It Is The Best Of Things. It Is The Worst Of Things. 

The best thing about Craigslist is that it’s free. The worse thing about Craigslist is that it’s free. Because CL is free, advertisers tend to write ads that target the lower end of the market. You may have tried CL before and didn’t get anything except for emails from spambots.

I’m going to share with you some rules that will give your ad a much better chance of creating students instead of spam. Then we’re going to take a look at a couple of good CL ad examples of marketing martial arts lessons on craigslist.

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MATA’s Rules for Marketing Martial Arts Lessons on Craigslist

Rule One
No PRICES
Before you choke on your coffee, understand that when you advertise price, you create the impression that your price is the best thing about the offer.

Here are three reasons why that is a bad idea:
a. The people who seek martial arts based upon price are usually not ideal students.
b. Reducing the value of your school to price creates a simple measuring tool that tire kickers will compare to other schools. That is not how you want to be measured.
c. Your goal is to stoke the flames of curiosity not condense your entire story into a short ad and a price.

Rule Two
Include Testimonials
Nothing creates trust and comfort like social proof. We live in a review based economy.

Rule Three
Stand Out Instantly
Most martial arts ads on CL simply state Karate Classes for Kids-$19.95. Join Now! or some desperate variation of this.

Stand out with something like:
We Will Teach Your Child How to be Assertive and Confident
Find Out Why These Moms Love OUR School
We’re the Easy Way to Get in Shape and Enjoy the Process
Or, copy the headline from any of the MATA ads.

Rule Four
Use as Many GOOD Images as You Can
Include as many images of real happy, smiling students and parents as you can. Avoid using stock images that are on every ad or website.

IMPORTANT: Label the images with your major style and city. For instance, clearwater-kenpo.jpg, karate-kids-clearwater.jpg, kickboxing-fitness-clearwater.jpg

Rule Five
Email Capture
Have a link to a great looking website with an Email Capture. All of our Ultimate MATA websites have email capture and a downloadable report on How to Choose a Martial Arts School.

Rule Six
Renew the Ad
You can go into your CL account and “Renew” the ad which will move it back to the top of your category.
The most popular category for martial arts lessons is Lessons / Tutoring. Local News and Events are also effective. This leads us to the final rule.

Rule Seven
Test What You Do

Once you establish your first ad, make changes ONLY to one aspect of it when you renew it.
a. Write and post your ad.
b. Renew it until it has run for a week.
c. Make a change for V2. Only one. Headline. Offer. Main image. Whatever, but just one change.
d. Compare that to the original, V1. If the results are much better for V2, make a change to the new ad (V3) and see how it measures against V2. If the results are not as good, for V2, return to V1 and make another change to V1. This way, V1 is your control ad. V1 is the ad all others are measured against.

That’s it. As usual, there is always more that can be done, but for now this is a great start to building your FREE Craigslist campaigns.


John Graden
John Graden

John Graden is widely credited with leading the martial arts school business into the modern age. He is the founder of the first successful professional association and trade journal. MA Success editor John Corcoran first called him a “visionary” in 1995. Martial Arts World magazine dubbed him, The Teacher of Teachers. Mr. Graden’s leadership was recognized in many mainstream media outlets including a cover story on the Wall Street Journal, documentaries on A&E Network, and as a guest on the Dr. Oz Show and many others.