How to create an effective flyer campaign?
August 1, 2012 7:57 PM   Subscribe

How can I start and maintain an effective flyer campaign for a martial arts group?

I am senior member of a non-profit martial arts club, and we’d like to attract more members. We have printed up a bunch of flyers to put up in coffee shops and boutiques around town. The flyers are attractive and simple. Their purpose is to get people to visit our website, and from there people will learn more about our dojo and hopefully take steps to check it out and then join.

So the problem is: How do we get these flyers distributed?

As I said, our group is non-profit, so we have to put them up ourselves. Once I organized a flyering push on a Saturday afternoon. The dojo paid for pizza to entice students to come participate. Turnout was only so-so. We fanned out across different neighborhoods and posted a good number of flyers that day, but I never got the energy to put together another push like this, and no one else took over.

To me it seems to create an impact, we have to keep up with a consistent campaign. After all, flyers get taken down and covered up after a while. I’m looking for advice on how to develop a flyering effort that:

-has a realistic ambitions and is low maintenance
-is well suited for volunteers who have busy lives
-prevents wasted effort (like different volunteers covering the same ground)
-stays consistent
-can scale up so more students can hopefully get involved
posted by Leontine to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Who are are the people you're trying to attract? Where do they hang out? I'm not a martial artist so maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about, but boutiques and coffee shops are not the first places I would go if I were looking for a high concentration of martial arts enthusiasts. I think you're potentially wasting a lot of time and energy and resources with the logistically demanding flyering technique.

There's a saying in marketing that "if everyone is your customer, nobody is your customer." I think that's definitely true here; while your club would take all comers, you're not going to effectively connect with anybody by trying to reach out to everyone at the same time. You've got to get super specific about who you're trying to reach out to and then optimize for those types of people. If this is hard to do in the abstract, think about what current members do outside of martial arts and how you can find other people like them.

Craigslist would be my first stop since it's free to post and lots of people use it. Experiment with several different ads targeted to different audiences. Tweak the keywords (that people will use to discover your posting) and the appeal to figure out what works. Make sure to include some good photos with your listing. With ads like this, good photos are often make-or-break.

And if your club doesn't have a website, get one. Putting up a static page with some basic info and pictures shouldn't cost much, and probably some of the students can help with the technical side. The bottom line is that if you don't have a web presence you are invisible to most people who are interested in what your club offers. I discover way more local stuff with google than with coffeehouse billboards, and probably your future members do too.
posted by jlh at 12:34 AM on August 2, 2012

We have a website. As I mentioned in the question, the purpose of the flyers are to get people to visit the website. We've posted on Craigslist and have a Facebook page. There are other aspects to our online marketing.

I put in coffee shops as an example of a place we would flyer (and indeed a portion of our target demographic go to cafes).

My question specifically here is about developing a flyering campaign--how to structure it, get it up and running, maintain it, etc.
posted by Leontine at 6:42 AM on August 2, 2012

You're probably overthinking this. Flyers are the shotgun approach, so you don't need much of a strategy. Just get together with however many people show up on flyer day, divy up the neighborhood, and get together afterward for pizza. If you want to be more flexible toward different schedules, divy up the neighborhood on a big map and let people sign up to post in any given section(s). Send them new flyers every month or two if you want to keep it current.

Even though it is a shotgun, you could probably target them a little more. Coffee shops and boutiques don't sound to me like the places where prospective ninjas hang out. Maybe a lot of your members go to coffee shops, but chances are most of the people in any given coffee shop aren't interested in going to a dojo. I'd try gyms and fitness centers, outdoorsy places like REI, or the college campus if you've got one around.

If you really want to be serious, see if you can get some web traffic reports so you know if this is actually helping. Are your unique visitors going up noticeably in the week after a flyer campaign? You might find that flyers have a huge impact and you should do more of them, or you might find that a flyer campaign gives you only a tiny bump while a Craigslist ad gets you a lot more for a lot less effort.
posted by echo target at 7:46 AM on August 2, 2012

Low maintenance and consistant effort with a busy group sounds incompatible with regular 'flyering pushes.' Instead of trying to get everybody doing something at once, I would ask people to do a small amount of work where they can fit it in in places that are convenient to them. Basically, curate where you think the most likely places to attract people will be, and have members who are there regularly take responsibility for the support of that particular flyer or two. We're talking jobs, other hobby spaces, gyms, public/college library, college student center, dorms, etc. Places where your members visit on a daily basis. And you would want to have an easily accessible and plentiful supply of flyers kept around where activities take place so that members can take flyers to post at these spots (or if you're lucky give to interested friends) at will. Really, you want these flyers around where your members are because word of mouth is your best bet for these sorts of things. I would also consider making a specific referral addresses on the fliers to actually track effectiveness of flyers vs other advertisement methods.

How are you marketing your classes? If you have a youth program, figure out how the local t-ball or soccer leagues advertise, and try doing a similar campaign for these programs. Also, things like day-care or local sports shops would be a good counterpart to this. You could emphasize the athletic benefits, body awareness, and emotional control aspects for the youth groups - although this would probably work better for things like Aikido or Judo rather than, say, Muy Thai or Krav Maga.

Something like a regular (maybe once a month if you find the interest from the community is there, otherwise at the beginning of every semester if you're student heavy, or what have you) 'Self Defense Workshop' is a typical way to get people in the door who are maybe interested but wouldn't respond directly to a 'Learn Karate (or whatever discipline you are)'. These are also usually a good way of getting students involved in basic instruction. Basically, yeah, don't forget to tailor flyers to your target group like said above.

If this fits your demographic, you could organize meetups at sports bars that do MMA showings, and make your presence known/see if management will let you post something during those nights. Also, regional tournaments, etc.
posted by McSwaggers at 1:33 PM on August 2, 2012

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