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Old 11-13-2002, 09:00 AM   #51
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Dojo: Alnwick aikido club (UKAU)
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I have found that in starting a new Dojo, not only is it difficult to initially get people to come (Location is everything, I feel), but a more important point is getting them to come back.

Humans are creatures of habit and routine, they become comfortable. If you can create an aikido 'habit' within them then you keep them.

There can be a few ways of doing this. Money is a big one... if they have paid for a certain amount of training in advance, then they are more likely to come back so as not to waste money.

You can set up a begginers 'course' in which they know they will gain something the next week... it could be that they get a technique ticked off in a list which leads to them gaining a novice certificate (or whatever.. some small achievement).

You could create a booklet or video, of which you have limited supply so that they have to come back to return it the next week.

The first few weeks of aikido can be frustrating and it is very easy for a student to just not turn up one week and you lose them.

So, if you have your advertising and location sorted. Next comes retaining students.

oh.. and also... the best way of getting more students is by word of mouth. We try to encourage that, so that, when a student introduces a new member they get a free month. If they bring 2 new students who join then they get 3 free months.

So... location and advertising initially bring in students. Then word of mouth brings in more... then you have to keep them. (if people start together then they are more likely to stay also)

Thanks for keeping us updated.

And if you come up with any ways of getting students into your dojo please share... always looking for ways to get and keep students.

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Old 11-13-2002, 09:38 AM   #52
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Hi Kev,

Word of mouth seems to be the absolute best way to get anyone into the dojo. I have been trying, but without much sucess. I've tried flyers, ads in the paper, the website, small phone book ad...so far it isn't working. On the other hand, the dojo has only been open for one month, so it is hard to expect much at this point. I will most certainly share anything I do that works!!!! Everyone in this web community has been so helpful with suggestions and comments, and I most assuredly will give back what I can, especially with what I learn in starting a dojo, completely from scratch (the build it, they will come attitude).
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Old 11-20-2002, 06:00 AM   #53
formerjarhead
Dojo: Okinawa Yoshinkan
Location: Okinawa, Japan
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Rachel,

I have a few questions and comments. I do not how you worded you flyer's but you may want to use word questions to get people to think about Aikido. Since you are in a bad location did you put a small map on the flyer's? I think the free classes idea was a good one because most people want to try something before they have to pay for it. Do you have any pictures from your old class or posters of anyone doing Aikido around for people to look at when they come? It's good that you have your husband and son in the class. People can see it's for adults and kids.

Stay with it! It may take time but like the movie said, " If you build it, they'll come." My sensei said when he first started our class he was by himself for almost 6 months. To pass time he would practice the basic movements. Then he got 1 student, then 5 and now we have between 25 to 35 each class.

Best of luck.

Formerjarhead
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Old 11-20-2002, 07:03 AM   #54
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Hi Robert,

Thanks for the comments. I think the idea of a photo or something is good, however I don't have any pictures of me doing aikido, but do of plenty of other folks. I wonder if that matters?

We held a free class last night, and the senior student (30 years!) from my old dojo came to help out. Absolutely no one showed up, so we went out for beerwaza, which was fun. It is amazing that no one showed up, despite advertising it in the paper, and flyers all around town with "free" in big bold letters. He thought that maybe the town is the problem, as so far only two folks have come in to watch, and one was a hapikido guy and the other a yoshinkan practioner who just came to check out this dojo. Actually now it is just my husband training, as I had to boot out my son due to his lack of respect and how angry he was making my husband during class (nothing quite like a beligerent 13-year old to stir up trouble). He's welcome back when he gets the chip/boulder off his shoulder.

I am going to give this to at least the end of my lease, but if it continues that no one comes in to watch even, I think I'll have to locate to a different city, no matter how much I like this space.

Best,

Rachel
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Old 11-20-2002, 07:58 AM   #55
aikigreg
Dojo: Mizu Aikido
Location: Ft. Worth Texas
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I'm only sorry I'm nowhere close to your dojo. I'd love to get this kind of one-on-one attention
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Old 11-20-2002, 08:03 AM   #56
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Me too Greg!

Please, if any of you folks are ever in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area, drop me a line and maybe come and train.

Rachel
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Old 11-20-2002, 08:38 AM   #57
akiy
 
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Hi Rachel,

How many people would you say live, say, within a 10 mile radius?

I'm wondering, as your friend said, if the "town" is the problem. I've heard some experienced teachers say that it's difficult to keep a dojo "alive" without about 100,000 people in the nearby vicinity...

Thoughts from experienced folks who have run a dojo on this?

-- Jun

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Old 11-20-2002, 08:44 AM   #58
Larry Feldman
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If the town is the problem, expand your marketing efforts to surrounding towns. I know you have gotten a lot of advice, but...

Have you started or tried the idea of a kids class? Getting adults to show up is sometimes harder than getting children to attend. Not sure if this is your interest or not.
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Old 11-20-2002, 08:45 AM   #59
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Hi Jun,

In Ann Arbor, which is about 12 miles away, there are over 130,000 folks, however there are three well established aikido dojos. Saline is small, about 20,000 altogether. The surrounding areas might have another 20,000 folks. It is definately a smallish City, however a lot of folks who work in Ann Arbor live in Saline, and some of the downtown shops are really flourishing (restaurants, coffe shops, etc.).

I am beginning to think the city might be a problem, but I guess I'll know for sure after the Rec and Ed program comes out in January. If no one signs up from that, it will be pretty telling about the general interest in the City.

I was hoping that being an inexpensive dojo (due to having only three classes a week) could possibly draw folks from the Ann Arbor area who find the other dojos too expensive and are therefore not training. Cost doesn't seem to be a factor however.

One thought is that my website does not show up on Google, despite my submission of the url. I spent a couple of hours the other day submitting my url to a number of search engines, in hopes that it would increase my visibility. The Chief Instructor of my home dojo suggested something about embedded files being helpful, and I find nothing about them in FrontPage, other than really basic stuff (he said hidden embedded files with the words aikido and Michigan). Any suggestions out there from the knowledgeable web designing folks?

best,

Rachel
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Old 11-20-2002, 08:50 AM   #60
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Hi Larry, your response came over after I sent the one to Jun. I've advertised mainly in Saline and in Ann Arbor. There are several other cities nearby (within a 15 mile radius) that I haven't really tried (I feel pretty uncomfortable going around putting up posters, as many shop owners are not happy if I ask them if I may put one up).

I really don't like teaching kids under the age of 12 aikido (I know there are a number of folks out there who disagree with me on this one), so I don't think that is really a viable alternative for me, unless I get some young gung-ho person who wants to tackle this.

take care, thanks for your response!
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Old 11-20-2002, 08:53 AM   #61
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Another thing to consider is the time of year. Very very few people join aikido in november and december (the worst recruitment months).

It picks back up again in january and february with the 'lose weight after christmas' kick, and the new years resolutions.

Easter is a good time to recruit also, but Spetember is by far the best time to recruit, which tends to spread over into early october then drop sharply in november.

We have found this in our association, and there was a recent aikiweb poll supporting this I think

So, I would say, give it time. You're advertising and flyers now may pay off in january. Keep at it and see what happens in the new year

Good luck!

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Old 11-20-2002, 08:56 AM   #62
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Thanks Kev, thanks everyone who has been contributing advice!

All very much appreciated.

Yup, I'll sit tight, see how January goes. Keep the advice coming please, in particular now on how to get more exposure with my website (for free though-I've pretty much exhausted my resources).

best,

Rachel
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Old 11-20-2002, 08:59 AM   #63
Larry Feldman
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I understand your position on teaching kids. It is a different kind of teaching, I have late hours and the 3-4 kids that come to class are 11 or older and take the adult class.

You might try listing your dojo on the Aikido Journal site (www.aikidojournal.com), I know that ATM charges for their directory, not sure if teh web listing is free or not. Would also see if the local Saline (or Ann Arbor)business community has some kind of site that you can list on. Any luck with the local paper issuing a 'press release' for you?
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Old 11-20-2002, 09:05 AM   #64
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Good idea Larry. I'll contact aikido journal and see if they have a charge. Saline charges for listings, although it is most likely worth my while to enlist in the Chamber of Commerce (eeeh, bite the bullet for more money). No luck with press releases even though I am spending my advertising dollars on the Saline paper. I tried to get them to make an announcement about a demo I held, and my phone calls and email went unanswered (they can't be that busy).

Thanks again,

Rachle
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Old 11-20-2002, 09:09 AM   #65
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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okay, either I am blind, or aikido journal does not have a dojo listings section. Did you possibly have Aikido Today in mind?
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Old 11-20-2002, 09:31 AM   #66
Larry Feldman
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Sorry about that, I think they did in the past but it could have just been the semianr listings (just had a seminar). ATM definately has a listing, both electronic and published.

Hang in there, the rec program should help generate your class. Is the dojo more convenient for any of the more experienced students from your 'home' dojo? Could they work out with you 1 day/week?
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Old 11-20-2002, 10:08 AM   #67
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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alas, would be nice to have some come and train. No, I am farther away for most folks. I do have one fellow who is coming to my saturday class which is held before the class at the other dojo (that way he can make two classes in one trip).

sigh

hanging in there, Rachel
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Old 11-20-2002, 10:44 AM   #68
SeiserL
 
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Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
Please, if any of you folks are ever in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area, drop me a line and maybe come and train. Rachel
Greetings,

I was born and raised in Pontiac. My wife still has family back there. I did a seminar for my brothter-in-law's Issinrhyu Karate schhol last year in Rochester. When we head back again, I'll let you know.

Until again,

Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-20-2002, 10:45 AM   #69
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Cool Dr. Seiser, I look forward to hearing from you when you come to town, just drop me a line. My email address is: rachmass@provide.net

best,

Rachel
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Old 11-20-2002, 12:37 PM   #70
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
One thought is that my website does not show up on Google, despite my submission of the url. I spent a couple of hours the other day submitting my url to a number of search engines, in hopes that it would increase my visibility. The Chief Instructor of my home dojo suggested something about embedded files being helpful, and I find nothing about them in FrontPage, other than really basic stuff (he said hidden embedded files with the words aikido and Michigan).
I'm a true novice in HTML, but I suppose that what he meant is to add keywords in the HTML head. Imitating and stealing technique is of value, right? Let's steal from sensei Akiyima. The HTML of this Aikiweb page includes

<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="aikido, aiki, aikidoka, ki, martial, jo, bokken, ueshiba, morihei, aikiweb, akido, forums, aikicards">

You could include something similar in the head of your HTML file. The head is the descriptive part, which comes before the part where your text and images are. I do not know if Frontpage will show you the actual HTML but if not, just open the file with Notepad.

Just don't put it within another set of <>'s, otherwise I believe you can add this line anywhere in the head. I'm a HTML novice myself, so I figured that if I got it wrong, this way I would find out.

But anyway, I don't suppose that the search engines updates their indexes instantly. Which means, it might take some times before the search engines directs people to your page.
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Old 11-20-2002, 12:44 PM   #71
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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Quote:
Kev Price (Creature_of_the_id) wrote:
Another thing to consider is the time of year. Very very few people join aikido in november and december (the worst recruitment months).

It picks back up again in january and february with the 'lose weight after christmas' kick, and the new years resolutions.
Yes. Most people expect that courses of various kinds begin in January or after summer. It takes more guts to walk into a dojo in mid-term.
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Old 11-20-2002, 12:51 PM   #72
akiy
 
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Regarding HTML "Meta" tags, they're actually beginning to be deprecated these days in search engines. Google, for instance, doesn't really use them in their page rankings; rather, they take a look to see how many links go to a particular site from related sites...

As a recent poll here showed, though, the most "effective" manner in which people heard about their first aikido school is "word of mouth." Developing such, of course, takes more time than other "traditional" methods of advertising.

Just asking a newspaper or such to "write an article" on your dojo probably won't amount to much as they usually have enough stories. Perhaps better would be to send them a properly formatted press release regarding something "newsworthy" (like a demonstration); that way, they pretty much have most of the article written as they can quote a lot of what you've already written.

Anyone have any other thoughts on how to advertise your dojo?

-- Jun

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Old 11-21-2002, 09:59 AM   #73
SeiserL
 
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
... the most "effective" manner in which people heard about their first aikido school is "word of mouth." Developing such, of course, takes more time than other "traditional" methods of advertising.
IMHO, "word of mouth" is always been the best means to get referral. You have to create you own buzz by being visible, available, and credible. Define what is you market niche, who do you want as students. Where are they and what are they doing? Be there too.

So you may have to look at are you positioning your school were its convenient for you or for them? Is there a market where you are located? If so, target them. If not, relocate.

I agree with your own press releases or even submit a regular guest column to local small community and school papers that apply the Aiki principles to nonviolent conflict prevention, management, and resolution.

Go to the library and read on marketing for small businesses. A wealth of information is there.

But, like Aikido, it takes time. Be patient.

Until again,

Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-21-2002, 02:59 PM   #74
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Thanks again folks,

Word of mouth is definately the way to go, only problem for me is that anyone I know who has any interest in aikido is training at my old dojo, and I do not under any circumstances want to go trying to get these folks! I've been trying to put in hints to the CI there that maybe he might want to send some timid newbies my direction, as my dojo might be the perfect place for them to start, but even this is pushing it a bit. I've been talking it up with my friends, none of whom have the slightest bit of interest in aikido. My husband seems a little embarassed to spread the word at work, so that one doesn't fly. I try to bring it up in casual conversations when I'm out inspecting houses, but that hasn't gone over real well either. Any other suggestions for word of mouth? How do you compete with your friend? I don't want to do that. I think that I would appeal to a certain segment that he would not appeal to, but they aren't hearing about me through him (I think that folks who are just starting out and might need a bit more nurturing would feel better at the intimate setting of my dojo than his larger and more intimidating setting).

Yes, like aikido, it does take time. But, unfortunately, if it takes me as long to establish a dojo as it did for me to "get it" with aikido, I'll be an old lady before this dojo has wings of its own.

Patiently,

Rachel
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Old 11-24-2002, 01:15 AM   #75
Dangus
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Hey, if you really want a totally fresh market with no Aikido competition, the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area desperately needs a dojo. The closest one to this area is 75 miles away. If you do choose to relocate, that wouldn't be a bad choice.

"Those who beat their swords into plowshares plow for those who keep their's" -Ben Franklin
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