Buddy Days

    One of the easiest ways to get new students is to host a “bring a friend” event in your school. The event is simply what it sounds like: a chance for a current student to bring a friend or family member in to train with them.

    Like anything, there is an art to getting good participation. Hosting a successful event isn’t hard, but takes some planning.

    What Happens at a “Bring a Friend” Event?

    A “Bring a Friend” event can be a single-day event, or can be an event that goes on all week. If you run it for the entire week during your regular classes, it may be easier to get more people to participate and to have a chance to personally meet each of them.

    During a “Bring a Friend” event the friends begin class with their buddies. You’ll want to have a warm-up that everyone can do that incorporates some partner work and make it light and fun. Don’t do anything too strenuous that may make a beginner get injured, feel inferior or like they can’t handle martial arts training.

    If you have qualified introductory instructors present, after the warm-up you can have them teach a 15-minute introductory lesson just as they would for any new student. The regular students get rank-appropriate drills or lessons taught while their friends are off in introductory land.

    After the friends are done with their introductory lessons, then have them reunite with their buddies and finish the class with more fun drills and use some of what they just learned. So if the buddies just learn to jab, some of the fun drills could use jab now that they know it.

    The last five minutes of class, recognize all the friends by having them come forwards and get a round of applause for being brave enough to participate and for a job well done. Praise them for what they did well and tell them that you’d like to see them continue. (You could even go as far as awarding them their white belts if you use belts in your school and they learned enough.) Let them know about the enrollment special you have to offer when it expires, and that it’s courtesy of their buddies that brought them in.


    Promoting the Event

    You’ll want to begin promoting the event at least 3-4 weeks in advance. You can post event announcements on your website, Facebook, Myspace and on other online social networking sites that you’re involved in. In addition:

    • 3-4 Weeks in Advance: Make in-class announcements, include in your school newsletter and emails and hang promotional posters in the school to further get the word out. You want every single student to know about the event.
    • 3-4 Weeks in Advance: Ask all of your students to post the event on their social networking pages and to email invite all of their local family and friends.
    • 2-3 Weeks in Advance: Create an event invitation that promotes the event on one side and that has explains that they need to RSVP for the event.
    • 2-3 Weeks in Advance: On your invitation for the kids, be sure and state that parents of the children that are guests need to visit the school to sign a permission slip the day of, or prior to the event so their child can participate. In addition, parents are encouraged to be present to watch their children in the class.
    • 1-3 Weeks in Advance: Continue to promote the event in person, online, and during class time. Ask the students how many friends they’ve invited. Tell them that each friend that shows will receive a membership gift worth at least X number of dollars courtesy of them! (more on this later)
    • 1 Week Before: Create a flyer or postcard for the guests that attend that give them the details of the special enrollment offer with an expiration date no more than a week from the date of the event(s). Tell your students how much their friends will save if they choose to enroll after attending the “Bring a Friend” event so they can use that to further prompt their friends to attend. Ask the students to let you know which of their friends should be contacting you to R.S.V.P.
    • At the Start of the Event: Make sure that each guest has checked in, signed their waiver and completed a guest information card with all information that you need to make future follow-up emails and calls.  

      The Enrollment Offer

      At a “bring your friend” event, you always want to have a special offer that expires quickly that is so awesome that it is seldom or never offered to the public. This helps create more of a sense of urgency.

      Several good offers for this event are:

    Train for a month for FREE!

    • Save $199.00 off enrollment! (Or whatever you charge to get started including the first month)
    • Save 50% off enrollment If these offers sound too generous, remember that they know a current member, have taken a class in your school and it’s likely that they found out what their friend pays each month making them the ultimate referral.

      Whatever you decide your offer will be, put in on a postcard or half flyer and make sure you tell them what you want them to do.

      For Example: To enroll tonight and get a FREE month, visit our front desk! Have the offer expire between 3 days and 7 days from the date of the event-no

      more to create some urgency.

      If you want to really create urgency, in addition to the money-saving offer, sweeten the deal with a second offer for those that enroll while at the event.

      Another Example: Enroll today and in addition to the FREE month of training (a $100.00 value), you’ll get a free gear package worth ($49.00)! It pays to have good friends doesn’t it!


      Rewarding your Students for Bringing Friends

      You can certainly reward your students for referring friends and bringing them to the “Bring a Friend” day, but you’ll find that many will anyways and that you’ll get better results if that’s not the main focus and reason for students to participate.

      With adult students, I’ve found that they really appreciate the recognition and gifts like gift certificates to the pro-shop, dinner, private lessons, and of course most like cash.

      With kids, gift certificates to the pro-shop, toy stores and movie theatres are popular.

      Note: One of our schools decided to implement an embroidered star system. The only way a student could get one was to show school support by attending special events, demos, community service, etc. The main focus was the star represented school support.

      The first time this was implemented with a “Bring a Friend” day, for each friend they brought to the event, they’d get a star. Over 83 stars were given out to students. Some students came to extra classes just to bring more friends!

    • If you do offer awards, be sure that everyone who brings even one friend gets something. Otherwise, some may be discouraged and not bring anyone.


      After the Event

      Thank all of the students personally for the entire next week. Again use your website, class announcements and social networking sites to do so.

      Send follow-up emails thanking the participants for attending and reminding them of any upcoming deadlines of special enrollment offers.

      Continue to keep anyone who doesn’t enroll and says they are interested in your “hot leads” files and stay in touch.


      Action Steps: What to do now

      1. Decide when you’ll host your “Bring a Friend” day or week. Be sure to give yourself enough time to promote it properly. Set a goal for the number of guests you want to have at your event and for the number of enrollments you’d like to get. Even 5 enrollments can mean an extra $6,000+ a year to you!
      2. Create a timeline using this lesson for reference of when you need to accomplish your promotional and marketing tasks.
      3. Create a lesson plan for the event that outlines what you’ll do during the event with the students and friends. Who will help you? What will you do each minute of the class?
      4. Make a decision as to what you’re going to offer as the enrollment special and how you want people to go about enrolling right after the event or class.
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