To be a viable, long term business, a martial arts school needs paying members. Yes, your school may have an excellent facility with the best-in-the-business equipment while also teaching popular disciplines at the highest levels, but none of that will matter if potential students aren’t signing up.

Getting your enrollment numbers up is a challenge for many schools. However, there are several strategies to keep your student enrollment numbers up without having to discount your enrollment fees.

Here are four ways you can increase student enrollment in your martial arts school:

Maximize your efforts on social media

It’s hard to get new prospects through your academy’s doors. Social media is an excellent tool for marketing your school by bringing awareness to those prospects.

However, posting on social media without a strategy won’t get you very far. You need to figure out who your target market is and research what kind of content you should create to get them following your brand on social media, and eventually to walk in to your school.

Creating the right content allows your target audience to see more of what you have to offer as a school and draws them into becoming interested prospects. Post promotion and community event photos, technique videos and personal stories that will help people relate and get interested in training with you.

Host Birthday Parties

Hosting birthday parties is a great way to show off your dojo and get prospects inside the door. This happens by offering your school as a place to host a birthday party for your students. 

It’s the perfect way for kids to see what your dojo is like and for the parents to see inside. Hosting birthday parties will bring potential new students into your school and allow them to get a feel for what it is to be part of a martial arts community.

“Refer a Friend” Program

Word-of-mouth advertising may not have the most potential clients walking through your door, but it most certainly has the highest conversion rate. Satisfied members of your school can be your strongest advocates, and will spread the word to others interested in martial arts training. 

Creating a “refer-a-friend program” can be done in several ways, but the most successful way is to encourage students to invite their friends by offering a free private lesson to them and their friends once they sign up. You can also offer free merchandise as a mode to encourage referrals.

We outlined the key elements of building a referral program for martial arts schools in a previous article – make sure to check it out if you’re interested in starting or strengthening your referral program.

Partner with Schools Within Your Area

Local schools sometimes partner with martial arts academies to increase awareness about both the benefits of martial arts and “anti-bullying” programs.

You can offer seminars to the local schools as a way to get you through their doors and in front of their students. When demonstrating front of the students, show them why your martial arts style and your academy are the ones to join.

Start by going through a quick demonstration of a self defense scenario to gain their attention, then follow up on why you teach martial arts and how it has benefited you. If they allow you to hand out information, make sure you have brochures ready.

No matter how big your martial arts academy is or the type of martial arts you specialize in, your goal is for your school to thrive and grow.  There are many approaches you can combine into a successful marketing strategy.  Just remember, marketing ideas are only that: idea.  They become strategies as soon as you implement and test them to see what drives the best results for you and your martial arts school.

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Published by Patrick Skinner

Patrick Skinner is a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Level 3 Practitioner in Krav Maga, and Level 2 in the US Army Combatives system. Aside from martial arts, he’s a father of two and an award winning writer. When not on the mats or with is family, he he writes about anything from software to martial arts.


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