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Lunatic Bodhisattva
03-20-2012, 10:57 AM
We have a fairly new Dojo here where I live in Lexington KY. What I am wondering is what are some
ways to attract students. Right now we are affiliated with the University of Kentucky which allows us a great space to train in, two days a week as well as allows for very affordable dues for UK students.

We also have another Dojo space that is wonderful but we need more students to fill it up. Any thoughts on attracting new or experienced students would be very welcome.

Akeman1963
03-20-2012, 11:02 AM
There appears to be a Kentucky-Japan Friendship Garden in your town's calendar of events. Try associating with them for more leads. Kevin

Akeman1963
03-20-2012, 11:12 AM
Here is the link that I found for events.

http://www.visitlex.com/

You may search for events that will allow you to perform a demo; possibly at a mall too. Investigate the mall's event calendar to choose an optimum time and date; also probably near the food court, cinema or wherever kids hang out.

Lunatic Bodhisattva
03-20-2012, 11:26 AM
Thanks Kevin,

I will look them up.

Shadowfax
03-20-2012, 02:35 PM
Get a website and a facebook page together.

danj
03-20-2012, 04:59 PM
Short sharp beginners courses can start the churn to build critical mass and have appeal to uni students if timed well in the semester, you might even keep a few :)
dan

Mary Eastland
03-20-2012, 06:14 PM
Flyers are good and inexpensive. You can give them to your current students to put
in their hang out spots. Summer is coming...so it is a good time to give demonstrations at festivals or outdoor shows.

We used to run a small ad in our shoppers guide evey week. That was a good use of advertising dollars...we always ask people who call where they heard about us and that was the often the place.

Sometimes we run a 6 week beginners class and sometimes we run a summer special....3 months of classes and a gi for $99. Both of those methods have brought in new students.

lbb
03-21-2012, 07:49 AM
Get a website and a facebook page together.

But DON'T do either one of these if you aren't committed to keeping it fresh (and if you've never done that before, be very cautious). Nothing turns people off more than a stale website or facebook page.

Dazzler
03-21-2012, 08:25 AM
But DON'T do either one of these if you aren't committed to keeping it fresh (and if you've never done that before, be very cautious). Nothing turns people off more than a stale website or facebook page.

Hi Mary...agree to a point...but for a new start up, most visitors are going to have fresh eyes.....Have just branched out myself and my emphasis is on getting the bodies in the door rather than numbers on my web page.

Once i'm up and running with a core of students..then yes I think the website needs to be interesting.

I've just invested in a large sign....hardly revolutionary marketing strategy I know....but at least people in the area know that there is Aikido available...and how to access it. The sign directing those interested to supporting info on the website or my phone no. is all they need to get to me.

After that my amazing good looks, charm and sophisticated Aikido artistry does the rest :D

Cheers

D

ps..I know it works ...I've only been open 5 years and I've already got 2 students...although the dog does look a bit odd in his hakama

Lunatic Bodhisattva
03-21-2012, 11:37 AM
Thanks Mary,

We have both, but as you said they are not fresh. I am a part time fine art photographer so I plan

on shooting some great images of Sensei and some of the Yudansha doing some hard training, I

am confident I can capture some fantastic images of throws and breakfalls for the FB page and the

website.

Lunatic Bodhisattva
03-21-2012, 11:49 AM
Thanks for the great suggestions everyone.

I will work on them all.

Talk to ya soon.

E

danj
03-21-2012, 03:42 PM
But DON'T do either one of these if you aren't committed to keeping it fresh (and if you've never done that before, be very cautious). Nothing turns people off more than a stale website or facebook page.

Agree with Darren...i.e. agree to a point and other strategies he suggests...not sure a dog in a hakam is the way to go though as a pin up!

something is better than nothing, with a free wordpress account and buying a domain you'll have a nice presence and it can integrate with fb etc..
From there you need upwards of 50pages of content and quality incoming links (inc. an aikiweb signature helps) to get it going. Spending $50 on a google adwords campaign can be a good return if the market place isn't too competitive, spray it out to ninjutisu, judo etc... search terms of you have the budget

dan

PS I think George L. is planning an article on websites so will leave details to the big dog

lbb
03-21-2012, 07:23 PM
Hi Mary...agree to a point...but for a new start up, most visitors are going to have fresh eyes.....Have just branched out myself and my emphasis is on getting the bodies in the door rather than numbers on my web page.

Once i'm up and running with a core of students..then yes I think the website needs to be interesting.

It's not about being "interesting", it's about not being stale...you know, old and dated information. Unless the subject of your website is utterly static, it needs to stay current to show that you're still a going concern. If you post articles, either don't date them at all, or keep new ones coming at regular intervals. If you post events, make sure that old ones are promptly removed. If you post pictures of tests or seminars, make sure that the most recent ones aren't two years old. If you post a schedule, make sure it is current (and especially, if it is dated, make sure the date is current). Et cetera. You get the idea.

Akeman1963
03-21-2012, 07:50 PM
Don't forget there is also 'Groupon'

Eva Antonia
03-22-2012, 02:39 AM
Hi,

do you have a federation? You can also get your dojo listed on the federation's web page so that people looking for a dojo would see yours.
Same for university and municipal web pages - when starting aikido I found our dojo via the "leisure & sports" section of our municipality.

My karate dojo sets on flyers. They are distributed all over the neighbourhood in September, when school starts and kids are looking for new hobbies...then they often bring their parents with them. Flyers are even given to local commerces like our butcher or baker. Apparently that also works.

I think an interesting web page needs also some interesting events and news to be broadcasted. You cannot update if there is nothing to update, so in my opinion that's for a later stage. Same for hosting or co-hosting seminars; you'd need a minimum "critical mass" to do that. But then there is also GOING to seminars so that people see that this person with the wonderful aikido comes from the University of Kentucky dojo, maybe it's worth while looking at:)

If you want to have guests at your dojo get inscribed to the aikido group in www.couchsurfing.org...I brought already several couchsurfers from different affiliations to our dojo. Obviously that's not something permanent, but it's interesting for the students also to have some different people from different styles to train with.

Wish you much luck!

Eva

JJF
03-22-2012, 03:56 AM
And of course remember to your dojo on the dojolist of Aikiweb :)

inframan
03-22-2012, 10:42 AM
Notify the media on campus and see if they will do an article about the club:

http://www.dailytexanonline.com/video/2011/09/07/aikido

http://www.dailytexanonline.com/life-and-arts/2011/09/06/ut-aikido-members-mesh-life-energy-martial-arts

Alic
03-22-2012, 12:44 PM
I don't know about your university, but at UBC there are demonstrations and recruitment events that happen for clubs and greek societies that happens at the beginning of winter and summer sessions. If your UoK has this kind of events, consider putting up a demonstration booth, like a small tent or a sheltered area with tatami covering the ground. If there is fair weather then just having 4-8 mats on the ground will do. You can put on jiyu-waza or practical application demonstrations, or let people experience a control or pin. You can also show the formal kihon waza. If you're feeling motivated enough, you can even hold a free outdoor lesson right there for people.

The key is to show. I get people to come not by giving them fliers or talking about how wonderful Aikido is. I put them in shomenzuki sankajo osae ni. :)

List of fav recruitment techniques:
- Munemochi hijishime ni
- Sankajo
- Nikajo
- Katamochi Ikkajo
- Ushiro-ryotemochi kotegaeshi
- Shomenuchi kotegaeshi
- Yokomenuchi shihonage
- Munemochi irimizuki
- Sokumen/Shomen iriminage
- Self defense variations

Takis Zourntos
03-24-2012, 09:12 PM
I was the primary advisor and a founder of the current Texas A&M University Aikido Club, TAMU Aikido (chief instructor is Michael Black Sensei). I thought I'd chime in with some of my experiences, in case it is helpful.

By far the most successful recruitment tool for us was the Fall Open House, a full day of promotion for university clubs. The Spring Open House did not garner as many new recruits. I think a big hit is always the demonstration, for which we'd book some additional space near our booth. After the Fall Open House, we'd have anywhere from 15 to 20 people showing up the following week.

Retainment is another issue! In my opinion, the Sensei is the most critical factor, but building a cohesive culture with social events and a base of senior students who make others comfortable can be helpful, too. We are fortunate that our Sensei has a great rapport with the youth and his dedication to the club has made it the success that it is (there have been previous Texas A&M Aikido Clubs which all perished--- TAMU Aikido is thriving with around 40 regular members, and running now for three years).