Hit the target: Target your advertising to make it pay off

Note from author: This article was originally written for people advertising martial arts schools. The principles of targeting are the same no matter what you are advertising.
How well you target your advertising will determine your advertising success. Targeting means you put your ad in front of the people most likely to respond to it. It also means that you tailor your ad to that audience, so they are more likely to respond.
The first thing you need to do is to figure out who your audience is. If you are trying to sell your kids program you want to target parents. If your ad is for daytime classes you might target stay at home moms. Think about what you want your ad to do and the audience most likely to make it happen.
Make sure your targeted audience has the money to take advantage of your offer. Sending out a direct mail ad for $2000 weekend seminar in a town where biggest employer just laid everybody off is probably not going to work.
Try drawing up a profile of someone in your typical demographic. It might be a list of characteristics like this: Unmarried male age 25-40, college educated, income over $35,000 per year, health conscious (non-smoker) lives within 5 miles of the dojo.
How does this information help you?
The first way this helps you is that it tells you where to place your ad. Going by this demographic profile I might place a print ad in the sports section of the local newspaper. I might also put flyers in health food stores, gyms, and other establishments. I could also predict what radio and TV shows my demographic is likely to watch.
The next way this helps me is that it helps me write my ad. With this demographic I may decide to present my martial arts classes as a powerful, intellectually stimulating, and health promoting experience. I am guessing that these are things my demographic might be interested in.
It will also help me with the design of my ad. I do want my ad to stand out, but I will look at other ads targeted to this demographic and see what other advertisers use to appeal to my audience.
If I were targeting young women (who are sadly underrepresented in the martial arts) I would definitely use a picture of a woman or women in my ad. Martial arts can sometimes be perceived as a boy’s game so, to attract women you have to show that your school is also appealing to women. I might even have glowing testimonials from several of your female students.
Severe WARNING: I do not use fear to advertise my self defense or martial arts classes. I once read an ad – printed in red, which talked about how women who didn’t sign up for a self defense class might be the victim of sexual assault. I not only find this in really bad taste, but it’s a terrible advertising idea.
Your ads should only be about positive things or people will start to associate being scared with your school. This is an important concept when it comes to “branding”. People should associate feeling empowered with your school.
To fill your kids’ classes with vibrant energetic youth, you want to attract parents who want the best for their kids. Your ad should make parents feel like they are really doing right by their kids by signing them up. Tell them how your young students get better grades, have more self-discipline, and wind up happier kids with lots of friends who are into healthy activities.
Place your ad for kids classes in a local paper when they run a special article or section on parenting. Place your ads at a local arcade, or grocery store. Look for parents with young kids not babies and toddlers unless you’re teaching baby kung-fu.

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