Marketing Martial Art Schools In 2010 According To WSJ

School Owners – Don’t Do What These Advertisers Do…

In a Wall Street Journal editorial a month ago titled “Postgame Evaluation of Super Bowl Advertisements”, two marketing lessons – both worthy of our discussion – were highlighted.

They reaffirm something we’ve been teaching school owners for many years.

“In the annual discussions as to which Super Bowl ads are ‘liked’ best, the pundits all miss the point,” author Jeff Nelems, starts the editorial.

“The purpose of advertising is not, or should not be, to create an ad that consumers like. Rather the purpose of advertising should be, in the final analysis, to sell…”

And right there is your first lesson: marketing – specifically in your case, martial arts marketing – is not about creating or using advertisements that you, your staff, your spouse, or your students “like”. Frankly, likes and dislikes in marketing are irrelevant. As are opinions.

The sole objective of all of your martial arts marketing is to drive new students into your school. And that’s the only thing that counts.

What this means in reality is that the only thing you should consider when deciding if you’re going to continue using a particular martial arts advertisement is whether or not it’s allowing you to break-even (at a bare minimum) in the acquisition of new students.

Your opinion of what looks best, what gives you the warm and fuzzies, or what gets students and parents talking is, again, irrelevant.

Return on investment (ROI) should be the only deciding factor.

Which brings us to the second lesson from the WSJ piece:

“There is much, at least anecdotal evidence, that creating an ad that viewers dislike may be more effective than one they like. Viewers hated the Anacin “headache” commercial many years ago, but it the sold the product. And consumers really hated the Wisk “ring around the collar” commercial, but the Wisk advertiser like it because it sold the product.”

Now, let me just say – this article is, obviously, referring to big brands using television commercials. And, of course, what applies to big company “brand building” doesn’t always apply to martial arts schools or small business operators. But, there’s a valuable point being made here. And here it is.

Often, a pure text, black and white advertisement that doesn’t look pretty, doesn’t have all of the typical “brand-building” bells and whistles, and won’t bring home any graphic artistry awards, will out-pull and outperform a pretty four-color, graphical ad.

Remember, the purpose of all of your new-student-acquisition marketing is NOT to build a brand. It’s not to create an impression. And, it’s not to establish your professionalism. The purpose is to bring in new students at a reasonable cost. Period.

And, therefore, whether a martial art advertisement looks nice or is “liked” by anyone should be inconsequential to you.

Again, in marketing, the only opinions that matter are the opinions being proved by people responding to your advertising and coming into your school for training.

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