This is a question I get asked quite frequently. Here’s my take on the situation and why I think most school websites don’t do what they’re ‘supposed’ to do.
Question: How many websites do I need for my school?
[One for your prospective members, and one for your students.]
Almost every school’s site that I ever come across is trying to market to both students and prospects on the same site – to me, that’s absolutely insane!
Think about it like this; a prospective student comes into your office to potentially ‘sign up.’ But before you start telling them how to get started in your school, you do the following;
-Whip out a photo album of last year’s Halloween Party,
-Begin to tell them about your upcoming events,
-Show them a pic of last month’s ‘student of the month’,
-Point to a flyer for this month’s Kids Self Defense Seminar (even though they’re an adult),
-Reference an empty picture frame hanging on the wall (I’ll explain thisone is a minute),
Sounds crazy right? Where are the benefits? Where are the testimonials? What’s in it for them?
We can all agree that this would not be the sales pitch of choice and we’d all, most likely, fire our program directors if they tried to ‘sell’ like this.
But this is exactly what most websites do – they show all this stuff, the stuff that your students would have a connection to, and they throw it right into the prospect’s face when they come to their site.
Your prospective student does not want to know ‘what mountain what master came from’ or the ‘origins and folklore of [insert your style here]’. They want to know what they need to do to take the next step in becoming a student in your school. And they want to be able to find this information within 2-3 seconds of viewing your site’s home page.
97% of all the Martial Arts sites out there don’t even have a clear Call-To-Action on their site. And if they actually do have a button or a link on ‘how to get started’, it’s usually buried in some obscure part of the page, or it’s so small that it’s barely noticeable.
Martial Arts schools should have a ‘Sales’ site for recruiting students. And it needs to be a separate site than the one they need to ‘Communicate’ with their students.
The Sales Site is where 100% of everything that is on it, works towards getting this prospect into your door, plain and simple.
The Student Site is a place for you to post events, pics, videos, sell seminars, merchandise, share history and stories, etc. A ‘blog’ site is the perfect platform for this type of site. Most people, if you’re just a little Internet savvy, can do it all themselves.
For a student site, I recommend going to www.Wordpress.com and picking out a theme that you like and deciding on what functionality suits you best. WordPress has a giant list of all kinds of ‘plug-ins’ (modules or features to add to your site like; password protected areas, calendars, connections to Facebook, etc.)
The cool thing is, it’s totally free! Now, if you want to use your custom domain name for this site, you’ll need to establish an account on www.Wordpress.org.
You can hire a local graphics person (might even be a student) to create a custom header for this site and the rest is fairly easy. And since WordPress is such a popular platform, there are no shortages of people out there that can help you with it.
Okay, now back to the Sales site.
Here are some of the things you need:
1. Clean, Optimized Home / Landing Page
People need to see what programs you have to offer right away. Don’t make it difficult. The back end of the site should be optimized around your towns and your types of Martial Arts. And whether you do TKD, JKD, MMA or BJJ, make sure you use the words ‘Martial Arts’ all over the place. As a search, the word ‘Martial Arts’ is used more than all those other words combined.
“Here is an example of a simple yet effective home / landing page.”
2. Make sure the graphics are not intimidating, offensive or ‘weird’
Don’t have people kicking each other, choking each other or smashing each other in the face. More often than not, the prospect will identify more with the ‘Kick-ee’ than the ‘Kick-er’. Also, don’t choose crazy-hot-over-the-top models. Use ‘better-than-average’ type people that others can relate to. And no kids or guys doing a technique with ‘crazy-eyes’ or ‘blood-thirsty’ snarls. Show people looking ‘normal’ and having some fun.
3. Have Sales Pages for Each Program You Have
If you sell Kids memberships, make sure there is a page that gives them everything they need to know to get their kid started. Have an offer that they can purchase – now! If you don’t, the odds of them remembering to call you the next day are slim.
Here’s what you don’t Need:
Forget Flash. You don’t need your prospect to stare at a bunch of images that keep rotating every 3 seconds. It’s an annoyance. Plus, Flash doesn’t show up on iPhones and iPads – so clearly it means that anyone who is ‘cool’ will not be able to see it. Additionally, with Google’s recent search changes, sites with flash don’t display correctly. They’ll just be big blank gaps that’ll make your site look like it’s unfinished.
“A Flash Website like this one will not show up very ‘readable’ in Google’s new ‘Caffeine’ Search.
2. Photo albums
These are great for students who are actually in the photo or know people who are – not for prospects. And if they really dig looking at pics of strangers, they might NOT be the type of people you actually want in your school anyway, LOL.
3. Detailed History about you or your style
I’m sorry if this hurts anyone’s feelings, but 99% of the time, people aren’t concerned about you and what you’ve done until they’ve actually joined. They’re concerned about their favorite radio station – WIIFM. What’s In It For Me!
3. Do not have Dead Links!
This is from the blank picture frame reference I made before. There is nothing worse for your site than clicking on a page and getting that “404 Page Not FoundError.” It’ll get the prospect’s confidence in your site to plummet faster than Mel Gibson’s Movie Career.
I hope this info helps and gives you a little insight as to why your site is not doing everything that it can be doing for your school.
My advice? Convert your current site into a student site, since it’s 60% there already and get yourself a bad-@ss Sales site for your Martial Arts school. This way you can start getting the number of new students each month that you actually deserve! Believe me, the people are out there just waiting to join your program. Are you going to have a website good enough to get them in your doors?
BTW, this is exactly what my company http://FullContactOnlineMarketing.comdoes, so if you need help or want to find out more about the site we can build for you, give us a call at 516-543-0041 or email me at