help - Getting a person to see the value of promoting my *FREE* class

bluewaveschool

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I am the head instructor of a TKD class at my local YMCA. The class has been going for 30 years as of this year. Longest running class in town by far. However, the head of the YMCA doesn't understand the first thing about TKD and doesn't promote the class. I can't get anything better than a few flyers around the building. It's free to members, and a family membership is less than $50/month. Yes, that's the deal of the freaking century for a martial arts class, the whole family for under $50. 2 nights a week, 1 beginner hour and 1 advanced each night. Most of my competition is charging $80+ and the sign up fees, and the uniform with the logo, and the other fees. I don't charge for tests, don't force anyone to buy a uniform. We've had many students on scholarship that can't afford it. The YMCA in the next town charges $40 for TKD on top of the Y membership. They just built an addition to their Y partially to give TKD a bigger space, since they had taken over the basketball gym. Meanwhile I have 7 white belts. He's now told me that I need to have at least 10 on a regular basis by fall or he'll give my white belt hour to the aerobic director because she wants to try some new fad classes.

Does anyone have any idea how I can get through to the man and make him see that I can bring in more money than Zumba does? I thought I had him agree to send out a flyer to every 1st-5th grader in the school system, but someone on the Y staff told him that spring team sports are starting and it will be a waste of time to send them.

I'll take any idea, any suggestion.
 
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bluewaveschool

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The class used to be huge... when my instructor was on the board of directors and we were advertised. But that was over 10 years ago.
 

Gnarlie

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It's all about perceived value. If you give it away for free, people think it's not worth anything. Take your white belts and go stand in the centre of town in branded T-shirts, advertising that this is a one time offer to try something for 5 dollars that normally costs 10, and you're beating them away with a stick. Go figure.

Gnarlie
 

Gnarlie

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Ps if you do that, collect a non-refundable 2.50 deposit. Some people won't turn up and their deposit funds your next advertising run.

Gnarlie
 
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bluewaveschool

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It's free to members like all classes. So in a sense they are paying for it with membership dues.
 

Grenadier

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To the OP:

You need to advertise in some way, shape or form. Your best source for students will be the local elementary schools, so it would make sense to speak with the principals there to see if you can hand out some flyers / postcards, as well as even offering to teach classes in the schools themselves. Also, conducting demonstrations at the schools will certainly open up a few more eyes.



It's all about perceived value. If you give it away for free, people think it's not worth anything.
Gnarlie

This statement hits the bullseye in the center.

As odd as it may seem, people who get something for free aren't going to have nearly as much appreciation for it, compared to those who pay for it. Most people (including students) will perceive a value of a service or good based on what they have to give up to get it.

It's no secret that most of the time, your least-committed students in a dojo / dojang, are going to be your "scholarship" students (or their parents). They'll put their martial arts training on a much lower priority compared to other activities that they had to pay for, such as baseball, softball, cheerleading, etc. Either that, or the parents will balk at having to pay any kind of fees, especially exam fees.

If the material that you are giving is good, then you shouldn't be afraid to charge what is fair market value for it. This is one thing that will help you retain your students, as odd as it may seem.
 
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bluewaveschool

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I have no control over the price of the class. They used to charge on top of membership, but at some point decided that every Y class should be free. At that point they also decided to quit offering the class to non members. Maybe I can get him to open it back up to non members for a small fee.

The only reason I put up with all the crap there is that I don't pay for anything. No rent, no insurance, no utilities, not even equipment.
 

tshadowchaser

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your lucky the local YMCA will not let any martial arts class in its building because years ago a TKD instructor had a class there for a while and even if he now teaches in his own building on the complete other side of town they say any class in the Y would be running competition for him and they will not do it.
As for how to get the Y to help promote your classes go to their board meeting and request help. Use the local newspaper for advertisement by putting in pictures and articles about the students.
 

wingchun100

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I don't know if there is anything you can do to make them see more value in it. Well, no...that isn't entirely true. The trick is to make him think HE realized the value on his own. People like to feel smart LOL.
 

WaterGal

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The Y's a non-profit organization, right? And you say they're letting people take your class on a scholarship basis. So you might be able to get a human interest piece in your local paper or even on the local news, about how your martial arts class at the Y is doing a great job helping needy families in your community or whatever. Also, you could put flyers up around town, and start a Facebook page or even a website for your class. You may have to take the initiative about getting flyers to the schools.
 
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bluewaveschool

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Flyers were SUPPOSED to go out to schools. Until someone on staff told him that it was a waste of time because spring sports have started and so all the kids are already busy. That same staff member is responsible for all of the t-ball/soccer/etc programs for kids. I'm going to have to rebuild the facebook page, it fell to the wayside while we built a group page for current students/parents to access. Also been informed in the past that I can't go put an ad in the paper myself. I knew members on last years board, just checked and I don't have friends on the current board. Maybe I should just figure out how to get on the board.
 
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bluewaveschool

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The Y's a non-profit organization, right? And you say they're letting people take your class on a scholarship basis. So you might be able to get a human interest piece in your local paper or even on the local news, about how your martial arts class at the Y is doing a great job helping needy families in your community or whatever. Also, you could put flyers up around town, and start a Facebook page or even a website for your class. You may have to take the initiative about getting flyers to the schools.

They were letting people take it on scholarship when they charged extra for it. One of my other instructors was able to take the class on scholarship.
 

Gnarlie

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Umm...could you find a new hall and start taking control of pricing and advertising? Just a thought?

Gnarlie
 
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bluewaveschool

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Well, that's an idea... but seeing as I own zero equipment and am not in a financial position to buy equipment, much less rent and insurance, that one is kinda out. I am writing up a pricing list of all the surrounding schools, as he's under the impression that most places charge $45-$50 tops. $75 is the average rate here, with one place as high as $120, and still waiting for others to get back to me.
 

DennisBreene

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Flyers were SUPPOSED to go out to schools. Until someone on staff told him that it was a waste of time because spring sports have started and so all the kids are already busy. That same staff member is responsible for all of the t-ball/soccer/etc programs for kids. I'm going to have to rebuild the facebook page, it fell to the wayside while we built a group page for current students/parents to access. Also been informed in the past that I can't go put an ad in the paper myself. I knew members on last years board, just checked and I don't have friends on the current board. Maybe I should just figure out how to get on the board.
That is a very reasonable approach. As is joining other local organizations that you may be eligible for. Would you qualify for Chamber, Rotary or other service organizations? This could put you in touch with other local leaders and increase your influence.
In another approach, the master instructor of my school partnered with our town to provide a series of anti bullying seminars for school kids. That resulted in new students and a subsequent partnership with the city to refer "at risk" kids to his school for training.
 
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bluewaveschool

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Finally, some success! He has agreed to do some form of advertising next month during the spring membership drive. He has also agreed we should open the class back up to non members for $15/month. Insanely cheap, yes. Still free for members. Get them in the door at $15, mom and dad get bored sitting around and end up getting a membership to workout or whatever while billy and sally are in class. In theory, anyways. The Y one (large) town over raking in the money on TKD helped sell him on the idea.
 

ballen0351

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Wow that's cheap. To take classes at our YMCA for members its $50 per person plus membership fees, for non members its $100 per person
 
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bluewaveschool

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He has made it free to members 4 years ago. Can't backtrack now. A youth membership is only $20, so we wanted to price it just under. We want to get mom and dad in the door, with the family membership the long goal. Which is only $45/month, super cheap for a YMCA
 
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