Changes In the Market | Martial Arts In Manhattan

This is a helpful article written by Michael Massie who's a contributor at Martial Arts Business Daily. Click here to find more helpful articles from them. 

1. Changing market. People are busier and have less leisure time to spend on recreational activities. Therefore, when they choose an activity they choose carefully. Also, they tend to bounce from activity to activity when they get bored. That's the social media effect... attention spans are shorter and you really have to "entertain" people to hold their interest.

2. Changing demographic. We're mostly dealing with millennials now, and/or Gen Xers who are highly adapted to technology. These folks communicate differently, they shop differently, they spend their money differently, and marketers are still figuring out how to market to them to get a piece of that economic pie. If you haven't spent time studying this demo, you're at least a decade behind other industries, because this group makes up the bulk of your clients, both as parents and as adult students.

3. Easier than ever to market, harder than ever to reach customers. Back in the day (pre-internet), we only had a few primary marketing channels, including the newspaper, yellow pages, direct mail, and TV/radio, which most school couldn't afford. You spent a chunk of your marketing budget on a yellow pages ad, because you knew that's where everyone went to look up things they wanted to buy (it was the Google of its day). The rest usually went to a weekly newspaper ad, and maybe some door hangers or direct mail. But you KNEW you were reaching your target markets with those channels, because there were so few marketing channels to begin with!

But today? Hell, there are so many marketing channels, it's difficult to know where to start. On the internet alone we have multiple social media networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Then you have YouTube, Google, and the other, smaller search engines. Add in a plethora of other news channels and info-websites, throw streaming media in the mix (TV, music, & podcasting), and then calculate the fact that few people are reading offline media these days, and you have a severely fragmented audience to which you must market your dojo.

And remember, attention spans are shorter than ever, making it harder than ever to get your message across, even if you do reach them. If you happen to get eyeballs on your ads, you have maybe three seconds to capture their interest. If you don't manage that, your ads are dead in the water.

4. Changing spending habits. I mentioned this above. Talk to any Millennial and ask them how they spend their money. What you'll find is that their priorities are much different than they were for Boomers, and to some extent, Gen Xers as well. On the whole, millennials aren't so much into stuff as they are into experiences. This actually works in our favor, but you have to be able to communicate that what you're offering is what they're looking for... and often, it isn't. Which leads me to...

5. Martial arts isn't cool any more. When I was a kid starting martial arts in the early to mid-80s, martial arts training was still cool. It had this mystique about it, and that mystery made it attractive. Plus, the Karate Kid movies had every child in the nation wanting to take classes.

Fast forward to today. Besides the UFC, can you name one major cultural phenomenon in the last two decades that has caused an increased interest in martial arts among the general public? I can't, and that's a real problem. Here's why...

The Karate Kid had a positive message. Parents wanted to enroll their kids in classes because they wanted their kids to learn the kinds of life lessons that movie portrayed. The UFC is definitely NOT communicating positive messages, because it's not about that. No disrespect to the athletes, but it's about Dana White putting asses in seats to watch two people beat the shit out of each other.

Do you think any parent wants their kid to learn those lessons? And, do you think that adults want to engage in that sort of behavior for fun? Look, I've been around pro fighters on and off since my teens, and I can tell you, even they know their job isn't fun. It's challenging, often rewarding, sometimes heartbreaking, but it ain't fun.

But ironically, the UFC and MMA, in general, are the closest thing to cool that the martial arts world has right now.

Thanks for reading,

Master Hahn

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