Martial arts schools need to build relationships online

With the wide range of marketing tools, martial arts schools can carefully craft an online presence. However, a recent study from Web.com found small businesses are not leveraging Internet marketing and social media to extend their offline relationships with current and potential students.

In the survey of 3,000 small-business decision-makers and consumers, customers reported they were inclined to do business with small companies because of the ability to build relationships. However, they expected these connections to be expanded through digital channels.

"Small businesses have historically relied on face-to-face relationships to grow and differentiate themselves, but today's consumers are demanding that these relationships extend into 'e-Main Street'," said David Brown, chairman and CEO of Web.com. "Our survey found a significant disconnect between how small businesses' decision-makers think they are delivering on customers' expectations versus the reality of consumers' perceptions. The good news is small businesses are starting to realize the Web's untapped potential to reach consumers who are eager for online engagement."

Shifting consumer preferences give martial arts schools a huge opportunity to build engagement and loyalty with their websites, social media and other digital channels. Since martial arts enrollment depends on relationships, owners should utilize these platforms to their fullest extent.

How martial arts schools can reach current and potential students online
The study revealed part of the disconnect was due to small-business owners and consumers utilizing social media differently. Owners were more likely to focus on transactions, build awareness and running marketing campaigns. However, consumers were more interested in empowerment, engagement and stronger relationships.

In fact, an online presence may be a deciding factor for whether potential students enroll at a school. The study found having a website and social media profiles influenced whether people choose to do business with a small company. Despite this, only half of those surveyed said small businesses were adequately meeting their needs with social media. 

Since potential students expect a great deal more from martial arts schools' Web presence, schools may need to adjust their marketing efforts. People prefer relatable content rather than overly promotional messages. While a social media presence is important, owners can rely on a user-friendly management system to communicate with current students and attract new prospects to the studio. Automated messaging can reduce some of the stress for owners who find it difficult to keep with social media.