Scheduling Beginners Courses for Maximum Marketable Exposure

Synopsis: How often does your academy run a beginners course specifically for children? Do you set aside specific times of the year to run campaigns?
The post will show you how to maximise campaign potential throughout the year.

Word count: 1752

I Have A Question For You.
How often does your academy run a beginners course specifically for children?

I’m guessing your answer will be one of two.

My academy sets aside strategically important dates throughout the year to specifically market a beginners course aimed at growing our kids classes. These dates are deliberately aligned with some distinctive time of year or marketable partner – intelligently enabling maximum exposure to our marketing campaign and ensuring our maximum market potential is reached every time.

Or

My academy offers beginner class all year round, beginners are always welcome!

Whilst offering beginners courses all year round and week-on-week is a great way to recruit a steady ‘drip feed’ of potential new students, unless you are looking to market a fresh, brand new beginners initiative every single week you are not going to experience a significant number of new members when compared to a strategically managed and correctly marketed beginners initiative.

If indeed you do run an ongoing/rolling marketing campaign every single week to attract new beginners imagine how tedious this can be, how time consuming and how much effort is necessary to ensure a sufficient job is maintained. With this mode of beginner intake it is extremely hard to corral abilities and maintain standards with such staggered start dates for so many individuals. Not to mention ensuring that a sufficient ‘follow-up’ service is maintained and feedback is acted upon to develop a level of service further down the line.

I used to run beginners classes week in week out, I would get phone calls from parents asking if I had space for ‘little Johnny’ to come and try my classes – of course, I always had space (more space than I wished) and would love ‘little Johnny’ to come along and give us a go. The problem I had was retaining children like ‘little Johnny’ and indeed growing my kids classes. I still get those same phone calls (as well as emails and Facebook messages), the difference, is I now apply the child’s details to a ‘waiting list’ that I’ll market to, ahead of our next strategically scheduled beginners course. That way I can plan a successful series of sessions focused at delivering fundamental material specifically designed for individuals with the same experience – knowing how to do this and the reasoning behind it was the best thing I could ever do, this method literally saved my kids classes.

The Impact & Shortcomings Of An Ongoing Weekly Beginner Intake

Unless you have the luxury of a number of dedicated coaches assisting you in every class and the space to split sessions based on age, experience and abilities I am assuming you have a class of children doting on your attention and your ability to coach them through the next set of techniques.

Let’s assume your answer to the initial question at the top of this article was #2 and you have no specific strategy for advertising beginners courses, you quite literally have an ‘open-door’ policy on ‘try-outs’, parents are welcome to bring along children to try your class (for free of course) to see if they like it and want to become a full-member.

How Does This Affect Your Existing Students?

Let’s first understand that any new student will need to be paired with an existing member, an existing member that is already acquainted with the intricacies of etiquette at your academy, knows how to behave and understands the simplest of concepts that underpin the technical content you deliver – the new beginner quite obviously will not.

Do you think your existing members learning experience will be affected during this session? Of course their learning experience has been affected – negatively.

Any new beginner will at some point hold back the progress of an existing student, whether at a technical level or concerning etiquette (this can be as simple as the new beginner constantly running back and forth to speak with their parent).

Let’s look at this from another perspective – the material the new beginner is to learn.

Let’s assume because you have a new beginner attending (maybe 2-3 on the same day), you decide to slow down the progress already assimilated by your existing group so as to acclimatise any new beginner(s) to easier/less involved technical content.

Do you think your existing groups learning experience has been affected during this session? Yes, of course – negatively.

How Does This Affect The New Beginner?

In much the same manner as the above two examples let’s assume because you employ a ‘weekly’ intake of beginners you have a new starter visiting your class. Due to the fact your class is already busy and a desire to continue the momentum gained over the last few weeks of study, you continue with material that feeds from previous sessions. The beginner, as a result, is literally thrown in at the deep end and has to fend for themselves against technically superior kids already familiar with you, your coaching methods and your class delivery.

Do you think your new beginners learning experience has been affected during this session? Yes. They have felt out of their depth, haven’t understood the material, repeatedly became despondent with their level of skill and couldn’t keep up with the child you chose for them to be paired with, in short – negatively.

Get Your Free Infographic
‘5 Essential Elements to Grow Your Kids Classes’

The Common Problem

Weekly beginner courses. Unless you have a number of highly attentive and passionate assistant coaches to help guide different levels of ability through your weekly classes and you decide to run weekly “try-outs” at your academy you will undoubtedly negatively affect the learning experience of your current group of junior students, thus developing retention issues or provide nothing more than a negative experience for any new recruit that walks in to try your class.

Believe me, it’s taken me years to understand this and for much of my time as a coach I have failed to understand the impact that not having a fundamental plan of action, when it comes to scheduling beginner courses, has had on my academy’s growth.

From the very first moment a child enters your academy they need nurturing into the class setting. Confidence [in themselves], conviction [in you as their coach] and contentment [in the learning environment] are the keys to ensuring they return for a second class – the three C’s.

These three essentials are built and cultivated over time and if providing a quality service to existing students whilst attempting to grow your kids classes is your goal you would better off setting strategically marketable beginners courses throughout the year, which can be planned, organised, implemented, measured, compared and repeated year on year to ultimately provide a positive learning experience time and time again to every child that comes through your door.

Scheduling Strategically

Remember kids do not enrol themselves into your classes, you can certainly attract their attention through a number of methods but essentially it’s the parent that takes care of enrolment, is the ‘communication channel’ and principally the individual you must convince that your service is perfect for their child.

With the amount of competition out there this can be an extremely tough occupation. Nevertheless, there are times of the year where, if utilised correctly, you will be in a much better position to gain new customers – likewise; there are points throughout the year when marketing a new beginners course is ludicrous.

Using the UK as an example here are three examples from each category.
Best time to marketWorst time to market
January (New Year Resolutions)Bank Holiday (Family Time & Holidays)
September (New Academic Term)Mid-July (Family Holiday’s & Sunshine)
November (Anti-Bullying Week)Holloween (Trick or Treat)

Bank Holiday’s, at least I think, are perceived by many as a time to enjoy an extra day away from the office, a chance to enjoy that “four-day” week or experience a “long weekend”. BBQ’s, long walks with the family, family get together’s or shopping, not taking the kids to try a new martial art! The same can be said about Halloween.

I was once contacted by a community group to run some kids classes in their venue as their previous MMA instructor has up and left without warning leaving approximately 20 children without the classes that they had come to enjoy. Of course I would, I was in a position of attempting to grow my academy and a potential 20 more children on the books was a welcome incentive.

Without thinking I agreed to their proposal of 31st October and arranged to do two classes, one after lunch and the second from 18:00-19:00. Bolstered by the fact that children were attending an arts and craft class prior to my lunchtime trial I had 31 children attend the session. Excited by how the children received my first class I eagerly anticipated the number I’d deliver the class to when 18:00 came around…

I had one child turn up and basically gave a free private class away… Idiot!

Intelligent Scheduling

The benefits of aligning an intelligent marketing campaign in January or September when coaching kids is obvious.

In January parents are keen for a ‘fresh start’ not only for themselves and their ‘New Year Resolutions’ but also for their children. The New Year and the new academic term have been consistently the best times to market and commence any new beginners course for me and the retention of children that have started during these months is significantly better than any other. For many, September marks the end of the ‘lazy’ summer and getting back into study with renewed vigour and commitment – this potential is easily harnessed if done correctly, especially if you are adept at working with schools.

Another time of year that provides a perfect excuse for a specifically designed marketing campaign aimed at children that I have used since 2007 and hasn’t cost me a penny in advertising is the national ‘Anti-Bullying’ Week in November. For decades martial arts have been synonymous with defeating bullies, £million grossing movies have been scripted around martial arts practitioners overcoming adversity laid down by perceived stronger foes and as a result parents – quite rightly – have enrolled their children onto programs that deal with developing a confidence in dealing with such a phenomenon.

Click here to understand how you can utilise national ‘anti-bullying’ week as a viable option for maximum marketable exposure…