Josh: Welcome to the Gym Heroes Podcast. I’m your host Josh Peacock. Today’s show is brought to you by Gymdesk, the easiest gym management software you’ll ever use. Take payments, create marketing automations, track attendance, and much more. To try the software out free, go to No credit card or painful sales call required.

Our hero today is George Fourie from Martial Arts Media. Today, he reveals how to create Facebook ads that actually work to grow your student numbers without wasting your marketing budget. Without further ado, here’s George Fourie. So, George, can you tell us about your background in the martial arts and… Well, I guess you mostly work in martial arts, like the martial arts marketing industry.

George: Yes. So, in the martial arts industry, just training martial arts or just working in the industry.

Josh: Working in the industry, like working with school owners and I guess even gyms.

George: Yeah, so I started, it’s a backtrack. It could actually be if you look at it, unofficially, it’s been about 10 years, officially probably about six. It really just started out as a favor for the gym where my son was training at. And I’ve done marketing stuff for quite some time, digital marketing. And although I’ve done a lot of that stuff, I never really found something that I could really sink my teeth into, or something that I really valued.

My son started training in martial arts. I enrolled him, that was the first activity that he had as a five year old kid. And so I would go to this martial art school, and I would sit on the side and just check what they were doing. And it kind of fascinated me just watching this whole martial arts thing. I had no experience with it. And just seeing, for me, it looked like personal development in the physical form.

And anyway, so I watched him training and I saw a few things that they were doing online with their marketing. And yeah, I just went up to them and asked them, hey, I’ve got a few ideas. And I just wanted to share them. There was no intention of, hey, I’m going to do this as a business. It was really just a favor. And we started chatting and I had a few suggestions. And they asked me if I wanted to do it. And I wasn’t really keen on venturing down this whole done-for-you doing work for people, in that sense, doing that type of services.

But I thought, hang on, there’s a lot to learn here, just watching what they were doing as a business. Yeah. And then it sort of went from there. We did one thing, two things, it worked. They asked me if I could do the next. And before I knew it, I was kind of just doing a lot of ad hoc marketing stuff from between email and ads, and so forth. Yeah, and it kind of grew from there.

Josh: Awesome. So, what I know you for and I followed your content for several years, especially your podcast, is really like Facebook ads. That’s one of the big things that you do. You do a lot of things, but Facebook ads is one of the big ones. And I was wondering, I actually want to start kind of from a 10,000 foot view and work my way down. What is the anatomy of a good Facebook ad campaign? Can you walk us through that? I know you don’t really have any, like, visual. It’s kind of difficult to describe over a podcast.

George: So, I can actually break it down quite simply, really, and we don’t need any visuals. So, we use a formula and it’s an age-old formula. I think it’s Claude Hopkins that created it. Don’t quote me on that. But it’s called the AIDA formula, and a lot of people have heard of it. Depending on how much you know about it will depend on the context of how you can apply it. But we’ve just modified it in the best way that works for martial arts.

So, for anyone that’s not familiar with AIDA, AIDA stands for A for attention, I for interest, D for desire, and A for action. And those four things we do on every ad campaign. In fact, you should be doing it in every ad campaign, in every social post, in anything where you want a direct response, that is the formula to follow. And I can go a bit deeper in that if you’d like, Josh.

Josh: Yeah. Well, I’d like to talk about — because I know that AIDA is not just for ads, but also the copy itself for copywriting. So, definitely, if we could go into that a little bit deeper.

George: Yeah. So, if you look at Facebook, right, Facebook is a very interruption-based type platform. So, if you compare it to something like Google, people will go to Google, and they’ve got intent. So, they will actually have the interest and so they go to Google, and they look for the solution, or if people have problems or whatever it is. So, there’s many layers of how people would use Google. Facebook is a completely different beast. You can target very well, but you still got to interrupt someone out of them doing whatever they’re doing on Facebook, whether it’s mindlessly just scrolling videos, looking at cat videos, or whatever they’re doing. So, you’ve got to put something in front of them that’s going to stop the scroll, really, is what you’re trying to do.

And so that’s where A comes in, in attention. And so with A, attention, it’s two real things that play a big part in that. Number one is just calling the people out who you’re talking to. So, you don’t have to get fancy with that. It’s really just saying, San Diego men, or ladies of Houston, or whatever the suburb is. It’s just being super clear on who is this for, that if I’m scrolling and I’m a man in San Diego, I know that you’re talking to me. And the second part, and that’s probably, I’d say, play a 70% part in what’s going to stop the scroll is the media that you use.

So, if there’s an image of something that I desire or something where I feel, hey, that’s me, or that’s something I aspire to be, then that’s what’s going to stop me from scrolling. And without that, nothing’s going to happen. And so you got to look at AIDA, in that sequence; Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. So, that’s for A. So, I’ve stopped for a couple of split seconds on paying attention.

And so now we move over to interest. And so interest, what we focus on is a benefit driven headline. So, what is your biggest, highest selling point of your martial arts program? Now, a lot of martial arts school owners confuse this with what do you do? What it is that you have? So, the physical thing, martial arts classes. But you’ve got to look at a higher level of what do they get from the class? So, not what it is, but what do they get. I mean, there’s the common things that all martial arts programs focus on. For kids, it would be confidence, discipline. For adults, it could be self-defense, or could even be weight loss, confidence. So, all those things really come into play. So, you want to lead with your strongest benefit.

A simple formula we use, and I don’t know who to credit this for, but I’ve heard from various experts. Frank Kern probably talks about how to yay without boo. We just talked about how to benefit without pain. So, if you’re stuck on how to create that interest, just think of how to get the benefit that you want, without the pain that you’re trying to avoid. And that’s a real good place to start.

The other thing you could do, and it’s good, but sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with is to ask a question. Ask a question provided it’s a question that somebody says yes for. But that sort of falls into the A section as well, because you’re still trying to grab attention. A big mistake I see a lot of school owners make is they’ll stack questions. Like, do you want this? Do you want this? Do you want this? And you as a prospect might sit there and say yes, yes, yes, yes. No. It’s all the work done.

All right. So, we’ve got A, we’ve done interest and now desire. Now, depending on how the price point of what it is you’re promoting, we just focus on an irresistible martial arts offer in that section. Now, if you’re selling something that’s and we focus on paid trials, I can break down the paid trial free trial sequence for you as well if you’d like. But for the most part, we’ll focus on a paid trial because it’s easier to provide value, to differentiate the value with the paid trial.

And so if your offer is very well worded, like if you’ve got an irresistible offer, and it’s worded the right way, that’s kind of all you need for desire. You can add different bullet points, different sensors that adds features into benefits. But for the most part, if your offer’s written really well, and it’s a no brainer, meaning somebody can look at it, it makes sense, they don’t have questions in their mind, it’s typically it’s super simple, that’s almost all that you need.

And then action. Now action is a funny one, a funny one because I see a lot of people just mess this up. And the biggest mess up would be just not having it, just not telling people what to do. So, you’ve got their attention, they’re interested, they see this offer, and it’s like, oh, I want this. But now how do I do it? And so mistakes I’ll see here would be just not to have it, or somebody will leave their phone number or email address.

Now, you got to obey the platform rules. And so if you’re on your phone, and you see this ad and you like it, and you’re like great. And now there’s a phone number, like you can’t click it, you can’t save it. So, you’ve just created this friction in your whole process of what am I going to do? I’m going to screenshot it. And really what’s going to happen is I’m going to say, well, maybe later, right? And I’m gone.

So, there’s two ways that work the best on Facebook now, and that’s to keep people on Facebook. So, when I hear people talk about, we’ve been impacted by iOS updates or ads used to work that don’t work anymore; it means that you’re probably working an old school strategy that’s not working at the moment. And what’s working at the moment as of the time I’m recording this would be lead ads, which is the little form that pops up and you can fill it out or messenger ads. And those are the things that work because you are [inaudible 00:12:06] a conversation, or you’re keeping people within the platform.

The hardest thing to do, in my opinion, is sending people to a website or a landing page. Because unless you are really good at what you do, and I mean, I’m talking really good, you know how to tweak, optimize, test landing pages. It’s a hard, hard thing to do, because now you got to test and ad, an offer, and the click through and make sure that all that works. So, if you want to keep it super simple, and know whether your ad is working, send people to messenger and send people through a lead ad. Obviously, there’s another strategy when it comes to that that goes into more depth. We got what we call the messenger signup method, where once people go into Messenger, then we follow them through a process to sign them up. But that sort of breaks down the basics.

Josh: Awesome. That’s a great, great breakdown. So, I was actually going to ask you about lead forms versus landing pages. So, I’m guessing the landing pages, I was an SEO and I used to pay attention to what people were saying more in the lead gen Department for Facebook ads and Google ads and everything. And they were always saying external custom landing pages are getting more conversion. But what you’re saying is that it’s not, at least not for martial arts schools, it’s really not getting the better conversion. It’s better to keep them on Facebook, especially after the Apple update.

George: Yeah. Look, so there’s always going to be a case and a different case and someone say Yeah, but that works better for us and so forth. For us, we work with hundreds of school owners. And for me, I’m always trying to break things down to the simplicity. So, I mean, for me, I come from a — I’m qualified computer programmer, web developer. Four years ago, if you came to me for marketing strategy, I was the guy that was going to say, you’re going to need a good website, you’re going to need to have a good landing page and all that in place first. But today, my advice is different. And I’m going to say don’t do any of that stuff because what you’re going to need is a good message and a good offer, and a good follow up strategy. And if you can master that, will a good website help? Yes. Will a good landing page help? Yes. But you can get traction without any of that.

I mean, we had one of our members, Sam, who lived in a super small town, I think five or 10,000 people in the town. And he still managed to have a score of 150-160 students and still didn’t have a website because he would just follow the same strategy. So, depending on where you’re at, a good website is always going to lift your brand and it’s always going to be good. But if you’re starting or struggling to get traction with ads, just sell the conversation. And yep, there’s a place where you can use a website and use a landing page. But if you’re struggling, start with a messenger and start with that because that also proves your offer, right?

If I’m on Facebook, the easiest thing for me to do is click send message or fill in the lead form that’s prefilled. And if I can’t do that, if your ad hasn’t enticed me enough to do those two things, I’m definitely not going to do anything on some external page, and then fill out details, etc. So, yep, you potentially have capacity and your ad is so optimized, and you’re looking at, how do I scale this to the next level? Yeah, there could be definitely a place to do that with landing pages and so forth.

Josh: Awesome. That sounds great. So, let’s back up a little bit. And I wanted to ask you what should the creative look like? What are some general principles for good creative for martial art schools and fitness businesses if you work with them too?

George: Yeah. So, we focus on martial arts. Let’s start with video and photos. So, there’s this, and I don’t want to debunk it. I’m going to say it’s wrong. But there’s this, I think it’s a bit of a myth that video outperforms photos on ads. Maybe in social media, yes. But when it comes to a direct response ad, I would go photos every single time. And the first reason for that is doing a really good video is really hard. And even the guys that are “good” at video, don’t necessarily understand the sales process and the triggers that need to be in place that’s going to present a good sales proposition.

But when it comes to photos, you can test real quick. And I mean, every time we run an ad, we’ll run three to five ads against each other to test the best media. So, we never go with our gut or think this is the big thing, or you know, we spent thousands of dollars on this so it’s got to work, we let the data decide. So, we’re always testing different forms of media, well, images. And to do that quick, it’s best to just have photos, and you just eliminate from there. So, what have we found that works well? Smiley faces, happy smiley faces. Big crowds don’t really work. It’s really hard to get a vibe and a feeling from a lot of people. If it’s karate-based, some form of action, like a punch, like real straight, or a kick, if it’s young kids, the cute factor can really help, the really cute kids.

And then a real little — and we’ll always do an overlay of the offer on top of the image. So, if you got an image, we’ll put something on top of it. What’s a real good trick to do with that? Well, two things. One is make sure it’s diagonal so that it’s not straight. Because if you think Facebook is sort of straight down the line, if you select sort of straight vertical or horizontal, it just flows with everything. But the minute something’s diagonal, it breaks the flow of someone scrolling. So, it’s always good to have something on, whether it’s a triangle or a couple of triangles, or something that’s not straight, that’s real good. And this is something that’s been tested in marketing a lot, is if there is a form of action, and with martial arts you always have a form of action, then make sure that the action actually points to where the offer is.

So, there’s no point in me punching here, but then the offer is behind me. Then the focus moves away. So, always think of where’s the action going? And we got a course in our program called the Smartphone Photography masterclass for martial arts. And so a good friend of mine, Francine Schaepper, she’s a professional martial arts photographer, and so she broke down all these different elements. Another thing if you’re taking your own photos is just to pay attention to what is around the photo. Because you’re so focused on taking the photo that you forget that there’s an overflowing dustbin at the back or there’s wires from a timer or something.

So, as much as you’re paying attention to the photo, make sure you pay attention to what’s behind the photo. And I’ll add one little ninja hack, especially if you’re not that good at taking photos, we sometimes will take a photo and we’ll just enhance the contrast. And if you’re in something like Canva or something, you can just take the contrast to 30% and it creates this contrast between the colors and that makes it pop more as well.

Josh: That’s neat, the contrast. So, I guess that makes it kind of saturated, or is that the wrong word?

George: It’s probably more — I wouldn’t say — potentially saturated, but more contrast between colors. So, it just makes it pop a bit more. Facebook’s all about, although you can add black and white photos work well, as well, depending on the contrast and other elements. But for the most part, if something pops out, and it’s bright, it’s going to get more attention. So, yeah, investing in good photos is really good. Or at least, just learning a couple of good photography chops. You know, just learning what it is you can do and you don’t need anything fancy. I mean, I’ve got an iPhone, and I know if I’ve got portrait mode, for example, which is just a setting that takes really, really good photos. So, you don’t need anything fancy. But it’s worthwhile just knowing a couple of tricks.

Josh: Yeah. That’s awesome. I love Canva, highly recommend it. How do you keep ad spend down? Or when do you know a campaign might not be worth it, like, maybe it’s time to move on to something else?

George: Right. Good question. Okay. So, it comes down to the strategy, and then knowing your numbers. So, the first number you got to know is well, here’s the thing, it’s really easy to get obsessed over the cost and the cost per click, and I always see this in Facebook groups people are talking about how much are you paying per lead? What is the cost? And it’s good to pay attention to that, but you got to compare against your own stats. More importantly, if you want to really and if you’re not a big numbers guy, the big thing that you can look at is, what is the number that you’re getting in return. And I always use this example. I mean, let’s say you go to the casino and you find a slot machine, and you put in $1 into the slot machine and it gives you $2. And you put another dollar and it gives you $2. How many dollars are you going to put in?

Josh: As many as you can.

George: Yeah, all of them. Right? And so you got to keep spending the dollars because it’s giving the return. Now, I mean, what if you went to the same slot machine again, and you put in $5, and now it’s giving you $10? Again, you’re going to do the same thing, right? You’re not going to go and say well, hang on, I was just spending a $1, I’d rather just get my dollar, it’s too much. I’m just going to keep spending my dollar, or I’ll walk away. And that’s what a lot of people do when they run ads is they cripple, they break their growth, well, sabotage their growth by cutting their spending and focusing on the wrong metric.

So, how do you get to the right metric? Well, first up, what is a student worth? So, you can look at lifetime student value? Like what is a student actually worth? That’s really helpful. Because if you know that a student is worth two and a half grand or two grand or whatever that number is, over the lifetime, that’s a whole different story, right? Because now you know, the money is coming down the line. Now, if that lifetime is 10 years, that doesn’t help much, right? So, you also got to be realistic about cash flow. So, something that I learned from Mike, a Google expert, way back in the day was to look at, yep, you can look at lifetime spend, but it’s good to look at what is a customer worth over the next three months. So, what is a student or if you’re a gym, what are they worth over the next three months?

And then if you look at that, how much of that will you comfortably spend or spend with a smile to acquire a new student? And that will give you a good metric. Right? So, if you look at all right, well, this is what they’re worth over three months, what would I spend? Is that 100, 150 etc. That is a good metric to work with because now you know, all right, when I start spending more than that per student, I’ve got a pullback. Okay. So, you’ve got to start there.

Now, how do you go about the strategy or the strategy to get ads going? There’s a few things, right. And we do a lot of coaching with this in our group, and sometimes you’re recommending this, and then you recommending that based on the situation. So, you could give advice that’s worked sometimes, but then you got to change gears other times. But typically, what we’ll always do is, we’ll always start with a test. And this is so so important. And sometimes [inaudible 00:25:27] and you just think, well, I’m just going to get this ad up, I just want to get it up. But it’s the biggest mistake you can make. And I mean, we’ve seen it where we’ll run a test on an ad, and then one ad — and so just to break down what we mean by test, test is we testing one variable. And so what I mean by that is we’ll create an ad. And so this will be the ad copy, we’ll follow AIDA, attention, interest, desire action.

And the first thing we’ll do is we’ll test three different images. And the reason why we test that first is because that’s what’s going to get tired the quickest. Tired, meaning people see this ad the most frequently, the image, that’s the thing that they’re going to get bored of first. So, we test three images against each other. And it’s really just a numbers game. And so we’ll take the ad live and we’ll typically probably do five bucks, a total of — that it works out about $5 per ad. And then we’ll just run it for 72 hours. And then 72 hours later, we’ll look at, okay, what do the numbers say? So, we’ll look at what got a conversion, what didn’t. In our partners, group guys would normally just screenshot it, and throw it up in the group and say, all right, well where do we go from here. And then it’s just elimination, eliminate, eliminate, and go with your winning ad.

And sometimes the difference is vast. Like one is $5, a lead and one is 15. So, that’s a big thing right there, because if you skip that test and you’re spending 500, or 1,000 bucks or 2,000 bucks, what have you been spending, you immediately cut your results by a third, by just not doing the test. And the thing with this is, you never know, you just don’t know, you might think you’ve got the best image in the world, you just don’t know. I mean, there’s some ad accounts we’ve been working with for five-six years. And it’s funny, we’ve had like a dozen pictures that we use, and they all work at a different time for different scenarios. And they all convert, but we never know when. So, we always just always run the test. And then we go with that one as the favorite for the campaign. So, that’s where you got to start. You’ve got to know your numbers, and then you’ve got to do the test.

And then once you’ve got your winning ad, there’s a few strategies you can take. You can just throw all your money on it that you’ve got if you do have a budget, or you could ramp it up gradually, every 72 hours until you’re getting the results that you want. Does that answer your question? Is there anywhere else we should go with that?

Josh: I think that answers my questions. Let me summarize. So, basically, first, you need to understand what it is you’re willing to spend. And one of the metrics you use is like, how much are they worth for the first three months? But you can also use, how much are they worth lifetime, lifetime value. And then you want to create your own baseline as far as what ad spend is going to look like. So, you test three separate creatives for an ad. And then you pick the one that’s giving you the best result for the lowest price. So, that’s kind of a way to manage it that way.

One question I do have is so you test a creative and you pick the best, the best photo or video, whatever that you’re using. Do you test the copy? I mean, how do you approach that? Because I’ve been told before that you don’t want to keep changing campaigns, because then it has to be reapproved. And that can screw up the momentum that you get with the Facebook algorithm. How do you approach that?

George: Okay. Yeah, so I’ll answer that. I think I just also need to clarify on the three months in the lifetime value. So, look, if you’ve spent $1,000 on ads, and you’ve signed up 10 students, and those 10 students are $1,500 each worth over the next year, and that’s 10 times 1,500, you’ve spent 1,000 bucks and you’ve got 15,000 in potential value, that’s pretty good, right? I mean, that’s a good return. The reason we use the three month is just for — depending on what your cash flow situation is.

And so if you have a cash flow situation where, well look, because you could be spending $500 to acquire a student for $1,500. It’s great and you’re profiting down the line, but you’re going to cripple your cash flow while doing it. So, it’s good to look at if you want more certainty, like look at three months, because that’s going to give you a bit more certainty of all right, well, we can almost guarantee that’s cash in the bank that’s coming in. And so we’ve got some time and room to move. So, that’s where the two [inaudible 00:30:47]. So, your next question was on?

Josh: So, are you testing different versions of like, not all of the copy, but what you can see? And then how are you doing that without ruining your momentum in the Facebook algorithm?

George: All right. And just to clarify, so you’re asking how do you test different versions of copy and an ad? Or how do you keep one ad so that it builds social proof and it becomes a very strong organic post when people look at it, there’s thousands of comments, likes, and it’s like a living organism by itself, without the ad?

Josh: Not organic, so testing copy on the ad. And the other question I was asking about ruining momentum in the algorithm is about being delivered. Because I’ve seen people in the Facebook ad space, talk about if you keep changing your ad, it has to go through the approval process that it can mess up momentum that it used to have, and then it won’t have it anymore.

George: Yeah. So, the first thing you want to do is never edit, always duplicate. So, always duplicate because the minute you edit anything in an ad set, or at the ad level, you’ve tampered with your stats, so now you don’t have an accurate measure of what’s happened. So, first up, if you want to test something, just duplicate it, get the new one up, pause the other one. Because now if you break something in the new one, backtracking is super easy, you just turn it off, and you turn the other one back on that was working. So, that’s the first thing.

If you’re testing copy, then you want to do everything in about a 72 hour window, give or take. Sometimes it’s longer, but 72 hours is a good window to get data. And so you always want to be optimizing one thing after the other. And this is where it’s good to build up just a spreadsheet of your numbers, it’s painful to do but it’s good to just have data. Because really what you’re doing with Facebook is, and I never see this as losing money. If you’re keeping track of it, you’re always buying data. And the longer you buy data, the more knowledge you have and the more you know that works.

And when you have an account really dialed in, you almost get it to the point where you’ve got the offer, and you put it up and you put your money down and you know it’s going to convert because the algorithm is so in tune with showing your ads to the right people at the right time that your ads always get good results. But you’ve got to build up to that point. So, if you want to split test different copy and things like that, you’ve got to do it in different phases. So, if you had, let’s say, for example, you’re on an experiment base. And so you run a campaign, and you’ve got your ad copy and then you got test the images. So, that’s one variable. So, you can only test one variable at a time. Right?

And just to clarify just in case it doesn’t make sense, you can only test one thing at a time. Meaning if you’re testing a headline and an image, and you get a result you don’t know what one — [crosstalk]

Josh: Yeah, you can’t attribute one.

George: Yeah. So, what one, you don’t know. So, we always start with image, and then you can test different elements of things like all right, well, what’s the next thing? Headline. Headline is really good to test. Offer. Now offer is tricky because you don’t want to have a different offer price points in the same ad, because you could potentially ruin your credibility doing that. So, you would have to do that at a different time and track the numbers on that. But those are the key things to really look at is first your images, then your headline, look at your offer, and then you can play with different things; call to actions and so forth. It really depends on how much time you’ve got to play around with these things. But yeah, those are really the basics.

Josh: Awesome. Are there any other important tips about running a Facebook campaign that maybe I missed based on my questions?

George: It’s good to pay attention to timing. So, a lot of people go into Facebook groups and you ask what’s the best ad, what’s the best best offer? And I think it’s easy to get lazy with the approach and just think well, top martial arts school in my area is doing X, Y, Zed, so that must be the best way to go. I’m just going to copy exactly what they do. Now, maybe you’re right, but more than likely, you’re wrong.

And the reason why is you are trying to recruit students, and you’re not in the business of selling paid trials. So, having this strategy congruent is super important. So, it’s super important to know your own numbers, and what converts for you on the back end. Because somebody might be running a great paid trial offer, great or not great, and you don’t know what happens beyond that. So, you don’t know do they have a second offer? Do they have a follow up offer to make sure that people join? Or how do they reduce the time from when they start a trial to when they become a member? Or what is the sales process? How do they go about that?

So, there’s so many other variables that you’ve got to look at. So, it pays to get educated about offers. Because, in my opinion, it’s the make or break of your business. If you know how to put the right offer in front of the right people at the right time, and you know how to follow them up, and you know how to take people from trial, curious to serious, to signed up, then there’s no stopping you in your business and you never have to be at the mercy of an ad agency that’s going to have to do it all for you, that’s a good one day, bad the next, cheap one day, super expensive the next, one day they work, one day they not. Nobody’s going to value your own money more than you.

So, I know it’s not the advice that everybody wants to hear. But learning this stuff is — this is what your business thrives on. And if you know that this is what brings in the money leaving it to someone else to do and hoping they do a good job at it I just see it as risky.

Josh: Especially other martial arts schools, I just don’t trust it, a little bit of shade there. But that’s just kind of how it is.

George: You mean, as in other martial arts school owners, to run your ads?

Josh: Yeah, I just don’t trust them. I don’t trust just copying what other people are doing. I mean, it might work if they have a big school, maybe. But I just don’t trust the local martial arts instructor to be a great marketer.

George: And so that’s the other thing, right, is you might look at schools that are exceptional schools, but they just suck at their marketing, Facebook marketing. But what’s making them successful is all these other elements; the internal processes, how they do their referrals, the classes, the quality product that they have that just speaks for itself. And there’s all these other elements.

And here’s the problem with copying is what if you are copying the worst control? Meaning they’re running a split test, and they’re running an ad and you go and copy their worst campaign at the worst time? So, you’ve put all your faith into, well, you’ve placed the school on a pedestal, they’re so great and everything so we’ll go copy their ad, but it’s actually their worst ad because sometimes you do have a really bad ad. And you thought you took a shortcut and it’s costing you money. I get on a bit of a pedestal soapbox about this because I just see it’s where people get taken for a ride the most and where they lose the most.

It’s funny, sometime last year, I had a listener of my podcast, and that’s probably the first time I was rude to one of my listeners of my podcast. So, I’ve got a podcast, Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. And I had a listener message me and he said, hey, George, I really like the podcast. Just a quick question, what do you think is the best channel for lead generation for martial arts school; is it Facebook or Google? And I just gave him a bit of, well, it depends on X, Y, Zed, depends on X, Y, Z. Curious, why do you ask? He says no, well, I’m thinking of starting an ad agency for martial arts schools. And I’m like okay. I find that’s an odd question to ask if you’re thinking of starting an ad agency for martial arts schools.

And he’s like, no, I’m just going to hire an outsource someone to do the work for me. And I just lost it because it’s like, really, you’re actually going to ask people for their hard earned money, and you got no clue what you’re doing? And I’ve hired a lot of people all over the world to do a lot of work for me. There’s no magical person that’s going to understand what offer works, how to test it if you don’t have prior knowledge to a specific industry. And these are the type of people that are waving magic wands in front of everyone with their offers. And you end up investing into guys like this and it doesn’t work. And then you think Facebook doesn’t work, and your business suffers. It’s just a whole chain reaction of problems.

So, I think if there’s advice I can give is just, you don’t have to be doing the ads for the rest of your life. But knowing it, understanding how it works, understanding how to put it together, it’s so so powerful. It’s one of the most powerful skills you can learn.

Josh: Absolutely. I was listening to too many entrepreneurial podcasts, that was a big thing a while back there. I don’t think that’s the big thing anymore, but for a couple years ago, it’s like, yeah, I started an agency and outsourced to all the different experts, and all you have to do is manage the people. And then it’s almost like reselling, reselling was big too, especially in the SEO area. And it’s not really a viable business model. You have to charge too much for too shoddy of a, and inconsistency of a product in order to make money off of a model like that.

George: Yeah. And I think what most martial arts school owners are not aware of is that is such a difficult business model, because you might have the guy that has got one trick, doesn’t know how to run a business, but he’s got one ad trick. And he does this for a martial law school and he gets results. And here comes the case study of how this person did this magical thing for this martial art school. And that happened once or twice. And now this guy gets one client, two clients, four clients, five. And if you come from the ad agency world, there’s a breaking point of about 10 clients, 20 clients where guys are going insane. And then you got to employ staff.

And so this is where you got to hope that your marketing expert is a real good business manager and that he’s packaged his knowledge in such a way that he can pass it on to his staff. And the problem is, in a space, like martial arts, where you’re dealing with small businesses, is you can’t charge a premium, like all the other ad agencies are. I’ve got good friends that run ad ad agencies, and they’re very niche. And they’ll start at about $4,000 a month, that’s what you pay them. Some will do $2,000 a month, but you have to have an ad budget of about four grand. And then they want to know that your offer converts, it’s proven, there’s all these requirements before they would even work with you. Because it’s not easy, right? There’s no flick of a switch. So, yeah.

Anyway, that’s just a glimpse into — It’s not a fear monger. And I’m sure there are good guys out there. But I’ve seen the best guys not become the best business owners. And then the problem is when you don’t have the knowledge and you don’t have the data that you carry with is you have a good run for two years, and then you’re back to where you were. Whereas if you had invested two years into having a background and understanding of everything, you’re empowered, and you can just get different hands to do the work or an instructor for example.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. One last thing is…cost which we’re really talking, I guess, in the context of trial offer, that’s a paid trial offer. I think martial arts have kind of — I mean, there’s a wrong way to do a free offer, but I think that’s kind of the thing for the martial industry, so it’s not really worth talking about. But for as far as what you’re charging for a trial offer, are there any rules of thumb? Can you be high? Can you charge $300 for a trial offer straight from a Facebook ad? Or does it need to be more like $20, $50, $100, something like that?

George: It depends on a couple of variables and combinations. So, we’ve got a client, one of our members, Brett, for example, they do really well and they run in the sort of $199-200 type of range. Now, I’m not going to give specifics on the length of the offer and what’s included, but they run a higher offer. And they do it because it’s a filtering mechanism, right, for the capacity that they can handle. So, again, you could look at a guy like Brett who’s been in the industry for 25-30 years, and they’ve got a thriving business, and they run their type of offer because it filters the intake that they can take. And so this is, again, why I say it’s so important to understand the backend before you just grab and think, oh, that’s the best offer because there’s something completely different happening with that.

But if you want a few rules to work with, odds are better than evens. That’s sort of a tested thing. And it’s always good to include a physical item. So, it doesn’t matter what it is; T-shirt, belt, gloves, a key, a combination of all. To illustrate the value in an offer, it’s much easier to do that when there’s a physical item, tangible item that the normal public can kind of understand. And so it’s very hard to understand, to grasp what is the value of a free class? I don’t know.

But hey, I’ll get this uniform and it’s worth 70 bucks, and I’m getting it for 39 bucks and I get these five classes. Hey, that’s cool. I can keep the uniform if I don’t keep on [inaudible 00:47:21] my class. Yeah, exactly. Cool Halloween costume. But that’s what’s going on in people’s minds, right, is they’re trying to understand what is the value of this thing? They have no idea. Most people have no idea what martial arts is. And that’s why most people will ask as well, how much is it? And then some people will say, well, people are just price shopping. They don’t know what else to ask. That’s the one question that they do understand and that is, how much is it? That’s what everyone understands. Right?

And so it’s not a good or a bad thing. It’s just they need to understand the value of what it is. So, yeah, so odds are better than evens, good to have contrast of value. So, yep, you can have higher, if you have the higher [inaudible 00:48:15], then you got to make sure that you can display the contrast of value. And what I mean by that is if it is $300, well, is this package worth $800 or are they saving $400 or something in that sense? So, yep, it can be higher, but you just got to illustrate what the value is, and you kind of got to spell it out, that people can look at it and make sense and it’s a no brainer for them.

Josh: Awesome. Yeah. So, trying to engineer value into it that is roughly commensurate with the price that you’re offering. Which is probably going to require some testing as well, because you don’t know exactly what’s going to be in the minds of your audience. But yeah, it’s great advice.

George: Yeah. Look, it’s always good to have a good paid trial offer that offsets some of your ad costs. You know, if you’re really winning, you are getting paid to acquire leads, then you really winning. So, your paid trial is bringing in the profit without people actually joining. And so that puts you in a really powerful spot, because you can just keep advertising and get students in that way. Yeah.

But you’ve got to play around with the numbers and you’ve got to make sure that you look at the entire process, because you might have a great paid trial offer in the front end, but it’s destroying your club’s culture, and it’s bringing in the wrong crowd. And in that case, you might push the price up and you get a better quality type of person that’s applying that’s more suited for your school, and maybe it raises the conversions on the back end. So, you’ve got to look at everything. It’s not just what’s happening on the front end, it’s what’s happening on the back end and how congruent is your sales process from front to back?

Josh: Yeah, very cool. Where can people find you?

George: Yes. So, I mean, if you want to get on a plane.

Josh: That would be cool. I’m not opposed. Where are you, what’s your website, what’s your podcast, all the whole rigmarole?

George: Yeah, cool. So, I mean, if you want to find out more, what we do, best bet is just go to We got a podcast that’s Martial Arts Media Business Podcast, where we talk about how to attract the right students, increase sign ups and retain members, a combination of solo podcasts and interviews with martial arts school owners from around the world. And if you want help or want to brainstorm a couple of ideas, good ideas on your ads, what works, what doesn’t, best bet is just — if you go to our website, So, S-C-A -L-E.

And we just got a short little questionnaire just asking you what styles you teach, what is it that you’re stuck with, what do you need help with, and then we just jump on a real short 10-15 minute call, have a quick brainstorm and work out how we can help. A real simple call, nothing to buy on the call. It’s really kind of an assessment just to work out, hey, we can potentially help you or we can’t. And if I can’t, happy to share any resources that we can, or if we feel we can help further, we’ll probably just get on a Zoom call and have a chat and see if we can help any further.

Josh: Awesome. That sounds great. I know that your podcast is highly recommended. I’ve learned a lot from it so I definitely encourage the listeners to go check that one out. That is the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast.

George: There we go. It’s a bit of a long name. Yeah.

Josh: I had to be very careful how I said it so I didn’t mess it up.

George: Well, I mess it up. I sometimes — did I just say martial arts media podcasts. Yeah. Anyway. [crosstalk]

Josh: Yeah. Maybe that’s what it should be.

George: Exactly. Maybe it evolves.

Josh: Yep. Cool. Well, George, thank you for coming on. And I hope we can do this again sometime.

George: Sounds good. Thanks so much for having me, Josh.

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