149 – What Happens When All Your Martial Arts Leads Are “Tire-Kickers”

If you’re running Facebook ads and all your martial arts leads are tire-kickers, your problem might be two-fold. Here’s the fix.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What’s potentially causing the wrong quality of martial arts leads
  • The pitfall of labeling your martial arts prospects as tire-kickers
  • How better Facebook ads attract better martial arts prospects
  • Fixing low-quality martial arts leads with paid trials
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey there, George Fourie here. Welcome to another Martial Arts Media™ Business podcast. Today, I want to talk about your martial arts leads being tire-kickers. What if they are all tire-kickers, non-responsive, or just the wrong demographic or bad quality when you are running Facebook ads, Google ads, or from any other marketing source?

I’m going to dive into the details with a few little twists to this conversation. For show notes and all the resources of this podcast, head over to martialartsmedia.com/149. Let's jump in.

What happens when all my leads are tire-kickers? They inquired via the website, Facebook ads, or Google ads. They've put their hand up, disappeared, or never put their hand up. We can't get hold of them, and that's that.  All the leads are tire-kickers, or they are responsive, but they're just the wrong type of lead.

They won't fit the culture of your club, or they won't be fit for the products that you have, the martial arts services that you offer, and the classes that you run. These are all things that can be fixed within your targeting, quality, and messaging.  But here's the danger. I want to address the danger of labeling all your prospects as tire-kickers.

A few of my members in our Partners group brought this up: I love you, and you're not being singled out. Actually, I can count about six or seven encounters where this has come up, and that's just this year. So, you're definitely not being singled out. This is done with love. I hope that this is helpful for you and for you, the listener, as well.

Labeling all your leads as tire-kickers. Here's the danger. Let's say you're running an ad campaign, and you've got 20 to 30 leads in your CRM. It's just a list of names. And you get one bad response, two bad, three, and all of a sudden, your sales mojo motivation dies out.

And you're like, “Oh, really?” They’re all tire-kickers.  Maybe it was only three, maybe it was five, but all of a sudden, you give everybody this unanimous label. Now, what if you took those 20 to 30 people off the list and put them all in a room together, all in a room together, or all on the mats? And you looked at all these people, all their faces, and they all put their hand up.

They responded to your ad, right? Can you look them all in the eye and say, “You're all tire-kickers. All of you are wasting my time. It's like all of you got together and collectively decided that you're going to waste my time.” A bit unrealistic, right? But it's very easy for us to look at a lead list and then throw a label out.

The danger that I want to address is it's their fault and not yours. So, immediately, you relinquish all responsibility for the leads, not furthering the conversation or signing up, and it's their fault and not yours. Now, I'm not here to debate whether that's true or not because there can be parts where it's their fault.

But if it's all their fault, you've got no room for improvement. They've got nothing that you can fix. You could never really say it's them. And yep, I come from an old school sales training where things were beaten down into my brain, not literally, but the message was enforced all the time—that it's never about the prospect.

You're the sales guy. It's your job to be persuasive, engaging, have charisma, and actually engage in a relationship. Sell the program and actually get them interested. Uncover the underlying objections or problems that they are facing and the reason why they put their hand up. Maybe they are super paranoid about taking this first step.

There's a lot there to unpack. This whole process between them putting their hand up and saying, “Hey, I'm interested,” and to actually go ahead, it can be a little fragile process.  And so, we have to take it with care that this person is stepping potentially into an unknown territory.

They've never trained in martial arts before. They don't know what it's about. They've seen people beating each other up at UFC. They've got these perceived concepts of what it can be like completely untrue, but they have all these things going on, or it's super personal, right? There's something that happened in their life that they really need this.

And sure, as hell, they're not going to tell you after one message or phone call. We have to respect that part of all this. So, how do you get better at this? Well, a 100% percent responsibility. 100% responsibility. It's your responsibility to fix it. Let's look at a few examples. All right.

Well, you are running an ad campaign. You're running an ad campaign, and maybe you have the luxury of getting hundreds of leads. But the quality is bad, and that could be for demographics. You live in an area that's a low socioeconomic area, and it's just the quality of leads that you get are not people that are going to afford your services.

If that's the case, well, then you've got to look at the options to mitigate that. A couple of things that you can do is have a good front-end paid trial offer, or we do things like in Messenger, where we use gated questions. We ask people if they can afford to invest in their health, the well-being of their kids, themselves, and so forth.

If that is a problem, we can address that and modify that as we go. If it's messaging, well, messaging can be fixed by knowing the process of how to take people from that first engagement and position yourself as an authority. Make sure you appear as a human being, not just a company logo.

I'm talking about Facebook ads here. If you're running Facebook ads, you're running it to a page; all that they see is a logo. They don't see a human. So, you got to insert some human elements in it—not just an AI bot, real human elements—so that people know that they're talking to a human, and that way, you get a cool human interaction.

A further danger I see with the disconnect is the more disconnected you want to be from the actual marketing, the more this belief of an unsatisfaction of the quality of the leads and labeling people as tire-kickers. It really comes up because, number one, if you're disconnected from the marketing, you might be getting some cookie-cutter ad from an ad agency or something that you saw somebody else do it, run on Facebook.

You thought that was cool. But a lot of that stuff misses a lot of depth. A lot of depth of who are you? What makes you unique? Especially if they're seeing a lot of martial arts ads, right? What makes you stand out? What makes you so special? What makes you better than all of them?

And then, if you've got somebody helping you with ads, well, there's got to be a bit of a feedback loop because if on the front-end, and we see this often, that we look at ads and it looks like the ads are doing great because of the numbers and we see like 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 leads come through. But on the back end, they're not converting.

If that's the case, there needs to be a feedback loop that you can speak to someone like a coach or an agency that addresses the objections that are coming up on the mats. You can take that and you can add that to your ads, and keep optimizing your message.

That is the only real way to do it. There's no magic flick of the switch. I believe it's good to have models of ads that work. I mean, that's how we start. When we start with our school owners in our Partners program, rolling out ads is easy because we've done it so many times. Getting started is really easy, and getting some traction is easy, but getting real, real traction takes some refinement and takes some depth.

So, what can you fix? Targeting, messaging. If you're getting the wrong quality of leads, make sure you increase that. If leads are non-responsive, then make sure that you have enough touch points available where you can follow up. We go Messenger, we go SMS, phone, as well as email. That is four places where we can actually communicate with them from four options.

Most of that is automated except for the phone call, but that gives you a lot of touch points where you can follow up and make sure that you get hold of your leads. If you're following up through text, then make sure that you are positioning yourself as the expert. You know how to ask the questions and move people from curious to serious to sign up.

For us in our Partners program, we use a system. We call The Messenger Signup Method, and it really, really works well in the sense of when people don't want to pick up the phone because maybe they don't like being sold, or I've had about four phone calls today that I haven't answered. It's just because I don't. It's great to fly under the radar.

If you know how to have a conversation via text and get your paid trials or appointments booked, it's definitely the way to go. Anyway, I hope that's helpful. I'll catch you in the next episode.

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.

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148 – 3 Ways To Increase Your Show-Up Rate For Martial Arts Trial Appointments

Here’s how using an irresistible martial arts offer can almost completely squash your no-show rate for martial arts trial appointments.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Adding a human touch to automated messages with martial arts prospects
  • How to write a successful follow-up email sequence
  • Comparing free and paid martial arts trials
  • Using high-converting landing pages when you’re time-poor
  • Using The Messenger Signup Method to sign up prospects
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to another Martial Arts Media™ Business podcast. Today, I'm going to be talking about how to reduce no-shows.  Prospect inquires, books a trial appointment with you, but then ghost you; they don't show up. And sometimes, it's really hard to re-engage and get the conversation back going and get them to reschedule. 

So, I'm going to be talking about a couple of ways that you can reduce no-shows, almost eliminate them completely. Some are going to be simpler, and some are going to be a little bit more complex. There's going to be a few options for you to consider. I'm going to cover those. Make sure to head over to martialartsmedia.com/148. That is where we've got the show notes, downloads, and everything for this episode. Head over there, and hey, let's jump in.

Okay, some context first. I was talking at a martial arts business event in Texas late last year, that’s 2023 and was chatting to a lot of martial arts business owners that were experiencing a lot of no-shows. A bunch of these guys was using different types of marketing agencies and just various problems that were coming up, mainly no-shows. 

Out of the 10 leads that they were getting, only three were actually showing up—three to four. I’m kind of shocked, to be honest. That's like a really, really high no-show, right? So, there are a few things that you can do to mitigate this now. There are a couple of dangers and a couple of things to consider here, right? 

If you are trying to automate things as much as possible and be as hands-off as possible, that might be the price that you're going to pay, right? Is that you're going to have some no-shows, and there's going to be little investment of time and following up and doing things, but you're going to get fewer leads. You're going to be paying a lot more for leads to show up. That's just going to be the nature of the beast for you.

But, if you're keen to be a bit more invested and thinking, “Well, I want to get my dollars’ worth.” Like, “I want to really reduce the cost per acquisition of getting these students in, really want to bring that cost down, control it.” There are a couple of things that you can do, so let's explore them. 

Number one is, first up, just looking at the automation that happens, your automated follow-up sequences. What happens once a new trial, a parent or an adult books a trial to come and take their first class with you? What happens from that point? 

Are they getting automated email messages instantly and then timed all the way to their appointment? Are they getting text messages or follow-ups? What else? Is there some personalization? Maybe it's a real quick, like a video message—something that is a bit more personal. Because, let's face it, we're living in a world of AI automation, and everything is getting automated. 

The more human elements are getting removed, the more kind of numb you get to the messaging, right? Because it's almost like you're not responsible for answering to a human. So, you feel off the hook if you don't stick to your word for the machine, right? The more personalization you're going to remove from that process, you're probably going to be experiencing some form of no-shows. So, that's the first thing to look at. 

Look at what you can automate, but rather than automate, is there some personalization that you can do? It could be just grabbing the phone, doing a quick video message, and saying, “Hey, Johnny, I saw you're booked in for a class on X, Y, Z day. I’m really looking forward to meeting you. So is the team.” Whatever you want to do, right? Or show them around, etc. 

If you don't want to be that specific, the way you can get out of that is to say, “Hey, George. I just wanted to say thanks so much for booking your class.” You can introduce yourself, but make it a bit more automated, but still have a personal feel to it. That's one thing you can do, right? Optimize your automation, but then insert some form of personalization that makes it a bit more personal if that’s what you want—human to human. All right. That's option number one. 

Option number two is to change your trial. Change your trial format to a paid trial system. If you're running free trials, this is pretty much what's going to be happening, right? Is that booking for the first appointment? When somebody is paying for the trial, and it's a paid trial, then that does change the concept. 

Now, I've spoken a lot about paid trials on this podcast, not going to go into that right now. I will leave some links in the show notes where you can access those. You know, just looking at the comparison of free and paid trials. But what the paid trial is going to do for you is if you are selling a paid trial and you actually focus on collecting the money upfront, now you've got a prospect that is first up a customer. They've given you money, and they're going to be way more committed, obviously, to show up. 

Using a paid trial, but then actually getting them to commit and making the payment before coming, that's going to really increase your shop. It's probably going to solve the problem 100% completely. Now, pros and cons to this: you've got to sell the trial and collect the money. How do you do this? 

Well, with our ads, what we mainly focus on is what we call The Messenger Signup Method, which is a system that we use to sign prospects up via text; flies under the radar, and you're going from taking prospects from curious to serious to signed up. That is a process we take. We sell the trial first, collect the money, and then get them to book the trial afterward, right? 

They’re already financially invested before booking the trial appointment. That changes the frame completely, right? Because if someone's giving you a couple of dollars, it means that the trust element is out of the way. They feel comfortable enough to actually give you money, and it's going to definitely increase your show-up rates.

Number three, what if you don't want to be messaging people and you don't want to be spending any time on the follow-up? This can be done, but you must be aware of the fact that you're going to need to spend some money to collect data to be able to optimize this process. What are we doing here? In this process, we are running a paid trial with the numbers here are important. 

We play with different numbers to make this a complete no-brainer offer and make it really easy for people to buy, and we send them directly to a landing page. So, they go directly to a landing page. The landing page does all the selling of the paid trial for you. It's got proof of testimonials. It’s got the irresistible offer worded in the right way so that it communicates value, and people can go to the page directly and buy the paid trial. 

So, the benefit here is you've taken all human elements out of it. The prospects have actually got to buy it. The cons are if you don't know how to structure a page with all the correct elements that are going to make it convert, then you're going to be testing for a long time. We've done a lot of tests on this. 

We stopped tracking that formula, that structure at about eight or 9000 trials. We stopped tracking it. Now, we've simplified it and we keep optimizing it a lot more. We've got a lot of data behind it. It is 100% doable. You've got to be in mind in the beginning, that you're probably going to pay a bit more to acquire a student because you've got to optimize the landing pages. 

The risky part of this is, if you don't know what you're doing, don't do it. I won't be like–what's the right word? I won't boast or say I know everything because I think I know enough to know that I still don't know anything because the data decides. Even for us, we can put our best foot forward, and our best tests, and then we still have to optimize. 

We still need to optimize every time there's a hundred clicks on every page. We still need to look, compare, and do optimization, but when you hit that sweet spot, it definitely is super helpful. Those are the strategies.

So, real quick, just for a recap: Improve your automation and add some human element to it. Number two, go for a paid trial and start supporting the sale via messenger by selling the paid trial. Number three is to get a well-designed landing page. You can ask us about how that works and which formulas, and concepts work, and go for it that way. 

A couple of things to note: Things that we've got that will definitely help our irresistible martial arts offer formula, how to structure a paid trial in the right way with the right numbers, and we've got a few shortcuts on the right numbers that convert the best, and then using The Messenger Signup Method and our landing page structure for paid trials. That's it. 

I hope that is helpful. Any questions should be a message where you listen to this episode and I'll catch you on the next one. 

Have a good one. Cheers.


*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.

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147 – Buzz Durkin: The Martial Arts Master Of Lifetime Student Value


Discover how Buzz Durkin, the headmaster of Uechiryu Karate, effortlessly keeps martial arts students for as long as 52 years.


IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Internal marketing – a strategy used by Buzz Durkin to attract new students
  • Community building within a martial arts school
  • Teaching beyond physical skills and the importance of using the physical curriculum
  • What is AAA theory – Awareness, Appreciation, and Action, and how is it important to martial arts students
  • An overview of Buzz Durkin’s Success is Waiting: The Martial Arts School Owner's Guide to Teaching, Business, and Life book
  • Charging fair tuition for martial arts classes
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Start Here.

 

TRANSCRIPTION

GEORGE: Hey, it's George Fourie. Welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business podcast. Today, I am interviewing a true master in martial arts and business, Buzz Durkin. I was really fortunate to spend some time with Buzz when I hosted our Martial Arts Media™ Intensive event, which was part of the Bushi Ban Power Week hosted by none other than Grandmaster Zulfi Ahmed.

As part of the Bushi Ban Power Week, we hosted the Martial Arts Media™ Intensive, and I had Buzz share a talk in regards to retention and keeping students for life and how they basically work all their marketing from the ground up. I was so inspired by the speech; well, so was everyone else. He got a true standing ovation, and I invited him to speak at one of our events online, which is the Partners Intensive. Our members were just blown away by the information. I wanted to bring that over to you as part of the podcast, so I'm going to share a video on this page. If you want to go visit it, martialartsmedia.com/147.

Buzz shared a video during his talk showing how every Saturday, how much experience, and how many black belts they have. It ranged from four years to, I think, 44 years of experience, and I can't recall counting. There were at least 20, 30, got to be like 30 people at least.

Anyway, Buzz is truly a master at keeping it simple, keeping students for life, and he's got some valuable strategies to share. So, without further ado, jump in all the show notes on martialartsmedia.com/147. That’s the numbers one, four, seven. Jump in. Let's go.

GEORGE: Buzz Durkin, welcome to the Martial Arts Media™ Business podcast.

BUZZ: It's my pleasure to be here. I'm happy to be here with you, George.

GEORGE: Good to see you again, and we'll loop back to that story. But a question I always like to ask first is, what's the number one thing that you do to attract new students into your school?

BUZZ: Well, the number one thing we do after all these years that's evolved is internal marketing. We do internal marketing with some social presence, too. We do a lot of posting on Facebook, and Instagram, just about every day or at least every other day. Our main venue for acquiring new students is through internal marketing. Parent's nights out, pizza parties, and birthday parties, where we encourage our students to bring their friends, inviting their friends and school teachers to our black belt promotions.

So, we concentrate mainly on the student body that we have and how can we grow that family from within primarily.

GEORGE: Very interesting. So, everything from the inside out. And so, when it comes to promotions, you're still sort of doing a little bit of outbound because you're saying with the social and so forth, but the focus is what's happening internally and making that the message to attract more students?

BUZZ: Yes. We like to make our students raving fans, and we like to make our students want their friends to study and train with them, whether they’re five years old or 50 years old. So, we try and provide a high degree of value in every single class so that the students will want to talk about what a great experience they had. And like we say, we don't teach good classes here. Every class has to be a great class.

And I think the marketing– I think anything starts on the floor. I think it all starts with good instruction. You have to have something of substance that you're teaching, and you have to do it in an effective way. I think it all ebbs and flows on the quality of instruction on the floor. Everything should spring forth from that, I think.

GEORGE: I know you're the master at keeping students, and I want to tell this little backstory. So, we met officially for the first time at Grandmaster Zulfi's Bushi Ban Power Week, where we got to host our event during the Power Week, which was the Martial Arts Media™ Intensive. Buzz Durkin was one of the featured speakers. You shared a video during your talk that I can't recall how many students there were, and I'm probably, if that's okay with you, I'll share it within this podcast, just in the show notes so that people can see it.

But you had, I think I counted about at least 20, 25, 30 students that have been with you from four years to about 50 years. Is that right?

BUZZ: Yeah. Yeah. We let one junior black belt in there. There was one four years, yes, but that is correct. That's correct.

GEORGE: What keeps that level of community, unity, and commitment? Because I mean, yep.  We love martial arts, and we love dedicating ourselves to the art, but staying to the course for that long, there's got to be something more to that, right?

Buzz Durkin

BUZZ: Well, I think a lot of teachers think of the martial arts, regardless of style, of being one dimensional, physical, develop that side kick, develop that armbar, develop that spinning back kick. It's multi-dimensional. My philosophy has always been that if through your physical curriculum, through the physical curriculum of doing the side kick, the punch, et cetera, if by doing that, if you can show your students or the people who are studying with you how to develop mental, emotional, and even spiritual strength, they'll stay with you forever.

And the reason is they need their mental strength. They need that emotional strength more than they need the physical strength out in the real world. I mean, what is a student more likely to use on a daily basis? A spinning back kick or courtesy or self-control? So, I think the secret for us has been that we're able to use our physical curriculum and, through the physical curriculum, make the students aware of the fact that it helps them mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When I say spiritually, I don't mean in a religious sense but in an attitudinal sense.

I think having an approach that is multi-dimensional, and everything's based on the physical curriculum that's why they come to us. That's why they do martial arts. They want to learn how to defend themselves, and that's critical. But that's not the end all be all if you want to keep students making it a part of their lives.

I think what happens is there's so much negativity out in the world. It can drain your batteries. It can make you whether you're an adult who has an obnoxious boss at work or whether you're a young person who's having a tough time in school, the outside world can drain your energy. I like to think of the people who come down to the dojo. It's recharged their batteries. Recharging.

Why are they being recharged? They're being recharged because they’re being in a supportive group. They're being with friendly people. They're being with cooperative people. They're being with people who want to get better like them, sharing the same goals, and that stuff doesn't get old. So physical alone gets old.

I'm the best bar in the dojo. I can beat everybody up in the dojo. So what? In the scheme of life, what does that mean? It's important to have those skills. I'm not saying that it isn't, but it doesn't get all that.

I need my self-control. Someone cut me off in traffic driving the car. Do I lose my temper, or can I take a deep breath? If a good teacher relates what's going on on the floor with these types of incidents outside the dojo, I think it's going to make people want to keep coming back. It's really a unique community that we all have.

It's more than lifting weights. It's more than going to the gym. It's a unique community where the body, the mind, and the spirit are all developed. And we all know this. I don't want to sound cliches, but it's important.

We have the ability to do that through our wonderful martial arts. The teachers that do that will find the students want to keep coming back to recharge their batteries. Keep coming back to recharge, and they'll use your dojo and your school as a place to do that. So that's what I have found, and that's what's worked well for us. So, it's not unusual on a Saturday morning for us to have 30 plus black belts, all of whom have been studying for at least 25 years.

And these aren't senseis. These are just people– adults who want to enjoy it. Another thing that happens when you take that approach is you develop a wonderful sense of community, a wonderful sense of, not to be too corny, but a wonderful sense of family. People like to come in and develop friendships over the years.

Some of the best friendships are through the dojo, coming to a class, and seeing my buddy I haven't seen in a week or a couple of nights. It's wonderful.

GEORGE: I love that. In a practical sense, we've got the direction; it's more about not so much about the physical, well, it is about the physical, but way more high level.

BUZZ: Physical plus.

GEORGE: Physical plus, right? So, let's talk about that plus, like, in a practical sense. Because you've got your curriculum, and you've got the things that you're teaching.  How, on a practical level, do you teach all that on the mats?

BUZZ: Well, let's suppose we have a student who we know is lacking in confidence. We work with that student in developing confidence and saying how important confidence is in life, et cetera.  So, when the students are ready, we set them up for success. We might have that student perform individually in front of the entire class. Set everyone off to the side and have the student do a particular technique, a different kata or kumite, or whatever.

And just by doing that, getting up in front of supportive, friendly, happy people, they gain confidence. Before that student would leave the middle of the floor, we'd say, “Now, that's the same confidence you can use in doing your sales project or your sales presentation tomorrow.”

Same thing with the kids. If someone's shy or introverted, we set them up so that they can come out of that shell a little by doing something, maybe in front of the class or in front of several of the teachers. And we always relate that to, “You can use that in school tomorrow, can't you?” or “You can use that at work. You see how easy you could do it?”

So, using the physical curriculum– and I don't want to sell that short. I mean, the students have to be in shape.  If you teach fluff, they'll never come back. But if you can teach something that'll stick with them, mind, body, spirit. It's like, I really believe we need– everyone needs to be charged up.

There's so much that will drain. It’s support from one student to another. One of my favorite sayings is, “As the individual gets better, the class gets better.  As the class gets better, the individual gets better.” It's a mutually symbiotic thing that the class gets better, and I'm a member of that class.

I can't help but get better physically, and mentally, showing more self-control. I mean, the self-control that a black belt may use working with a junior student, we articulate. That's the same self-control you're going to use X, Y, and Z outside the dojo, you know. The same type of fear that's overcome by sparring with someone in a safe way in the dojo is the same kind of fear you'll overcome when you have to do a project at work or things like that.

I know I sound like a broken record. I keep going back to it, but I think it's so important if, through your physical curriculum, you can develop it in your student’s physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional strength. We all need emotional strength. Let's face it. I think you'll be well-served, and students appreciate that. Students have become aware of how much the dojo has helped them, and even people who leave will come back.

I mean, this week alone, we had two black belts come back. One of whom has been away for 13 years. The other has been away for four years. So, they felt the need to get back into the camaraderie of the dojo, the support of the dojo, and the physical excellence of the dojo.

GEORGE: I love it. So, it's really subtle in a way you're teaching the physical, but always noticing where this applies in life.

BUZZ: Yes. Yes. And I think that's very important. It's my opinion. If it's just physical, physical is important, but if it's just physical, that's not a reason to keep a 45-year-old man who's been with, you know, it's got to be more than physical. Along with the physical. Am I making any sense?

GEORGE: Hundred percent. You apply. Talking Pasadena.  I invited you over to speak to our Partners’ group online, and they were really thankful for that.  Again, Buzz, you were the favorite of the event. I just got to tell you that.

BUZZ: You say that to everyone.

GEORGE: No. Well, you know, I've got to say, like, I know, I know. I know, we don't have egos in martial arts, right?

BUZZ: We martial artists don't have any ego, right?

GEORGE: No. Nothing. Not at all. But when you put up a three-day event, and you put in all the effort, and you hear that, you know, you weren’t the favorite, it's something that you've got to process. I'm kidding. But yeah, our members were really thankful for you sharing all the strategies and philosophies. One thing that stuck was a three-step process that you use within awareness and taking action. Do you mind sharing that?

BUZZ: Yeah, we call it AAA theory, and you have an awareness of what's going on, an appreciation for what's going on, and you take action. I think it's so important to be aware of what's going on at your school. Don't hide behind a desk. Don't hide in the office with the door locked. Having an awareness of what's going on. By the way, isn't that what we teach? We teach awareness on how to become more aware. So, awareness, appreciation, and action.

Our teachers are always looking for reasons to do that. That I used was, and this was not too long ago, I walked by the men's changing room before a class, and one of our students, who's been with us for a while, said, “I bought a new truck.”  My ears picked up, and he was talking to his buddies in the changing room about how he's got this new truck. He's so thrilled with it. He's so happy with it. It's beautiful.

So, we came out to the dojo, and before class started, I said, “Hey, congratulations on your new truck. I heard you got a new truck.” “Oh, I did, Mr. Durkin. It was great.” I appreciated the fact that he was so enthusiastic about it, that he told his buddies about it, and that he was very excited about it. So, I showed an appreciation.

I said, “Congratulations. Good for you. I think that's wonderful.” Before I went home that night, I took out one of my little note cards and said– no, but I take it back. I took out one of my note cards and I said, “Congratulations, Dave, on your new truck.” The next morning, I went up to the local gas station up the street, and I got him a $50 gift card for a tank full of gas. Nowadays, a quarter tank full of gas.

I sent that $50 gift certificate with my personal little note, and I just wrote, “Happy motoring.” An old expression, happy motoring, and sent it off to him. And when he came in next week, he was telling everybody, “Oh my God. Look at what Mr. Durkin did. Look at the dojo did.” And I thought he was just so appreciative.

Now, here's the other side of the coin. He's a third-degree black belt. He's been with me a long time. His two children are junior black belts.  All the income they have paid to the dojo. What's $50? It's like nothing. It was a no-brainer. It's $50 out of pocket versus thousands of dollars that he's paid on martial arts training for his children.

Another example is awareness.  Not a class goes by.  I'm not teaching a junior class, for instance, and I'll still go out and shake hands with all the parents. I think that's critical. I welcome them like I'd welcome them if they came to my house.  And I saw a mother whose younger sibling was sitting next to her, who's not a student.

Her brother was on the floor as a youngster. And the mother said to me, “Look at little Joanie, she just got a Kindness Award. A Kindness Award from her class at her elementary school.” And I said, “That's great little Joanie. Congratulations.” I had an awareness. I was glad I found out about that. I showed appreciation for it.

I said, “That's very meaningful. That's what martial arts is about, too, being kind to people.” And before I went home for the night, I wrote a little note saying to Joanie care of her parents, of course. And I said, “Congratulations on getting your Kindness Award. That's wonderful.” Two, or three sentences.

Well, you would have thought the next time they came in that they won an Academy Award, you know, that the mother was thrilled and it was so nice. It's very interesting. I'm a strong believer in handwritten notes.  What do we get in the mail? In America, we get bills, junk mail, and very little personal mail.

What we have found is when we send out these notes, so often they end up on the home refrigerator, tacked to the refrigerator for everyone to see.  I call it the AAA, where you have an awareness of what's going on outside the school with your students and appreciate it. Take an appreciation for it even though it may not be that big a deal to you, and that's no good unless you take action and acknowledge it. I think we do a pretty good job of doing that, along with AAA theory – awareness, appreciation, and action.

GEORGE: It feels like the personal note always loops into this strategy, right? It’s always the thank you, the appreciation part. The action and appreciation part is always based on showing appreciation through physical notes. Almost always?

BUZZ: Almost always. I mean, depending on the situation. We'll make phone calls.  George, this is going to sound really weird, and I don't want people listening to think I'm too weird, but it's not unusual. On certain students’ birthdays, we'll call them up and have two or three members of the staff sing birthday to them.

GEORGE: That's epic.

BUZZ: Just why? Because it's fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. I think it’s important to be self-deprecating. Through cards, through phone calls, through messages, through private messages. I don’t think you can communicate too much, and I think you should not be afraid of communicating with your students. Everyone likes to feel special. You like to feel special, I'm sure.

I like to feel special. Every opportunity you have to make your student feel special, he's going to reaffirm the fact that, “Man, am I glad I'm here?”  I think every teacher who's teaching martial arts has the opportunity to make their students feel special. I'm not talking about rah-rah, way participation awards, yeah, yeah, yeah.

I'm talking about balancing that with something of substance, something that could save someone's life, something that could keep somebody out of trouble, and a place where someone develops so much confidence in themselves that they never have a need to fight. You can develop a place where they have so much confidence in themselves and they're having a great time doing it.

The students will just stay.  Again, I'll keep going back to multi-dimensional. Now, I come from very traditional styles called Uechi-Ryū, UECHI, Uechi-Ryū, it's an Okinawan style of karate. We have four kumites, two-person pre-arranged drills, and we have eight kata.

And that's all we have. That's what we do. But we're able to integrate all these things into what's happening outside the dojo walls than what's happening inside the dojo walls. You know, what's important and to keep people coming back is your belief as the sensei in what you do. Your belief in what you do.

The students, if they see something in you, they like. If they see something in you, they admire. If they see something in you, some skill that they want to have, and they realize that you got that skill through the curriculum you're teaching them, they'll buy into it.

GEORGE: Very cool.  I love it. I want to check just more about a little bit going into your history because I was looking– I saw that you opened your first martial arts school in ‘74. That's a good three years before I arrived on Earth. So, it goes back.

It feels like you've got this such a strong, obviously devotion to your martial arts, but then it feels like these traditions have– it's very simple what you do, but you do it so elegantly and with such focus and it's obviously just paid off heaps and bounds to your success in the industry and, mind, body, and spirit.

Where does all this originate from? Is it coming all the way back to the roots that this evolved from, or maybe I can ask it in a different way, and that is, where does Buzz Durkin get recharged?

BUZZ: Well, that's very interesting. I started my training in 1966, and times were very different then. Martial arts schools were small, dingy, dirty, and if you wanted to really train, you'd have to go up onto the fourth floor of a building to get to the dojo. You know, no one rented space on the first floor. It was too expensive, and it always bugged me that the martial arts schools were like that.

No showers, no good facilities.  They weren't ventilated properly. And yet health clubs at the time were springing up all over America and beautiful facilities. And why can't a martial arts school be like that? One of my missions was to build our own school and have it built to custom to our design and make it a place where a student would be proud to come. A place where a student would be proud to show their friends. This is where I work out.

In 1974, I opened the dojo. For 14 years, we rented a space of about 1800 square feet with the goal of someday building our own school. That dream came true in 1988. We built our own freestanding building, 8,000 square feet. It's beautiful. It's got hardwood floors, showers, locker rooms, the whole thing

Thirty-five years later – in 1988, it still holds up. People come in, and they think it's a new building.  I know, George, how much martial arts training helped me.  I know how much it helped me and what it's done for me in my life. And if I can give back just a fraction of that to even one student, I will consider my mission as a success.

I know how much it's helped me and what it's done for me and, as time has gone on, how it's enabled me to make a wonderful living, and, if I can have that happen to the students who study with me, that'd be great. You know, one thing I'm very proud of is that we have an association. 12 of my senior students own their own dojos. They make a wonderful living teaching. They're all professional martial artists, and it's just a wonderful thing to see. We all get together for seminars, black belt testing, and social events.  You know, I don't know. It's like everyone listening to this call: you love martial arts.

And in my opinion, there's nothing better than it. So, what got Buzz Durkin? I know how much it did for me when I grew up. I grew up in an upper-middle-class family, never got into fights, never got into– never was troublesome. I went into the service for a couple of years because I had to because everyone was doing it at that time. I just thought martial arts training karate would be something good to know as I go off into the military.

I never had a dream that I'd be doing it full-time 50-something years later. That's what happened, and I don't regret one single day of it.

GEORGE: Amazing. Buzz, before we wrap things up, I want to ask you about your book, Success is Waiting: The Martial Arts School Owner's Guide to Teaching, Business, and Life. I actually wanted to have a copy in my hand, but I don't.  It's in the mail.  There we go.  I love it.

BUZZ: I always have a copy of the book around somewhere.

GEORGE: Can you share a bit? What is in the book, and what are the philosophies around that? Knowing what I know of just being in your presence for two of your talks, is that sort of the foundation of the book, or tell us more about the book?

BUZZ: The book is a hundred percent truisms and all anecdotal stories that I have, anecdotal stories that I’ve learned, that I've lived through during the past, at the time I wrote the book several years ago, forty plus years of teaching and working with people, working with different people. The first part of the book is loaded with anecdotal stories that I'm sure every martial arts teacher has experienced.

I talk about how I dealt with that anecdotal experience and what it taught me. And how I learned about human nature because of this anecdotal experience that I had at the dojo. Another section of the dojo goes to examples of great customer service, how to be aware, and how to be appreciative.

We have a section there on outstanding student service. The last section is basically on running the business and techniques and skills to acquire a successful dojo, whether saving a certain percentage of your income every month or planning ahead. It's basically a little bit of my starts, my history of what got me interested in the martial arts, anecdotal stories that have happened through the years, student service tips, and, quite frankly, business tips

And, you know, one of the things that got me, it keeps me excited is I started my karate training in 1966 with George Mattson. I don't know if that name rings a bell. He was the first American to receive a black belt in weight in Okinawan Karate, Uechi-Ryū Karate, and believe it or not, he's 86 years old. He's still teaching two or three times a week down in Florida.

I still have my original teacher after all these years, which I think is, I'm very proud of. He's been an inspiration to me. I think primarily what I've learned from him is perseverance. You know, when we went ahead to– and my dream was to build our own school.

I was mocked and laughed at. Realtors, “You're crazy. You'll never get alone. You'll never get that kind of money to run a karate school.” In those days, karate schools were little storefronts, you know. You could roll up the rug, take down the heavy bag, and be gone

And from my teacher, primarily perseverance. Stick with what you want to do. Believe in what you want to do. Don't listen to the naysayers. I think that's great advice for every martial arts dojo owner.

If you want something, go for it. There's nothing that can hold you back except your own personal beliefs.  We teach people to believe in yourself and be self-confident. We have to be that. We can't be afraid to ask for X amount of dollars for tuition and say, “This is the greatest thing you'll ever do.”

And the lack of confidence to say, “This is what I should charge fairly.” That makes any sense. The other thing that I find as time goes on and we're celebrating our 50th anniversary, and I think all true martial artists will find this to be true, it's a joyful experience, and it gets more joyful as time goes by because you understand it more. The more you understand it, the happier it makes you.

I really believe that if a young school owner is out there, keep at it, stick with it, and plow through it. It's a wonderful experience, and we can do so much good for our communities by running a proper martial arts school. You can help so many people. It's just a wonderful, wonderful thing. I'm pretty excited about it.

GEORGE: I love it. I’m really glad that you mentioned charging your worth because I really feel you do a disservice when you don't charge your worth; where you might be.

BUZZ: I agree. A hundred percent, yeah.

GEORGE: –where you might be thinking you're doing people a favor, but you're not, because it's just true that when people pay, they pay attention. When they pay more, they value it more. You know, it can't be the best thing in the world if I'm paying next to nothing for it. So, there's got to be– it's got a way up; the financial, what I invest has got a way up with the quality of service that I'm getting.

Buzz Durkin

BUZZ: Yeah. Yes. If you don't charge– if you charge a pittance, that shows you the value you think of it. I mean, I get that so many times when I talk to especially young school owners, “Well, I really should be charging more.” Well, charge more and make it worth, you know. But one little tip that we do whenever we have a tuition increase, whenever we do, we add some value to the program, whether it's an upgrade in the changing rooms, whether it's an advanced, an extra class, whether it's a more private lesson or whatever.

So, we never go up on tuition without adding some value to what's going on here.  But I think it's sad when teachers will think that, “This is the best thing since sliced bread. It's great. We have the best program, but I can't charge that. That's too much. I can't charge that.”

And a lot of times, people don't understand how they should charge. They pick a number out of the air and say, “That's a good number.” That's not the way to do it, you know. You write down your pros and cons, your expenses, your income, what you need to run, not only your school but your household, and come up with a figure.

If I have a hundred students, I have to charge this. If I have 300 students, I have to charge this to cover expenses, et cetera.  We add so much to the community. The martial arts school deserves to make a good living. Deserves to make a good living. Every bit as important as any doctor in the community, as any lawyer in the community, as any CPA in the community.

And they don't do half of what the good that we do. I would encourage every school owner, especially new school owners, to be bold and, you know, back up what you say by charging what is fair, right? People will appreciate that.  People will appreciate that.

And I think, probably the highest tuition around, we have probably the biggest school around. You said it earlier. If you charge something the fair price of value, people will value it. You know, as historically, as I look, when our tuition went up, our retention got better. Isn't that strange? People valued it more, you know.

GEORGE: There's a famous copywriter, Dan Kennedy. I don't know if you've read any of his books.

BUZZ: Yes, I know who he is. Yes.

GEORGE: Right. Dan Kennedy's philosophy on pricing is you're only strategic, competitive edge in the market is to be the most expensive, not the second most expensive, not the third, but the most. And when you're the most expensive, then you've set yourself as a category of one because why are you the most expensive? Then people start to ask questions, and it's like, if you had to walk into a Mercedes motor garage versus a Kia, they are both great vehicles; they both get you from A to B, but Mercedes is probably going to have a nicer floor.

Salespeople are maybe going to be dressed more professionally. It's going to be a different level of experience. You're going to get a feel of the experience. Because you're going to

BUZZ: That is so true. Bingo. A hundred percent. That is so articulated well. That's very, very, very true.

GEORGE: Awesome.

BUZZ: We have a wonderful thing going on. I know you do a tremendous amount of good through your teachings and the opportunities you present to other school owners, so kudos to you. It’s a wonderful thing that we do, and let's keep doing it

GEORGE: I love it. Well, Buzz, thanks so much for hanging out. I much appreciate your time and it's always a pleasure to be in your presence and learning from you and your philosophies. I walk away and recharged, so that's amazing. Where can people-

BUZZ: Well, thank you. Go ahead.

GEORGE: Sorry. Where can people go and learn about you and if they want to reach out to you if that's an option?

BUZZ: If anyone wants to talk to me, they can reach out to me. I'd be happy to talk to any school owners. If you're interested in my philosophy and stuff, the book is on Amazon, and it’s done pretty well, actually.  I value our friendship very much. It was a pleasure meeting you for the first time, and every time I meet with you, I like you more. So, everything's good.

GEORGE: That's awesome. Amazing. Buzz, thanks so much. Have a great evening, and I’ll speak to you soon.

BUZZ: My pleasure. Thank you very much for the opportunity. Bye bye.

GEORGE: Bye.

How epic was that? Did you get some value and some insight from Buzz Durkin? What is the one thing that you can grab from this and implement in your school today?  Reach out to me wherever you find me on social, on Facebook, look me up, or shoot me an email at george@martialartsmedia.com, and let me know what is the one thing that you got from this.

I would love to know, and if you got a lot of value out of this, do me a favor, and please share it with one of your martial arts friends, an instructor, a school owner, and even better if you can tag me where you do that, I will give you all the praise for sharing this episode and passing on the magic.

All right. Thanks so much for tuning in. Remember martialartsmedia.com/147. You'll find the show notes and all the videos that we spoke about right at the beginning of all the black belts, and if you need help growing and scaling your martial arts school, we have a great community. We call Partners where we get together every week, we mastermind and share some awesome marketing strategies, business growth strategies, and so forth.

If you want to know more, reach out to our website, go to our website, martialartsmedia.com/scale. This is a short little form. Tell me a bit about yourself, what you have going on, what you're working on, and where you're stuck, and I'll reach out and see if we can be of help.

All right. Thanks so much. I'll see you in the next episode. Cheers.


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

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


IN THIS EPISODE:

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

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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