Demos that Enroll Students

For years, our demo team worked hard and put on some memorable demonstrations. 10 years later, one prospect even remembered that I was the instructor dressed as one of the “ninjas” in a demonstration and beat up Elmo.

Although we entertained the crowd enough so that someone remembered it a decade later, we did not enroll a single person from that Elmo demo!

The reason is we put on a REACTIVE demonstration. We entertained the crowd, and then all our instructors, parents, and demo team members passed out flyers. We were waiting for the prospects to call us, hence, the term REACTIVE. We made the assumption that they would be motivated to join after witnessing our skill in the demo.

In order for us to schedule an intro from demos using that strategy, those flyers that we passed out at the end had to:
1. Make it home (in most cases, they didn’t even make it to the car!), 
2. Then they had to find your flyer and call your school

We can’t expect that all to happen, so have to get PROACTIVE in our demonstration enrollment strategies. There are THREE parts to a proactive demonstration, and one of them cannot be ignored if you want to enroll new students. They are:

  • Encourage Audience Participation.

We want to get the audience to be impressed with our teaching skills and the benefits of the school rather than entertained by a skit or flashy performance.

Exciting board breaks or flying kicks are great as a demo opener to gain attention and as a closer to end on a high note, but neither showcase your teaching. The best way we can demonstrate our skill as a teacher, is to pull people right from the audience, and get them involved by taking them through the first intro or trial lesson just as though they were in your school.

This gives us a chance to impress the parents in the crowd. Our goal would be to get them to think, “Wow… Look how my son responds to that teacher… I can’t believe he got my Johnny to stand up straight! Look how he communicates with the kids…. what a good teacher. Wow, that demo team is disciplined! I want my kid to be like that.”

I still think that performing a great martial arts demonstration is important to attract attention and create a crowd of people watching.

But that approach doesn’t result in new students. 

I suggest using a wireless PA system to amplify your voice, and pull everyone within hearing distance to your demo (especially for outdoor demos).

Teach a simple technique, in an entertaining fashion. Mix the classroom atmosphere of discipline with humor and fun. This transition between drill instructor and clown keeps your prospects on their toes, and entertains the audience.

Here are some of the techniques I used to teach in demos, broken down by the prospect’s age:

* Preschool age (3-5): front kick from a standing straight position           

* Junior kids (6-8): front kick from a sparring or front stance           

* Senior Kids/ Teens (9-15): Jab, Cross, Hook, Uppercut Combo           

* Adults (16 and up): Jab, Cross, Hook, Uppercut in self defense

In the teaching portion of your demo, getting each student to perform each technique perfectly is not as  important as the way you communicate with the kids, and how quickly you instill discipline while keeping their attention. Motion creates emotion so keep moving while teaching, and vary the tone, pitch, volume, and speed in which you speak.

While the kids are learning the move, pull the parents out to hold a pad, count, or motivate their kids. Then dismiss all the kids, and teach the parents! Remember our goal is to get everyone involved instead of putting the audience in a passive, watch-only state.

Note: Before starting the audience participation part of the demo, I would announce the BABFAD, and tell the crowd that anyone who participates in the teaching part of the demo, gets to try to break a board for free.

  • Schedule the Appointment AT THE DEMO

Let’s not wait for them to contact you. Give each instructor/ employee that is trained to schedule appointments a clipboard, and have them schedule the prospect for the VERY NEXT intro appointment, preferably within 48 hours. It doesn’t matter whether you do semi-private or group intros.. You can see group intro strategies here.

For large demos, it is inevitable that a few prospects will slip through the cracks, but in order to minimize this, you will need some help. In addition to having at least one other employee/ assistant instructor available to help schedule appointments, I used to have what I called, “blockers,” that would make contact with, and talk to prospects before they can sneak away. The blocker would introduce the prospect to you, or whoever is helping schedule the appointment.

My blockers were under orders not to allow anyone to leave without at least, “Meeting the Master.” This is similar to how some car dealerships make the prospect meet the sales manager before leaving without buying.

Have your demo team hand out low cost flyers, and introduce or direct prospects to the “blockers.” Have your blockers give out medium cost, color brochures, and introduce prospects to you, or those scheduling appointments. but be careful, it’s is easy to fall back into a reactive mode if we begin to rely on those flyers and wait for people to approach us. We have to take the lead and initiate the conversation proactively. Treat these converstions and introductions just like any other inquiry. The goal is to set the appointment.

  • Create URGENCY

We have to keep in mind that these people did not intend to commit to attending an intro lesson when they came to the mall, or carnival or wherever they saw your demo. So there has to be some financial incentive for parents and adult students, and some additional incentive for kids.

Again, I recommend doing the BABFAD (Break a Board For a Dollar), because it creates urgency.  Click here to watch the BABFAD.

Another option is to offer the intro course free of charge if they enroll that day at the demo. If they are still unsure,, schedule a tentative appointment and you will call them the evening before just to confirm.

In a worst case scenario you can just ask them for their info, and call them the next day. If they give you that info they can still get the intro class(es) for free.

Simply putting on the old, traditional demo, in a reactive fashion, may “woo” the crowd, but will produce few, if any enrollments. In order to turn all those hot leads into prospects, and ultimately into students, we need to take a PRO-active approach, that needs to have all three of these factors: Encourage audience participation