Martial Arts Marketing–Getting Testimonials


Make it part of your weekly To Do list to look for any opportunity to get in front of audiences to speak, teach, and demonstrate your art. My personal record is 52 demos in 30 days.

I’ve done demos in bank lobbies, in cinema in front of the screen, and at parties where I stood up on a chair and asked everyone to quiet down so they could enjoy our demo. They did and I scored at least 3 long-term students out of that gig. One of them actually bought my school two-years later when I created NAPMA.

Last Friday, I taught two-hour a seminar on Presentation Skills to a group of estate planning attorneys.

When you teach a special class, appear on a media program, or even do a demo, always ask for a testimonial from the host. To make it easier on that person, write the testimonial for him or her. 

Here is what I wrote to the host attorney. “Would you be so kind as to provide me with a testimonial? To make it easy for you, I thought something like this might work…” I followed with a testimonial from him that I wrote. What I submitted is in lower-case below. He added the ALL CAPS test himself.

“John Graden’s presentation skills workshop was excellent. I loved it as did the other attendees I spoke with. He made learning fun with a great mixture of education and entertainment.  I HAVE ATTENDED OTHER SUCH WORKSHOPS, AND HAVE RECEIVED ONE-ON-ONE COACHING, BUT JOHN’S WORKSHOP ADDED MUCH TO MY CONFIDENCE AND FUTURE ENJOYMENT OF SPEAKING, AND INTERACTING WITH OTHERS. I MORE THAN HIGHLY recommend it for any professional.” Alan Gassman, P.A. 

When you write a testimonial to submit, go easy on the adjectives. After the event, the host sent me a note saying, “Great job! I loved it and so did the others. Come back and do an NLP seminar next time.”

Because, he used the words, “loved it” and “great” I was comfortable feeding them back in his testimonial. Had he not used used those words, I would have not included them.

Another martial arts business leader who uses demos and community outreach to grow schools is Greg Silva. He has special strategies to recruit new students on the spot at these events.

This is all part of his Pillars of Marketing program and it works. Listen to Greg explain it here:

Greg Silva Interviews

A Major Influence for Enrolling More Students

I’ve said for decades that no one cares what style you teach but you. There is no better proof of this than the proliferation of social media. If you are interested in enrolling more students, read this carefully.

The Review Economy

We live in a review economy. Search the web as I have and look for reviews of martial arts schools that say, “I was looking for XYZ-Style and glad I found this place. Five stars for teaching XYZ-Style!”

Real reviews reflect what the market is looking for and expecting. Real reviews read more like, “Sensei Ford has a tremendous amount of patience (more than I could ever have with a group of 6-9-year-olds!).”

That is from an actual review for a traditional school that has 45 five star reviews on Yelp. Check it out at the end of this article.

A Powerful Driver of New Students Today

If you are not focused on reviews, you are leaving one of the most powerful drivers of enrolling more students to chance. That is a dangerous path to tread.

Studies show that consumers will spend 20% more for a business that has a majority of 5 and 4-star reviews. Wouldn’t you?

How to Get Good Reviews without Penalty

Google, Bing and other search engines know that businesses will try to scam the reviews either by soliciting reviews or posting negative reviews on competitor’s sites. If you get caught, you get whacked. Google can stop ranking your site and any other Google properties your business uses.

The good news is that it’s not that hard to gain control of your reviews in a compliant process.

Bad Review Strategies

  • Writing fake reviews for your school
  • Paying a third party to post fake reviews, posing as a customer.
  • Getting too many reviews at once. They may trip filters at the review sites that will cause the reviews to be deleted.
  • Bribing 5-star reviews for a reward

Good Review Strategies

  • Link to your review sites from your website with a Review Us page.
  • Include listings for review sites in your printed material
  • Include a Review Us in your email signature
  • Here is a great tool to create professional looking review requests

Review Generator Handout

Kaizen Dojo


Ever Had Too Many White Belts in Class?

Have you ever had a white belt class so packed that you were limited to knees and elbows because extended techniques would hit other students? I have.

I recall counting 52 white belts in my adult class on a Tuesday night. Easily 40% were referrals. How did I get so many friends and family of current students in the school? Easy.

When a new student enrolled, I handed him or her a 30-day pass to give to a friend. It worked like a charm. Students are excited when they join and tell their friends.

This way, they had something to share with their friends and family as well. One student often became two students.

Today, the average person on Facebook has 200 friends on their account. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get in front of those 200 friends and family? Now you can.

When new students enroll into your trial program, have them text your KEYWORD to 95577. In less than 30-seconds this will blast your offer to all of their friends and family on social media.

Your new members instantly broadcast that they are trying your studio.

When that student enrolls into your regular program, have them blast it out again.

All their friends and family have to do is to show the pass on their phone when they come into your school and they are good to go.

When they enroll into your trial program, have them text your KEYWORD to 95577 and repeat the cycle when they enroll as well.

Every five new students you get to post your DGP on Facebook equals 1,000 friends and family.

Mobile Lead Builder []

Attracting And Retaining Students

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Studies show that 20% of your activities will determine 80% of your results. Each day, as we plan our activities, we must ask ourselves, “What of the 20% would bring the highest results at this time of day?” Use this to block off your day for effectiveness.

Use weekends and Fridays to accomplish the other 80% of things that have to be done but don’t really have a forward moving effect on your goals. These are the mundane tasks that you cannot delegate such as bill paying or dealing with printers.

You are the president of Your School, Inc. You are responsible for every aspect of your business. Your income is a direct reflection of how well you’re running your school. If you’re in business you have to ask, “what is the purpose of my business? Is it to make a profit?

In the martial arts that’s part of the equation but seldom the purpose for going into this business. In our studies of schools around the country, we have found that schools that were highly focused sales of enrollments and renewals backed up by a great classroom structure and curriculum were far an away the most successful for the long term.

Your job is to attract and retain a student. Attracting and retaining students is what you do. The more students you attract and retain, the more successful you will be. The less students you attract and retain, the bigger chance you have to fail.

The key is to spend 80% of your time attracting students and 20% of your time retaining them during the “off class hours.” Conversely, during class time, spend 80% of your time retaining students and 20% on attracting new ones. The point is that your primary daytime activity is to find ways to create new students. Your afternoon and evening activity is to find ways to create keep the students you have.

When classes start, we have to focus on student service and student progress, which leads to retaining the students we have. You will spend less time on attracting new students in the evening. That will be delegated to your program director whose job it is to teach intros, set appointments and follow up on last week’s appointments. It’s critical that 80% of his time is spent on attracting new students. It is this rule or lack of adherence to this rule that has killed many schools. You must stay focused on what counts. At any given moment, you have to ask yourself, “where is my next sale coming from?” Where is the next enrollment? Where is the next renewal?

This is not to imply that we are out just to close sales but, that is the lifeblood of our future. If you don’t create new students, you die. If you don’t renew students, you die. There are no substitutes.

How important is teaching great classes? Critical! But it has no importance in an empty school. For you to be a successful school we have to always be focused on where the next enrollment or renewal is coming from. If what you are doing right now doesn’t lead to one of those two, then stop doing it. Everything else just supports those two essential aspects of your school – Attracting and retaining students.