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Marketing Martial Arts Lessons on Craigslist

by | Offline Marketing & Sales

Setting Expectations for Martial Arts Students Upfront

Authority is highly influenced by emotion.

While your staff and students may intellectually understand that you are the boss and master instructor, they have to feel it, not think it.

It’s the emotional connection that anchors your authority on a deep level.

If there is one powerful moment in your role as a professional martial arts instructor, it’s in the enrollment conference.

While the parents may see you as the master black belt, they usually don’t have an authoritative reverence at this early stage.

The enrollment conference is a seminal moment for you to establish your authority and gain the respect and gratitude of the family you’re dealing with.

Presenting the programs and their cost to parents can be tense at times. Some parents want to negotiate. Others might object to the agreement. Some want a safety net in case their child wants to quit.

While it’s important that you are prepared to overcome any objections, it’s when the bottom line is signed and the initial investment is completed that you have a critical window to demonstrate your authority.

Many owners complete the transaction and gush with statements like, “Awesome. It’s great to have you on board. Johnny, you did an awesome job tonight. High five! Thanks Mrs. Jones it’s great to have Johnny as part of our family. Let me know if I can help with anything.”


Who has the role of authority here? Mrs. Jones and her credit card. That was a missed opportunity.

Let’s try again. You would adjust this script to the age and circumstance, but here is an authority template for the enrollment conference.

Mom has just enrolled Johnny into the program.

You, “Johnny. You want to learn Empower Kickboxing, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. I want you to understand that your mom just enrolled you into a six month program. You are going to learn a lot of great skills and lessons. It’s going to be fun and sometimes it’s going to be hard. That’s the good part because that means you’re learning. So you have to pay attention and practice at home 20-minutes a day when you don’t have class.

Are you going to work hard and practice?”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m glad. Your classes are Monday and Wednesday at 5pm. When are your classes?”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“Good. You’re a smart guy. That means that you have to be ready to come to class by 4:30 on Monday and Wednesdays so that you’re not late. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you are doing, you will be ready by 4:30, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. The first lesson is integrity. Integrity means that you do what you say you are going to do. You keep your promises. You promise to work hard and be ready for class, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“No matter what you’re doing. Right?”

“Yes sir.”

“Great. We’re going to be so proud of you. Your mom just enrolled you, so please turn to her and say, ‘Thank you mom.”

“Thank you mom.”

“Alright. When someone does something good for you, you always say thank you. That’s called gratitude. What’s it called?”


“Correct. So you’ve learned two important lessons today. Integrity and gratitude. What does integrity mean?

“Keeping your promises.”

“Yes. What does gratitude mean?”

“Saying thank you.”

“You got it! You are going to do great, I can tell already.”

“Remember, your class is…”

“Monday and Wednesday at 5pm.”

“When will you be ready to come to class?”


“You have a good head on your shoulders Johnny. You’re going to be good at this.”

“Because you’ve showed your mom gratitude and you’re going to keep your promises, here is a school t-shirt for you to wear. Every time you put it on, I want you to think of integrity and gratitude. Will you do that?”

“Yes sir.”

“I just gave you a shirt. How do you show gratitude?”

“Thank you sir.”

As taught in the MATA Certification program, it’s also a good idea to let mom know that it’s important that she control what Johnny is doing around 4:30 which is the agreed upon to be ready for class.

If Johnny is playing with his friends or deep in a video game, it’s going to be harder to get him to get ready than if he is cleaning his bedroom or something he’d like to leave to go to class.

Keep in mind that mom is watching this happen before her eyes. What have you done to establish your authority?

  1. You’ve provided her with a language pattern that both her and Johnny understand. This is huge.
  2. You’ve given mom the “integrity” framework to deal with any reluctance to go to class.
  3. You’ve provided her with a strategy to engage Johnny in less fun activities so that going to class is an easy decision.
  4. You’ve laid out when Johnny should get ready for class without complaint.
  5. Before her eyes, you taught her son important lessons with real world examples. No doubt, your authority sky-rocketed in her eyes and in her heart.

Look for places where you can make these kinds of strong emotional connections.

Demonstrate true authority and leadership. That will last much longer than a trite, shallow compliments like “Awesome! Good job.”

This will help your students to understand how and why they are training with the best school.

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.

MATA’s Rules for Marketing Martial Arts Lessons on Craigslist

Rule One
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.

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