One of the jobs of a small business owner is marketing his (or her) business to the public. As with all skills, there are some people who have talent in this area and others that do not. Marketing is not an area in which I have, heretofore, exhibited apparent genius.
However, as with other skills, practice goes a long way toward making one proficient. Lots of exercise, if done correctly and under correct supervision can render incredible results, especially to the untrained individual. The better we become, the more skilled our practice has to become to show results.
Now, the way that marketing usually works is that a business owner conceives a plan and puts it into motion by paying other businesses to talk about (or advertise) his business. This is usually an expensive endeavor and a risky one. Money is paid with no guarantee of return. For instance, the money that I have spent on newspaper advertising lately has been largely wasted. Most people don’t read the newspaper any more. Few look in the phone book, and even fewer, the Yellow Pages. So, business owners are largely turning to online marketing and what is known as “Internal Marketing”.
Internal Marketing is using existing clients and customers to spread the word about a business. That’s what this post is about. I have spent a lot of money using traditional forms of advertising over the years, and none of it does anywhere near as well as word of mouth (a.k.a. Internal Marketing). When my students and their parents care enough about the school to mention it to their friends and families, other than being a HUGE compliment (which it definitely is,) it is good for the school. The more people talking about us and the work that we are doing, the more people will come to want to be a part of that. When this happens, it is sometimes called “Viral Marketing”. The ideas spread from person to person like a virus (but in a good way).
Now, I have very specific goals that I am setting for the growth of the school. My wife and kids have committed to helping me achieve these goals, and I would like the to see a similar commitment from my students. Not for my financial gain, but for the benefit of the school itself. We don’t need a mansion in which to train. We don’t require luxury training facilities, showers, saunas, espresso machines, etc. What we need is plenty of room to train, ample training equipment, a safe surface on which to fall, separate changing rooms for men, women, and families, separate restrooms, a comfortable viewing area, adequate office space, and a safe parking area. If I had my druthers, I’d like natural light, the ability to allow natural ventilation, a sound system, a video projector, mirrors, a large whiteboard, plants, and a smokin’ hot receptionist. Preferably female.
Just like in society as a whole, when you do things to help your martial art school, YOU reap the benefits too. If every student made it a goal of theirs to bring a new student to the school every four to six months, the school would at least quadruple in size every year! Can you imagine what we could do with that many more students? In addition to saving money on Yellow Pages advertisements and Newspaper ads (which could go back into purchasing equipment for the school) we would have enough tuition income to pay for a large, dedicated facility with all of the amenities that would make martial art training a real pleasure.
So, I’m not going to gamble my money on External Marketing right now. I’m going to spend it on some very nice fliers (which I’m designing at this moment), and I’m going to spend it on my existing students. What I want to offer is one month free tuition for each new (paying) student that you refer to the school. (I do want to encourage more scholarship students, but this post is about making the school financially viable).
I would love to be in a new facility by Seminar Time (the end of June). We can make this happen, but it will take working together as a team, or maybe as a family. It would be very cool to have Kuk Sa Nim participate in a Ribbon Cutting/Grand Opening when he comes through on the Seminar Tour this summer. If you think so too, please help by spreading the word. Use email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS Text, or just plain old talking to people. In a couple of weeks I’ll have some nice fliers, and you can post them in your place of work, church, clubs, schools, neighborhoods, etc.
And if we don’t have enough students to hire a receptionist by then, it’s ok. I’ll get by.