First off, Kicksite would like to thank VP of Marketing for Century Martial Arts Supply, Kyle Young, for creating this blog for us! Please read on to learn more on Why Branding Your School is More Important Now Than Ever!
This year, brand loyalty is up for grabs. Many major axioms have been broken. The pandemic changed us…and changed us quickly. Consumer behaviors have evolved (a ton!). The market that serves them has changed (it had to!). How many of you reading this article have tried a new brand, product or service since the pandemic started? Now, how many of those brands, products or services will you continue to use when things “normalize”? My guess is…a lot.
Remember when Zoom meetings (or any video meetings for that matter) were typically reserved for sales call introductions or software demonstrations? Now, the likes of Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom are competing for our attention daily. E-Commerce platforms like Shopify, Wix and BigCommerce have given small business owners a retail voice in markets typically dominated by the Amazons and Wal-Marts of the world. New social media platforms like Tik Tok and Clubhouse continue to drive the arms race for your attention.
Why is this important? Well, as already mentioned, brand loyalty is up for grabs. People interact differently now. Our former paradigm has shifted. We interact differently. We travel differently. And yet, one thing remains constant – our need to connect and belong is innately human.
We are social creatures. Sure, some of us are more introverted, but at the core of our being, we need to connect. We need feedback. And we need to belong. And herein lies the big opportunity for brands to connect with customers who align with their values, who have a noble mission, and share a vision for success today and in the future.
If you’ve ever had any sales training, you’ve probably heard the saying, “People buy from people they know, like, and trust.” It’s true. It’s hard work. But it’s noble work. Like your training methods, the commitment to learning and growth have to be constant and consistent to build awareness, favorable reviews, and ultimately trust.
In today’s world of Facebook and Instagram marketing, prospecting has become more accessible to more brands globally (big and small). We’re constantly being bombarded with new products and services. That’s why branding is as important as ever. Branding your products and services are critical to stand out amongst the millions of others vying for your customer’s and prospect’s attention. Remember, earning new business is one of the most expensive activities we do as business owners. Earning the trust and loyalty of a customer is serious work!
What is a brand anyway? Whether we like it or not, a brand is everything you do related to your products, services and customers. A brand is how you distinguish yourself from the competition. It’s the unique mark on your building, mats, uniforms, and hoodies. It’s your teaching methods. It’s the way you do community outreach. It’s your secret sauce. And if you truly believe you do have a secret sauce, why don’t you put it on everything?
Success leaves clues. The best companies in the world put their brand on everything. It stands for something within the company. It means something entirely different to the customer who purchases the good or service. And at the end of the day, what we’re selling is our brand and the transformation that comes with it. Branding builds loyalty. Great brands have a story that people can connect with. We all have an innate need for belonging. So how do you build your brand?
- Start with the customer. Conversations are critical. Your customers will tell you what they want. Are you asking the questions, and better yet, are you listening?
- Remember your ‘Why?’ You’re in the business of changing lives. You have a great story to tell and a brand worth building.
- Act on commitments, not feelings. Sometimes we don’t feel like taking action (some call it procrastination), but refer back to points 1 & 2 for your inspiration and commitments.
Branding requires discipline. It requires a lot of thoughtful work. A disciplined approach to your commitments and brand is no different than the discipline you require on your mats. When you focus on your identity and not your behavior, your brand will emerge. What are you doing today to help make your customer belong at every touch point?
To get started, take a quick audit of all of the places your brand can be seen today both internally and externally, places like signage, flyers, emails, social media, apparel, and training gear. Next, take a minute to assess where you want to be relative to where you are. The key is to start small and start with your customers. Upgrading the look of your school with branded equipment will improve the brand perception and experience with your current customers but is also a great talking point when discussing your training programs with new prospects.
Branding, like all valuable things:
will take time.
will require patience.
will build lifetime value.
will all be worth it in the end.
If you’re looking for a partner to help you grow your brand and build customer loyalty through product branding, Century Martial Arts offers competitive services of all types. Whether you’re looking for uniforms, belts, sparring gear, training bags, or anything in between, Century has the most complete assortment for serving martial arts school owners. Founded by a lifelong martial artist, Century is a company of martial artists ready to serve you as you build your brand while changing lives through the values of martial arts. If you’re ready to get started or have any questions, you can reach them directly at (800) 626-2787.
*Kicksite would like to thank Kyle Young, Vice President of Marketing at Century Martial Arts Supply for contributing to the above content.