In the past, business owners may have found success in having a great product or service, marketing it, then selling it. These days, potential students look for a bit more, like the story behind your school or what you do in your community.
Creating an authentic community goes beyond your school doors. A true community should have relationships and networks with other martial arts schools and even organizations or people that don’t necessarily practice themselves. Complimentary businesses that share values and target demographics are finding it effective to band their communities together.
Sponsorships are another avenue that businesses look at, to either raise funds or to help market your product or service. Whether you’re looking for sponsorships to help host a martial arts tournament or general sponsors who have a long-term partnership with your organization, there are a number of things to consider. Here are some of our tips on building business partnerships and sponsorships for martial arts schools.
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Cross-Promote for Success
Cross-promotions can be a cost-effective marketing tool. Usually, these agreements don’t cost either party a dime, as they mostly trade marketing services with each other. To do this effectively, you’ll need to figure out what complimentary businesses share the same target demographics and values, without competing too much. Get to know your students well, from their lifestyle and interests outside of martial arts, to social media preferences. You should already be talking to them on a regular basis and knowing what drives your students can help shed light on what kind of businesses you should look to cross-promote with.
Creating lasting relationships with other companies will help you grow a healthy community around your martial arts school. Make sure you attend your partnering business’s events and become a regular at their businesses. These are great opportunities for cross-promotion on social media, boosting both followings, in turn. If done effectively, you should be able to increase your referral rates and get those new students coming in for their first classes.
Cold-calling is becoming more and more a thing of the past. To get a good selection of sponsors on board, you’ll have to win some people over the old-fashioned way: networking. Frequent other businesses regularly and show companies you share values, making your approach for sponsorship opportunities a lot easier.
When you’re talking to other businesses, be clear about your demographic and how your students or guests will hear about the sponsored brand. In your proposal, you should clearly lay out specific deliverables, such as views by a particular demographic. Adjusting the amount you ask for is also key — when dealing with some larger corporate entities, any amount less than $1,000 may not be worth their time, whereas a small business may only be able to give you $500. Talking to the right person at the organization will also help you get a “yes" and, if you’ve done your networking, this will be a whole lot easier.
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Should You Sponsor?
You might run into a request for your martial arts school to sponsor other people’s events or form partnerships. When this happens, it’s important to refer to your martial arts business plan and marketing plan, to see what your organization’s goals are. Does the potential sponsorship further your organization’s goals? Will you see a positive return on investment?
It might be hard to gauge these factors and potential results, since you don’t know the actual conversion rates, until after you execute. It’s still important to do the mental workout, to determine whether it’s a good idea or not. Once again, determine whether the visibility provided by your sponsorship will hit your target demographic; if it’s probable that interested people will remember to find you – and their memberships will cover most or all of your sponsorship expenses – it might be a good idea to pursue it.