No matter how large or small your martial arts school is, branding is a very important part of building your business. The moment you open your doors, your goal should be to communicate a consistent message that focuses on positioning you as a leader in your industry and illustrates the value of your services to your prospective customers.
People often ask, what exactly is a “brand”? Simply stated, your brand is a combination of the image, feeling and thoughts that are conjured up when someone hears your name. You know you are on the right track when your brand helps to communicate what your core product is and sets you apart from your competition.
Remember, if you get your branding right, both new and existing customers will associate your name with quality, trust and leadership. Building a positive brand requires a lot of work but will give your business an identity that people can relate to and be proud to be associated with. By developing a “personal connection” and projecting a brand that people can trust will lead to more opportunities to attract new membership and contribute to better student retention.
What else can I do to build my brand?
In order to deliver the right message, it helps to know who you are talking to. Be sure you understand the community that you are part of and the audience you are marketing to. When communicating over social media and email, be sure to send simple and clear messages, rather than long winded emails that nobody will read. If your messages have value and are easy to read, people will look forward to reading them rather than skipping right to the delete or ignore button. Be sure you pay attention to your tone, frequency and style and focus on delivering useful information that appeals to your target audience. It never hurts to ask your friends, co-workers and family for their opinion on your messaging. Make it a positive, collaborative experience and listen to the feedback you get from them. In the end, it’s up to you to find just the right message that will most effectively reach your customers and develop a positive brand image.
Now that you know what a Brand is!
Focus on delivering a great product and your brand will grow stronger every day. If you continually reinforce your business through regular messaging and interaction with customers, your brand identity will begin to grow organically. Keep your message consistent across all of the marketing channels you use. Your communications do not have to look exactly the same, but be sure to present a clear positive message that reinforces your services and values. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and any other social media outlet that you choose to use, should consist of messaging that is specifically designed for each platform. What works on Facebook may not necessarily work on Instagram or Twitter. Don’t forget that traditional marketing is still a very powerful way to reach new and existing clients. Printed marketing materials with professional design and a personal message are a great way to set yourself apart from your competition and stay in touch with your audience.
How much is too much?
Sharing, posting, emailing and any other form of marketing to your clients can be a tricky balancing act. As you decide what social media outlet to use and how often you intend to share, always keep in mind the benefit your updates and posts will have to your audience. A message that educates is always better received than promotional materials. You will attract followers who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
Make it personal!
Business owners all care about the people they work with and the clients that they sell to. The trick is to remember to show people that you care. The importance of establishing a strong relationship with staff and clients will help develop a positive brand message that is so important to your business. Being approachable will generate natural sales opportunities if you remember to always make time to learn more about the people that are around you every day. The best sales opportunities are referrals, and everyone loves to refer a friend to a friend. Keep that in mind the next time you think you are too busy to talk.
When you keep your visual identity and key marketing messaging consistent across your chosen channels you will develop and strengthen your brand, helping your business make long-lasting impression. Your reputation is on the line every single day. The fastest way to lose followers and customers is to lose their trust. Focus on what works. Don’t guess, measure your marketing activities and stick to the messages people respond to.
Marketing your business is a constant challenge, but the rewards of building a successful brand for your school will continue to provide benefits both personally and professionally for both you and the people you come in contact with every day.
The BeltStripes Team!