A crazy idea for attracting long term students

girlbug2

Master of Arts
Joined
Apr 25, 2008
Messages
1,543
Reaction score
70
Location
Southern Cal.
I have no idea if this has ever been attempted before...the idea came to me while I was thinking about how many people switch martial arts at least once in their lifetime before mastering the basics in their original art. Then there are the jack of all trades MAists who never seem to find what they're looking for. I'm sure they're frustrated with the process almost as much as their teachers, who see them for a month or a year and then they disappear off the radar without explanation.

In our public school system we have what is known as general education. A student is required to study some introductory classes in several major areas in order to be eligible for high school graduation, when they will then go on to specialize in their area of interest in college. A high school student might take a few years of math, history, English, science and physical education. Elective courses could include a sampling of the fine arts, other languages, etc. The clear benefit of this is that each student (in theory) has had opportunities to "try out" these subjects at a very basic level, so that he/she can have an informed idea of what he/she is really drawn to for study later on.

By contrast, how do most martial arts students pick their art...? On this forum we've discussed this on various threads. To me, it seems kind of random, judging by most people's responses. Sometimes a student will fall into a martial art that turns out to be a good fit for them, very often they will not and they drop out soon after. I'm sure that there are a lot of customers that do their research before they commit, but I'd guess they are not in the majority. In my case, it was a matter of convenient location combined with what little I knew about my art from tv and movies.:eek: I got lucky--it turned out to be a good pick.

What if there was a better way? My proposal is this: a survey course of local martial arts. It would work something like the following example:

In a certain geographical area, perhaps a county, the owners of a handfull of local martial arts studios get together and decide to cooperate. Ideally there should be one representative of each art; say, a TKD, a BJJ, a Kenpo Karate, a Wing Chun, and a Kendo school for example. They advertise locally that they are offering for free "a taste of the martial arts in X county". Each prospective student takes one free class from each school at their convenience. The rules are, the owners/instructors are not to pressure or sales pitch these survey students in any way either before or after the free class. It is understood that the student wants to be able to compare different martial arts and make an informed decision about which they prefer. When the student has completed the "course", it will be entirely up to him/her to contact the school they have chosen and discuss signing up.

There would be benefits to the schools that participate in this as well as to the students who try it. Think of the good will and publicity for martial arts it could generate in the community. Imagine having students that are confident that they've chosen wisely and committed to study seriously!

There would be obstacles...this would work only if the owners followed the rules, resisting the temptation to cheat a bit and "bribe" students with the promise of good deals. Surely there are enough MAists with integrity to make it work.

Thoughts? Opinions? Am I totally out of my gourd?
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,824
Reaction score
7,336
Location
Covington, WA
Sounds interesting, but my first thought is how this is different than what people can do now? I mean, don't most schools offer a free, introductory class? I know at my school, our coach does... and he doesn't pressure them at all.
 

hkfuie

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 20, 2008
Messages
371
Reaction score
23
Location
USA
It's true that this is exactly what a person can do now. But when you provide a "package," people are more likely to actually do it. :)

I think the obstacle is school owners working together.
 

Ken Morgan

Senior Master
MT Mentor
Joined
Apr 9, 2009
Messages
2,985
Reaction score
131
Location
Guelph
I agree, I think most people do this now.

What you're recommending is that all these different schools get together on advertizing and administrating this system, not a bad idea, but all these schools are in direct competition with each other. It would be interesting how it all works out.

Dont forget 90% of people who start MA or any fitness regimen stop after 3-6 months, I dont think theres a whole lot that can be done about that. People are for the most part lazy, me included!!
 
OP
G

girlbug2

Master of Arts
Joined
Apr 25, 2008
Messages
1,543
Reaction score
70
Location
Southern Cal.
Sounds interesting, but my first thought is how this is different than what people can do now? I mean, don't most schools offer a free, introductory class? I know at my school, our coach does... and he doesn't pressure them at all.

The twist here is, the student doesn't feel any obligation to sign up when their class is done. He can just say Thank You and not feel like it's being rude to leave without saying whether or not he will be back.

Also, even something as innocent as the instructor approaching after class to talk about their school, can feel like pressure to the newbie student. That alone might keep shyer people from even trying a school out, they hate thinking they're possibly offending or insulting the owner or maybe giving them false hopes that they will join up. The "free" class can feel like a sort of unspoken obligation is owed. I have observed this very thing several times in my area. IMO it leads to a lot of newbies who just don't know how to deal with these sales tactics, signing up and then regretting it later.

If your coach doesn't follow up after the freebie class to sit down with the guest student and go over pricing plans, then he's unique in my experience:).

So yes, a lot of schools do already offer free trial classes, but in my experience, not in such a way that leaves the student feeling completely free of obligation.
 

Brian R. VanCise

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 9, 2004
Messages
27,758
Reaction score
1,520
Location
Las Vegas, Nevada
I think you would find this pretty hard to coordinate with all the schools in an area.
icon9.gif



As to free classes? Well everyone pretty much does that and with big commercial schools yes there will be a sales pitch. However, like Steve's school above a lot of schools have no sales pitch. That is how we do it in IRT as I only want people who really want to be there. So after a free class or two I usually let them approach me to inquire about joining and fee's etc.
icon6.gif
 

ShelleyK

Brown Belt
Joined
May 2, 2009
Messages
424
Reaction score
16
Location
Tonawanda NY
My Dojang actually has a 2 week trial period which includes 2 private lessons within instructor and as many classes as you can go to in that 2 week period.
Yes they mention the black belt program or paying yearly etc but in my experience they arent pushy at all, they allow the student to make up their own mind :)
 

myusername

Brown Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
477
Reaction score
36
Location
UK
I think this is quite a good idea but it would be a nightmare to organise I bet. It might work better for schools that share the same training space throughout the week. There is a place back in my home town of Norwich (UK) that is run by bhuddists and they rent out three dojo's. If all the different schools who used that had an "open week" and formulated some leaflets offering this as a trial package It may work.

Here is there timetable so you see what I mean:

http://www.norwich1.com/yogainfo.htm#Description of the Various Skills

My TKD school offer a full month free trial period! He pretty much leaves you alone sales wise in that month as well. I remember he gave me a beginners info pack with all the prices of everything - Dobok, fees, gradings, licence etc that I read in my own time in that month. He does very well really as he has many long term students.
 
OP
G

girlbug2

Master of Arts
Joined
Apr 25, 2008
Messages
1,543
Reaction score
70
Location
Southern Cal.
Hmmm, when I started this thread, I failed to realize that a lot of people's ideas of what constitutes "pressure" is different from mine. This may be a problem in the whole world of sales, not just in Martial Arts.

To be clear, here is what I mean. Some people (such as myself) are sensitive to social situations where they may be in a position to offer rejection to somebody else. We'll call them "S" people. S people tend to shy away from things that involve sales pitches for items that they have not clearly decided ahead of time to purchase, because saying "no" feels like rejection, or they are uncomfortable with the possibility that the other person will perceive it that way. S people tend to err on the side of assuming that others look at it the same way they do.

Then there are those who aren't bothered by having to say "no" in general, they would never take it personally and they assume the other person wouldn't, either. We'll call them "R" people because it just rolls off their backs.

It may never occur to an R person that S people exist, and vice versa. We all tend to think that others view things the same way as we do.

So if you say, "but I would never try to pressure anybody into joining, I'd just let them know about special deals and leave it up to them." AHA! That IS a form of pressure to an S person! Even that little bit.

So how would an S person protect himself from that pressure...by not even bothering to take the free class to begin with.

Who loses here...both the student and the teacher/owner lose when the student doesn't take the free class.

OTOH who would win if the potential S student perceived no pressure and therefore took the class...they would both win.
 

RRepster

Yellow Belt
Joined
May 6, 2009
Messages
44
Reaction score
0
That is interesting girlbug2 and I wouldn't doubt it if some areas have schools which have occassional get-togethers for cross training. In a way that is akin to churches who network with other ones in a town and share pulpits once a month or quarterly. Perhaps if schools/clubs did that there wouldn't be competition or jealousy amongst them, it may quash untrue stereotypes about them too. I remember back in my TKD club days we used to laugh at the nearby Bussey school people but now that I'm older I realize they were just different. They didn't spar like we did, they just practiced defense scenarios which to be honest WE should have been putting far more into practicing than forms and sport freespar IMO.

I don't think I would call it basic training though as if all martial arts have the same basics because they don't. TKD (and presumably Shotokan, correct me if wrong) have very different ways for body movement than CMA styles, espeically internal ones. I have heard internal masters say that now all they practice is once again the basics - silk reeling, and body mechanics. It's kind of like the old saying: "Now that I know everything I have realized I know nothing."
 

RRepster

Yellow Belt
Joined
May 6, 2009
Messages
44
Reaction score
0
what does "OTOH" mean?

Regarding your S and R people. Sorry for the political correctness finger pointing here but lately the left has created a paradigm shift in placing the blame of a misunderstanding or offence to another on the person that did the offending even if the offender had no idea it was an offence and meant no offence. I see that most often in university now and it drives me crazy. It's as if we have to try to read the other person's mind and all it takes is an accusation of offense and the student is found guilty with no opportunity to defend herself. It makes me sick and I personally can't wait until I'm done in December and can wash my hands of it.
 

Big Don

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 2, 2007
Messages
10,551
Reaction score
189
Location
Sanger CA
A local MMA school offers this in my area as well AND gives you a free T-shirt. :)
T shirts can be screen printed very inexpensively. Cheap advertising is almost as good as free advertising... almost
 
Top