33 – Kyoshi Dave Kovar: Breaking Through Barriers Holding You Back In Your Martial Arts Business

Kyoshi Dave Kovar from Kovar Systems reveals how to conquer blocks holding you back from success with your martial arts business.

dave kovar martial arts

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The one movie that brought the popularity for kids karate classes
  • How your approach differs when your goal is to keep students for a decade or more
  • Setting up your students for success to build confidence
  • Preparing your students and parents for the day that they might decide to quit
  • The 6 word philosophy on developing your martial arts team
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

It's a quote I learned from my father: wherever you are, be there. And you've got to put the time and effort in and quality time in.

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast, episode number 33. Another awesome interview for you today, with Kyoshi Dave Kovar from System Kovar Satori Academy. And how this interview came about, now, you're probably familiar with Dave Kovar as most people in the martial arts business industry is familiar with Kyoshi Dave Kovar, but how this interview actually came about was, having a chat with Matt Ball from episode number 28 and in that interview, Matt Ball was sharing how Dave Kovar helped him release some stuff within him that was holding him back. And that led to this conversation.

So, if you listen to that episode, this is a great follow up on that, as Dave was actually just visiting Matt Ball, as well as Matt Wickham and probably a bunch of others school owners in Melbourne and this episode came about. I missed him while he was in Melbourne, but we managed to catch up just after he left back to the US. So this is a jam-packed interview with great value. I was really blown away by the information that Dave shared and this point of time, Dave and his organization cater to 3000 students, they're running at a 96% retention rate with a 115 new students every month.

So there’s a lot of core components that came together in this interview, so you're really, really going to get a lot of value out of it. And there's one thing that really stood out for me: as we help martial arts business owners with their digital marketing systems and we are putting together a systematic structure, a course that can help martial arts school owners take their marketing into their own hands. And with that, I really picked up something very unique that Dave was doing. Maybe it’s just because I was paying attention to it, but I want to know from you if you pick that up as well, and I’ll reveal what that is at the end of the episode.

And also I just want to thank Gordon Storie, who mentioned to me on our Facebook page that you weren't able to access the episodes past ten episodes, so if you're a new listener and you haven't listened to all the back episodes, there's a ton of great, great, great content there for you. You can now go through, well obviously you can access it on the website, martialartsmedia.com but if you are listening through the podcast app, or the android app Stitcher radio, any of these devices that you get, apps that you get on your mobile phone that you can use to listen to podcasts, then you can now backtrack and access all those back episodes. I think that the last 30 episodes you can access.

All right, so your show notes and all links, everything mentioned in this episode is of course on martialartsmedia.com/33, the number 33 and that's it from me for now, please welcome to this show, Kyoshi Dave Kovar.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I have with me the founder of Kovar systems, Kyoshi Dave Kovar. How are you doing this morning, this afternoon rather?

DAVE: I’m doing great, it’s afternoon for me, I'm doing great, thanks for having me on this show.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. And today, there's obviously many directions we can take this conversation, but we're going to be discussing things that a lot of your clients have brought up with achieving breakthroughs within their schools and so forth. But we'll get to that in the course, so welcome Dave.

DAVE: Happy to be here and hopefully I can be of some value.

GEORGE: Awesome. So just to take things back right to the beginning – who is Dave Kovar?

DAVE: I’m still trying to figure that one out, you know? I’m a guy that's been doing martial arts for a really long time. I started in, I always wanted to do, I'm almost 58, so in the mid 60s, I'm 5 or 6 years old. I saw a silhouette of a guy doing a fly side kick on a billboard somewhere. And I didn't know what it was, but I knew that's what I wanted to do and it took several years beyond that before my folks would have anything to do with it. So I started wrestling in year 7 in 1971, I started karate in 1973 and I kind of fell into a school in November 1978, I took over a commercial location that had almost no students and I was 6 months out of high school and this is all I've ever done.

I’m actually in my 39th March of running a martial arts school, so along the way, I'm still trying to figure it out. I know no one has all the answers, but I seem to make a lot less mistakes than I did a decade ago and certainly a lot less mistakes than I did 25 years ago. So I spend a lot of time now coaching other schools. I have a chain of schools in Northern California, that my company owns. We have 8 locations and we average 327 members per location, so they are good-sized schools. Obviously, some are bigger, some are smaller. I have 5 licensed schools and then I coach about a 150 schools through our Kovar Systems, PROMAC  throughout the world, got probably about a dozen schools in Australia and probably about the same number in the UK and a few in Germany, but most of them are in the US.

GEORGE: All right, fantastic. Now, you've achieved so much in the martial arts industry: what is it like, going back, how did you start the whole teaching journey and how did it evolve from training? And I know you've also competed as well, so how did you take that stepping stone back in the early days of getting into owning your own school?

DAVE: Well, you know, it was like back then, I'm sure you've heard, and your listeners here heard: “You do what for a living? You teach martial arts for a living?” But that's in 2017. In 1979 or 1978, it was frigging unheard of, right? There were a few schools, but I actually taught, my parents, they loaned me the money to take over this school and I just started university and I promised them if they helped me with this, I will get my education. Anyway, long story short, we had no clue. There were truly very few places to go that had any clue how to run this like a business. And so it was real trial and error for years.

I mean, for a while I painted houses by day while I taught in the evenings, and then an interesting thing happened: by the way, back then, there was no kids, very few kids I should say, doing martial arts. All right? When I started, I was one of 6 kids in the whole school under 18, right? But I kind of always enjoyed working with kids and by the early 80s, I had one of the largest student bodies of kids in the county and I had a grand total of 11 junior students, the rest were adults. So there wasn't many, I just had one kids class that met Mondays and Wednesdays at five o’clock, that was the only time the rest were adult groups.

And then, an interesting thing happened in the mid 80s, let me see what the name of that movie was again… I'm joking, it was Karate Kid. And overnight, things changed. And I literally remember, this is actually a true story: at the time, I was painting houses and apartments, so I would paint from 7 to 3 and I'd rush home to my duplex and I would take a shower and I'd race to get to the school by 4 and teach classes till 9. I remember, I would show up, this would have been like 1986 now and there would sometimes be a line of parents holding hands with their kids, waiting to enrol in our school, because there was nowhere to go and there was a big demand.

My older brother Tim came on as my business partner in 1987 and that's really when things took off for us. And so at the time I was teaching all the classes, in the early 90s my brother was the program director and I was teaching all the classes. We had actually, and by this time, I had a few assistants, but we actually grew our one facility to – this is a legitimate number: 903 active members. And so, my brother would be like, come on man, we've got to train some other instructors and we sat down, we kind of outlined some teaching tips and some rules, that later on became our first in 1993, we did a “how to teach martial arts to kids’” video series that did really well, actually internationally.

And that's when we kind of went, OK, we're onto something and we kind of have been ever since, kind of fine tuning our business and teaching skills and what the whole deal is that we actually use our schools as our centres of excellence, meaning the stuff that we coach other schools on is actually stuff we really do, you know what I’m saying? It’s not just kind of theory and thought, it is tried and true, and so we just made it a point to spend time on the psychology science of teaching more so than the actual curriculum we might be teaching. That's what we try to present to other people.

GEORGE: Ok, and could you elaborate a bit more on that?

DAVE: Well, yeah. For example, back in the day – everybody’s got back in the day stories, right? But there was this whole generation, I'm sure it was the same across the industrialized world, the martial artists that came back to the States, the people that started teaching, were usually former military, right? That were stationed in Okinawa or Korea or somewhere like that. And so when they came back, the line was kind of blurred: this is my impression, this is my theory. Between boot camp military, hard core training and martial arts and so they got blended together.

So the first couple of decades in martial arts in America was very negative: push ups till you're blue in the face, teaching to hit the guy in the back of the leg or the shin if his knees aren't bent – all those things that I'm not saying they're wrong, they might be the right thing for some people, but I think overall, those teaching methodologies are kind of archaic now and we know if you look how they train dogs now: they don't use the stick as much, it’s reward based. And people know that's a better way to do it, it simply works better, right?

And so it’s kind of similar in martial arts, our training, we have all these rules for example. One rule would be public praise, private reprimand. And the concept is during class, if somebody one of the students, does something correct – and by the way, this applies to people of all ages, then you shout it from the rooftops! You let everybody know. However, if someone is screwing up or doing something incorrectly, you try not to draw attention to that. Now, what happens is, most instructors figure this out eventually on their own, but it might take them 20 years, right?

And so, that's something that new instructors understand if you teach them right out of the gate, that's just what they do and that saves a lot of students that may have publicly felt like they're humiliated or a quitter, right? And so the concept we call 3-by-3, which stand for, every class, an instructor, his goal with every student in class is to use their name, appropriate body contact and eye contact three times during class, because that lets the students know that you knew that they were there.

Now, most instructors, good instructors, are going to eventually do this, but when you teach a rookie out of a gate, they can become a really good instructor in a fraction of the time, because they actually have the methodologies and science behind what exactly to do. And how and why you run a class a certain way and how if somebody is losing interest in training, how you go about re-framing that and finding out what their cause is and if you can do anything about it. And so, there really wasn't anyone like that when we were going through the ranks and so we kind of saw a need and we've been working on trying to figure out what's the motivation to keep somebody training, for not just a few weeks or a few months: you and I know that someone can train for two or three months in martial arts and they can benefit from it certainly.

But the real benefits from martial arts come from long term training, right? And so there’s a lot of things that have to happen for a school owner that they have to do in order for someone to train with you for a decade, which is always our goal. When someone comes in, our goal or intent is to have them train with us for a decade. Of course, they don't always do it, but what our intent is there and we're working with that in mind, we get them to stay a lot longer than they would have otherwise. Therefore, they benefit from the martial arts training dramatically and of course, the business model would be way more successful because our retention is going to be better, our student body etc. is going to improve.

GEORGE: That's excellent, because it really starts with the intent. I mean, if you know that your students only last a year or two years and you might frame things in a way that you know they're only going to last 2 years, but I find that fascinating, because if you have the intent to keep someone for ten years, then that changes your approach. But how would it change your approach? If you know you want to keep someone for that long, a student, how would you treat them differently?

DAVE: Well, I think it’s this, first and foremost, I used to have a school for years, I had a competition school and I had like 35 members, right? By the way, this is when I had a day job, because that was the only way I could do it, right? And my 35 members they were tough! We won a lot of first place trophies, yada yada, that was the emphasis of the school. By the way, there's absolutely nothing wrong with competition, don't get me wrong. It was the right thing for me, and it’s the right thing for a lot of people, but I put such an emphasis on it that everybody that was just there for other reasons, kind of felt like a second class student, right? And so, what happened is, one day – and by the way, all my guys that I thought were so tough, look at my 35 guys.

Actually every one of them was tough before I even met them, they didn't really need martial arts. What then happened was, I scared away everyone that really needed our products by going too fast, too hard, too soon, right? And so what I looked at now is like, hey man, you've got someone coming in the door. The average person that comes to your school is usually, maybe doesn't have a high level of self-discipline or a high level of confidence and those that have those things, the students who take great pride in it because they're natural athletes and man, look at them, they’re going to train 8 months and look at how good they are, honestly, we don't have a lot to do with them. They were self-driven. And so, what I tried to get across to my instructors is, the real value is, when you take somebody that doesn't have a high level of confidence or is incredibly uncoordinated, and you're able to keep them in the school long enough to develop them into warrior.

And what does that mean exactly? It’s things like setting them up for success, like for example, the first time someone ever does a tip test or a strike test, or a belt test – if you don't think they're ready, you should test them, because the last thing you want to do is to have someone that the first time they step in front of their peers to perform, they fail. That's going to kill their confidence and there's a good chance they're not coming back. So the trick is to set them up for success by making sure that the first time they walk off the mat after an event like that, they were successful. And what that does is, that builds their confidence a bit.

And so slowly over time, and then it’s about making sure that you set realistic goals. Now, by no means should you lower your standards to black belt at all, but what a lot of people do is, maybe their belt doesn't happen for a year and a half: well, that might be too long for a lot of people, so could you give people stripes or something between those, so there's a lot more incremental goals along the way. Because people of all ages enjoy having a short term goal to work towards. And so that would be one of the things.

The next thing is, most instructors what I see, and I have a chance to travel a lot and see a lot of really high level schools and it’s really cool to see how far the martial arts profession has come from a standpoint of professionalism and quality of instruction, but where we tend to be weak as an industry is in one-on-one communication with students about their progress. So that's something that we're really stifflers on, we have all these systems in place, points of contact along the way in their early training, where we make sure that we sit down with our students on a regular basis, to give them feedback on what they're doing well, where they could maybe improve and getting another commitment out of them for them to continue training. And little things like this.

For example, as an industry sometimes, we tell people, let’s say you have a parent and they want their child involved in martial arts. And so, they come in, the first class is really fun. And we maybe give the impression of, oh yeah, your kid is going to love it. It’s going to be fun, they'll love this. Or guess what? They're not always going to love it; it’s not always going to be fun. There's going to come a time where almost every kids going to want to quit. You know that, I know that, it happens to everyone. So, if you wait until the parent says, yeah, he's losing interest, he wants to quit and then you try telling them, it’s OK man, every kid goes through that.

Perseverance, yada, yada – it might be too late. However, when they're still excited about training, if you take a moment and say, hey sir, just to let you know, I know your son is enjoying the process, I just want to let you know there's going to come a time where he doesn't want to do this. And don't worry about it, every kid goes through it, everybody that ever got their black belt, or almost everybody, had a hard time and wanted to quit sometime along the way, but just let us know, we'll work through it, no problem. And so, now when it happens, you think I'm Nostradamus, because I predicted that, right? Does that make sense?

GEORGE: Yes, very much.

DAVE: And so all of a sudden – by the way, I have to back it up with a great floor. Stephen Covey has a quote that says, “You can't talk yourself out of a situation that you behaved yourself into.”  What that means is, if their program is only mediocre, there's nothing that I can say that's going to keep them training. So I have to assume that my classes are running stellar, we call it the SSL rule: it’s smile and sweat and learn. People are having a good time, they don't really have to be smiling, but they're enjoying the classes, they're getting a workout, they're learning something new, and they're getting feedback. And if you can do that, then it’s way easier. If your pre-frame ahead of time that it’s not always going to be fun, but don't worry, that's when perseverance comes into play.

Perseverance only happens when you want to quit something and you don't, that's when you have perseverance. And you talk to the parents about it and you don't want them to develop a quit muscle, and what's a quit muscle? That's when you let them quit whenever they feel like it, because that's the muscle they're developing. You want them to develop a perseverance muscle, which means they have to push through low spots. Now, like I said, if you pre-frame that talk ahead of time, then you can get a lot of people through that low gap. And so, that would be one sample of what I could do, especially in the first 6 months of training, to have that conversation a couple of times with the student, because if I can get somebody to train with us for the first 6 months, there's a good chance I'm going to keep them for a really long time.

GEORGE: Wow, that's awesome. Ok, now, just on that topic: you were talking about having the fight gym and focusing on the fighters. How would you create a balance in a school that has multiple avenues of serving kids and fighters and these different demographics?

DAVE: First off, we have a fight team at our schools. I've got guys that do point tournaments and extreme martial arts form competition. I also have guys that compete in jiu-jitsu tournaments and MMA, so we're across the board, right? But, we don't make a big deal about it to the general student body. It’s kind of like it’s by invitation only and we don't put that, we understand that that's going to be an exception, that's not going to be a norm, at least the way we do things.

And so, it’s best thing if you have a fight team, like an adult fight team, I've seen it kill a lot of schools where they let those guys mix with their regular students in a sparring environment. So I think it’s really important to understand the difference between nature versus nurture. Meaning, survival of the fittest, nature. All right, the new guy is in here, we’re going to join the fight team, get hurt not going to train again, versus kind of nurturing our students and we let the beast, they have their own time that they do that.

And we kind of look at that like kind of a hobby, because honestly, I don't know, and I'm sure there's somebody out there, I don't know anybody that has a fight team, unless they have a high level sponsored fighter, that really makes any money off the fight team. It’s usually a distraction, from their business and if you want to do it, that's great, but look at it as a hobby, kind of a passion more so than profession. Your profession, in my mind and what I've seen in successful schools around the world, are people that are taking the average person of average skill, of average time available and they are doing the best they can to keep that person training and developing the benefits that martial arts can give them in their everyday life. Not putting their main emphasis on developing athletes.

GEORGE: All right, fantastic. Now, I want to go back to, I had Matt Ball on from SMACK in Sum of All Melbourne. And I see you've just had another visit with him a couple of weeks ago and in our conversation, Matt mentioned his exact words were, that you helped him overcome a few breakthroughs that were holding him back, hang on, I'm going to read this. “Matt Ball from SMACK releases some stuff within him that has been holding him back.” Now, can you elaborate with how you helped Matt overcome his obstacles?

DAVE: Yeah, you know, I think, first off, I have regular respect for Matt Ball. Great guy, he really looks out for his students and he does a lot for his martial arts community and the people in other schools, he's a very giving guy. One of the things that I've shared with him is that he kind of put himself last, he's like he kind of maybe there's a little guilt associated with making any money teaching martial arts. And that's what I saw, I've been over his place three times. He had a lot of students, but he kind of let his students maybe bully him a little bit, meaning that, they didn't have money, he would let them slide. And so what happened in his mind somewhere, it was programmed that if you're successful financially running a martial arts school, it’s somehow like you sold out. And kind of what we talked about is, absolutely that reverse is true.

By the way, I've had that mentality as well, a lot people have it. The bottom line is; I don't know of anybody that has a big successful school for an extended period of time. What I mean by that is that might be some flash in the pan, but someone that has a successful school, meaning a lot of students, for an extended period of time, that isn't doing pretty good work, because the general public is very, they're pretty savvy and years ago, you could pull the wool over the eyes, you could fake people out, but not anymore. If you have a successful school, you kind of have to know what you're doing, you have to, sure, put students first, but here’s what Matt and I discussed: you really owe it to your students to be successful, because if your school is successful, first off, you're going to have nicer facilities, brand new equipment… but also, desperation.

There's three types of motivation: there's desperation, there's inspiration and there's purpose. And we've all been motivated by desperation, in our business, I know I have. Like, holy moly, it’s the 4th of the month, rent was due on the 1st, if I don't get it to him tomorrow, I'm going to pay a fine. And all of a sudden, guess what happens: you work your butt off, you find a way, you make rent. That's desperation, right? And then the other kind of motivation is inspiration, that's where you went to a seminar or a class or read a book and you're really inspired to get to the next level. And that usually is effective, but it’s temporary, both of those are temporary.

But what isn't is purpose and that is having a real clear idea where you want your school to be and why you're there. What is your reason for being in business? And when you're really clear on that and what happens, I want to serve my community and I also that, if I'm desperate, I talk when I'm desperate for business and I’ll tell you what: people can smell it a mile away. I've had someone come in my school and I needed them to make their monthly payment in order for me to keep the doors open and they sense it and it’s not a good feeling. I've also been in a situation where my school was very financially successful and I'm just a better teacher, I'm a better boss, I'm better for everyone, that pressure is off.

And so my point with Matt is, you really owe it to your community and your students and your school and your staff, because you want to be able to pay your staff well too. To charge a fair price and feel good about it. And there's, we don't look at a doctor who's committed his whole life to saving people through medicine, we don't look at them and say they sold out, because they make a good living, right? Or another business person, there's no difference from us. And I've often heard people say, yeah well, I do it for a hobby, I don't do it for a living. This is my hobby, like somehow you sold out if it’s your living, but who would you rather go to: a doctor that practices medicine twice a week in the evenings as a hobby and then by day is a carpenter, or would you like to go to someone that's a professional, that's given their life to it? You know the answer.

I look at the same thing in martial arts. Somebody that is a full time professional, there's a whole other level of service and quality that comes through. By the way, if anybody is a part time person and has a full time job, I mean no offense by this at all, because I have a lot of friends that have a great career and they teach part time and they do a wonderful job with passion, so that's not what I'm referring to, but I'm just saying that being full time and committing your life to it is not a sell-out, at all.

GEORGE: For sure. And it’s something that's come up a few times, almost that it’s noble to not be successful with your school or there's association with success, you don't want to be that guy, that guy that is high pressure selling or a just slick type of salesman and that you’re ripping people off. And I hear that come through in conversations a few times with people.

DAVE: Yeah, you know, like I said, there are some slick people, there's no doubt about it, right? Most of the people in my network, it’s basics, it’s focused on the basics. We don't have high pressure sales. When people come in, they've got a month to decide, we don't do upgrades, everybody has basically the same program and we're going to encourage them, we're going to offer them incentives to enrol the first couple of weeks, etc., but the bottom line is that most of the time, the people that you hear saying that are those people that have 35 people that they're teaching out of a garage, that are calling others successful schools McDojos, because they say, look at that lady there: she's 45 years old, she's a grandma, she's not in perfect shape – well, that's because that lady is doing the best she can with what she has, does that make sense?

GEORGE: Yes.

DAVE: In other words, you can't compare a 23-year-old athlete with a middle aged woman when it comes to their sparing ability. And that's what a lot of these guys will do. And what it is, some of these guys that have that smaller school, they scared that woman away or that woman never even thought about enrolling at their place! So when you compare apples to apples, which is really what you've got to do. The whole concept, we've all heard the McDojo quote, and it’s rarely do I hear that from somebody that runs a successful school, because people that run a school that has a couple of hundred students in the trenches, they get all the hard work it takes to keep those students training and in that, it’s not that you're lowering your standards, you're not. But you're also taking a few considerations: somebody's age, physical ability, natural disposition towards martial arts in their training and you're not being stupid with what you're asking the beginners to do, and so eventually because of that, your advanced students are going to end up being real talented that originally had no ability.

GEORGE: Excellent. Now, another thing that Matt mentioned, he mentioned that he really valued your teaching and I can hear it, the way you speak with all the acronyms and how you named all things, all your processes and so forth, it’s inspiring. And Matt was mentioning how inspiring it was to work with you, but then in the back of his mind, he was a bit skeptical: OK, is this really going to work this way? And then when he visited your facilities, he realized that the whole message and those values resonated throughout your entire organization. Now, do you mind just sharing, how do you get everyone to work within the same system, the same values, throughout your entire organization?

DAVE: Well, when I get it figured out, I’ll let you know. Meaning, we're always working on it and we've come a long way. Right now, we've got a 115 employees that work with us at our schools, about 50 full time, the rest are part time. So any challenge someone has as an employee, regardless of what it might be, I promise you, we've dealt with it and maybe dealing with it right now. I mean, you name it, we've dealt with it, and any time you have 2 people or more together, there's going to be politics, right?  But with that said, I'm super proud of our organizations and why we've been able to have success I think with our team, is a couple of things: first off, we've been doing this a really long time and so we've been able to plant seeds.

The majority of my instructors, if you go to any one of our locations, you're going to see some 35-year-old 5th degree black belt that has been training with us for 25 years, or longer, right? That's kind of the model. There's exceptions of course, but what that's allowed us to do is that those kids that are now out at someone's school that are now 10 years old, taking classes that have been with you for 2 years, that's our model for the future, right? So what it means is, they've come up in a particular system with a certain methodology and a certain belief that is just inherent in them and kind of our model is that, as far as with our team, we really sincerely try to go to battle for them. We try.

I've never wanted to be a place that had a bunch of followers, you know what I'm saying? Some martial arts systems, the senior guy is like, nobody questions him. When he comes into the room, everybody stands to attention. And by the way, if you do that in your schools, there's nothing wrong with that. If that's your culture, that's totally cool. There's nothing wrong with that, it’s the right thing for some people. For me, I wanted a bunch of people that were a part of the team that were respectful, but allowed to voice their opinion and give feedback to other people, so that's kind of what we tried to create and then we do our best to treat them as good as we possibly can and then we try to pay them as best as we possibly can.

So there's really 6 words that sum up my philosophy on developing your team: and the six words are: hire right, train right, treat right. So you've got to start with the right person, OK? It’s kind of like if you have a pile of poop, it doesn't matter what you put on top of it, ice cream, cherries, whipped cream, it’s still poop, right? In other words, the point is, you've got to start with the right person, but that's not enough. Most people, what they do is, they wait too long. If they need an instructor like yesterday, and they start looking around in their advance class for someone that can do it, and they see three people: none of them are exactly what they wanted, but one is less bad than the other two, so they hire that person. Does that make sense?

GEORGE: Yes.

DAVE: What we try to do is, we try to plant seeds early, early, early, we see somebody when they're a yellow belt that we think someday could be a good martial arts instructor – we're having that talk right away. Now, most of them aren't going to get developed, but I call it plant seeds early, and often if you plant 10 seeds, one is going to blossom, somewhere down the line. And the very worst thing that happens to the other 9 people is they become better students because of the conversation you had about planting that seed, right?

And then, we work really hard to, we have a very formal training system, knowing that for every instructor we have, there's going to be ten people that are going to go through that training system that 9 of them aren't going to be quite what we were looking for when we get it back far along, so we're really making it a point to develop it. By the way, it’s a lot easier when they've grown up with particular teaching tips being practiced on them, for them to do it it’s natural. What's hard is when you have someone come in from a different culture, where maybe it’s not as positive, or encouraging or they have a different way of doing things to kind of re-train that, but then once you’ve hired the right person, you've trained them right, now the third part is, you've got to treat them right.

Here's the deal: the reality is, you could treat some people really bad, they would never leave you. And you could treat some people super good, perfect, over the top, and no matter what you do, they're going to leave you, but the majority of the people fall in the middle of that and if you treat them right, and you pay them right and you don't give them a reason to have to leave, they will stick with you and that's what we try to do.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Dave, I'm sure there's many… you're definitely a wealth of knowledge and we can talk for hours, but is there any direction that I haven't taken this conversation that I should have that we should elaborate more on?

DAVE: No, you know, I think for me, what sustains me and I still love this as much as I ever did – by the way, I'm not teaching 35 classes a week like I did 25 years ago. As a matter of fact, when I get off the phone tonight, I'm going to go to one of the schools and I'm going to teach five classes tonight. I don't do that very often, but I'm still in the trenches and I still love it. But it’s different for me now, but one of the things that I think is really important for listeners out there who are maybe new to this, or for people who have been doing this a long time is my kind of motto is martial arts first, teaching second, business third.

What that means is that we can't forget what we’re doing and what we're about. I know that when my training is going good, I'm just a better teacher, period. When I'm feeling passionate about my martial arts training. And that's half the job of being a good teacher is, keeping your training up and half the job of having a successful school is being a good teacher. So anytime you switch the order and you put business first, and you switch the order, you might have short term success and even improve success, it’s going to hurt you, so that would be a really important feature here. And then, it’s never easy.

Teaching martial arts is, you get up every morning and it doesn't matter how successful you were yesterday, you've got to do it again today. Some guys have a great deal of success and they put it on autopilot and they think that their success is going to continue, only to find out later on that they didn't stay hungry and all of a sudden, they lost student body and momentum. It’s not like you have to work 12-14 hours a day, but when you're at your school, to me, there's a quote I learned from my father: wherever you are, be there. And you've got to put the time and the effort in and quality time and knowing it’s always going to be challenges, but you're willing to accept that, then it just makes it easier.

GEORGE: Excellent. Dave, it’s been awesome chatting to you and I'm really inspired by your philosophies and your acronyms and all these, you can hear all the wisdom come through in how you've set up your systems. For anybody that wants to get in touch with you and learn more about what you offer, where can people get hold of you?

DAVE: You can go to kovarsystems.com. We have a bunch of various coaching programs, all the way down from our initial, we have what's called instructor's toolbox, which is drills and skills for the classroom, non- style specific, warm up drills and drills for kicking and striking and grappling and age specific, kids, adults, advanced, beginner. It’s pretty cool, it’s very affordable, and then all the way up to, we have our PROMAC, PROMAC stands for Professional Martial Arts Community and it’s where we basically, we have our resource library and accountability system, where everybody that's one of our clients pretty much has full access to what we’re doing.

It’s almost like a franchise without a franchise, all the marketing that we're doing, all the staff training that we're doing in our school, all the retention strategies. We help them set up a schedule, so that they know what they’re supposed to do this day and how to keep stats and the messages they’re giving to their junior students etc. So it’s pretty comprehensive, yes, go to kovarsystems.com and you can sign up to get more info and we’d love to help schools if they’re interested.

GEORGE: Awesome. Dave, it’s been great chatting to you. Maybe we're going to have to do this again sometime.

DAVE: No worries man, my pleasure, it was a pleasure being on the call and best to your listeners and you guys have an incredibly great day.

GEORGE: Awesome. Thanks Dave.

And there you have it – thank you Kyoshi Dave, awesome episode, great value. I want to go back to the beginning of the episode. If you picked up what I was referring to about how Dave expresses information and what I was talking about was systems. Systems and acronyms, everything has got a name, 3-by-3, it rhymes, it’s easy to distinguish, it’s easy to define what the system is for what process. And to me, that’s got to be why it’s so easy to duplicate their entire process and everybody has the same message and expresses the same values, because everything has a process and is defined within a system.

And look, maybe I’m preaching to the choir and maybe you’re familiar with this, but I know that’s quite a hard thing to do, to really systemize your business perfectly in a way that everything is dependent on the systems. And I can’t remember where I read it, but it was something to the likes of, there’s no such thing as a bad hire, only a bad system. Because most people, if they’ve got the right attitude, they can work within a structured system. So, it’s a lot easier to form moral of staff to blame the system, rather than to blame the staff, or personal confidence or issues or something that makes it inadequate of achieving a certain task. So focus on the systems.

And that’s something I’ve really been focusing on within our business and how we can help martial arts school owners with their digital marketing, which can be a very confusing world at time. There’s a lot of diverse information of what works and what doesn’t and sometimes the information that’s out there is really just based on what the person is selling. So they exclude all the other components that are really making a business work and just focus on their component, which is their core. And look, that’s what people do of course, to sell their coaching programs, but sometimes it doesn’t give the full spectrum of what is needed to run a successful business, whether that’s in martial arts or in any business.

More information coming up. Again, the show notes are on martialartsmedia.com/33, we’ll be back again next week with another awesome episode, have a great week, chat to you then. Cheers!

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

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

martial arts business tips

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 – Give back to the community.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

32 – Invest in your own premises and property.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kumiai Ryu Martial Arts System

36 – Undersell your membership but over-deliver.

Number 36: undersell your membership but over-deliver.

37 – Have your school government accredited.

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

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

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

39 –  Match your marketing message to seasons celebrations.

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

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

40 – Keep your marketing message clear and concise.

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

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

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

Fari Salievski

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

42 – Check your statistics.

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

43 – Own your digital assets, your own website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

martial arts open day

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

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

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

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

George Fourie Paul Veldman

48 – Reward your existing students with lock in prices.

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

49 – Value reputation over money.

Number 49: reputation first, dollars second.

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

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

Martial Arts Business

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

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

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

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

52 – Commit to your passion.

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

martial arts success

53 – Study marketing.

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

54 – Travel and get yourself educated.

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

matt wickham

55 – Travel changes your perspective.

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

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

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

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

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 – The Black Belt Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number 6, Rod Darling.

martial arts school marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michelle Hext

9 – Have a vision then plan your steps backwards.

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

And I want to go to Number 10.

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

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

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

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

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

11 – Know your demographic without being everything to everyone.

And on 12…

12 – Grow your students confidence through leadership programs.

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

13 – Market for a season or a reason.

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

14 – Spot the quitting signals from your students.

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

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

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

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

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

importance of martial arts in physical education

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

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

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

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

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

martial arts merit badges

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was number 18, over to number 19.

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

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

Number 20 was from episode 13 with Jess Fraser.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

matt wickham

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

MATT: Good day how you going?

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

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

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

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

matt wickham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: George, I'm just very lucky.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: All right, thanks George.

GEORGE: Thanks.

MATT: Thank you.

GEORGE: Cheers.

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

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

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

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

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

martial arts success

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

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

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STUART: Excellent, thanks for coming out.

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

STUART: Thank you very much.

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

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

GEORGE: Ok.

STUART: And I've got one now.

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

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

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

STUART: Eight.

GEORGE: Eight years old?

STUART: Yeah.

GEORGE: Ok. And which style?

STUART: It was Zen Do Kai freestyle.

GEORGE: Zen do kai freestyle, OK.

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

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

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

GEORGE: You're done.

STUART: She's normally right.

GEORGE: All right, cool.

STUART: They're always right.

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

STUART: Muay Thai.

GEORGE: Muay Thai?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STUART: 750 now, just that.

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Yes.

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

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

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

GEORGE: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Yeah, awesome.

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

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

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

GEORGE: Yes, small things.

STUART: Yeah, but it’s important.

GEORGE: It’s so important.

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

GEORGE: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: That's awesome.

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

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

STUART: Absolutely, absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: It sounds good.

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

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

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

GEORGE: Sounds good.

STUART: Yeah.

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

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

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

STUART: Absolutely.

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

STUART: I’ll be there.

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

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

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

STUART: Sure, you know where we are.

GEORGE: Cool, thanks, Stuart – cheers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: Matt Ball is fine.

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

MATT: The Somerville Martial Arts Centre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: Yeah, that's right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Do you practice what you preach?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Blessing in disguise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: A 100%.

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

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

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

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

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

MATT: It’s coming again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: Awesome. Matthew, that was awesome.

MATT: Thank you very much.

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

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

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

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

GEORGE: smac.net.au.

MATT: Yep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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27 – Turning 2 Weeks ‘Quiet Time’ Into 96 Martial Arts Paid Trial Students (And How To Retain 90% Of Them)

Attracting 96 new martial arts paid trial students in 2 weeks is fantastic. But retaining them by providing value is another. Paul Veldman shares how.

Martial Arts Paid Trials - George Fourie and Paul Veldman

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • What the exact martial arts paid trial offer was
  • The marketing components applied to attract 96 new paid trial signups
  • Having the right incentive to retain your new student
  • The one thing almost no martial arts schools are doing to retain their students for life
  • Valuing your reputation over dollars earned
  • Why email is still a leading force for martial arts marketing
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

And what I had saw coming back in was some faces and names that I hadn't seen for years, saying, can we take up his offer?

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to another episode of the martial arts media business podcast, episode number 27. I have with me for round 2 today, Shihan Paul Veldman from Kando Martial Arts in Hughesdale and also from Martial Arts Business Success and we're going to be talking about a couple of things, but we're going to start with a really, really successful campaign that Paul had in December, that we helped him with and that generated well over 90 paid trials in the end, which is now the official number, which it was 86, there were 96 results from that.

And we're going to break it down, not just the signup process: we talk a lot about generating leads because that's my specialty, but I wanted to really get a background view of what happens. You put out a great offer, you put out a great trial like that, and you've got this flood of new students that sign up, but what do you do then? How do you manage to get them into your club on a permanent basis, signing them up for a long term member? And we're going to take a look at the different steps and components that go into that, to really turn these paid trial leads into ongoing and long-term club members.

So lots of great things to talk about, and not to jump the gun yet, but if you do want to have a look at the actual page that we used that helped generate Paul more than 90 paid trials at the end of the day, then go and have a look at martialartsmedia.com/mabs – M-A-B-S. I did a short seven-minute video, it just gives you a bit of an overview of how the whole page works, different components, the up-sells, and that's going to put a lot of this interview into perspective, so whether you do that before or after the interview, just make a note of that, because that's really going to help you understand the different components, and how that can help your marketing.

All right, I want to get going. For all other show notes and links and everything mentioned in this episode, you can go to martialartsmedia.com/27,  download the transcript and everything else is on the website for you. That's it for me, I hope you enjoy this interview – you're going to learn a lot from this I can guarantee that, and welcome to the show once again Mr. Paul Veldman.

GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I'm with Paul Veldman sitting in front of me this time, round two. Welcome, Paul.

PAUL: Good morning.

GEORGE: Cool. And today we're going to touch on a few things, but I guess our highlight is going to be, last year towards the end of the year, we did a campaign. We helped Paul to get a package for a paid trial, and got really good results with it.

PAUL: We ended up with 96 results over a two-week period.

GEORGE: Two weeks, yeah.

PAUL: But the really surprising thing George, that I enjoyed, was in December, we tend to find we drop off our marketing. We know that on Facebook, the pay per clicks gets more expensive because we're competing with all the retailers for Christmas business, but we thought we’d give it a little bit of a go, mostly just hitting out a lot of old inquiries, old members. And the results were astounding, it was actually scary how good they were. So between the three clubs, we ended up with 96 paid trials.

GEORGE: All right, excellent. So there are lots of ways we can go with that, let’s just define – what I really want to cover here today is, not only the paid trial section, because we put a lot of emphasis on getting the lead in, but then there's obviously got to be the follow-up, how we're going to keep them in, how we're going retain them as a student for the long term. But for people that are not familiar with the whole paid trial system and so forth, what exactly was the offer and how did you go about that.

PAUL: A little while ago, we went to paid trials. What we found was, when we did the 2 free classes, which was quite traditional, then if you joined up, you get a uniform, we’d get a lot of tyre kickers. People would come in, there was no commitment, they'd do their free class or two, they'd stay, or they wouldn't stay. And really over two classes, it was really hard to show the value of the program. So what we moved to initially, and what we do as our current intro program is, we do $29 for a uniform and four weeks, and there's a lot of variations of that around, we found that it works really, really well for us.

It gives them time to come in, have a look at our view of the class, not just putting on a pizzazz class, trying to impress the parents. They make a commitment, and if the parents put their hand in their pocket, or a student puts their hand in the pocket, even just for a small amount, there is that I guess more committed approach to their classes, because they paid for them, and we qualify people. If they can't afford $30 or they're not prepared to pay for $30, then they're probably not the right person for us anyway.

So what we did with the Christmas special, was we left it at the $29,95, but we doubled the time, because we understood that we were closed for a couple of weeks over Christmas, kids were on holidays, parents might be committed without school activities, or like most parents, would like to have a bit of break. So we did a $29.95, plus 8 weeks of trial. Now, that extends things out a little bit more than usual, which takes a little bit more tracking, but we found I think, that we've had, out of the 96, I think we had 88 come in already and start their trials. So we're very, very happy with that part as well.27 – Turning 2 Weeks 'Quiet Time' Into 96 Martial Arts Paid Trial Students (And How To Retain 90% Of Them)

GEORGE: All right, excellent. I guess the biggest concern for anybody would be: all right, so this person has paid $29. Now they can milk the club for a full 8 weeks and potentially leave. So, how do you get around, taking someone who's coming to that paid trial system and getting them to commit for the long term?

PAUL: That's a really good question. I think what you've got to look at is the whole series or the whole process of taking someone from not doing martial arts at all to being a student. The way I like to look at it is like a chain. And I know some people, we use the term funnels, but if you look at the chain analogy, think about each step along the way as one link in the chain.

So your first link is your marketing: you've got to put your offer there, you've got to put it in front of the right people and at the right time. Hopefully, that will entice them to make the inquiry. And the inquiry might be an email or a phone call, they'll walk in and come and see a class. So the next step in the chain is, well, how are they dealt with when they walk in? What's your reception procedure like, is someone at the desk nice and friendly, is the phone answered in a timely manner?

You train your staff to smile when they answer the phone, emails are answered the same day. So there's that customer service element that is that first impression. From there, the goal of that is to get them into actually start their trial, get on the mats and then I guess you hand over the responsibility to your mat staff. They work their magic, they build value over however long the trial period is for and along the way, you're talking to the parents as well. You're talking to the parents, or talking to the adult student, touching on their goals, seeing if their fit is right for the club because it’s a two-way street.

Some students are not right for your club, just like sometimes the club is not right for the student. And then, when you get to the end of that trial period, effectively, you're making another offer. You might look at it as an upgrade almost, because if they've paid for a period of time, then what we're asking them to do is commit – did you like what we did, are you happy with how it went, can you see yourself staying? And that takes them to becoming one of your students. Then comes what I think is probably the most important part, and that's retention. That's a couple of sessions on its own, but the old adage is – and I can't remember the exact numbers, but I think along the lines of, it costs 7 times more to get a new student in than it does to retain a student.

So for us, retention is a really, really big thing. And like all clubs, we have ups and downs. January is a dangerous time for losing students, chatting to people across the board, it sounds like there have been a few hits this time around, I think we lost 19 students. That's probably a bit more than normal, but we expect to take that hit in January. And also, that's why that December intake was really good for us, because we wouldn't normally have those trials coming through.

GEORGE: Yes. OK, excellent. Now, just the details on that, because someone's come in for 8 weeks and they've only made that $29 commitment, financially. So what are you doing to speed up that process of getting them in a payment cycle that they're actually committing to the club?

PAUL: That's a good question. We offer incentives to join within the 8 weeks, which is normally a 4-week period. So we a have a $99 joining fee, and it’s not one of these fluffy ones that you brittle on your bit of paper and then never use it – we actually do use it, but we waive that if they join within the trial period. So for example, for the 8-week period, we’ll be talking to them after 4 weeks. For the 4-week period, the mat staff are doing a follow-up at 2 weeks, checking with the parents, how they're going, setting an appointment to sit down and talk about the ongoing program, discussing the options on training program, training fees and showing the benefit being the discounted rate of signing up during that trial period.

So, there's a Call to Action there, so they don't just finish their trial and they wander off into the sunset and three months later they might come back if you've been chasing them up. We've just started up a small satellite club, just a once a week club and we're running that by school terms. What we're doing for the Call to Action there is, we're giving them a discount rate if they pay on time. So, for example, the school term is ten weeks, the early bird rate, as we're calling it, is $17 a class, but if they pay after the term starts, it's $22 a class. So we're trying to make an incentive, like a reward incentive. And it's very, very important to word it that way – this is a reward for doing it early, not a punishment for doing it late.

GEORGE: Yeah, OK, cool. It sounds like there's a lot of relationship building, there's a lot of interaction, it’s really setting that foundation. You're using the paid trial almost like a relationship building type process, with the new prospects.

PAUL: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things I like about the paid trial is – and I say this to the customers who come in or the trials who come in: this is a really low-cost way for you to find out about us. Like I said, if you come in for 1 or 2 classes, I can put on all the bells and whistles, I can put my best instructors and I can run the most fun class, but if you come in for 4 weeks, you're going to get a really good cross section of what the club is about, you're going to see all the classes, you're going to see all the instructor in action.

It’s a really great way to try out a martial art, without putting your hand in your pocket too much. I’ll give you an example: I have a friend of mine who joined up at another club a while ago, outside of town. And when she spoke to me, she ended up paying something like $350 to get started. Now, she had a free class, then she had to pay a month upfront, then she had to pay the actual joining fee, then she had to buy a uniform. Now, she had two kids who wanted to train, but she ended up only putting one in because the initial cost was too much.

And that's a big hit for a parent, especially because, as you know these days, chances are, your child might turn around in six months’ time and go, I don't want to do that anymore. So for us, it’s a really low-key way to come in, try us out, get a feel for what we're about and then as we say, if you don't like us, we part company as friends. And that's why also we don't do contracts, I think these days, contracts or term of agreements are a little bit outdated because it’s such a consumerist society.

GEORGE: I think the backlash with being tied in and being punished for trying to leave and things, I don't know – I think the repercussions of that personally, can be so damaging to your brand, because if someone leaves the club and they've been punished for leaving, they're in that contract. From my side, I would see that as you're letting someone know they're really leaving for whatever reason they are, so it could be personal, or it could be that they don't like it, or maybe they just don't like training anymore. But now it’s almost like salt on the wound, and saying, all right: I'm going to keep you for this much longer. And I think that the longer you keep someone in the system, you're more open to being badmouthed and getting bad publicity.

PAUL: Absolutely. And don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against running contracts, we did that for a while. You'll tend to get fewer sign ups because people are a little bit more wary about committing, but what you do is a business. And often with income, that you feed your family with, you guarantee that. Now, my point of view is, and to be honest, my wife said to me at one stage, if you're not going to hold people to the contracts, which I never did, why bother with them? We might as well put them on month by month, and get more people in.

But like I said, I have no problem with contracts, because people going to a contract understand what they're signing up for. They're making a commitment, and really, martial arts should be a commitment. I’d love to turn around and say, give me 12 months. You've got to give me at least 12 months before you really get even a feel for martial arts, but as you said, people feel like they're being punished. They do forget they signed that agreement. They do forget that that was the deal they made with you at the start. I think, even if you do run contracts, there has to be something on more compassionate grounds. Like I said, people move, people's work situations change. There's got to be a bit of wiggle room because, at the end of the day, we're about the people. And if you lose that perspective that you're here for the student, people will sniff it out pretty quickly.

You've got some really big clubs around, that unfortunately can fall under that McDojo label because they've lost that compassionate touch with their students. I don't mind contracts or not contracts, they don't work well for me because I've never held someone to one anyway. Every time someone said, look, this has happened, we need to leave, I’d go – no problem at all. And as my wife said, well why are we bothering? Let’s just get rid of it.

GEORGE: For sure. And, by all means, anyone listening, I stand corrected – if there's something I'm missing with that point, please leave a comment below this episode and challenge my viewpoint, cause I'm looking at it purely from a consumer perspective. Our business provides services for martial arts schools, but I don't personally own the school myself. So I stand to be corrected, but I know that for any purchase situation I make, that's something that I don't want to be experiencing at the end of the day.

PAUL: Yeah, absolutely. And like I said, people will try to do what they want to do. If they have enough after a 6-month or a 12-month contract, even if they signed it, they'll want to get out of it. And as you said George, you've got to balance out how much your reputation is worth. You're not in the wrong by enforcing the contract, because they've signed it, but that person that either closes their bank account down, or you might have to chase for money, or you're billing them when they're not training, they're not out there saying good things about you. And to be honest, that damage to your reputation all is it unfair, is probably not worth the money you're getting out of them.

GEORGE: Definitely. So, let’s go back to the paid trial offer: have you ever had any backlash from students, where current students see, wow, you're putting this excellent offer together on your Facebook page, and they can get 8 weeks, or 4 weeks, or whatever the offer is, but the offer is just attractive and they're already in this agreement as such and they may be joined way before this paid trial system was in place.

27 – Turning 2 Weeks 'Quiet Time' Into 96 Martial Arts Paid Trial Students (And How To Retain 90% Of Them)

PAUL: Yeah, we had that once or twice, not much, though. We run a system here now where when students join they can lock in their fees. So the fee you pay when you join now is the fee you pay forever, we lock that in. And that was something I got off Master Ridvan (listen to the podcast with Master Ridvan’s son Hakan Manav). And I think that's a really nice way to reward loyalty from your students. Saying that, the fee we're at when we lock in, it’s a pretty comfortable fee for us, but we can also guarantee that while you're with us, while you don't change programs, we'll never change that, so once you've been with us for quite a while, you’re at a lower rate, so there's that reward.

And as I point out to them, you've had the advantage of being able to train longer. You've been here, you've been getting the benefits longer. We did have the usual administration hiccups here and there, we did have it on the last special we sent out, a couple of people go back saying, email back saying, we joined up a month ago. Well, that's fantastic, I hope you're really enjoying yourself, we'll update the database. But I think it’s like anything: if I go and buy a microwave oven, or a stereo system today, and then in three months’ time, it’s on special – that's just life. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

GEORGE: There you go. I guess you've just got to be strategic on how often you change your offer and for how long a time because if you're changing your offers week by week, you are probably going to get a lot more backlash. And I guess also, train your audience to just be open to that fluctuating special all the time almost.

PAUL: Absolutely. And like I said, our intro special is our intro special. We'll get inquiries, asking how long it goes for, and we'll say, that's it, that's our intro special always. But then we'll make it more special, occasionally. Well do the 8-week trial run and four, or we might do a 2 for 1, or we've got a really great system that you've helped us set up, where they can bump up their first trial to their second trial for only $19 more.

And that's really, really worked well. With just a tick of a box, for half the price, you get a second offer. Now, did people get that a while ago? No, they didn't, but I don't think there's much resentment there, because you get used to what you're doing, and every now and again, I have got to remind my club owners and also myself that our intro special is still a really good offer stand alone, let alone if we bump it up to a better offer.

GEORGE: All right, excellent. I’m a big fan of the “lock people in,” secure their fee if they stay a member. It’s probably one of the best retention strategies I've learned online. When you launch a membership of any kind, get your opening price, get people into that and make it known that the price has gone up and they are guaranteed that fee for as long as they stay a member.

PAUL: Yeah, and I like it too, because like I said, I think it’s a bit of a reward for loyalty. Realistically, what they're getting is, every time CPA comes around each year, they're getting this discount. So if the CPA is 2%, all their fees just dropped downward 2%. We've been running for about 18 years, I think we looked at it the other day: we've got 38 or 40 people actively training, who have been with us for 10 years or more.

And the fact that they're on these dirt cheap fees is really nice. And I remember when I first brought this in, my mentor at the time went, well that's crazy! Because what happens if they stay with you for 10 years and they're paying fees from ten years ago? And I said, I know, right? They've been with me for 10 years and they've been paying fees for 10 years! Anyone who puts up with me for 10 years deserves some sort of reward.

GEORGE: All right, so going back right to the beginning: you got the offer up and you created a decent offer, so let’s touch on all the marketing elements that went with the offer.

PAUL: Yeah, it was interesting, because anyone who knows me knows that I'm really I.T. incompetent. Which is why I really enjoy working with George. So what we did was, we did a couple of prongs. We did the email system, to offer it to all inquiries, but also all our old members. We did a Facebook boost, and then we did a referral, we pushed it pretty hard through the current students as well. And what I was kind of pleasantly surprised with was how many old members reignited.

And I’ll be honest, it was actually an accident that that part of the database was put in. I just didn't think to say don't send it, unusually our intro offer is only for new members. And what I had seen coming back in was some faces and names that I hadn't seen for years, saying, well, can we take up this offer? Well, why not? These guys have left on good terms, it would be lovely to have them come back in and what a great way for someone to start up again if they've been umming and ahhing, which is give them a uniform and a couple of months of training, just to get them back into the start of the new year.

So that sort of thing was really kind of a pleasant surprise, because like I said, I hadn't actually thought I was going to email that to ex-members. It was more along the lines of prospects who had come in, showed interest, but not converted. And we're talking from kids who had maybe been little dragons, all the way up to black belts, who said, look, we’d love to come back in and give it a try and see if it’s what we're still looking for. And it was nice to see them back on the mats.

GEORGE: Yes, especially with Facebook and social media, people really neglect I think the importance of email because email first and foremost – it’s sort of the golden age of the internet. It always started: build an email list and you've got a database of people that you own. Which, in reverse, when you have a Facebook presence, it’s awesome, but it’s still also control of Facebook and the algorithms and what. And I’ll touch on a few changes that are coming up that could potentially be quite scary for a few businesses.

So the whole email list, I think it’s really important to focus on that as a school, because you're getting all this data anyway from all your students, and having that database list of people that you can email at any given point in time, that really can push your conversions up. Also, looking that it’s another touch point. We talk about 6 to 8 interaction with your brand before a conversion happens, whatever that may be: the phone call, the message.

But if you just concentrating on that one medium and it’s just Facebook for example, it might take a lot more, whereas, that personal email that's going to land up in the inbox, it could be that they see it for the first time, because some people just don't like logging into Facebook all the time – I know that's hard to believe sometimes, but it might count as the additional touch point to drive the conversion, or it could actually be the interaction itself.

PAUL: Yeah, I'm a big believer in, you've got to have multiple streams of students. I think gone are the days where you would do a pamphlet drop, or an ad in the yellow pages, or pre-historic days where you'd get one idea and 20 students happen. I think these days unless you're really niching yourself – and there are people out there who do that, multiple streams work really, really well. And the first one for us and the most important one is referrals.

Because if you're not getting referrals from your student base, you're not doing something right. And it might not be not taking great classes, but maybe you're not letting your students know that you appreciate referrals. We have a referral reward system, which we use quite often, and I really like doing it. I love giving away free months of training to the parents when they bring someone in. We're just looking at wrapping it up to include little kids because the parents get a free month, and the kids get nothing.

So we're looking at giving something to the kids if they bring a friend in. Because these should be your raving fans. If you're doing a good job, your parents and adult students should be really appreciating what you're teaching them. They should be getting a lot out of the classes and they should be wanting to spread the word. We don't want to become evangelists, but if they should be talking to people, we have a VIP pass, that we always give out to people when they join up and we give those out to students regularly. That intro program I spoke about, gives someone a free one of those. And we say, use it for your siblings, use it for your friends. Stick your name on there. There's a space n there where they can put they name on so we know who referred them.

But for me, that's one of the first and foremost things. And to be honest, I think that you should have 3 to 4 streams minimum running. It kind of sounds like a lot of work, but it’s not. If you think about it, one of them is referrals. So if you're treating your people right and letting them know that you have a referral system in place, letting them know that you really appreciate referrals, there's a simple one. If you're in a full-time venue, the look of your venue itself is a referral. If it’s looking nice and neat and you've got nice sides, you've got the front, that should draw people’s attention to it.

And it’s a little bit like, as you said, George, people need to be touched on quite a bit. It’s like if you start looking for a certain type a car: I think I'm going to go buy a Volkswagen. Suddenly, there are Volkswagens everywhere, you've never noticed them before. One of the ships has just arrived with a lot of Volkswagens, or I'm just noticing that Volkswagen. So maybe people were umming and ahhing about doing martial arts, and they saw your ad.

Or, they saw someone else's ad, and they drive past your studio and go, oh, there's a martial arts club. And there's one, there's one. I think as martial arts club owners when we drive around, buildings fall into one or two categories: could I run a club there, or could I not run a club there? You drive past any empty building; you weigh it up. So, between your referrals, your building, regularly staying in contact with your email list – and not just to sell them thing and, I'm speaking with you who taught me this, but keep them informed. Give them these little bits of information, give them nice to have hints, give them some fitness tips, or self-defence tips, keep them engaged.

Then you've got your Facebook, which is the here and now generation, and then you might do some traditional marketing things. We've had some great success just doing occasional pamphlet drop around certain clubs for some reason. The demographic there seemed to really respond to the pamphlet drop, whereas in other clubs, we just don't. You get nothing back from it, and again, that comes back to your test and measure.

GEORGE: I actually remember, because the Facebook ad was doing really well, and I think you had about 40 sign ups, and you mentioned to me you're hoping to push those up to 60. And I remember when the email campaign kicked in, there was that jump that took it from that 60 to the 80 and up.

PAUL: Yeah, and I think that one of the biggest things on that was the Call to Action that you had put a countdown on the landing page.

GEORGE: Yes.

PAUL: And I remember, I was driving home to get my son to bring him back for training, and the emails when the sales came through would be on my phone. And all the way home, in those last 40 minutes before it closed down on my way home, the phone was just going ding, ding, ding, ding, as more and more sales were coming through, and I'm thinking –  this is crazy! This is really, really, ridiculous. And we had a couple of people ring up just after, and say, look, we missed it, can we do it? And we said yes to that, it was neither here nor there for me, a couple more. But that combination of things, the nice landing page, the offer, the Call to Action. And we did the Call to Action really simply, because of a day before we closed for Christmas, and we didn't want to deal with it after we closed.

GEORGE: Awesome. If you would like to see the page and the whole system, if you go to mam.com/mabs, m-a-b-s, you'll see there about a 7-minute video of the page and how it's laid out and how the upsell worked, which really can boost that conversion with about 30%, so do have a look at that. The link will be on this episode, but also, talking about MABS, Paul, you now also have a coaching program – would you like to share more about that?

PAUL: Yeah, I would. Michelle Hext and I – if you've met Michelle Hext, you'll know that she's an absolute gun with online programs, but also a very, very good martial artist and martial arts business owner. She was one of my business mentors, and she really helped us to niche down our program. And that was one of her specialties back then. She would run a women's only Taekwondo club, which was just going gangbusters, really, really honed her ideal clientele down.

So we partnered up a little while ago, I think the both of us, we've both got our other streams of what we do, myself with my clubs, Michelle with her online courses, and we put MABS together, which is Martial Arts Business Success – if you can say that three times quickly. It’s kind of a fun thing to do because we both are really vested in martial arts, something we've both done since we were quite young.

I love teaching and my career has gone from teaching students, to teaching instructors, to now helping business owners, and I really, really enjoy it. Because I’ve got to say, I find it kind of frustrating when I see really good instructors out there who are struggling to make a living, and it’s through no real fault of their own. But a lot of us, especially in my age and all that are stuck in this rut that ‘build it and they will come’. And it just doesn’t work, there's too much competition these days, there's too much around, too many things competing for people’s time and money.

And what MABS is all about – to say budget, I’ll say budget with price, certainly not with content. It’s a nice, easy in of grassroots, skills and packets that you can use straight away. I’ll give you an example: last two packets I've done was building a leadership team. It’s one for your team on the mats and one for your team on the desk. So how to, as a club owner, how to build up certain elements of your business and your club that are really, really important, not just for day to day running, but for expanding.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. And you can access that at www.mabs.com.au.

PAUL: Aha, yep. If you type in Martial Arts Business Success on Facebook, it’s a closed group, so just apply for the application. It’s a free group, you don't need to join MABS to join that group. We have another group of the guys who have joined up, where we go into things in a little bit more depth, but even in the free group, there's a really, really good bunch of guys and girls on there, martial arts club owners and the discussion on there is really good.

You can throw any problems up there, and suddenly you've got not just Michelle and I answering questions: you've got ten people who have goodness knows how many years of experience in the martial arts industry, who are more than happy to input their advice. And to be honest, to me, that's what martial arts is all about. We're a martial arts community, and we should be backing each other. You and I were having a conversation before we started recording about the competition in the local area.

And as I said to you, if I get on Google and look at how many people are within a 5km radius of my club, there are about 60,000 people. And really, my goal is to tap this place out at 800, so there's plenty to go around. And I think within 5 km of here, there are another four full-time clubs. So we have a bit of a joke, if you throw a stick in a certain direction, you'll probably hit a martial arts instructor – you've just got to work out which one you want to hit.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Paul – it’s been great chatting to you, as always, and I hope to speak to you again, maybe for round three.

PAUL: Thanks, George, great to talk to you.

GEORGE: Cheers.

And there you have it – thank you, Paul Veldman. I hope you got a lot out of that interview, I certainly did. A few things that really stood out for me: one is the conversion process from paid trial to member. And if you think of it in these steps, that your paid trial is just your paid trial, that's getting them in the door, and getting them committed, now they're in a different state of mind and in a different process because they are really training.

All right, so what is the next offer? What is the next offer that you're going to give them to incentivise them to take that next step: becoming a member. And then a nice bonus incentive – and I've seen a lot of great companies do this. Most companies don't latch onto this, but why not serve your existing members and lock in their current membership rate at that fixed rate from the day that they join? It’s just a great way to reward loyalty.

Now, if you want to go see the page that we created for Paul and his team that helped him generate more than 90 paid trials over the December period, then go to martialartsmedia.com/mabs – M-A-B-S, and there's a short 7-minute video that explains how that page works and then there's also a special offer for you, if you would like us to do that exact same page and set up for you that you can start using that for your paid trial system.

27 – Turning 2 Weeks 'Quiet Time' Into 96 Martial Arts Paid Trial Students (And How To Retain 90% Of Them)

 

And that's it – thank you very much for listening. I’ll be back next week again with another awesome interview. Until then, bye for now – cheers.

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26 – How To Run A Successful Martial Arts Open Day

A profitable martial arts open day can position you for a successful year. Darryl Thornton from Shukokai Karate shares how.

martial arts open day

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Why you can and should run your open day for one hour
  • The secret to presenting an offer (a common discussion on the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast)
  • Getting your existing martial arts students involved as a unit
  • Can you handle 20, 30, 50 or 70+ new students right now? Here's how to prepare
  • This simple technique can attract those extra members that didn't get to join on the day
  • The importance of studying martial arts with other cultures
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

I think it's important, one of the people, so the only reason he came back was because of the email.

Hi, this is George Fourie and welcome to the Martial Arts Media business podcast, episode number 26. I am finally back with a few interviews and I've got four awesome interviews lined up for you. I just did a trip to Melbourne and met up with a few great school owners. Learned a lot, got a lot of advice from different perspectives, different ways of doing things and I'm going to bring it all to you. So lots of gold and information just shared, I will probably do a recap of all this after all of the interviews, so look out for that. But for now, I just want to bring you the interviews, just as they are.

For a change, it wasn't a Skype or a phone call type interview, it was face to face, so it was great to have the different live dynamics of these interviews and you're going to get a lot of value from this. We've got a lot of great information to share and today I have on the show with me Darryl Thornton from Shukokai Karate in Cranbourne in Melbourne area. And Darryl has great success with his open days and I guess you can rather call it an open hour, rather than an open day, because they only run it from 12 to 1 and all the energy is focused on that one hour, instead of multiple hours or five hours, where everybody's energy is scattered and high and low and everybody's walking in at a different time, so much easier to manage one hour.

It is the pride and joy of all his students, they all want to be a part of it and everybody's energy is high for that one hour. And of course, he presents an exclusive offer and the process which he's going to outline for you has generated 70 students for them on the day and an additional 19 afterward. So Darryl is going to give you all the insights and everything of that. So, I'm going to jump into this episode.

Now, the transcripts and show notes and everything else that you need are available as always on martialartsmedia.com/26, and that's it from me – hope you enjoy this interview, it was awesome, I'm sure you're going to get great value from this. Pease welcome to the show Darryl Thornton from Shukokai Karate.

GEORGE: Good day all. Today I'm with Darryl Thornton. Now, I'm sitting and for a change, it’s not a Skype interview, I'm sitting in front of him at Shukokai Karate in Cranbourne Melbourne. And Darryl is the state coach for Karate Victoria, state coaching director for Karate Victoria and Darryl has had very good success with his open days. So today I'm going to be asking questions about his process, his recent success with it and we're going to have a bit of a chat, so welcome to the show.

DARRYL: Thank you, thank you.GEORGE: Cool. So first and foremost, before we get into everything – who is Darryl Thornton?

DARRYL: Well, that's a big open question. Well, I'm a dad, so I've got two children, 16-year-old twins. I’m a karate coach, first and foremost I think, it’s my main job. I've been teaching karate for quite a few years now, have my club in Cranbourne as George said. We've been growing quite steadily over the last few years and we've now got to a point where we've got our own building and were going ahead really well, so we are very happy with where we are at the moment, but there's always room for more growth. Hopefully, George is helping me out with that!

GEORGE: Yeah, for sure. All right, cool, so let’s just go back to now, depending on when you're listening to this, at the moment, beginning of the year, which is always a booming time for all martial arts schools, and Darryl just had a very successful open day – can you give us a few details on that?

DARRYL: So we run an open day on the first weekend after school goes back. It’s a really important time for parents, when they're looking to put their children in the activities for the year, so we capitalize on that. I'm promoting our open day on the first Saturday after school goes back. And we have ours on a Saturday around midday, so just around lunch time.

We find that people often have things to do in the afternoon and mornings, and midday is the ultimate time, also because of the weather. Every year for the last three, it’s been around 40 degrees, so we have it at 12 being much lighter in the day, then it would be too hot, because you have people sitting around in your Dojo for over an hour, you don't want them sitting there and baking for too long.

GEORGE: So an hour?

DARRYL: An hour. Just over an hour. The actual open day itself goes for an hour, but then, with people signing up and for the volume of people that are in the place, it takes probably another 20-30 minutes to get them out the door. We try to capitalize on a smaller timeframe, because it’s short and sharp and people go, it’s just an hour a day, it’s not a big part of their day. And also they know that they have to be there by a particular time. If you have an open day and it runs over the whole day, people don't know what time they should be there, what time the demonstrations are on and you can't maximize the impact. If you have it spread over such a big period of time.

GEORGE: That's awesome, I like that, because I see a lot of people doing the open day and it's sort of a half day or something, but just the whole psychology of having an event – and it’s really just focused on that one specific time, and obviously, it gives you guys the opportunity to really put all your energy into that one hour, because that's all you've got.

DARRYL: Yeah, it's much easier to get your members there for that one hour too, versus, trying to get them there for the whole day, or half the day. We had a pretty good turnout, probably with our membership, we would've had 30 of our teen adults group probably, maybe the same in our juniors, which is our 7-12-year-old group. Our little ninjas, which is our youngest group, 3-6 year olds, they're probably the hardest ones to get here, but the ones that were here, they were really good, they were really well received by the people.

We had a three-year-old in the group, white belt, brand new and the people loved it, they thought she was fantastic. And it’s a good opportunity for your members to also build their confidence and show their self-esteem. We had white belts in there, which I think for me is fantastic, because I open it to any member. Anyone is allowed to come along and be a part of the demonstration. I don't pick and choose who does it, I don't mind if they make mistakes during the demonstration, I think that's important, and if they do, that's part of learning.

GEORGE: All right, cool. So walk us through the dynamics, because you had a lot of success, you mentioned 70 members?

DARRYL: On the day, yeah, and 20 two days after. 90 people joined from the open day.

GEORGE: That's awesome.

DARRYL: Yeah, it’s a big number. It’s a lot to manage obviously afterward. It's a lot of data entry and then it’s a lot of new people on your mat and what we do is, we sell the membership on the day, all the trail as such. Then the first time they come, they get their uniform, so you have to be well organized as well. You need to, if you work, you probably need to have Monday off, because you have to go and pick up the uniforms, you have to get them to your Dojo, you have to sort them, write the new members names on them, so when they come in, it's easy to find, especially if you've got a big number, you don't want to be trying to find the right size and things like that.

So part of the open day when they join is we measure them for their uniform, write it on their form what size of uniform they're getting and then it’s easy to manage it when they come in. Of course, you're going to get the odd one or two that doesn't fit, so you have to have a bit of extra stock to make sure that you've got enough to cater for that, but we're pretty accurate on our measurements. We've got a measuring stick, like most Dojos probably do, use a bo staff with the sizes sort of marked on it, stand it next to the person and mark on what size of uniform they need.GEORGE: All right, so let’s look at the dynamics – what actually happens: people arrive at 12?

DARRYL: Mostly, they come in around about 12, we have probably 2 or 3 of our senior members, the ones who know more about the club than a white belt at the front door. So they might be in uniform, or in the club polo, whatever they choose to be. They'll welcome them, bring them into the club and ask them to come and sit around the perimeter of the training area, so they'll sit around the edge of the perimeter on the floor, and then what we do, because it's 37 degrees, I’ll get a couple of our younger members, most of our leadership group to go around and give them water, because it's hot and it’s a good way to welcome them as well, and make sure we're looking after them.

So once we get everybody in, we had a 130 people in the Dojo on Saturday, which is quite a few people to manage. We probably had 80-90 of our own people at the same time, so a couple of hundred people inside the Dojo is always good for the atmosphere. I start off by introducing myself and the club and explain a bit about what we are and where we are from and what we do and the benefits of what we do. And then we start off with some demonstrations and I make sure that our demonstrations are just our regular members, I think it’s very important. I remember going to a demonstration when I first started karate and I thought, geez, I'm never going to be able to do that, that looks way too hard, I can't do that.

So I will always be mindful of making sure that people understand that everyone can and we have children with special needs and all sorts of things, and they're also a part of the demonstration. Not that I particularly ask them to come long, but we particularly are an open club. We believe that everybody can do karate, so we've had a really good success with some children that have special needs and we've got one boy that has a functioning autism, but he's been with us for 5 years, and he's a part of the demonstration. I think that by having him, he encourages others that might think that it’s not right for them. We have members making mistakes during demonstrations and I think that's OK too, because you don't want everyone to be exactly perfect, because we're not, no one is always perfect, are they?

So we let everybody be involved, we don't mind mistakes. We don't coach before, so we don't pre-determine what they're going to do, it’s all on the five. I talk during the demonstration and one of my other senior instructors will take the demonstration. We do different groups, so we'll do our 3-6 year olds and they demonstrate, we get our juniors and then we do our adult teams. In between the groups coming on the mat, I talk about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what's important about the skills they're learning. I think we did four demonstrations per group, so each group did four different things.

They might have done some basics: some impact, some self-defense, and the little ones play the game, cause the little ones in our organization is a game sense program, so they played a game, which I think is good to show people that's it’s about fun as well, because I think that without the fun, kids are not going to come, they'll get bored really fast. And then, we interlace the regular members with our elite members.

We've got a few high level competitors and they did some demonstrations in between to show people that you can get from point A to point B through hard work and training and I think that shows people the true value of what the training is. And then at the end of it, I have an offer. So this year, our offer was four weeks of training and a uniform for $49, which is less than a half price of what it normally would be. And if they want to join, they just have to come out to the reception area and fill in one form, and that's it, they're done. And the first class they start, the uniform is ready for them to start training.

GEORGE: Excellent. So you make this offer to everybody at the same time, everybody that's in the room?

DARRYL: Everybody that's in the room. In front of everyone, I often would hold up a uniform and say, you get a uniform and four weeks of unlimited classes, so you can come as much as you'd like during the four weeks, for today only – this is the deal. You really need to put a timeframe – we talked about this with online things, but the timeframe is important. Making sure that people have got a trigger to buy. If you just say, this is the offer, people walk away and they'll think about it, but we want them to buy it on the day.

We also have some giveaways on the day, when we advertise, we often advertise a free sausage sizzle, giveaways, demonstrations – that's part of the whole process. We give away things like an impact shield, focus mitts, maybe a T-shirt or something like that and when they come in, we collect their name and their email address.

So what I do with that is, I send them a thank you email: thank you for coming to our open day, or thank you for joining, depending on whether they joined or not, and we actually had really good success from that this year, because we had 72 join on the day, and then, I sent the email out on Sunday to the people who didn't join to say, thanks for coming along, we appreciate your time, hope you enjoyed the demonstrations: if you didn't get an opportunity to join on Saturday, and you'd still like to join, we'll extend the offer for two days, just for you. However, if you've got any family members or friends that might like to join, please extend the offer to them. And from that, we had 19 turn up on Monday and Tuesday.

GEORGE: Awesome.

DARRYL: Yeah, which I was really pleased with, obviously.

GEORGE: Yes.DARRYL: I think it’s important, one of the people that came in on Monday, Tuesday said the only reason he came back was because of the email. He felt that it was a real personal sort of touch, that he got an email that said, thank you for coming.

GEORGE: Yes, and I'm so glad you're saying that, because I know I've said this stuff many times, and sometimes I feel like I repeat it too much, but those are just such core elements, the deadline. If you could have the worst offer and just put a deadline on it, and it would be a better offer. It might not be a great offer, but people are going to respond to a deadline, otherwise there's no urgency to act now, it’s just a psychological trigger. And then personal emails: just sending out an email. And we do email marketing, we're always talking about the personal email that goes out from an individual to an individual, not, this and this karate…

DARRYL: No, no, I start it with…

GEORGE: …with a big colourful newsletter, because that screams company.

DARRYL: No, I just wrote my name, obviously, I had on the bottom of it Shukokai Karate Cranbourne, but it was from Darryl Thornton – it was not from Shukokai Karate Cranbourne, it was from me. And it was me personally, I would personally like to thank you for coming on the day, I hope you enjoyed what we did. I think it’s important.

GEORGE: Yes.

DARRYL: And even with the welcome letter, the welcome email, that is an automated email that we have set up through our student database, but it’s still personal, because it says their name, and it’s from me.

GEORGE: There you go, and they can reply to that?

DARRYL: Yes, they can reply.

GEORGE: And that is, I guess, something to take note of: it doesn't have to be a one on one email, because you can set up an automated email, as long as you or someone is monitoring it and they will actually reply.

DARRYL: I did get some replies from both the joining ones and the thank you ones for just coming on the day. So I actually got a couple of people respond, especially with the offer to extend it – is that just for children, or is it for adults too? It was just a question, so that in my mind I thought – well, maybe I'm not quite clear on the day that the offer was for everybody, we have adult members training, maybe we need to be clearer on that. So you learn all the time when you do them, it’s an evolving thing, marketing, as you well know. It changes daily, I think. You've got to be very mindful of it. I think even with the images you promote; you should probably make sure that you promote every group that you want.

GEORGE: Exactly.

DARRYL: If you're running multiple ads, maybe making sure that you've got different photos in each one and things like that, that would be important. Our flyer that we put out for our open day, that only has children on it, but that's our target audience really, and most of our adults, a good proportion of our adult membership is parents of children that train.

GEORGE: So, I guess we need to backtrack a bit, because, you got a 130 people in and 70 – well, 90 of them joined.

DARRYL: That's right.

GEORGE: That's 80% closing ratio.

DARRYL: Yes, I've done all the math.

GEORGE: So that's excellent in itself and again, the things that I see that are really working here is the deadline, focused energy – you've got one hour, and there's no scattered audience, there's no scattered message. It's, this is it, all these people are in this one presentation. But the key question I didn't ask is: how did you get the 130 people in?

DARRYL: Yes, that's important, isn't it? We did flyer marketing and online marketing, so we did both. I think it’s important to have both. I have a flyer that is a just an A5 size, so, glossy, shiny, with some photos of kids on it. We put out 30,000 flyers and they're delivered via pamphlet distribution, our catalogue distribution. And then we did four Facebook ads, so we did an event, and we promoted the event and that was OK, as far as the response we got from it, but by far the biggest response was my proof of my flyer as a photograph, just boosted, as an ad.

That was probably the best response we had on Facebook – the most comments, shares, likes, was of just that one photo. So I had that photo running three ads itself, the same photo, which you might tell me is the wrong thing to do, but I just wanted it to be in everybody's face all the time, so they had no doubt that our open day was on Saturday. And I think it proved itself that it worked, with the response we got.

GEORGE: I think it’s great. The boosted post definitely works, there's a place for everything, I guess when it’s done for the same thing all the time, for the same person, you can burn someone out.

DARRYL: Yeah, I agree.

GEORGE: But when you're doing an event…

DARRYL: It’s an event, it's a bit different. The advertising is always something that is a bit tricky, you never know – open days are funny, for me, I get really anxious and nervous about them in the day leading up to it, because it’s like putting out birthday invitations and not knowing if anybody’s going to turn out. But you've just got to trust yourself, because we have done them for a few years now, and they've always been successful. I've built my club around them really. There's always the other marketing that gets the regular numbers coming through the door, but the open day is a big event.

The members love it, they love coming to it, people that joined up said to me, I want to be part of it next year. And you go, wow, that's pretty cool, the people are already going, I want to be part of it, I want to be up there. I want to be that person. That's good, you know. The other thing I think I didn't mention is that, with the advertising, the timeframe is important too. The flyers need to be around ten days prior to event, they have to be delivered ten days before.

The Facebook advertising, I start a little bit earlier, maybe about a week earlier for the event, so it’s around about two weeks, or just outside two weeks that I start the event advertising and then I periodically added in photographs and things like that for the open day to keep promoting it, reminding people that it's coming up, it's only 24 hours away, 48 hours away, those type of thing as well.

GEORGE: All right, great. Now, a key question would be: firstly, there's one event a year.

DARRYL: Yeah, I don't have another one.

GEORGE: OK. And then, what is the retention? This is something someone always wants to know: you bring all these people in, how many of them stick?

DARRYL: You lose a few early, and there are no two ways about it. It’s like any paid trial. Karate or martial arts as a rule, is not for everybody and some of the kids come in, they see it, they go, I want to do that. And then when they try it, they don't really like it. But it’s not too many that do that, it’s a small percentage of that. We had really good success with last year’s open day with retention: I would say 50% would be retention, which I think for that type of event is a good number, because those people, that 50% become die-hard fans.

They're the ones that really support your club. They bring in the 50% you lose again, and then some. They bring in more again, and I think that it’s an interesting study of why they become real fans of your club. I guess because they see where you can end up. For me, the open day is a real big confidence thing for the members. It shows them, they see how much self-esteem they have and how much belief they have in what we do. It’s a real proud moment for an instructor when you've got your average members, just the ones that come and train twice a week, standing up there and showing their skills, I think it’s really, really important.

GEORGE: For sure, and it puts it into perspective.

DARRYL: Yeah, I think it does.

GEORGE: All right, awesome. Darryl, that's been great. Thanks for sharing.

DARRYL: You're welcome.

GEORGE: Thanks for sharing all the details, anything else you'd like to share, especially I know with your coaching side and the karate side?

DARRYL: No, not really. I guess we, if anyone's interested in what we do, we're at cranbournekarate.com.au, on Facebook we've got pretty good following on Facebook, which is Shukokai Karate Cranbourne. We're a pretty busy club, we've quite a few members, we've got sort of the A level players in the WKF group as well, so I think it’s great when you have a club that has multiple things going on at the same time. We’ll have members training in our Dojo on a Saturday, we’ll also have members training over in Footscray Victoria University, the part of the state team.

We might even on the same weekend have members training in Sydney in a national training camp. We can have people overseas competing, one time, we can have people competing locally at the same time – we have members traveling to Japan later in the year. Our junior group is traveling to Japan, which I think is going to be amazing, the kids are going to love getting the opportunity to train in Japan with our senseis.

And then at the end, they've got a tournament where they will be competing with the Japanese kids. And the cultural part I think is very important, that the kids get to meet people from other countries and they form lifelong bonds with other people, see other cultures, and it’s really, really important. Karate is important, but there's the other part that you can get a lot more from the martial art than just punching and kicking.

GEORGE: Definitely, understanding the culture and interacting with different cultures.

DARRYL: I know kids that are in their 20s now and they've got friends they've been seeing in Japan since they've been 12, so they're really close friends every time they catch up, they go and stay at their house. They do home stays, they come over here and do the same, so I think it’s really, really important. It’s good to be able to defend yourself and all that type of thing, and be able to punch and kick. But I think there's much more to what we do than just punching and kicking.

GEORGE: Cultural lifestyle.

DARRYL: I think that the punching and kicking are the side benefit of what we do, not the main benefit.

GEORGE: Awesome. Darryl – thanks a lot for your time, and I will chat to you soon.

DARRYL: Thank you.

GEORGE: Cheers!

And there you have it, event based marketing. There's going to be a theme that's going to jump out through these few episodes – pay attention to that. I think it's gold; I'm learning lots from it. There all these little things that just drive conversion, it helps, event-based marketing, it’s the easiest way to get people to action, because that is the only time they can take the action. I hope you got great value out of that.

As I mentioned, transcripts are available on martialartsmedia.com/26 and if you're getting great value from these shows, please go leave us some feedback on iTunes. I know it’s a bit clunky, but martialartsmedia.com/itunes and just follow the little button that shows up in iTunes and you can leave a review in there. A five-star review will be great to help us get some good publicity for the show.

So that's it, back again next week with another awesome interview and I will speak to you soon. Have a good week to you then – cheers!

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25 – Your Martial Arts Audience Ignoring You? This Might Help

If you're not getting interaction from your martial arts audience, chances are your message isn't relevant right now. Learn more.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The importance of targeting the right audience at the right time
  • Why you should take a unique approach to reaching each audience
  • Running multiple Facebook pages for different age groups? Try this instead
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

If your marketing messages are being ignored and you’re not getting responses or any activity, this might be the answer – this might help.

Hi, this is George Fourie and today, we're going to be talking about relevance – relevance in your marketing: is it spot on, is it targeted at the right person and being received at the right time? And this conversation came up while I was chatting to Professor Brannon Beliso from One Martial Arts in San Francisco. And we did an email campaign for them and we were looking at different emails going out and we spotted an email that was being sent that was not targeted at the right audience and it wasn't framed right for the right segment in that list. And we had a bit of a chat about relevance and so forth, and I'm going to give you a few insights on what we’ve gathered from that conversation.

Firstly, when you look at your own marketing as such: it’s so easy to look at your Facebook page as one Facebook page, or if you have an email list and you’re doing that type of marketing, you just look at the one email list, our list as a single – plural as such. But when you look at your Facebook page, it consists of individual people. Individual people, different ages, different lifestyles, different interests, different everything – there's different people all over this page, same as your email list. Look at your membership base – these are all individual people. Yes, they have one common interest of martial arts, but they have different interests in life and they come from different backgrounds and different cultures and all these types of things.

So you've got to be very conscious of how you send your message, is it relevant to this person, and is it also relevant at the right time, because there's a message of, “Hey, do you want to join our club,” which is not really a conversation opener, it’s not the first thing you'd say to someone. It would be, “Hey, how are you, how are you doing, how can we help you, what are you looking for” – it would be a different type of conversation, so you've got to think of, where is your message? Is it relevant to the person, first and foremost, and then is it relevant at the right time?

This is obviously easy to do in a face to face conversation: when you're talking to someone, you can do all these things. You can assess who is this person, you can ask a few questions and you can gather enough information that you can shape your conversation further. But when doing marketing, you've got to be conscious of these things, of how you put the message out and of how it’s going to be relevant to a person.

So, always bear in mind, first and foremost, one key fact that is: one person is always looking at your marketing message. I see sometimes people write an email message and it's, “Hey you guys,” “You guys,” “Team,” or something, but there's no team watching that, and there's no “you guys” listening: there's one person listening. It’s a conversation between you and someone else, or your brand and someone else. So bear that in mind: there's always one person listening and absorbing your information. So speak to that one person directly.

All right, and then the other factor, of course, is timing. So your timing of that message is it coming at the right time. Now, this can be easier said than done, because if you've got a Facebook page, there's a lot of audiences, there's a lot of different people, so you want to word things sometimes when you're talking to everybody, you're trying to get a certain person's attention. You might want to phrase it in a way: “If this is who you are,” or “If this is what you're interested in, and then listen, this might apply” type of thing.

Now, some people take a different approach to this and they say, all right: if I've got all these different people in my club, I'm going to create a separate Facebook page for every single audience. Now, honestly, to me, unless you've got a whole string of staff doing this stuff and loves technology – which the majority of people just don't, the majority of school owners don't and you don't have lots of time, the majority of school owners don't, I think this is a terrible idea. A terrible idea is to be building the front end of your brand and then segmenting it into all these little audiences. It sounds like a lot of hard work to me, I'm finding it hard enough to manage one page, I can't imagine having to manage five different pages for five different audiences.

So, does this mean you shouldn't be segmenting? No, of course, and this is what this relevance topic is all about, but are you segmenting at the right place? Social media is a way for you to get traffic to your offer and to your website. Yes, it’s about creating a conversation and having engagement and providing value to your audience, but at the end of the day, they don't join on Facebook: they join when they go to your website and send an online inquiry, or buy a paid trial offer. Yes, they might send a message through Messenger, but the conversation always goes off, either onto a website where they join something or on a one-to-one basis, before that happens.

So yes, use social media, use all these social platforms to gather an audience, to create that one-on-one conversation, or get traffic to your website. Once they are at your website and once they are in your database, meaning in your internal system, your CRM type software system or you have an email database, then make sure that they are segmented properly and that you know: this person is interested in kid's martial arts, this one is in fitness kickboxing, this one in jiu-jitsu and you can segment people accordingly and that way you can have those relevant conversations with people at the right time.

I hope that helps – keep things relevant, make sure and just be aware of when you are talking to people, is it at what time and what stage of the relationship and is it relevant to this person, their culture, their beliefs, their viewpoint on life and all the rest.

If you need any help with any of this type of stuff, get in touch with us on martialartsmedia.com – I will see you in the next episode. Thank you!

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24 – Martial Arts Website Templates, Replicated Websites & Page Builder Tools – The Pro’s & Con’s

Martial arts website templates, funnel tools and replicated websites is a quick fix to advertise, but there are pros & cons to be aware of.

IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The pros and cons of using a replicated martial arts website template
  • The importance of placing your website on a host that you own
  • Why you should own your digital assets i.e. website, content, articles, videos, etc.
  • Where your primary marketing education will come
  • And more

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

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

Should you be setting up a templated website for your martial arts school? Do you need a landing page type tool, do you need a fancy funnel creator – that's what we’re going to be talking about on today's show.

Hi, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com. Today, we’re going to be talking about websites and using website template builders, template type websites that you can purchase from a company or these landing page builders, if you should be using them, what's the pros and cons of that – all these fancy funnel tools that you might have heard of, you heard a buzzword of funnel this and funnel that, so I'm going to be exploring the pros and cons of both. And look, there are pros and there are cons.

This is from my perspective, my experience with online space and building up websites and selling websites and really owning your own online property. And I guess that's what it comes down to owning your own property. But first up, I want to say this: in doing this type of thing, this is a roadblock in your business. To getting started, to getting leads, to getting out there and getting marketing done, I say just do whatever. Just get in there, as long as you're not forking out thousands and thousands of dollars, just get in there and start doing something.

Get the engine rolling and start generating leads. Because sometimes when you start getting into the marketing practice, that's when the real learning comes and the real understanding comes and that's where sometimes expensive mistakes can be the biggest lesson because that's going to tell you what you should be doing. So here's me, the king of all mistakes, and I'm going to be sharing the ins and outs with you. You can learn from them and choose your course from them and choose your course from that.

So should you be using a templated website? Look, it depends. It depends on, as I just mentioned if it’s a roadblock, but I want you to look at the longevity of your business. Now, your domain name, your www address – that's something that you own on the internet and you've got to own your digital assets. So what do I mean by that, by digital assets? Digital assets are your website, content that you put out, articles, videos, and these things.

And other than just scattering them around social media sites, you need to bring these assets back to your website. So your website, your domain name: this is the place that you own. This is the website; this is a place that you control on the internet. Transactions don't really happen on Facebook and so forth. Yes, you need all these sites to bring traffic back to a place, but you need to take people off that social environment to where transactions take place and this is where your website comes into play. So you need a website that converts.

Martial Arts Website Templates

Now, there's a lot of great templated sites out there and the core elements that really make them work is the conversion elements: a visible phone number at the top, a great online inquiry form, but one thing that would concern me, and I always look at it; OK I'm doing this for my business. What concerns me about it is not having the control of the backend of the website. Yes, you would own the domain name and the pages and so forth, but it’s on somebody else's host and somebody else's code generally speaking. So if I don't own the code and I don't own all that, if you ever want to move, you’ve kind of got your hands tied with this system because you can't really move your website: they own the website, so you actually just leased the website from them. There's no transferring anything.

Yes, you could maybe extract your content, but your hands are tied, you are stuck. So you better hope that this company is going to provide a decent service for you for the longevity of your business, OK? Because yes, you own the domain name, but you don't own the actual software that the website was written on, so you can't extract that, you can't take that way.

So that's a big thing to consider. What we like to do, we like to put our website on a host that we own, with codes that we own. That's only a WordPress website, designed with a custom made theme, but the importance of that is that it’s on a host that you paid for and you control and you've got access to the code and you can access and if you're not happy with one provider, you can make sure that anybody else can take care of your website for you, because you own it upright.

So it’s not like you're renting an apartment and you have a month to month lease and somebody can just kick you out if they want: you own it, it’s yours and you've got it for the longevity. So that's one thing to consider. Should you have things like fake testimonials on your website? Hey, when last did you like making a purchasing decision based on a fake testimonial with a fake stock image? Have you ever liked that? Would you like to base your trust and the purchasing decision doing that? I don't think so.

So hey, if that's what's being done with your website, just get their pictures. I’m sure you can have a student within your school that can run around and take good pictures. If not, spend a hundred bucks or whatever, it’s so worth it. It’s a representation of your brand. Ask your students: what have you gotten out of this class, put an original testimonial on your site. People are not thick, they’re not stupid, they can see a stock image a mile away, they can see something when it’s fake – it doesn't do your reputation any good.

All right, so that's on the website. Best bet – look, at the end of the day is to own your own asset. If in the meantime, you can handle working on a templated type of site – great, that's awesome. But hey, have your best interest at heart as long as your business is in existence and can you actually extract anything from that. Those are questions to ask before you invest all this into a company where you can potentially lose all your physical content, assets. And that means you've got to start from scratch. Again, get all your rankings from scratch in Google and it's a painful process to go through.

Now let’s move onto landing page builders. Now, a big buzz word is funnels. Everybody says, create a funnel, you need a funnel this, you need a funnel that, and that can be true and not true, because for you as a martial arts school owner, what is your main obligation? Your main obligation is, you want a lead. You want to get a lead or you want to get a phone call. That's pretty much what you are looking to achieve.

So funnel builders are for a product type system, where somebody is buying a product, let’s say we just call it trip wire in the industry, maybe a paid trial would be the same. Somebody would buy a book or something, and they would pay for it and then on the next page, they'll see an upsell and it will say, hey, you can only do this one time offer now, and then you might say no, and then they'll take you to another upsell offer.

So basically, a strategic sales funnel is really structured for a different type of product line then a martial arts school owner. Now look, this could differ depending on how you do your marketing, but generally speaking, you're not going to need this fancy tool to create all these funnels in different pages.

So that's that – now if you are going to use these tools, because hey if you're doing things yourself, using these tools are going to help you a lot. There's a lot of knowledge that these guys have, that do a lot of tests. There are a lot of top marketers that use these tools and they're going to know all these tricks and conversions tools. They're going to know what converts on a page and what's going to bring you the best leads and all the rest.

So yes, there's definitely a lot of merit in using these tools, but do you need the whole fancy setup? Maybe not. Maybe you just need to actually buy a course to do this, or unless you're using a company like ourselves that do these things for you then maybe you should just invest into the education and do something on a self-hosted website.

But hey, I'm just giving you different options and different scenarios there. If you are going to use one of these tools, then make sure that you're actually using it on your own domain name. So your website address/the page, because I see what people do is, they create a page on a system and then they take that ugly URL and they go put it on the Facebook ad and it’s a representation of the actual company that is providing the page and not for your school.

And what you've also got to bear in mind is that is what they're going to look at. They're going to look at this page and what are they going to do afterward? Look, if you are lucky and you actually got their contact details at that moment – awesome. But 90% of people that see a page or your website for the first time are going to leave and they're going to come back later. So that's the saying, it takes 6-8 interactions before any conversion will happen on your website or click through or whatever.

So, if somebody saw our fancy funnel page ad and then clicked on that and if you're not tracking that, but they remember the name of your business, now they’re going to Google and they search for your business and your website comes up and it looks dog ugly. There's no congruence with what they just experienced and what they're seeing now with your brand. So you've got to think of congruency and you've got to think, OK, if I am going to use a fancy tool like this, make sure that it's put on my domain name, that it's a place where I own and make sure that your other pages are also like that and that they look professional and represent your business.

That's it – that was a bit of a mouthful, but I hope that comes across clear. There is no right or wrong, it depends on you, and obviously your financial circumstances as well and where you want to take your business. At the end of the day, if it was me – hey, I want to own my assets and online there’s only one place that I own and that's my domain name and all the primary content that goes out there, I want those to point to my site and not someone else's.

Thanks a lot – if you need any help with any of this, get in touch with us at martialartsmedia.com. I’ll see you in the next show. Thanks, cheers.

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Privacy Policy

Your privacy is very important to us. Accordingly, we have developed this policy in order for you to understand how we collect, use, communicate and make use of personal information. The following outlines our privacy policy. When accessing the https://martialartsmedia.com website, will learn certain information about you during your visit. Similar to other commercial websites, our website utilizes a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below) and server logs to collect information about how our site is used. Information gathered through cookies and server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our site, and the websites visited just before and just after our own, as well as your IP address.

Use of Cookies

A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a website, that site”s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies. Each website can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser”s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a website to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

IP Addresses

IP addresses are used by your computer every time you are connected to the Internet. Your IP address is a number that is used by computers on the network to identify your computer. IP addresses are automatically collected by our web server as part of demographic and profile data known as “traffic data” so that data (such as the Web pages you request) can be sent to you.

Email Information

If you choose to correspond with us through email, we may retain the content of your email messages together with your email address and our responses. We provide the same protections for these electronic communications that we employ in the maintenance of information received online, mail and telephone. This also applies when you register for our website, sign up through any of our forms using your email address or make a purchase on this site. For further information see the email policies below.

How Do We Use the Information That You Provide to Us?

Broadly speaking, we use personal information for purposes of administering our business activities, providing customer service and making available other items and services to our customers and prospective customers.

will not obtain personally-identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us, nor will such information be sold or otherwise transferred to unaffiliated third parties without the approval of the user at the time of collection.

We may disclose information when legally compelled to do so, in other words, when we, in good faith, believe that the law requires it or for the protection of our legal rights.

Email Policies

We are committed to keeping your e-mail address confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease our subscription lists to third parties, and we will not provide your personal information to any third party individual, government agency, or company at any time unless strictly compelled to do so by law.

We will use your e-mail address solely to provide timely information about .

We will maintain the information you send via e-mail in accordance with applicable federal law.

CAN-SPAM Compliance

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime.

Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Choice/Opt-Out

Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us and our partners by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at anytime. Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Use of External Links

All copyrights, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights in and on our website and all content and software located on the site shall remain the sole property of or its licensors. The use of our trademarks, content and intellectual property is forbidden without the express written consent from .

You must not:

Acceptable Use

You agree to use our website only for lawful purposes, and in a way that does not infringe the rights of, restrict or inhibit anyone else”s use and enjoyment of the website. Prohibited behavior includes harassing or causing distress or inconvenience to any other user, transmitting obscene or offensive content or disrupting the normal flow of dialogue within our website.

You must not use our website to send unsolicited commercial communications. You must not use the content on our website for any marketing related purpose without our express written consent.

Restricted Access

We may in the future need to restrict access to parts (or all) of our website and reserve full rights to do so. If, at any point, we provide you with a username and password for you to access restricted areas of our website, you must ensure that both your username and password are kept confidential.

Use of Testimonials

In accordance to with the FTC guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, please be aware of the following:

Testimonials that appear on this site are actually received via text, audio or video submission. They are individual experiences, reflecting real life experiences of those who have used our products and/or services in some way. They are individual results and results do vary. We do not claim that they are typical results. The testimonials are not necessarily representative of all of those who will use our products and/or services.

The testimonials displayed in any form on this site (text, audio, video or other) are reproduced verbatim, except for correction of grammatical or typing errors. Some may have been shortened. In other words, not the whole message received by the testimonial writer is displayed when it seems too lengthy or not the whole statement seems relevant for the general public.

is not responsible for any of the opinions or comments posted on https://martialartsmedia.com. is not a forum for testimonials, however provides testimonials as a means for customers to share their experiences with one another. To protect against abuse, all testimonials appear after they have been reviewed by management of . doe not share the opinions, views or commentary of any testimonials on https://martialartsmedia.com – the opinions are strictly the views of the testimonial source.

The testimonials are never intended to make claims that our products and/or services can be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Any such claims, implicit or explicit, in any shape or form, have not been clinically tested or evaluated.

How Do We Protect Your Information and Secure Information Transmissions?

Email is not recognized as a secure medium of communication. For this reason, we request that you do not send private information to us by email. However, doing so is allowed, but at your own risk. Some of the information you may enter on our website may be transmitted securely via a secure medium known as Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Credit Card information and other sensitive information is never transmitted via email.

may use software programs to create summary statistics, which are used for such purposes as assessing the number of visitors to the different sections of our site, what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas.

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, uses software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy, currency or completeness of the content contain on this website or any sites linked to this site.

All the materials on this site are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of merchantability, noninfringement of intellectual property or fitness for any particular purpose. In no event shall or its agents or associates be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of profits, business interruption, loss of information, injury or death) arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials, even if has been advised of the possibility of such loss or damages.

Policy Changes

We reserve the right to amend this privacy policy at any time with or without notice. However, please be assured that if the privacy policy changes in the future, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this privacy policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this privacy policy, without your prior consent.

We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding this policy, or your dealings with our website, please contact us here:

Martial Arts Media™
Suite 218
5/115 Grand Boulevard
Joondalup WA
6027
Australia

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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General Website Terms and Conditions of Use

We have taken every effort to design our Web site to be useful, informative, helpful, honest and fun.  Hopefully we’ve accomplished that — and would ask that you let us know if you’d like to see improvements or changes that would make it even easier for you to find the information you need and want.

All we ask is that you agree to abide by the following Terms and Conditions. Take a few minutes to look them over because by using our site you automatically agree to them. Naturally, if you don’t agree, please do not use the site. We reserve the right to make any modifications that we deem necessary at any time. Please continue to check these terms to see what those changes may be! Your continued use of the MartialArtsMedia.com Web site means that you accept those changes.

THANKS AGAIN FOR VISITING!

Restrictions on Use of Our Online Materials

All Online Materials on the MartialArtsMedia.com site are Copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Text, graphics, databases, HTML code, and all other intellectual property are protected by US and/or International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, reengineered, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without explicit permission. All of the trademarks on this site are trademarks of MartialArtsMedia.com or of other owners used with their permission. You, the visitor, may download Online Materials for non-commercial, personal use only provided you 1) retain all copyright, trademark and propriety notices, 2) you make no modifications to the materials, 3) you do not use the materials in a manner that suggests an association with any of our products, services, events or brands, and 4) you do not download quantities of materials to a database, server, or personal computer for reuse for commercial purposes. You may not, however, copy, reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit or distribute Online Materials in any way or for any other purpose unless you get our written permission first. Neither may you add, delete, distort or misrepresent any content on the MartialArtsMedia.com site. Any attempts to modify any Online Material, or to defeat or circumvent our security features is prohibited.

Everything you download, any software, plus all files, all images incorporated in or generated by the software, and all data accompanying it, is considered licensed to you by MartialArtsMedia.com or third-party licensors for your personal, non-commercial home use only. We do not transfer title of the software to you. That means that we retain full and complete title to the software and to all of the associated intellectual-property rights. You’re not allowed to redistribute or sell the material or to reverse-engineer, disassemble or otherwise convert it to any other form that people can use.

Submitting Your Online Material to Us

All remarks, suggestions, ideas, graphics, comments, or other information that you send to MartialArtsMedia.com through our site (other than information we promise to protect under our privacy policy becomes and remains our property, even if this agreement is later terminated.

That means that we don’t have to treat any such submission as confidential. You can’t sue us for using ideas you submit. If we use them, or anything like them, we don’t have to pay you or anyone else for them. We will have the exclusive ownership of all present and future rights to submissions of any kind. We can use them for any purpose we deem appropriate to our MartialArtsMedia.com mission, without compensating you or anyone else for them.

You acknowledge that you are responsible for any submission you make. This means that you (and not we) have full responsibility for the message, including its legality, reliability, appropriateness, originality, and copyright.

Limitation of Liability

MartialArtsMedia.com WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR INJURY THAT ACCOMPANY OR RESULT FROM YOUR USE OF ANY OF ITS SITE.

THESE INCLUDE (BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO) DAMAGES OR INJURY CAUSED BY ANY:

  • USE OF (OR INABILITY TO USE) THE SITE
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  • ERROR ON OUR SITE
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  • INTERRUPTION OF AVAILABILITY OF OUR SITE
  • DEFECT ON OUR SITE
  • DELAY IN OPERATION OR TRANSMISSION OF OUR SITE
  • COMPUTER VIRUS OR LINE FAILURE
  • PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, INCLUDING:
    • DAMAGES INTENDED TO COMPENSATE SOMEONE DIRECTLY FOR A LOSS OR INJURY
    • DAMAGES REASONABLY EXPECTED TO RESULT FROM A LOSS OR INJURY (KNOWN IN LEGAL TERMS AS “CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES.”)
    • OTHER MISCELLANEOUS DAMAGES AND EXPENSES RESULTING DIRECTLY FROM A LOSS OR INJURY (KNOWN IN LEGAL TERMS AS “INCIDENTIAL DAMAGES.”)

WE ARE NOT LIABLE EVEN IF WE’VE BEEN NEGLIGENT OR IF OUR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR BOTH.

EXCEPTION: CERTAIN STATE LAWS MAY NOT ALLOW US TO LIMIT OR EXCLUDE LIABILITY FOR THESE “INCIDENTAL” OR “CONSEQUENTIAL” DAMAGES. IF YOU LIVE IN ONE OF THOSE STATES, THE ABOVE LIMITATION OBVIOUSLY WOULD NOT APPLY WHICH WOULD MEAN THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECOVER THESE TYPES OF DAMAGES.

HOWEVER, IN ANY EVENT, OUR LIABILITY TO YOU FOR ALL LOSSES, DAMAGES, INJURIES, AND CLAIMS OF ANY AND EVERY KIND (WHETHER THE DAMAGES ARE CLAIMED UNDER THE TERMS OF A CONTRACT, OR CLAIMED TO BE CAUSED BY NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER WRONGFUL CONDUCT, OR THEY’RE CLAIMED UNDER ANY OTHER LEGAL THEORY) WILL NOT BE GREATER THAN THE AMOUNT YOU PAID IF ANYTHING TO ACCESS OUR SITE.

Links to Other Site

We sometimes provide referrals to and links to other World Wide Web sites from our site. Such a link should not be seen as an endorsement, approval or agreement with any information or resources offered at sites you can access through our site. If in doubt, always check the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address provided in your WWW browser to see if you are still in a MartialArtsMedia.com-operated site or have moved to another site. MartialArtsMedia.com is not responsible for the content or practices of third party sites that may be linked to our site. When MartialArtsMedia.com provides links or references to other Web sites, no inference or assumption should be made and no representation should be inferred that MartialArtsMedia.com is connected with, operates or controls these Web sites. Any approved link must not represent in any way, either explicitly or by implication, that you have received the endorsement, sponsorship or support of any MartialArtsMedia.com site or endorsement, sponsorship or support of MartialArtsMedia.com, including its respective employees, agents or directors.

Termination of This Agreement

This agreement is effective until terminated by either party. You may terminate this agreement at any time, by destroying all materials obtained from all MartialArtsMedia.com Web site, along with all related documentation and all copies and installations. MartialArtsMedia.com may terminate this agreement at any time and without notice to you, if, in its sole judgment, you breach any term or condition of this agreement. Upon termination, you must destroy all materials. In addition, by providing material on our Web site, we do not in any way promise that the materials will remain available to you. And MartialArtsMedia.com is entitled to terminate all or any part of any of its Web site without notice to you.

Jurisdiction and Other Points to Consider

If you use our site from locations outside of Australia, you are responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws.

These Terms of Use shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the the State of Western Australia, Australia as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such jurisdiction.

To the extent you have in any manner violated or threatened to violate MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates’ intellectual property rights, MartialArtsMedia.com and/or its affiliates may seek injunctive or other appropriate relief in any state or federal court in the State of Western Australia, Australia, and you consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in such courts.

Any other disputes will be resolved as follows:

If a dispute arises under this agreement, we agree to first try to resolve it with the help of a mutually agreed-upon mediator in the following location: Perth. Any costs and fees other than attorney fees associated with the mediation will be shared equally by each of us.

If it proves impossible to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution through mediation, we agree to submit the dispute to binding arbitration at the following location: Perth . Judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitration may be entered in any court with jurisdiction to do so.

MartialArtsMedia.com may modify these Terms of Use, and the agreement they create, at any time, simply by updating this posting and without notice to you. This is the ENTIRE agreement regarding all the matters that have been discussed.

The application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, as amended, is expressly excluded.