The New First Impression
The first impression you give to a prospect most likely will be your website. We know that over 70% of people search locally online and half of those searches are on Smartphone’s. If your regular site and your mobile site do not look good, then you’ve blown the critical first impression.
In many cases, the prospect has formed an impression based upon the online experience, so it’s important that both the online and brick-and-mortar locations are congruent and reflect each other well. If your site looks great and your office is a mess or the business needs remodeling, you’re creating barriers rather than eliminating them.
Studies show men form an opinion based on the first impression within 20 seconds, while women get there in 15. Those impressions speak to your prospects whether you know it or not. Make sure the message is the one you want them to receive.
On your own turf, you should have no problem setting yourself apart from the competitors in your city. From the prospects’ perspective, you and your competitors are the same unless something clearly sets one apart.
One of the most effective ways to win the perception battle is to look at the space inside and near your business as being made up of marketing ‘zones.’
Zone maximization is the planned, strategic use of the physical areas in and around your business. We will spend some time on these zones to increase business and revenues by influencing your business’ impression and using specific promotional messages or visuals in each zone.
It’s a common affliction among martial arts school owners to complain that the biggest school in town is a belt factory McDojo and that the reason someone else is better known is because of his or her tournament record or that they teach a style that is more popular. None of this is true and to even use these excuses is a cop out for underperformance.
If you really want to become well known in your area, you can’t hide in your school and complain that no one has discovered you. You have to get out and go to work. The good news is that odds are no one else in your town will do what I am going to describe, so you can quickly become the martial arts celebrity in your town, if you are willing to follow these steps.
You are one of the most unique business people in your community. Few people work in a business with the exotic allure and appeal of the martial arts. This is a huge advantage, but only if you take advantage of it.
The essence of marketing is communication. Your ability to communicate in an effective, emotional and consistent manner will determine much of your success. Rather than risk hard earned dollars in paid advertising, I suggest your invest the time and effort into developing one or more 20-minute presentations on various aspects of the martial arts as you teach it and then get in front of as many audiences as you can each week.
The martial arts offers so many benefits that you can tailor a presentation to virtually any group. Self defense alone can be Self Defense for Children; Self Defense for Seniors; Self Defense for Executives; Self Defense for Teachers; Martial Arts Fitness; Martial Arts Attitudes of Success: How Martial Arts Builds Strong Families; the list goes on and on.
I used to teach a Disciplines of Success seminar for sales people. I was paid $500 for the first seminar. The company loved it, doubled my pay and booked six more.
However, this is not about earning money as a speaker, though you can in time. This is about getting your name in the community by learning to write and speak and then getting in front of as many audiences as you can. Your pay will be in new students. Every community has clubs, organizations and events that are actively seeking speakers just like you. Rotary Clubs, Kwianis Clubs, The Optimist Clubs, Schools, Churches, Boy Scouts, Apartment Committees, Awards Dinners and other similar venues not only offer captive audiences but often the organizers and attendees are some of the movers and shakers in your community. Not only can they bring you students but they will help you build your name and reputation once they hear you and believe in what you do.
We have 32 mini-speeches in Teaching that will help stimulate your thinking for what you want to present. But, the point is to simply start booking these presentations today. If you want to become well known in your town, you have to make the effort to get your name out there. Take full advantage of the unique opportunity you have as a black belt expert to get in front of audiences and spread the good word about your school and what you teach.
A classic branding story involves a letter being mailed and successfully delivered to the Playboy mansion in Chicago in the early 1960s. The envelope had no address on it; the only thing on the envelope was the iconic Playboy bunny logo. That is branding.
Hugh Hefner is a master of branding personally and professionally. While Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson all have powerful professional brands, Hefner effectively wove his personal and professional brands together.
Professional branding is the communication of what a client or customer will experience when interacting and, hopefully, doing business with your company.
Branding is not about pleasing everyone in every case. Wal-Mart has a brand that is totally different than Nordstrom’s. They sell plenty of the same items, but the experience in each is totally different. Apple’s OS X and Microsoft’s Windows operating systems are both successful, but they have completely different brands and fans.
• Professionally designed marketing materials (logo, stationery, ads, etc.)
- Professional Website with Mobile
- Cleanliness of your facility
- Level of client or customer service
- Consistency of your marketing on and offline
- Consistency of colors and look on and offline
- Consistency in how your staff treats clients
- Updated bio
• Updated professionally shot headshot
As with personal branding, your professional brand is loud and clear every day. Take control of that message and build a brand you can be proud of.
These Things Demonstrate That You Value What You Do:
1. Your Black Belt Club is only for students who have committed to earn their black belt.
2. Your black belt exam process includes extra classes and opportunities to train for black belt candidates.
3. You have a professionally designed logo and marketing materials.
4. You indoctrinate the student from day one on the value of earning a black belt.
5. You keep a very clean school and replace worn equipment.
6. You have systems for every aspect of your school.
7. You use agreements instead of a month-to-month option.
8. You fail students who do not perform to the standards of the rank.
9. You study and train like a student for life.
10. You realize you can’t be the best and the cheapest, so you commit to being the best.
The most successful school owners highly value what they do… and it shows in every aspect of their school.
A personal brand works best when it is an authentic, congruent, and consistent representation of you.
In this context, congruency means that your actions reflect your values. If you value honesty but are prone to gossip, exaggeration, or lying to protect yourself, you’re incongruent. If you intellectually value good health but are overweight and out of shape, you’re not living in congruency.
Congruency also leads to consistency. From your dress habits to how you speak to people, you always represent your brand. How you represent it is the concern.
Just as a company uses its brand to attach a certain personality and uniqueness to the products it sells, your personal brand comprises the qualities and unique traits you relay about yourself. Your personal brand represents the way you want other people to think about you. It also conveys how you think of you. Remember, your brand is loud and clear every day. It’s up to you to take control of that communication and transform into the person you want to be.