Thanks for the compliments on the website (which I actually built and run). i do have one question though, can you tell me where you got this impression of marketing from the website ? We are not selling any product (DVDs, books etc) appart from quality Aikido tuitions if you wish to call that a product so where is the marketing there? The rest of the content is just articles, interviews that I wrote and found to be relevant to any Aikido enthusiast.
We went to Tralee on Wednesday and missed the chance to train with you and Cyril. That was a pity - I was hoping to get in some training.
You are certainly doing heavy marketing on your website. You aren't selling DVDs, but you're absolutely selling some distinct products. The most obvious and expected products are classes, events, seminars - these are the undeniable products sold by every dojo.
The deeper level was much more interesting to me as a marketing professional and aficionado. You give a lot of clues about the ideas and practices to expect at your dojo - all very necessary for a potential student. There's a lot of power in words...
I like that your positioning of your brand of aikido as being based in critical thinking, realistic/honest and non-magical techniques, a solid pedigree, a common tradition of philosophical inquiry, and (I loved this one!) "pedagogic research and Aikido development". These seem like they are universal ideas with aikido versus other martial arts, regardless of the culture of the community.
Let me elaborate on my reference to the aggressive marketing of French aikido - this was the factor that I noticed right away; it's what you use to distinguish your dojo from the other local aikido dojos.
Your interviews, descriptions and articles are branding "French style" or "French aikido" (or something existing only within France). For example, at 4th dan, Cyril is described as "a pioneer" of teaching some perspective of aikido that is different from the aikido offered locally in Ireland. The credibility is based on a loop of 4 or 5 aikido instructors, all of whom are French. I think the common threads are Senseis Tissier and Gouttard? These folks studied with Yamaguchi Sensei and have some of his characteristics in movement that are different from the mainstream.
An example from your interview of Cyril - this refers to his split from another sensei's school 10 years back (at 2nd or 3rd dan?) to launch Tissier Sensei's organization in Ireland - full text here
"G.E.: Why did you go back the "French style" Aikido?
C.L.: I needed a breath of air, well being, vitality and some motion. I wanted to go towards a more modern Aikido, technically more mature and in constant evolution. I did not want to remain stuck in the practice of the 60's."
There are lots more examples of this positioning on your site - mostly, it holds cultural commentaries on the physical and philosophical limitations of practitioners in Ireland, the UK and the larger Anglo-Saxon community to do this supposedly different form of aikido (essentially, "to evolve" or not be "stuck in the 60s"). These are two basic ideas about the aikido brand you're selling that sort of raised my curiosity: "French style" and "evolved". I'm not sure how the Irish, let alone the larger international community, perceive this branding.
I checked in with some aikidoka with experience in Ireland to see if my radar was broken - though they agreed with these assessments of the aikido in the area, they also supported my notion that this branding may be interpreted negatively, aggressively, whatever....
Here in southern Italy (a very non-Anglo culture), there are similar observations to Cyrils' re: Anglo-Saxons/UK/Ireland: What I see is a big emphasis on static, staccato movements, boring repetition, disconnection, and obligations to trade off doing fake ukeme...ego generally flares up if a technique "does not work". I have theories about the origins of this behavior, but it's irrelevant. I liked your Sagan quote - it's loosely connected.
The other reference to marketing in my post can be seen in the affiliate marketing you are doing on the site:
You've used your branding to do some interesting cross-marketing: references to an affiliated publication (the French aikido magazine that you edit), your individual histories and credibilities as martial artists, and also your 1st-3rd dan instructors' related businesses (including a guy who sells results-oriented self-defense to women and police, and also a martial arts supplier, right?).
Sorry to be initially vague - I hope this clarified my statement!