Martial arts marketing is a method of using digital marketing and traditional marketing to systematically grow a martial arts school.

The problem with marketing is that it is vast it’s easy for you to get lost and waste precious time and money in the process.

How do you avoid this?

There are nearly infinite ways to market your business, but not all of them are as equally effective. To help you cut through the noise and the nonsense, we’ve put together a list of the most effective marketing strategies that martial arts school owners have actually used.

Martial arts marketing is simple and effective if you know what to focus on. To help keep your attention on the right things, we’ve organized those martial arts marketing strategies under three broad types:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Event Marketing
  • Traditional Marketing

Digital marketing is listed and addressed here first because it forms the backbone of all of your marketing activities both online and offline. Building a proper digital marketing infrastructure is crucial to streamlining your events and traditional marketing efforts as well as keeping the overall cost of your marketing campaigns much, much lower. 

Once you have your digital strategy operational, event-based marketing will form the bulk of your or your team’s time on a monthly basis. It’s always been a crucial part of gaining community awareness and growing martial arts schools because it works.

Finally, your traditional marketing efforts will be the grassroots, long game approach to building brand recognition and growing your school. With the right tactics, you can compound your digital and event-based marketing efforts for cheap.

In the next three sections, we’ll unpack the most useful and powerful strategies and tactics you can use to market your martial arts school effectively.

Digital Martial Arts Marketing

Digital marketing for martial arts is the strategy of using websites, social media channels, email campaigns, and search engines to market and grow a martial arts school. Martial arts internet marketing is an essential marketing strategy for growing your martial arts school in 2024 and beyond.

It’s easy to get lost in the sheer vastness of digital marketing today. And if you don’t have a clear blueprint of which channels to focus on, you will waste countless hours and dollars to gain next to nothing in return…

Don’t just think of digital marketing as another marketing channel. Think of it as a sort of infrastructure that will supercharge all your marketing efforts across event-based and traditional channels as well.

Think of it like a building with a cornerstone, foundation, and frame to support all the elements that make such a structure useful and comfortable for its occupants.

In this section, we’ll show you exactly how to do martial arts online marketing.

The Cornerstone: Your School’s Martial Arts Website

Your martial arts website is the cornerstone of all your marketing activities because it’s the face of your online martial arts marketing presence. It is the nexus from which you host and publish virtually all of your marketing content, and you totally own and control it.

It’s also the support structure — a 24/7 salesman — that ties together all of your external digital, event, and traditional marketing campaigns (more on this in later sections).

Martial Arts Website Search Engine Optimization

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” SEO is the process of optimizing your martial arts website design and martial arts website content to rank higher on Google. For local SEO campaigns, this includes optimizing your Google Business listing and local directory listings, too.

SEO is important because your martial arts website is a lucrative and free marketing channel. However, people searching out your services will never see your website if it isn’t properly optimized by a modern local SEO strategy. Check out our martial arts SEO article to learn more about how you can optimize your martial arts school’s website SEO.

Martial Arts Landing Pages

Landing pages are an important part of your marketing infrastructure. They work like salesmen to convince people to give you their contact information in exchange for a valuable piece of content or a service (such as a free trial).

Here’s some quick tips on how to design an effective landing page:

  • Simple URLs. For example, or
  • No navigation. The function of a good landing page is to funnel someone toward signing up for the offer you’ve made them. Giving them the opportunity to click off to other places on the website could cause them to get distracted and not complete their sign up. Therefore, remove the regular site navigation of special landing pages.
  • Engaging, clear, value-packed headline. Your headline has to do a lot of work. It needs to match the spirit of the offer; it needs to clearly promise something valuable to your audience; and it needs to be written with engaging style. A good example might be, “Learn to defend yourself from 91% of all attacks with 3 simple moves.”
  • Persuasive, conversational copy. Write your landing page copy like you’re writing warmly and enthusiastically to a good friend. But be sure to follow the persuasion structures that copywriters use to write highly effective sales copy, such as AIDA or PAS.
  • Strong, clear, ample Calls-to-Action. “Sign me up now!” is a strong call to action — and it’s even better if you put it on a clean, bright button with easy-to-read text (or just above an optin form). “Sign up” is workable, but not a strong CTA. That’s because expressive statements written in the imperative mood have been shown to produce better conversion across all types of offer CTAs. Even better, place them at multiple intervals on your page because people will decide to convert at different points in your landing page copy.
  • Make one offer. Don’t try to sell adult and children’s programs at one time. Create separate landing pages for each offer and/or each program.

Good landing pages will be the backbone of most of your marketing efforts. The ads, posts, business cards, flyers, and other marketing activities you engage in should all direct people back to an appropriate landing page from where you can capture their contact information and/or drive a sale.

The Foundation: Content Marketing

Despite martial arts lending itself so easily to content marketing, it remains underutilized in the local martial arts market. For those of you who know better than the rest of the industry, however, content marketing will transform your business into a low cost lead-generating machine.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, founded by the godfather of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi…

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.[1]

I want to focus on the careful wording of the quote above: content marketing is a strategic marketing effort focused on creating material relevant to the audience you want to reach. And that content is meant, ultimately, “to drive profitable customer action” — meaning it doesn’t just live to be consumed, but it asks something of the consumer, too.

Know Your Audience…

Martial arts marketers often create content oriented at people who are already martial artists. They create “technique of the week” and “tips to deal with this sparring problem” posts and videos that are of interest to their students but of limited relevance to the clients they want to attract, new students.

This type of content is good to create because it helps your current student base and attracts students who are already experienced martial artists, and that’s really important. It also shows prospective students your personality and teaching style, which is also important.  But if you want your content to bring in brand new, inexperienced martial arts students, you have to be more creative and produce entry-level and/or benefit-oriented content that shows the utility of your training across a prospective student’s life.

An example of entry level content would be a basic self-defense move or tip. An example of benefit-oriented content would be a post and/or video on how to manage everyday stress with martial arts breathing.

To produce content that is most relevant to the type of people you are trying to attract into your school, it’s important that you audit and leverage every aspect of martial arts training, even peripheral skills or benefits (such as mental toughness or better breathing). Which type of content you choose to emphasize will determine which type of student (experienced or brand new) that you attract.

The Best Strategy for Producing Content that Never Leaves Your Business’ Marketing Success at the Mercy of Other Platforms

Your content can be published and distributed across a number of channels on the internet. All of these channels fall into one of two categories, without exception: owned media and unowned media.

Owned media consists of platforms you control, such as a self-hosted website. Unowned media refers, mostly, to social media platforms you do not control but are allowed to “rent” for building and reaching your audience, such as Facebook.

While leveraging social media can and should be an important part of any successful digital marketing strategy, it’s a foolish policy to invest your content production efforts purely on platforms you don’t control.

Below, we go through the main methods of content production and distribution, both owned and unowned, with some quick tips on how to best leverage each.

Owned Media Channel #1: The School Blog

You can’t be canceled, censored, or removed from your own blog. It’s for this reason that you should begin your content strategy with your blog in mind first and social media second. 

What I mean here is that you should write out whatever message you want to convey for your blog first before any other platform. With that out of the way, you now have an easy translation to audio, video, and text-based posts to produce (the outline of all this content is already laid out for you!) and distribute across social media.

Owned Media Channel #2: The Local Podcast

It’s easy to leverage your blog posts into podcast essays. But the podcast medium is much more dynamic than audio essays and affords new opportunities to reach a local audience.

Like your blog content, you should keep content mostly at an entry-level, and stretch your creativity as far as it will go generating content that isn’t necessarily martial arts but is closely related to it, such as the benefits and techniques of good breathing. However, there’s nothing wrong with content for more experienced martial artists on your program, too. Have local health practitioners, fitness professionals, and other business owners on to interview about their area of expertise related to yours.

The possibilities are endless. But one word of advice: this podcast won’t grow your business if it is not local to your town. Include the town name in the name of your podcast, talk about town-specific things in the podcast itself, and bring on guests from town just as often as out of town.

Promotion of your podcast should be limited to your immediate area as well, to save money and effort. Advertise it inside of other businesses and organizations, in local Facebook groups, on local hashtags, and on other local media sources, if they exist.

A fair warning before moving on: podcasts are very time and resource intensive. It may not be a sustainable and profitable marketing channel for many school owners because it takes too much time to record and produce. Keep that in mind.

I recommend having a visual element to the podcast so that it’s easy to reuse on YouTube. In fact, there’s talk that podcast growth is slowing down.

From my own experience as a podcaster, I haven’t seen a dip in growth because most of those listeners still listen to the same type of content, just on YouTube or Spotify instead of dedicated podcast apps. So definitely get that content on other platforms.

Social Media Channel #1: Instagram

Instagram is fast outpacing Facebook for usership and engagement, and its vision-dominated content means higher engagement, too. Millennials and Gen Z are using Instagram more and more, while older people are staying on Facebook.

For Instagram, create a combination of quick-and-dirty educational content and examples of class. Shoot on a high quality camera (most phone cameras these days are sufficient) and add catchy music if the post is a video clip without verbal instruction.

Make full use of the stories and reels functions, as well. These can often gain wider distribution, and stories in particular are more easily shared across other profiles. 

Finally, use hashtags to help grow your audience. The biggest mistake martial arts school owners make with Instagram is to pick hashtags that are too broad. Sure, your follower count will grow, but your followers aren’t your audience. They aren’t local people who will come signup at your gym.

Instead, choose local hashtags. These are usually hashtags based around your town and/or county name, but can sometimes include local attractions. For best results, choose the hashtags with the most posts in them and stick to using those.

Social Media Channel #2: Facebook

Facebook is still the most popular social media channel, and it’s filled with people who are in the right age group to take your adult classes — who are the same people who have children to bring to your children’s classes, too.

Businesses use business pages to reach their audience. In recent years, Facebook has throttled the organic reach of these pages, so the only way to be visible is to create high-engagement content and (or) pay to boost those posts so that they appear in the feeds of your followers.

The great thing about Facebook is that all the awesome content you produce for Instagram can be reused across accounts, including the “stories” function. In fact, you can connect the two and manage them both from Facebook business tools.

One hack to get around the lack of organic reach is to run live broadcasts. Facebook notifies everyone who follows your page of when a livestream has started and will show them more often in a follower’s timeline.

Meme pages also do really well with visibility, because the highly engaging nature of their memes garners the reactions that Facebook uses to decide whether or not to show those posts in users’ timelines. So try to share really funny or inspirational memes often (note: source these from other high quality meme pages; it’s not a good idea to try making these yourself).

Another hack is to run a private group for your school in addition to a school page. Private groups show up much easier and much more consistently in the timeline of users. It also creates a sort of “gated” community where members can interact and collaborate with each other.

Whatever you do, be sure to ask for shares from your followers when you post something useful, inspirational, or funny. Unlike Instagram, it’s much easier to have your members share your content to their own timelines. And the content they share is much, much more likely to show up in other locals’ timelines, growing the visibility of your business.

Social Media Channel #3: YouTube

YouTube, like Instagram, can be a powerful local marketing tool with a little cleverness. It’s worth adding geo-specific identifiers to some of your video titles, such as your town and state, or at least including them in your video description. This signals to local viewers that they can train with you if they like your content. 

Doing YouTube video right means that you should always film in landscape on your camera or phone. If you want to repurpose your video for use across Instagram and Facebook, you can change the aspect ratio in video editing software after the fact.

Since most people searching for martial arts related queries on YouTube are not searching for location-specific videos, growing a local audience with your YouTube channel can be tricky and will require a bit of creativity. 

One of the ways you can gain more subscribers is to share those videos to local Facebook groups, and, if applicable, local subreddits on and websites like it. 

Another way to grow subscribers is to embed those videos with relevant blog posts on your website to enhance the content and/or into your emails to your newsletter list. This can increase the amount of time a reader spends on your website, and if they like the video well enough, they will click off to YouTube to subscribe to your channel.

YouTube ads are still affordable, too. While it’s not organic, the challenges around building your YouTube audience locally can be overcome by running cost effective ads targeted to your area that encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel.

Social Media Channel #4: TikTok

I know. You don’t have to like it.

But TikTok is where almost everyone is now. Instagram is still popular, but it can’t match the growth and engagement of TikTok.

Like Instagram, be sure to use local hashtags if there are any being active. Luckily, the main thing is to have your location tagged because TikTok tends to weight local content higher anyway.

For content, it’s best to have a mix of “attention” content with cool grappling or striking sequences and “micro-learning” content where you teach a concept or technique within a 40-60 second window.

Throughout the content, find ways to tell your school’s brand story.

TikTok also has a lead ad feature for service-based businesses. As a martial arts school, you provide a service, so the platform should have value for you as a school owner too.

Something weird but also good about TikTok ads is that they actually don’t want you to run highly produced ads. They want you to run ads that look and feel like regular video content on the platform, and that makes your job as a martial arts marketer a lot easier.

The Frame: Email & SMS Marketing

Salesmen know the magic is in the follow-up. But you need a way to convince people who enjoy your content to give you their contact information, and you also need a scalable way to follow-up with a large number of leads…

This is where email & SMS marketing shines. The Gymdesk marketing suite has powerful, fully customizable email automation capabilities — meaning you can trigger a sequence of personalized, well-timed emails or texts to send to a lead who opts-in to the system through your website…and you never have to manually reach out.

In other words: you write the sequence, and we handle the rest.

As for getting someone’s email, the best way to convince someone to do this is to offer them a valuable piece of content in return for opting into a form on one of your landing pages.

Combining useful, engaging content to your audience with a way to capture their contact information for the purpose of follow-up is also known as Direct Response Marketing. I already covered the mechanics of building a direct response funnel in the previously linked article, so I’ll use this section to expound on how to structure the email & SMS follow-up campaigns.

Most successful email marketing campaigns begin like this:

  1. Welcome email
  2. Deliver the content asset (if you take a direct response route)
  3. An email follow-up with more useful information
  4. An email follow-up with even more useful information
  5. Trial or program offer letter

People will tune out immediate sales attempts, but you will pleasantly surprise them and build trust if you spend your first messages giving them free, valuable information that they can use. 

As for timing, the welcome message and content asset delivery should all happen within 5 minutes of a lead opting into your online form. The other emails can come in the days afterward, one email per day — or every other day. Both can work, and it’s up to you to test which sequence timing works best for you.

After this sequence ends, you should continue to email them, but not on a daily basis. This is because they can begin to see your email as spam and then opt out of your list. However, it is possible that the information you give to them is so valuable that you can email them multiple times a week without risking them opting out.

As for how to approach ongoing messaging, you can continue to repeat steps 3-5 above, sprinkling in school updates and newsletters occasionally so they can see what they’re missing, until that lead either signs up to a membership or finally opts out of your list.

To learn more, read our article about email marketing.

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Digital Martial Arts Advertising

There are three major ways to advertise your martial arts business on the internet:

  • Display ads. These are the banners and side advertisements that you see on news and other highly trafficked websites.
  • Search ads. These are the ads that show up at the top, side, and bottom of the Google search results page when you run a search query.
  • Social ads. These are the “sponsored” posts that show up in your feed, or on the side of your feed (on desktop), that offer Calls-to-Action (CTA) to perform an action or click through to a page. They can also appear before, during, after, or between viewing videos on YouTube or Facebook.

Each has their advantages and disadvantages in terms of both budget and the likelihood that they will be clicked by a qualified lead.

For advertising as a whole, the main benefit is that you can get out in front of people as often as you want without having to wait for them to search you out, thus generating more interest for your business. 

But this comes at a loss of lead quality. That’s because interest from someone whose attention you just caught, and interest from someone who actually went to a search engine to search out your services, are not at the same level…

Thankfully, combining content marketing and advertising — through direct response marketing — can help qualify those advertising leads better — while also keeping your ad costs more controlled.

Martial Arts Display Advertisements

Display ads are those (sometimes pesky) side, top, intermittent, and bottom-of-page banners that often show up on highly trafficked websites. While this has largely fallen out of favor with web entrepreneurs and designers, many websites still use these types of ads, even on the local level.

Google and Yahoo have display ad networks that webmasters can plug straight into their websites, and you can run and manage display campaigns through those big companies. But the best option might be to scope out popular local websites and ask directly about running a display advertisement.

These days, YouTube is the top place to run display advertisements in the form of video ads. YouTube typically runs ads before, during, or after a viewer watches a video on a related topic.

Martial Arts Search Advertisements

Search ads only show up when a user is looking for information related to your ad on Google or whatever search engine you’re running ads on. This means that the success of your ads is in part dependent on how many people are searching for martial arts, self-defense, or fitness related keywords in your local market. 

If you live in a big metropolitan area, there’s a good chance you’ll get decent traffic from your search ads, provided the ads themselves are good. If not, it can be hit or miss. The good news is that you aren’t charged money for ads that aren’t shown, so if people aren’t searching for your keywords, you don’t have to worry about wasting much money.

However, there’s a temptation here to run ads on keywords that aren’t closely related to your business. First, you run the risk of not showing the ad at all because it isn’t as relevant as a competitor’s ad. Second, if you do show up, you could waste hundreds of dollars on a keyword that isn’t relevant enough to the services you offer to garner attention or action from searchers.

Social Media Advertisements

Facebook and Instagram are the two best platforms to run martial arts ads on right now. You can limit the audience to your county or town and even target people of particular interests and age groups.

Facebook and Instagram both still allow you to use photo advertisements, but for best results, use video ads instead because they have more “stopping” power when users come across them in their feeds and thus foster better engagement.

I personally think that paid social advertising is the most scalable ad tool at your disposal as a martial arts marketer. And because of that, it’s the most cost effective, too. 

One word of warning: if you run an ad for long enough, at enough ad spend, eventually your local area will get “ad fatigue” and begin to totally ignore it….

If an ad that has consistently been performing well over a long period of time suddenly takes a dive, this might be the culprit. Thankfully, updating the ad in a way that makes it seem different can remedy this effect.

Event-based Martial Arts Marketing

Advertising at and through events is a decades-old bread and butter marketing tactic of the martial arts industry. 

And for good reason: it’s really, really effective. 

That is, if you have the right strategies in place. The website, content, and email/SMS marketing infrastructure we talked about building in the first section will be critical to maximizing your results from event-based marketing, too.

To read more in-depth about this subject, read our article about event-based marketing for martial arts schools.

Event Booths

Set up a booth at every event where your audience is likely to be. Make sure you’re dressed professionally and have a reason for people to visit your booth.

At the very least, have business cards, flyers, and brochures ready. If you want to be a pro, have a special offer ready.

This is where combining your event marketing and content marketing can be really powerful. You can offer the same useful pieces of content in exchange for email addresses or phone numbers at an event that you would offer online. 

From there, your email or SMS marketing framework takes over and works for you on warming them up and following up for trials and membership signups.

Martial arts businesses will also run raffles and give-aways too, such as gift cards to local restaurants, electronic devices, back to school gear, nunchucks, and full months of free martial arts lessons.

Possible events include:

  • Fairs
  • Festivals
  • Marches
  • Parades
  • Charity events
  • Runs
  • Sports games
  • Public church or other religious functions
  • Theater premiers of action or martial arts movies
  • Parks & recreation events

The possibilities are endless. Be creative and have a plan to collect lead contact info set in place before you get to the event.

Self-Hosted Outreach Events

These are events hosted by your business. With the right connections and resources, you can host nearly any kind of event you can think of.

Here are some successful events martial arts schools have often hosted before:

  • Charitable “kickathons”
  • Strip mall extravaganzas (partnering with neighboring businesses)
  • Halloween parties
  • Back to school bashes
  • Christmas parties
  • Parents’ night out
  • Movie night (often involving an outdoors viewing accompanied by concessions and other attractions)
  • In-house tournaments

Your only limitations here are creativity and cooperation from other local businesses. For best results, pick a couple of events to host every year and make a tradition out of it.

Martial Arts Demonstrations

Everyone snickers at the “demo team” until they see the results. If you have talented kids and teenagers who want to take their training to the next level of showmanship, start putting together demonstration routines set to music that they can perform in public.

This can sometimes be used as a way to get around booth cost, or it can be combined with an event booth to generate traffic to your booth and its current promotion.

This one will backfire if you don’t know what you’re doing, however. But if you came up through the ranks around demo teams, you can probably do this reasonably well. If you came up in BJJ and never did demos like this, you might want to avoid this one and try something like self-defense demonstrations (which are more like lessons) instead.

Traditional Martial Arts Marketing

We’re in a digital age, but humans are still humans. 

And there’s a reason why traditional martial arts marketing worked…the same reason it still works and that every martial arts school owner should continue to use it, too…

The fact is, people still prefer to have, hold, touch something physical. People like to get snail mail. They like to get packages. They like to get real presents, not simply cash or gift cards.

Traditional marketing collateral has a similar effect. Someone interested in your service would prefer a real business card to a digital one. They would prefer, at least in some situations, a real pamphlet to read instead of the website.

And all of this works to your advantage. If you use well-designed traditional marketing materials, the amount of trust and good will you generate with your leads goes up. You also have a chance to keep their attention focused on considering your services — because they’re preoccupied with your brochure instead of their smartphones.

So having built an irresistible collection of digital content assets that people are interested in consuming, you can and should combine it with your traditional marketing efforts. We’ll discuss how to do that below.

Community Centers/Satellite Programs

Community Center programs have long been a staple of martial arts school owners. You can run self-defense classes or introductory courses to your martial arts style. As students grow to know and like you, that’s when you funnel them to your actual school for full-service programs.

These “satellite” programs can also be run through recreation centers and local schools as well, and as you grow, you can outsource these programs to assistant instructors.

And if you’re just starting out and don’t have a dedicated location yet for your school, community centers are a great place to start out, build a student body, and then branch out into a full time location with minimal financial risk on your part.

TV, Radio, & News

These channels are extremely expensive and not available to most martial arts schools. Of the three, however, you do have a chance of gaining free media attention by being involved in or hosting something notable, usually for a good cause.

Combine your event marketing with a charitable cause, such as ending bullying or helping cancer research, and put on fundraisers in collaboration with local healthcare organizations and other businesses in the community. Then solicit media coverage.

Try Local Podcasts, YouTube Channels, & Blogs Instead

Put together some interesting talking points and then reach out to local content creators who seem to have relatively popular platforms. 

Be sure to have a special offer ready if your guest asks. And if not, you can at least have other resources on hand to easily direct listeners to your website.

Direct Mail for Dojos

Direct mail was the genesis of direct response marketing, enjoying a decades-long usage by marketers, decades even before the internet or digital marketing even existed.

Direct mail has fallen out of favor with many local businesses, but the truth is that it’s 30x more effective than using email for direct response marketing [2]. And these days, it’s virtually an untapped channel for martial arts school owners, which makes it even more powerful. 

In fact, people tend to get less junk mail in their mailbox than their email inbox!

As with the other traditional methods, modern direct mail combines with your digital marketing, especially your content marketing, to create an effective campaign. 

Direct mail usually has to be coordinated through companies that maintain a list of addresses in a given area who mail your materials on your behalf at a time you select. Copy and design of these materials are very important for a successful direct mail campaign, so if you’re not really good at these elements, find someone who is and delegate that responsibility to them.

If you want to bypass direct mail companies, you can do something similar with door-hanger flyers. It’s illegal for you to put something in a person’s mailbox, but it’s (usually) legal to hire someone to place door-hanger flyers on the doorknobs of local houses — or to do it yourself one evening.

Martial Arts Yard Signs

Yard signs are fairly cheap and easy to put down. Be sure to follow the ordinances in your area because consistently placing yard signs where you shouldn’t could get your business fined a lot of money.

Since these signs are small, state clearly and succinctly what your service is (don’t try to put all your services on there at once), and put your phone number in clear, bolded print. Add a strong call to action to round it out, like “Call Us Today to Get Started.”

You can also offer tuition discounts or other benefits to students who agree to place these signs in their own yards, so you can avoid the city ordinance headaches altogether.

Overall, this one is best to generate inquiries directly to your phone. It’s not suited to combine with content marketing or to get people on an email list to get them warmed up into buying a product or membership.

Martial Arts Business Cards

Business cards never go out of style, and they’re still one of the most cost effective ways to network, grow your business, and establish a sense of professionalism and branding all at the same time.

It’s really tempting to design and print your own business cards in the widely and cheaply available publishing programs for personal computers. Resist this temptation at all costs.

If your business card is not professionally designed, your leads will know. They’ve seen hundreds of good business cards and will be able to intuitively identify your level of professionalism based on your business card.

The cold hard fact is that people make gut-level inferences about your credibility as a person and as a business based on the level of design your marketing materials have. It’s irrational, but poorly designed cards mean poor service and low credibility, from a customer’s perspective.

Consult with a local printer — it’s cheaper than you think. Or at the very least, use an online printing service with decent designs laid out for you. There’s no excuse for designing your own business card…unless, of course, you are a designer.

Aesthetics aside, you also want to make sure you have all the basic contact information on your card. This sounds dumb, but you’d be amazed how many businesses leave out important contact information…

You’ll want to include most or all of the following:

  • Your name & title. Don’t give yourself a ridiculous, illustrious title — “head instructor” is just fine.
  • Phone number. The business phone number is the best to put here, but if you would rather receive calls directly to your personal line, that’s fine too.
  • Business address. You are a physical training service, after all. Some people simply prefer to wander in and talk about your service offerings.
  • Email address. Make sure this is a professional address with your website after the @, not a personal address. If your website is, then the email should be (NOT “”).
  • Website address. If you don’t have a custom domain, don’t post your website address. It should be a .com, .net, or any other common domain ending or “TLD” (Top Level Domain”).

If your card has the proper information, and you still have some space to use without making it look cluttered or busy, there are a lot of innovative elements you can add to maximize its effectiveness:

  • Add a QR Code on the back that goes to a landing page where you ask for their contact information in exchange for an irresistible free content asset promising relevant and useful info. It’s best to add a bit of text around the QR code that tells them what they stand to get if they scan it.
  • Print an offer right on the card. It could be something as simple as “present this card to get a free 2 weeks of lessons.”
  • Make the back into a “VIP” referral. This requires you to have a pen on hand at all times, but it’s extremely powerful. Write the person’s name down on the card, as if the offer is tailored especially for them, and give it to them as if you are referring them directly to a special program.

Business Cards + Content Marketing + Direct Response = Explosive Opportunity

You can combine this with a custom t-shirt that says something like “ask me about free self-defense lessons” so that you can get people to approach you first, too. Then give them the card for instructions on how to get this offer.

On the back end, get their contact information and continue to market to them through email or SMS. You can do this any number of ways; a t-shirt is just one idea.

Martial Arts Flyers & Brochures

For brochures and flyers, you’ll want to include all the same information you also include on a business card. The beauty of brochures and flyers, however, is that they can and should include much more information about your program (or event) than does a business card.

Flyers about your programs

Flyers can be used to advertise classes, but they are probably best used to support your marketing efforts around specific events or discrete courses. Some events might include:

  • Back-to-school bash
  • Self-defense seminar
  • Child safety workshop
  • Parent’s night out
  • Guest seminar
  • After School program

With this in mind, use the space on a flyer to explain the event and how it benefits its audience. Keep it focused on that one event and avoid trying to market more than one thing at once.

Brochures about your martial arts programs

Brochures market your business more broadly, and because of that, they make for very evergreen content that you won’t have to update very often. This is the obvious choice for placing inside of other local businesses, where the brochures might sit for months at a time.

However, just because brochures cover more ground than flyers, doesn’t mean you should cram every service you offer into them…

Instead, write in some detail only about your main 2 or 3 programs, a little about you as an instructor (only a little) and the school itself, and then encourage the reader to take action by calling a number and/or visiting a landing page URL.

Martial Arts Referral Marketing

People trust their people. Referral marketing is among the most cost effective and powerful tools you have to grow your martial arts school. However, whether or not you receive a significant amount of referrals depends on how well your referral programs are designed. 

To learn how to do this, check out our article on how to design good referral programs. Gymdesk’s martial arts software provides some key features for martial arts schools to simplify and even automate this part of your marketing efforts.

To learn more about how to integrate referral marketing into an overall growth strategy, read our article about how to grow your martial arts school.


Marketing is a tough jungle to navigate for martial arts schools.To help you hack your way through the vine and brush, I’ve compiled all the best strategies and tactics that have proven to work for martial arts schools already:

  • Digital Marketing
    • Website & SEO
    • Content Marketing
    • Social Media
      • Instagram
      • Facebook
      • YouTube
    • Email & SMS Marketing
  • Event Marketing
    • Event Booths
    • Self-Hosted Events
    • Demonstrations
  • Traditional Marketing
    • Community Center Programs
    • Local media and content creators
    • Direct Mail
    • Business Cards
    • Yard Signs
    • Brochures & Flyers

Digital marketing forms the foundation and framework for all of your other marketing efforts. Events marketing will take up most of you or your team’s time, but it is very effective at driving growth. And traditional marketing will compound all of your other martial arts marketing efforts.

By integrating all these strategies in the way described above, you can form powerful synergies between all of your marketing efforts that create an unstoppable growth engine for your school — a growth engine that saves you countless marketing dollars.

This article is the main piece of a series on martial arts marketing. You can dive deeper into the topics covered in this article by reading the other pieces in this series:

To find out more on how our software helps enhance marketing for martial arts schools, check out our Gymdesk martial arts page.




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