of this was during the summer. So, it worked out pretty good.

GEORGE: Yeah. 

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EDWARD: And so I'd do a lot of group classes, you know, with families outside in the parking lot, which, another way in which pretty good advertising too, because then people driving by, seeing us working out and exercising and doing something, so it was good advertising in that way. So, you know, it was rough. But it was a learning experience for me, because trying to develop a system that keeps everyone happy on Zoom.

You know, I've never taught, I mean, I've done a lot of seminars and this and that, but I've never taught on Zoom, you know, pretty much eight hours a day, standing in front of a camera, trying to teach forms. You know, trying to teach, you know, a kickboxing combination and make sure they got proper footwork. It was a learning experience for me too.

But it worked and kept everyone happy. And, you know, like I said, we just always have a contest, I always had something going on just to keep them, you know, feeling good about themselves.

GEORGE: What do you think you've taken from that?

EDWARD: It's made me definitely a better instructor off of that. You know, it definitely opened up my eyes a little bit. I definitely became better – just made me practice a little… You know, we kind of get into, I don't want to say a rut in a bad way, but we get in a rut and a daily routine of coming into the school, four o'clock class, five o'clock class, six o'clock class.

And what it made me do is step out of the box a little bit – I hadn't done that for a while, because I got a successful school. I'm happy, I'm always wanting to grow, do what it takes, but I was, you know, doing well. So, I was like, okay… But this made me step out of the box a little bit, made me realize, you know, “Okay, start training, you got to start training, you've got to start using your mind, come up with these ideas, you know.”

You know, make these kids happy. Let these kids know you care, let the parents know you care. You know, BJJ, MMA make them happy, make sure, you know, and be a coach. And so it made me step out of the box and become a better person for sure.

GEORGE: Were there any, like, specific obstacles that you faced with the kids having to show up online and getting involved and engaging?

EDWARD: Yeah, it was interesting because I'd have to mute a lot of stuff. Like, they could hear me, but I couldn't hear them, because, you know, we'd have 30, 40 people online. Sometimes you can't have everyone, you know, they're still at home. So, they still have their home life.

So, you have dogs in the background or brothers and sisters poking their brothers online. So, at times it was a horror show. It was like, “Whoah, what's going on?!” But, I mean, that was the biggest obstacle, the biggest thing was just like, you know, trying to overcome all that at first, but once, you know, after a week or so, it smoothed out pretty well.

And it wasn't really that bad. You know, just trying to engage them, to let them know that they could do martial arts on the computer and not just play video games was rough, because I would have some students that would blank the screen, but forget to mute it, and I could hear them playing video games in the background.

So, then the parents would ask me how they're doing. I'm like, I don't know, you need to ask him, he's been playing video games. So, you know, stuff like that would happen on and off. But overall, it was, you know, it was definitely tough keeping them engaged – because just staring at a computer screen, even my own daughter would do karate in her bedroom. And, you know, I'd have to tell her to stop jumping on the bed, like, “Listen, you're in class, stop jumping on the bed.” Trying to keep them engaged was definitely a learning experience.

GEORGE: So, what did you do to have that constant state change? You know, because I mean, you can't let them do one thing too long to get in – yeah, boredom kicks in.

EDWARD: I just constantly kept them moving as much as I could. You know, sometimes in a normal class, you know, you take your time, you go over form more, there's more of a pause, more of a… So, you couldn't do that online.

I almost taught it like a cardio kickboxing class, you know, where I just kept moving and moving and moving and moving and moving. Class is only 30 minutes long, but it was, like, just keep them moving. Don't give them that time to stop. You know, don't give them that time to think.

We would do a form to warm up and right from that form we'd go right into some kicking, some punching, and then we'd go into some, you know, self defense techniques, and I'd make it a game and just keep them moving. So, they didn't have that time to go look around to see who's playing outside or stuff like that.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And then jiu jitsu – and how did you handle the BJJ side, and the adults, and so forth?

EDWARD: That was the tough part. Like teaching Thai kickboxing or MMA wasn't so bad, because you could teach them some combinations. So, sprawls, double legs, you can teach transitions, and stuff, that was okay.

But the BJJ was tough, you know, like I had, when – Everyone would make their own dummy, grappling dummy, or they could buy one from me, you know, but, and, you know, whoever made the best dummy won a free gift, you know, stuff like that. So, we had, like, 15 people make their own grappling dummies. So, that's part of getting them involved and engaged, a few people bought some off for me.

And then basically, it was just teaching them transitions and moves and talking to them about, you know, the connecting points, you know, always have points of control and hip pressure and where your hips should be, where your shoulders should be, where your grip should be. And it was more of a, you know, just teaching the technical side of things, you know.

There were some drills out there – you could do, you know, switching back and forth, knee on belly, switch and go into mount, going into, you know, back to knee on belly, to arm bars, north south, all that you could do all that stuff too. But that was, actually trying to teach them actual moves was, you know, definitely interesting.

GEORGE: It's something that is – obviously working with school owners, we've got a group we call Partners, and we've got gi school owners from around the world, but different styles.

And so, it's always conversations that have come up, obviously, with the pandemic. And interesting as well, because everyone was always at a different stage of; we're going into lockdown, we're coming out, what do we do, but it was a good opportunity to cross pollinate ideas, but…

EDWARD: Yeah.

GEORGE: We had one of our members, Carl just talk about, they were just in a two month lockdown in New Zealand, and – 100% jiu jitsu school – and managed to keep all his students going, but the main focus was just movement.

EDWARD: Yeah, 100%.

GEORGE: Movement, and keeping the community going. So, you know, a big thing that we've spoken about was the community, the content and then the coaching. So, how do you do those things? How do you create the community going?

I mean, that's the big thing, and how do you keep the coaching going? And we came up with some creative ideas, right? So, he bought the John Danaher set, and then we just, he would just go through a video, or they would post, you know, a clip from an instruction from someone else, and then they would study it, and they would analyze it, so the whole… Use even someone else's content, but then create the conversation around it to keep the community…

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EDWARD: Yeah, we did the same thing. We actually, one day, myself, would do a jiu jitsu video with my student, he's, I've known him forever, and it was him and I. We'd do a jiu jitsu video, then the next day would use a video of something from someone else.

We used a lot of John Danaher, Gordon Ryan, stuff like that. And then the next day, I would do, like, a karate video for everyone, and then the next day, my student would do a kickboxing MMA video for them.

So, everyday we'll put out a video for the students, also to give them some content to study. And so, not only could you do classes, I would send these videos and post them to everyone, and they could go at home and practice those same combinations, three or four combi- you know, five different ways on how to do an overhand right, you know. How to do two pins in the proper way, you know, a form, you know, and so that worked out pretty well, too.

GEORGE: Sounds good. So, give us a bit of a background about your school and your location. And I know you've got a massive facility, and you've got two floors, and just give us a bit of an overview on the infrastructure and how things operate.

EDWARD: I've been here since 1999. I pretty much have always done martial arts since I was 14. And I just turned 50, so I've been doing it for a while. I just woke up one day and decided I didn't want to do my job anymore, and so then I'm gonna open up a school. Let's try it.

GEORGE: How long have you been… 

EDWARD: So, 1999. Yeah. And so I found this, I found a location. And at first it was only, we only had about 2000 square feet, but I liked this location because it always had an opportunity to grow.

So, I started off with traditional karate, I always studied grappling and wrestling on my own on the side, and had already had a couple fights on the side, but I didn't really promote that too much.

Yeah. And then as we grew, we grew fast. For six months, we grew pretty quick. So, I got to open up another 1400 square feet or so in the back, and we used that room for a while. And then what I did is, I always had the basement downstairs, and it's a giant, like, two big garage, you know, basement. 

And one day my landlord's, “Like, you know, if you want the space, I'll charge you this much for it. And, you know, just take it over and do what you want, you do the work. I'll give it to you cheap, and it's cheap.” And I was like, “Alright!” So, I did all the work, and then like I said, we got two open floors upstairs, bathrooms, office, all that stuff. 

Downstairs is a couple different ways you can go in, it's got showers, a couple of locker rooms downstairs, a bag room, it's got a ring, a cage, and probably about a 1800 square foot, like, weight room too. So, I did the weight room originally for the parents, a lot of parents don't have time to go to the gym. So, I allow the parents for free at first to, while the kids are in class, go downstairs and run on the treadmill, lift some weights to do something.

That way they won't have to worry about their kids, they know they're doing class. But that took off, and you know, that was taking off pretty good. So, now I hired a personal trainer, you know, so he comes in – he does personal classes, you know, for the parents and you know, it's a little bit extra income off of that.

And stuff like that, you know, they scheduled privates for the kids, a lot of them they'll come down here and work with them during the kids class and get in shape.

So, you know, we got a little bit of everything. You know, kids are martial – all the kids' classes are fresh. We got kids BJJ, kids Muay Thai, kids kempo karate, and then usually at night time, it's a, you know, depending on the day, gi, the adult Muay Thai, adult MMA, adult BJJ, gi or no gi on the day, and then cardio kickboxing too.

And then we do stuff on the weekend – Saturday is a full day of classes, Sunday is kind of my day, I invite either the black belts in and we do like a black belt workout or I'll just invite some fighters in and we'll just train, so it's like a training day on Sundays for us. So, you know, it's a full time job. Like I said, it's like 8000 square feet, full time job, I have about – maybe now 330 students.

And yeah, you know, it has its moments. But, you know, I've been blessed throughout this whole pandemic, so I can't complain.

GEORGE: That's cool. So, you've got two names, right? Tokyo Joe's? 

EDWARD: Yes.

GEORGE: Tokyo Joe's Studios and TeamLink MMA.

EDWARD: Yeah.

GEORGE: Curious on two names, but also Tokyo Joe's?

EDWARD: Well, my instructor, who was 14, was playing football, and he was in karate, and he's from East Boston, and he was doing some karate, was a football practice. And they just named him Tokyo Joe, you know, that was his nickname.

So, as he progressed and opened up his own school – he met me at – that was always his nickname. He called it Tokyo Joe's Studios. He named the downstairs his nickname.

And then I was at the Canadian Open as a karate tournament. And he had met me, he said, “Hey, you fought really well, why don't you come train with me?” And he goes, you know, “I'm like, alright.” And he was close by, so I started training with him, and, you know, competed under him, you know, in all these karate tournaments all over the place.

Also, I got a chance to train with like Johnny Tension, and Reggie Perry, who were part of the team, Paul Mitchell, who, you know, are World Champions too. So, it opened up some doors and ideas. And then one day, he's like, “You know, you should think about opening up a school, you're a great instructor, a great motivator, you're a good leader,” and I didn't really put much thought into it.

And then he kept bugging me and bugging me, and then one day, I'm out doing my job – construction – I was doing construction, driving some equipment. I'm like, “You know, yeah, it's time. I don't feel like doing this.” So, I went into the office and gave my notice and went back to him and said, “I guess we'll open up a school. Let's try it.”

So, that was the karate side of things.

GEORGE: Right. 

EDWARD: I'd always done MMA on the side, I was part of Miletich Fighting Systems with Pat Miletich. And when I trained there with them, it was, you know, they had three out of the five UFC champions, it was one of the best gyms around, we did a lot of fighting and training there. But as they all got older and branched off, opened up their own gyms, and everything kind of disbanded. 

I was just left with, like, no direction in my life; my BJJ program was only a purple belt at the time. And really know, you know, didn't know how to, you know, what to do. So, like I said, Michael Alvin, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Alexander Marino all came to me one day, because I trained with them, helped them out with fights and worked with them. 

And they're like, “Why don't you just join us, you know, it'd be a great marketing thing for your BJJ program.” It's a little confusing for some people, but once they get in here, they realize, I kind of keep it separate, and I like keeping them separate, because I like the younger kids… 

I think, you know, even though we do BJJ, we still teach a little bit of focus and concentration in that class, like a karate thing. I like them to learn about the focus and concentration side of things, you don't need to necessarily see all the hard work and training that goes into MMA.

Plus, parents, you know, sometimes they get the wrong opinion, they see the fights on TV, and they think that's what it's all about, and I don't want to give the parents that impression. So, that's why I have an upstairs and downstairs and stuff.

But it's actually become a great tool, because parents realize all the hard work and all the dedication that goes into that, that's their martial art, you know, that's their form, you know, while the kids are learning this stuff, they see the adults or the teenagers doing this, and they realize it's a lot of hard work if it's taught the right way. 

So now, you know, like, whenever we have someone fight, you know, a tough fight passes, I gotta open up the school, we'll have a school full of people watching it on the TV, you know what I mean? Becomes a school party sort of, brings them all together, you know. Like you said, you try to try to create a good, you know, good atmosphere, you know, for everyone – good environment – and it brings them all together, the watch, the fights, and stuff like that.

So, it's kind of cool.

GEORGE: Because that would be my next question – how do you balance the two cultures? Do you find that they are divided or they sort of come together?

EDWARD: It's actually come together- at first, it was pretty divided. You know, when it first – the sport was starting to grow, it was pretty divided. 

You know, people thought, you know, brutality, this, that and you know, and you can definitely understand that. But over the years, as time has gone on, people see it, you know, they've seen the fights, you know, parents have asked, you know, we've, like I said, they've, you know, they got, you know, a lot of kids would do karate competitions, you know.

So then, you know, now they have kids Muay Thai, very controlled, but kids Muay Thai and then, you know, they get kids BJJ. So, because of all these classes that we have, you know, kids getting involved in all these other smaller competitions, the parents are wanting to see what the adults and teens are doing and how that's evolved. So, it's actually brought it all kind of together.

You know, and everyone's, you know, everyone's… it's pretty cool to see everyone, like, you know, support. Everyone gets together, supports everyone and have fun, too. You have a lot of parents that will just come down on Wednesday nights, our sparring night, they'll just come down and just watch, you know, they get to – they bring their, you know, 10 year old kid and you know, “Is there sparring on Wednesday?” “Yeah.” “Can we come watch?” “Yeah, come on in!”

You know, you have a whole group that will just sit on the side to just watch, you know. This is awesome, you know, because they get a chance to see, you know, kicks, punches and stuff and blocks and wrestling, they're into – actual, you know. You get a lot of kids that don't compete, we don't force them to compete. If you want to compete, we can get them ready.

But it gets to see them, you know, put it in practical use, kind of, you know. So, they like watching it.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, just to change gears a little bit – back to the marketing aspect. You got a successful school, 300+ students. You mentioned word of mouth is good. What else contributes to the growth?

EDWARD: Community involvement. Like I said, but everything's changing now. The whole world's changing. I mean, you know what I mean.

When I first opened up, you know, you had to advertise in the yellow pages, you know, big giant ads in the yellow pages, you know, that was a thing. You had to – who had the biggest ad, you know, the big best looking ad in the Yellow Pages, then as time went on…

GEORGE: And your name's gonna start with ‘A', right? So, that you, like, at the front of the book.

EDWARD: Yeah, exactly! Yeah.

Then as time went on, you know, the Internet became more, it was, like, you know, websites were huge. You know, websites are still very important, and they're still a useful tool. But, you know, that was important then, you know, now social media, you know, the whole advertising world has changed so much over the 20+ years, you know.

So now, I'm just trying to stay on top of things. I do a lot of social media, I do a lot of posts, and I do a lot of contests, you know, within the schools. I do a lot of, like I said, I'm involved in the community, the schools, you know, certain fairs, certainly, you know, town fairs, this and that. Those are all advertising avenues for me, you know, when they have town fairs.

I do a community fair myself every – well, I haven't done the last couple years, because of the pandemic – but I rent all kinds of bouncy houses, obstacle courses, this and that, dunk tanks, and at the end of every summer, I do, like, a community thing, you know, everyone's welcome. We'll do a little open house, some demonstrations, and have a huge cookout for everyone.

And you know, it's just, advertising like that is big. I'm always looking though, like, you know, I know right now, you know, I got, I'm looking to step up on the digital side of things, pick up the digital side of things on marketing, some online, make my online presence a little bit better, is my goal for this year.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, I love the aspect of community. I mean, that's, I think that's just gold, right?

Because being involved in the community, it makes you stand out. It also builds your authority, you know, way behind just the martial arts you offer, but you mention, things are changing; what are you noticing that's changing the most, especially with just the world and online that's impacting your marketing the most?

EDWARD: Really, it's just the online presence, you know, having a great online presence is very important now.

You know, before, it wasn't, but now, you know, a lot of you see a lot of the biggest school, you see ads all the time, you see this all the time, and, you know, these schools aren't spending that amount of money, if it's not working. You know, there's certain things out there, you know, and I know these school owners very well. 

And I know that they're not putting these ads out there if it's not working. And I just noticed a huge online presence and how important it's becoming, you know what I mean? And, you know, before you had a whole script on the phone, you know, very rarely do I get phone calls now.

Now it's all emails, or sometimes even text messages. “Oh, my friend gave me your number, my son's in…” You know, it's emails, it's text messages. It's all online. “We've been to your Whatsapp, we've been to your Facebook page, you know, what about this…” So, just the online presence is becoming very important.

And just making sure, you know, your name's out there, and making sure you know, you promote your product, or whatever it may be – your services out there. There's what I think is the best, you know, is what's changing the most.

Before, you know, you're right. Fortunately, I have a great word of mouth. And that's great. I mean, like you said, you got great service, you got great products, you got it. But, you know, you can always do better. So, I definitely want to do the online presence thing.

GEORGE: I think school owners like yourself, where you benefit is you built this whole foundation without that. Fine tune the product, the delivery, the programs, the community aspect. When you elevate your online presence, it's really just fuel on the fire, because you've got all the foundations right here.

I mean, we like to really, especially now, in the work that we do with school owners, we really just try to think of the simplicity of it. And like you were saying, people don't really call anymore. So, when you look at that it's not, you know, the message is still the same. It's just the medium of communication is …

EDWARD: Exactly.

GEORGE: So, people, you know, you’ve got to ask permission before you call.

EDWARD: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE: The world's just gotten like that. I always text someone and say, “Hey, is it okay to call you?” “Yeah, we just picked up the phone.” Right? But yeah, exactly. Messenger and, you know, Messenger, I mean, we find ads to Messenger is still the best thing ever, because of course, you've got the process to sign people up and work through the process.

There's so many things that we are seeing changing and, and like you said, I mean, I'm a web developer, from you know, way back and my first advice was always just get the spanky awesome website, and get it up on Google and you're good. Now I don't give that advice anymore.

You know, I would say, right, let's get your offer, right? And let's get your ad up, you know, let's get your message out there and find a simple way to follow up. And if you can get those things right, websites are good to have for the people that will go Google and check you out. But you can build a big organization just without that.

EDWARD: Exactly.

GEORGE: The only thing that always scares me is the control factor of putting all your eggs into a basket like Facebook. And you know, that's the one thing that drives your business, and if it's not there, well, I mean, I think it's still going to be there for a long time, right? But especially when you see things shuffle, and people change the different platforms, it's good to be tabs and be a bit omnipresent in that way that you can do without.

EDWARD: Exactly, I mean, it's definitely been interesting noticing the changes, that's for sure. Like you said, you know, everything.

I always tell everyone this, you know, I've helped a few people open up schools, and I just, you know, that's what I – get your online presence going, you know, well, what about this ad? No, you don't need that ad. It's not like the old days, you know, you don't need yellow pages, you don't need this, you don't need that.

Get your online presence up and going. You need a website, of course, you know, people still visit it and go on, you know, make sure you have this in your website. And like you said, the right content on the website that's going to attract the people that go to it. The right ads, the right deals and stuff like that. 

Online presence is, you know, definitely one point for sure.

GEORGE: So, what's next for you, Edward? Like where are you guys going? Are you opening up more locations?

EDWARD: I don't know. Honestly, what's next for me is I've been really, I've been doing this for a long time. Just really been toying with the idea of doing another smaller location.

I don't know if I, you know, but before I've done that, I've been really trying to develop a good strong, solid staff here. I'm one of the few instructors, like, I enjoy teaching. And like some instructors enjoy running this school, you know, and then they have instructors teach for them.

I like still being on the floor, you know, with the kids and teaching, and I still like teaching them on the mat. I still teach BJJ, and people think I'm crazy, but I still teach up to 40+ classes a week. And, and I love it, but I'm also 50 now, so now I'm developing the staff, and the know-how, you know, really developing, like, I got some really good fighters that still have a few years left in them, but know that, you know, the end's coming… but unbelievable instructors.

So, I'm getting them involved, you know, developing a really solid foundation in the BJJ group of instructors, working on getting them, I got some unbelievable teens, getting them involved in them karate side of things and showing them and teaching them, you know, so that way, when that second location opportunity does come, I know that I'll be able to leave for the day and leave this place in good hands.

You know, staff training, and you know, picking the right people to find out. I want to be part of the team and make sure we share the same vision, you know what I mean? 

And so that second location, within, you know, I got a goal – I set goals, but within a couple of years, I want to definitely have something up, the second one up and going, you know, like, you know, this school is all set. So, that's, that's really what I've been working on now.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And I guess lastly, what are you most excited about? For the next couple of years?

EDWARD: Just growing. You know, I love it. There's, like, you know, we had, you know, already since January. It's, you know, what's today? The seventh. We've had, you know, it's always the New Year rush, but we had 14 new people sign up. So, it's been great.

I love getting the new people going, you know, I just love teaching. I just love growing and, you know, and just helping people out. You know, I can't complain. I got a – I have a great job – and so I mean, what's next is just to keep growing, keep having fun, and keep sharing what I love to do.

And, you know, hopefully the second location will come in a few years and go from there.

GEORGE: Sounds good. Hey, Ed, thanks so much for jumping on. Been great to chat, and just the title of your book again?

EDWARD: Lift Them Up.

GEORGE: Lift Them Up.

EDWARD: Yeah, definitely on Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles, it's also on Barnes and Nobles website too. So, if they want to check it out, please check it out. It's a great book on bullying. You know, all the different types of bullying that are out in the world today. So, definitely check it out.

GEORGE: Perfect. We'll link it up in the show notes. So, wherever you're watching or listening, it will be https://martialartsmedia.com/126, numbers one-two-six. That'll take you there. And just lastly, any shout-outs you want to give or any way that people can connect with you, if you're open to that?

EDWARD: Yeah, you can always, you know, we just talked about it, you could always hit me up, you know, of course, my email is at tokyojoeshooksit@comcast.net.

You can always hit me up on Facebook, under Ed Carr, or you can visit the school webpage, Tokyo Joe's Studios, Instagram, I'm on Instagram – @tokyojoesstudios – and on Twitter. So, those are the best ways, like I said, we're talking about social media and stuff. You know, that's what people use.

The best way to hit me up, send me a message. Ask me any questions. You know, you can call the school, 603-641-3444, if you want. Ask me any questions you want. I'm always here and always willing to help.

GEORGE: Fantastic. Ed, thanks so much. I'll chat to you soon.

EDWARD: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.

GEORGE: You're welcome.

 

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125 – Ross Cameron: The Evolution Of The Ultimate Martial Arts Gym

Ross Cameron from Fightcross MMA has built the ultimate, world-class martial arts gym and lifestyle center. We do a deep dive on the planning, contracts, insurances and marketing that have made this a success.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What sets this world-class martial arts gym in its own league?
  • Ross’s unconventional ways of building a thriving community
  • Details often overlooked when opening up a new location
  • Timing and changing the frame with martial arts campaigns
  • How branding helps the business of martial arts
  • And more

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

TRANSCRIPTION

I'm a big believer in doing this anyhow, it is to learn every job. I don't need to do it, but I need to understand how every job works. Then if someone's not doing their job, I can point it out and I can just tell them how I want it done or, but I've got to know every job.

GEORGE: Hey, George Fourie here! Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ business podcast. Today's special guest is Ross Cameron from Fightcross MMA in Brisbane, Australia. Now, Ross and I go way back, we've been working together for quite some time, and I've been fortunate enough to witness his business explode from the sidelines.

Just recently, he's opened up his new location, and let me tell you what, it's not just any location. We were on one of our Partners Power Hour calls, our coaching calls, and Ross took us on a virtual tour through the location – we're going to include a virtual tour on this page as well. But he took us through the whole location, and just the multiple floors, the different aspects, the bar, the coffee shop, and of course, the world class gym.

So, we break down just the whole process of the two to three years that it took to put this together, the obstacles that he faced, with obviously things like COVID, things that weren't expected. And we do a deep dive into the technicalities of how to set up your contracts, how to structure your staffing, and a lot of the details that often go missed when opening up a new location. And then we do a bit of a deep dive on marketing and how he's gone about marketing this new location and the plan on filling it up to 500 to 1000 members over the next 12 months. Jump in, this is a good one.

Also, if you – head over to martialartsmedia.com/125 – where this podcast episode is hosted. So, no matter where you're listening or watching, you can check out the full transcript of the show. And you can also grab a download of our new ebook, Ultimate Facebook™ Ad Formula for Martial Arts Schools.

So, check that out, and make sure you subscribe to the show wherever you're listening, just to make sure that you get notified when our next show comes up. All right, let's jump in. Ross, what's been the top marketing strategy or campaign that you've run lately? What's been the highest performance?

ROSS: So, the best one we've had recently, because we've been moving into a new gym, has been our foundation membership drive, with Facebook and video and all the rest of it. And based around that, was a box that we gave away that had different items inside it. We had samples from some of our suppliers, we had a towel from the gym, we had a water bottle, we had a mouth guard, all the little bits and pieces to make them feel comfortable and give them some added value to signing on.

GEORGE: Great! So, what was the offer for the foundational membership?

ROSS: So, they got a discounted rate on the membership for 12 months. They got a – foundation sign-on fee was $99, and in that, they got this box that had a t-shirt, a mouth guard, a water bottle, a towel, samples, a card that actually had a link to some extra video content we'd done on how to tie a belt, welcome to the gym, how to do a mobility flow, all sorts of bits and pieces.

GEORGE: Perfect. So, I guess we can now give some full context, why the foundational membership, so, just a shorter intro. Ross Cameron from Fightcross in Brisbane, Australia. If you've been following the podcast, Ross has also been on the podcast before, we spoke about lockdown, which is their event… What do you call it? Modified jiu jitsu?

ROSS: It's submission grappling. Yeah. MMA in the cage without the strikes.

GEORGE: That's the tagline I've been looking for! So, you can – want to backtrack on that, which was episode 37.

So, Ross, you know, we chat every week, every so often when you're not busy evolving this new… What do we call it? It's like the evolution of the martial art school, is almost the way I look at it. You gave us a bit of a video tour and showed us what you've got going there, but why don't you give us a bit of a background, the vision and how this all came about?

ROSS: So, when I first started teaching martial arts here in Australia, I'd moved from having three clubs in New Zealand, with coaches and school halls and all the rest of it, to moving over to Australia.

And then I started teaching in my garage, and then quickly from that I went to a tin shed, and over a period of about 20 years, we've gone from the tin shed to what we have now, as I see it a very professional, high-end martial arts academy.

We've put in Fuji mats, we've put in a cage, we've got top-level cardio equipment, we've got top-level weights equipment, recovery center – so, ice pods, infrared sauna, massage therapists, physiotherapists, fitness rooms, the private PT studios, the lot. It's not just a martial arts school in the school hall, it's taking it to the next level of professionalism.

And in doing that, we've had to look at staff contracts, insurances, all the different things that you don't actually take into account when you're in a school hall. And sure, you have to have insurances and things in place, but do you need this type of insurance or this type of insurance?

Do you need to have 20 million public liability insurance or 10 million public liability insurance? Do you have to have product insurance? Do you have to have insurance to cover your income? Do you have to have insurance to cover fidelity? All sorts of bits and pieces. Do you cover your staff for all sorts of weird and wonderful things? So, it's taken a lot of time to go through and get to that point… But we're there now.

GEORGE: You there? Yeah, I remember we started having this conversation… Jeez, how long ago? It's been a few years, right?

ROSS: Yep. Yeah.

GEORGE: So, how many years in the making? I mean, not the planning – the physical actually putting it together?

ROSS: Ah, well, it's probably two to three years of actually putting it all together. It's not a quick process.

GEORGE: I'd love to dive into all the technicalities and details of, like, if you're a school owner, and you're looking at taking your business to the next level and elevating your brand, and upgrading your facilities, and being this premier school, and the process you've taken, like, the technicalities that often get overlooked. Just take us again through the facility because you left out one big part. What's in the gym, right?

ROSS: Right. So, we have a building that’s ours. Our gym is about 650 square meters. Below that is a high-end bar. Behind us is a five-star French restaurant, we have a coffee roaster, a brewer, a French patisserie kitchen, coffee shop, all in the facility.

GEORGE: Right. So, now that brings up a lot of questions. First up is – how many students arrive to class and never get up to the gym, because they are stuck in the bar?

ROSS: None, thank God.

GEORGE: Great!

ROSS: Although, they do go to the bar after.

GEORGE: Right. Their special punishment, if you're late, if you don't make it… begs the question, right? Why a bar? Why a coffee shop? What's the whole idea behind all the add-ons?

ROSS: It's trying to build a community, alright? And it's trying to have things that link into what will connect people to what we do. So, the bar is the social aspect. The coffee shop provides high-end coffee, cold brew, things that are really good for pre-workout and things like that.

And again, it's providing us a social atmosphere, where we can take the guys downstairs and have a coffee, have something to eat. People come in and spend the whole day around the gym, without actually having to go out anywhere.

GEORGE: Right. So, can you give us insight on a bit of the vision, and I think what we'll do, if it's okay with you, Ross; if you can do a bit of a video walkthrough after sometime and we'll add it onto this page where the podcast is hosted.

So, you could go to martialartsmedia.com/125 and catch the video there, because that will give you a… We were on one of our Partners coaching calls and Ross was there and he took us through the whole gym. Took up most of the coaching call, but everyone was really wowed, just by its… I mean, there's nothing I can compare to, which is just what makes it so fascinating.

So, what was the whole vision behind it? You mentioned community and it brings the whole community together, but what's the whole vision behind the new Fightcross?

ROSS: Well, martial arts as a way of life? So, the whole vision is actually that whole encompassing community. So, that's why we have a recovery center, as well as why we have the physios and the message therapists. That's why we have the PTs.

People can come in the door and do a workout, they can recover, they can eat good food, and it's all organic. It's not rubbish food, like the average pub food. It's all organic food. We've got the microbrewery on site that actually brews here with, again, organic, that whole encompassing vision is where we've gone.

GEORGE: Gotcha. What are you doing differently now, with the new – the whole new environment than you used to do just with running classes and so forth?

ROSS: Well, I'm trying to get out of doing all the work – hiring staff and doing those things. So, we have multiple styles in the gym. So, we have boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Japanese jiu jitsu, judo, taekwondo, karate we have, and then MMA, and everyone's got to fit in, we have like 72 classes a week, including pilates and yoga and so.

We've got a lot more of a community pull, because we have all these other add-on sessions.

GEORGE: Is there something you do differently to build the community when you've got all these various styles, and you attract a different caliber or type of person that resonates to these different styles?
 

ROSS: Yeah, you have to be more on the ball with the community building, as in… I spend a lot of my time now actually, just talking to people, that connection between them and me, it has to be really good because if I'm not taking all the classes, they lose contact with who you are and what you do, and all that sort of stuff.

So, you've got to spend the time around the facility, meeting with people, talking with people, building the community by organizing, like we're doing David Goggins' 4x4x48 as part of a team, we'll have a barbecue the whole weekend, we'll do all those things. And just constantly doing that sort of stuff, rather than just here I'm at the class, here's the grading barbecue and away we go.

GEORGE: Gotcha. And that's where a bar just works well as well, right? Because it brings the community together.

ROSS: Yep, yep, yep. So, even some of our little social club meetings, a Friday night sparring session, Friday nights, lots of the guys just go downstairs have a beer and a burger and then toddle off on home.

GEORGE: Love it. Alright, so, let's get into the nuts and bolts, right? I mean, what goes into this? So, first up, you have this, you have this vision, and now you have to get work, and turn the vision into reality, right? So, what sort of, what are some of the first few steps and how do you go about all this?

ROSS: Besides all the planning, dreaming and sketching, and all that sort of stuff, you get a building or you lease a building or whatever. The first thing you should do; we were finding the zoning, and making sure you have council zoning to be able to run a sport and rec facility. Step one. If you don't have sport and rec, you can be closed down by the council at any moment. Any moment.

GEORGE: Before you continue, I think, and you pointed at it, right? After the planning? So, I think we shouldn't just brush over that part, right? You've got this vision, what goes into the planning? And you've got a bit of experience in this type of thing as well.

ROSS: Yep, I'm an engineer by trade. So, planning is the key to everything. So, planning out how your building's going to look, the layout of your building, your color schemes, which mats you're going to have, what cage you're going to have, what staff you're going to require, what classes you're going to have, how you're going to get the stuff into the building, when you have to get the stuff into the building…

When you have to have your insurances in place, when your staff has to come on board, what contracts you need for your staff, whether or not you've got enough insurance to cover your product in your pro shop, and the equipment on the floor – whether or not you've got enough to handle the – if it all goes bad. Having a game plan B, C, and D. Yeah, there's lots to go into it – many moving parts.

GEORGE: Right, now there – plan B, C, and D played a big role, right? Because…

ROSS: Oh, yeah!

GEORGE: We were expecting the big old COVID to come around.

ROSS: Yep. So, we had an eight-month delay in actually getting into the building, due to building issues, due to COVID. So, in that time, we've had to, to go to game plan B, C, and D. We were doing things like running out of one of my franchises, we were running out of the coffee shop next door taking classes.

So, we had a local community, we were doing stuff in the park, we were doing bootcamp type stuff. All these bits come into play, so that we could keep community involvement here in the natural area where the gym is.

GEORGE: Alright, let's continue the journey, we’ve done the planning, we're getting all the infrastructure set up. Where do we go from here?

ROSS: So, I still think the first thing you should make sure is your building has got, one; before you sign the lease, or before you buy the building, check the zoning! Make sure that you have the correct zoning, because if the council comes along and shuts you down? You're shut down. Happened to one of my franchises, that the zoning got changed once, and they had to go and get an environmental impact study done on the traffic coming to the gym, to prove that they could stay. And it cost him about $25,000 just to do that.

So, I would make sure that that's a big tip to start with. Once you've got that, then you can start the nitty gritty into, like, what classes do you want to run, because that'll tell you what equipment you require. What sort of a gym you want to be – if you want to have weights, and you want to have, we want to be a CrossFit, box, and a martial arts gym – or if you want to be a health and fitness center, and a martial arts studio.

And then you can start planning out your equipment. Once you've got your equipment, then you can start planning out what sorts of insurances you need, what classes you're going to need, the staffing you're going to require for those.

And then you start going into if you need new staffing – are they casual? Are they permanent? How are they… are you going to pay PAYG? Are you going to have to pay supers? Are you going to have to do all those things? Are you going to… and your contracts that you require for those? Each one takes time, takes energy and takes effort. Even if you have good lawyers, and I've got good lawyers, you still have to make sure that you check all your T's and dot all your I's. So…

GEORGE: What issues did you run into that were completely unexpected, and that you particularly hadn't planned for? Or planned for?

ROSS: COVID?

GEORGE: Right. We didn't see that one coming, right?

ROSS: Yeah. And the effect COVID had on delays meant that the staff that I had organized, a lot of them were not here, not available when we actually got to moving into the gym. So, I've had that reshuffle of staffing and organizing things that has taken me longer, because of the fact that the delay was there.

Council approvals took longer than expected, building compliance took longer than expected. All those things that you think, “Oh, yeah, we'll just get it ticked off and it's… Oh no, these Braille signs are not in the right place. This fire exit needs another sign. That door swings the wrong way.” All those little bits and pieces just take time and take energy.

GEORGE: How do you go about your employment contracts and accounting and so forth? And I mean, if we can talk about budgeting as well, how did you go about all that?

ROSS: Accountants are great. If you have a good accountant, they'll make your business. We did a whole financial modeling. So, we sat down and we went through and we worked out, you know, our cash flow, our spending, funding the equipment, not funding the equipment, funding staff, how long that's going to take to ramp up the numbers to get to where we want to be…

So, we did a 2 to 5-year cash flow, then we could sit down and go, “Right. What other issues do we have here? As an accountant, what do you see?” And they always go, “You know, the next level is your staffing is going to cost you.” You got to make sure that you get your contracts right, you got to make sure that you are planning to hire slow, fire fast.

Make sure that you're looking after your people, but make sure that they're not costing you money. And contracts for your staff – again, it's that – are they casual? Are they permanent? Getting the technicalities of your employment contracts correct. I'm lucky, I've got – not only do I have good lawyers, I actually have an employment contract lawyer as a member in the gym, so I was able to go, “Tell me what I need to look at. Now go to my lawyers and say, ‘now write this'.”

And it's interesting to see all the little intricacies that you've got to have in there. And then you've got to worry about your contractors. So, if you have a guy who takes two BJJ classes a week, and if he's a contractor, you need to have a contract with him. It's not just, “Hey, mate, I know you're a BJJ black belt, can you take a couple of classes for me?” “Ah, yeah, it's 50 bucks a class.” “No worries.” It's not that easy these days, because if you do it wrong, it bites you on the ass.

GEORGE: And what could go wrong with that, because I think a lot of people do that, right? They just, you've got the top guy at the school and you're like, “Alright, we'll give you a couple of bucks to run the classes.” What's the downside?

ROSS: Well, number one, he could open a gym down the road, even though that's technically a breach of what's called fiduciary duties. So, they're not allowed to do that, but they do.

GEORGE: … because that's never happened before, has it?

ROSS: Never happened at all! That, if you have your contracts in place, that's going to cover your bum for that sort of thing. You can't stop them from opening a martial arts school, but you can stop them opening a martial arts school within a certain area to compete with you. So, there's the, sort of the fine line of understanding what they're allowed to do and what they're not allowed to do. And you only know that through experience or lawyers.

GEORGE: Very important, yeah.

ROSS: And as the contractors, you know, do they have their insurance? Do they have their first aid certificate, do they have…? And by signing the contract, you get them to agree that they have all these things in place. And then when there's verbal involved, it never lasts. If it's written, you can go back to that writing. Contracts, contracts, contracts!

GEORGE: Right.

ROSS: Like an engineer does it.

GEORGE: Now, how did you decide between… because you've got this massive organization that runs, I mean, morning, you said from 6am to?

ROSS: 5:30am to 9pm.

GEORGE: 5:30 to 9. Alright, and there's lots happening, so, you've got permanent staff, you've got casual staff, contractors. How did you decide on who you need? And did you work on a ratio, or like the ratio of students? How do you determine what staff you really need?

ROSS: What I worked on is actually the skill bases that I require to cover the multiple disciplines. So, my boxing coach that I have as a contractor, he's a boxing coach, he's a CrossFit coach. He used to fence for Australia at an Olympic level. He's done Muay Thai and karate. So, he covers multiple bases. The same with my BJJ coach. The BJJ coach, I haven't, he's, not only is he a BJJ black belt, he's also a karate black belt.

My PTs that I have, they tend to have boxing or kickboxing backgrounds, as well as being PTs. So, we've got even down to some of the reception sort of staff. I have one receptionist, a remedial massage therapist, so he can cover multiple angles for me. Sit down, work out the skill bases, then try and find the people that will fit those skill bases.

GEORGE: And then what about culture?

ROSS: That's a huge thing. Culture is a huge thing – and culture comes from the top. So, you have to drive the culture and what you want and how you want people to act and behave and talk – even down to talking. So, all the boys have their locker talk and things like that – if I catch them having locker talk anywhere in the gym, I shut that down straight away. You know, I want a large percentage of my clients to be female.

So, I'm not letting the locker talk go on in the gym and things like that. So, I set the rules, and I'm told I'm pretty hard on people. But I think it will be hard to see the culture that you want from the beginning. Tell people how you expect to be treated, and then expect them to come up to that standard.

GEORGE: And what's your strategy with that? Are you just, I mean, you just, I know you're pretty straightforward with a smile on your face, right? But is that just your approach? You just go out and tell people, “That's not cool,” pull them aside?

ROSS: That's it. I like the military principle. I don't tell people off in front of other people. I'll pull them aside and have a word with them. But I pick when I do it as well, and try not to do it so it's too obvious, or if they're making a fool of themselves, when they shouldn't be and something's dangerous? I'll say something then.

GEORGE: Alright, are you going to open a big center like this again? Another one?

ROSS: Oh, yes.

GEORGE: Oh, yes. Right, cool. Great. What would you do differently this time, if anything?

ROSS: Avoid COVID. Probably more planning, more control over certain parts that I just let other people do. One of the big things that I've learned out of this, and I'm a big believer in doing this anyhow, is to learn every job. I don't need to do it, but I need to understand how every job works.

Then if someone's not doing their job, I can point it out and I can just tell them how I want it done or, but I've got to know every job. Handy being an engineer, because that means I look at all those things and get most of it. So, yeah, but that would be more planning and more understanding of every bit that goes into it, before I get the person to look after it.

GEORGE: That means marketing too, right?

ROSS: Absolutely. Yep. Marketing is one of the things that I've had other people do before. And I'm a believer in that I should show you your job, tell you your job, let you do it. And if you don't come up to the tee, I'm going to crack across the knuckles.

I've had a few guys that have done that for me, where they've come up and then just disappeared, or they've gone and hidden from me, because they know that the knuckle breaks are coming. You've got to be able to hand over the job to somebody at some point. Otherwise you spend 24 hours a day doing every job. You still need to understand every job, you just don't need to do every job.

GEORGE: Yeah, and so, I mean, that's something that I deal with a lot, just with marketing. And I think it's, obviously if you're a school owner and you've got all this on your plate, and now you've got to handle marketing…

I mean, it's just easier to hand it off to someone and say, “Can you do it?” That's great. The problem is, if you don't know the strategy, you've actually just handed over the drive and the growth of your business to a person or foreign entity. And if they don't perform, as they do, your business is crippled right there.

And this is, I guess, my big pet peeve with, sometimes with agencies, because they can start out, you know, or the go-to guy that is doing all these great things, decides to do your marketing for you, and he does well…

But then he realizes, “Alright, well, I'm going to make a business out of this. I'm a good marketer. Maybe I'm not a good business owner.” And most agency owners would know when you get about 10, 20 clients – you better have your systems in place. So, the person that was your go-to guy becomes your not so go-to guy. And again, you're looking for the new one.

ROSS: Yep. Yeah. And exactly it with agencies – it's exactly the same as if you have – and every martial arts school works the same sort of way. They all work on their community. So, Joe Bloggs knows how to do this stuff, “Can you give it a crack for me?” And then later down the track, it doesn't work.

So, you've got to know how to do the job and then have some KPIs in place that you can check and all the rest of it and have control over it all. You don't want to hand that control over to somebody, so you get an agency doing it, and they're doing everything for you. You've got no control over it at all. Suddenly, you've got no data, you've got no information that you require to keep your systems moving.

GEORGE: Yeah, and I think there's a special place in hell for agency owners that set up your accounts on their business – their own Google accounts, their own Facebook business managers, and they run your ads or keep your data and your accounts hostage. And so, you walk away with nothing. And that's a real thing. I couldn't believe that was a real thing, but that's actually a real thing.

ROSS: Yeah, I've seen it on multiple levels, and the same sort of thing. Not just Facebook marketing, but in other areas of marketing, where they just keep everything and keep it hostage until either you pay them what they want to get paid, or they just take it and go.

GEORGE: Crazy stuff, right? So, Ross, I mean, it's, I feel it's always the lame question, right? But it's such a topic that, you know, you've got such an extensive knowledge on all this, and I just want to make sure I get all the information from you. Is there something I should be asking you that I haven't asked yet?

ROSS: No, I think sort of the next thing for us will be our ongoing marketing campaigns and planning out our year. Month by month by month, week by week by week by week, when we have to have our marketing running by, when we're having our campaigns and how we're planning those little bits. Sounds funny, but the artwork and the copy, once you've got it right, it's easy.

The planning and execution of when you need to execute it at the right time, because you can always put out an ad, and whether that ad is actually beneficial for the timing is the issue. So, if you run it, run your Christmas special in August, it's not going to work. But if you run your Christmas Special, four weeks, six weeks out from Christmas, you've got a bit of lead time up and you've got the groundswell hit just before Christmas, it's perfect timing.

Same with your February fitness or your New Year's resolution stuff. If you're trying to do that, July, it doesn't work, you know, everyone's hunkering down for the winter and they're not thinking about getting out and moving and doing all those bits and pieces.

So, timing is the important part for your marketing, understanding your market, understanding when you have to hit the go button. And then having a process from that, that says, I need my artwork ready by this date. I need my wording by this date, I need to have my flyers printed on this day. I need them distributed by hand by here to be able to get the result I want on this date.

So, all that sounds, and it sounds very easy. But you've got to have the systems in place to make it happen, because if you don't have the systems in place, you just won't do it.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. I want to ask you, just because you touched on design, how important do you feel is the design from top-level through to your social media? And how do you combine it?

ROSS: So, design's really important. So, I go down to, and this is a bit old, I don't have business cards anymore, but it used to go down to how the business card felt in your hand – the paper, the weight, the gloss, if it was embossed or not. So, your design and everything being the same image, the same look, the same feel is so important.

Because if you haven't got an even playing field when it comes to that, and you drop the ball on an ad that doesn't look anything like what you actually do? And I see it quite a bit in, well, the classic is you see ads out there that don't have their phone number, or their email address, or… there was a fight show here in Queensland that wrapped up a whole bus with just their name and all the rest of it, and didn't have a website, didn't have a phone number, didn't have when the event was, no details on the bus.

The bus drove around for about eight weeks before the fight show with no real marketing material on. So, it's that, little things. I'm quite lucky I have a graphic designer that I use in Japan. He's been a student of mine for many years, and he always looks at the little things and goes, “Oh, you've missed out your phone number here,” or, “You can't notice where your address is,” or… And everything you do, say, leaving off your website on a flyer.

GEORGE: Yeah, we were just chatting about this on the coaching call, Partners coaching call yesterday. But I think what, just to add to that, things that are so important, we were talking about timing, you know, your frame. We always say change the frame, you know, don't necessarily have to change your offer, just change the frame – that your frame is relevant.

You know, what is the talk? What are people talking about right now? Is it Mother’s Day, Easter, etc.? And then one of the mistakes we always see on any ad or any promotion is no call-to-action. It's like, here's the ad, but like, what the hell do I do to get this thing?

And then, just lastly, the wrong call-to-action on the wrong platform, because if you've got this super spanky flyer, that's really great when you hold it in your hand, and it's got a phone number. But when you see it on social media, you look at the phone number. If I'm on my phone, I can't click it. I can't type. I can't write it down. There's nothing I can do. So, it goes into the “I'll check it out later” basket, which means there goes your lead.

ROSS: Yep, exactly. On social media, you've got to have your links on your email address, on your email campaigns, have your links to things. Big mistake, I see it all the time, and not just martial arts businesses, you see it by some big businesses doing, making huge mistakes.

GEORGE: And so, just what Ross was mentioning on branding, I think what's important here – just to add on that aspect – if you're running campaigns back to back, and you have a brand identity and people can see, can you see this… I always look at Apple, you know. You don't have to know, you don't have to see an Apple logo to know it's Apple. It's just got this; the colors and the design speak for itself.

If people are seeing your ads all the time, you know, and they might not respond to this month's campaign, next month, the third month. But if you've got a design and a concept that people resonate with, and they see – when they're ready, whenever that is and they see your ad, there's a bit of a trust factor that's been built, just because they're familiar, the familiarity of your brand. So yeah, definitely important to keep that congruent from top down.

ROSS: Yeah, the classic with that is Coca Cola. You know, they don't have to change a lot, but they still have to market. So, yeah, you know what, you know what's a Coca Cola brand. You know, what's – the colors, the look, the flow. But, yeah.

GEORGE: So, Ross, what's next? 

ROSS: What's next? 

GEORGE: What's next for Ross and Fightcross? 

ROSS: So, for the next 12 months, it's consolidation. We're aiming to have somewhere between 500 and 1000 members of the facility here. And then I'm looking to purchase some more buildings and expand. So, that's the plan. 

GEORGE: Now, if you don't mind sharing, wrapping some numbers around this, what budget do you set aside? I mean, what budget did you set aside for your current location and when people see the video, they'll get a good aspect of what it's about, and how would you be budgeting for the next round? 

ROSS: So, I've spent, and fitout-wise, I've spent about $250,000 in fitout. So, it's not a cheap fitout. 

GEORGE: So, everyone will see why. Yep, yeah.

ROSS: Yeah. And it's what you're trying to achieve with your building and your fitout, like I say, even down to choosing the mats. I chose the Firmimats, and I chose the traditional Tammy Green matte finish, and all the rest of it, for the right look. So, I've spent extra dollars to make sure I got the right look and the right feel, because it's so important. 

GEORGE: Epic! Well, Ross, great catching up again, and would love to catch up again when, yeah, maybe not in the next location, but just in between and just chat about your experience with running the business and how things are going. Any last words? How can people find out more about you? We haven't even spoken about the events and things that you run. But where can people find out more about you?

ROSS: I'm all over social media so ‘Ross Cameron MMA' on Instagram, ‘Fightcross Ross Cameron' on Facebook, Aftershock, lockdown, hammer fight nights. They're there. They're all over social media. So, at one stage I did a lot of social media work. 

GEORGE: That's cool. Awesome. Great. Thanks so much. I'll speak to you soon. 

ROSS: No worries, yes!

 

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