How to Get More Jiu-Jitsu Students to Grow Your BJJ Academy

Owning a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym is a dream of many BJJ practitioners. Once you have achieved your black belt, the natural step is often to leave the nest and start building your own.

There is a lot of work that goes into the opening of any business. Finding the right location is usually the first place people start. But there is a lot more to having a successful BJJ academy than being in a good area with foot traffic.

In this article, you will discover a number of different approaches to marketing your BJJ gym, how to get more Jiu-Jitsu students into your gym and how to take your social media and overall online presence to the next level.

Let’s get to it.

How to Improve Your Position and Set Up a Marketing Attack – Getting More BJJ Students

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Marketing is a tricky opponent. Sometimes all of the Instagramming in the world simply won’t move the needle and you might feel lost as to how to get out of the rut.

The good news is there are ways to make sure that your BJJ gym is getting noticed. From hiring a local SEO agency, to social media strategies. If there is a will, there is a way.

Generally speaking, the most effective marketing strategies employ multiple approaches including:

  • Old-school marketing
  • Social media
  • Paid ads
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns.

It is worth noting that these strategies work for other martial arts as well. For example, when it comes to marketing between BJJ vs Muay Thai, the main difference is the martial art, not the marketing.

If your goal is to open your own MMA gym or BJJ academy, a good marketing strategy is an absolute must.

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Old School Guerilla Marketing

Believe it or not, old habits die hard and some people are best reached with a flier, card, or raffle offer. Guerilla marketing is still close to as effective as it was 20 years ago.

First off you should get a volunteer or pay someone to do these methods. Offer them training in trade for the work and you may be surprised how effective that is.

There are always going to be students that simply cannot afford to enroll. They may be the future of your gym in competition but you would never know because they can’t even afford to approach you.

Throw out posts offering work trade on social media and see what comes in. Hopefully, some motivated student is out there just waiting for the opportunity.

So what is guerilla marketing? Well, there are many forms of it.

Flier Marketing

One is to have people going around handing fliers. Only around 10% of the fliers you hand out will ever be read and around 1% of those will turn into a conversion. Note that handing out fliers with a firm handshake, smile, and just a hint of cauliflower ear from BJJ might be the nudge someone needs to come through your BJJ gym doors.

Papering the Town For BJJ GyM marketing

Another method is throwing up posters all around town, or “papering the town” as it is sometimes referred to. This has an effect but is less interactive and you need to get a lot of coverage.

This can become cost prohibitive in both materials and labor. But even still, there is a more effective way to guerilla market.

Newspaper Stuffing

Most towns have a free newspaper, if not many of them. The drivers that deliver these newspapers typically have routes and drop them off once a week at certain times.

Have your volunteer ready with plenty of postcard sized fliers to go and stuff them inside those papers when they are dropped off.

This is a much more effective method of delivering a flier. The person is already interested in reading the free paper, so they will likely take the time to read your flier.

You want to have a promotion on your fliers such as a free first training session if they bring the flier with them. 

Such is the art of guerilla marketing.

Inter Gym Competitions

jiu jitsu competition for marketing

Another great way to grow your BJJ academy is by showing that your students are highly trained practitioners in the martial art.

You don’t have to wait for a local, regional, or any other competition. Offer up a friendly competition to other BJJ gyms in towns and cities close within easy driving distance. 

Gyms in the same city may not be so receptive out of fear of losing their students.

After all, martial arts are certainly competitive and who wouldn’t take the extra publicity around town with a friendly BJJ competition?

Offer to do the graphics and set up the event, hosted at your gym and get the word out. Not only is this a great chance for you to get local attention and possible students, it’s also good for your current students.

You never know, some of those in attendance at the event may catch the spark and want to enroll. Have special offers ready for those that do attend that can only be offered if they sign up during the event.

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Tapping Out Social Media Algorithms

how to get more students in your bjj gym

Simply posting content on social media and hoping people see it, interact with it and convert them into a student will likely end up in failure.

Social media algorithms are highly dependent on interaction. If people aren’t interacting with your posts, then they will be buried and never see the light of day.

So how do you beat them and make sure your target audience actually sees your content? There are a number of key points that you must keep in mind.

audience awareness it’s key

When you put out a post, are you making sure that your coaches and students are aware of it?

You can time posts for release on most social media platforms. So time them for around an hour after your student base is done with class and announce it once the class is finished.

People have so much information in today’s world that it’s easy for them to forget, so creating a group where you can remind them a few minutes before the post goes live is important.

The more immediate the response is, the better. If the algorithm sees that 20 people have liked, 10 people have commented and 5 have shared the post in the first few minutes, it will drive it up. It’s all about engagement.

Next, are you responding to every comment in the thread? 

Instagram for jiu jitsu gyms

This is also imperative in many ways. You want people that are engaging with your content to see that you notice, and the algorithm will notice this too.

Are you looking and who is liking your posts and making sure they are added to the group? This is often forgotten and makes a big difference.

Don’t forget to be actively posting at least 3 times a week. People want content if they are following you.

All platforms are different. On Twitter, it’s important to follow people in the BJJ community and follow their posts.

One clever way to build an audience is to host a “Twitter Space” on the topic of Jiu-Jitsu and invite as many people in the Twitter community as you can. A Twitter space is basically a live podcast that can be joined by anyone that has the link.

Make sure that you invite people up to ask questions that you and your coaches, best students, and others can answer.

Twitter is now beginning to take over as Facebook is starting to decline as a social media platform, especially for promotion.

Also, never forget about the all-powerful meme. Memes go viral, this creates engagement. So keep a close eye on some good BJJ memes to repost with a comment.

You can always find a student that is particularly adept at social media and offer them work trade in return for running your social media presence.

Create a YouTube channel

Having a YouTube channel is a bit of an uphill battle in the beginning. So don’t get discouraged by the number of subscribers or views you have in the beginning. Just keep making content.

You can offer instructional videos, competition videos, and much more that will help to get your BJJ academy noticed by more people.

Jiu-Jitsu gym owners have been using this tactic to attract new students since its inception and it is only becoming a more powerful platform by the day.

Here are some awesome channels you should definitely check for inspiration:

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TikTok Live Videos

TikTok is an exceptional platform for going viral. When you start your account, they will initially broadcast you to brand new fans.

While this may not seem like a conventional method of finding local students since it’s a global platform. However, all it takes is one video catching fire.

If it does, now you have something to promote locally.

Paid Ads on Various Online Platforms

If you want to get more students in your BJJ gym, you can get results out of paid ads if they are done right.

Paid ads include social media ads that pop up based on target audience as well as Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Adwords, which depend on the keywords people type into Google.

Paid ads can be great short term because you can quickly get your gym brand in front of potential students.

However, people are fairly desensitized to ads these days.

They are inundated with them in their Facebook feed, YouTube videos, and even in their search results. There are so many ads in our culture that they fade into the background.

Once that ad money is spent, it’s gone —whether or not it garners a return. That means that every time you get a click and a pair of eyeballs on your landing page, you are getting charged. For social media ads, you get charged based on how many people see your ad.

As such, you need your landing pages to actually convert, or you are throwing money down the drain.

So keep that in mind if you are going to spend money on them.

Ads are complex and you should probably hire a professional on top to make sure you get a return on investment.

How to Get More Jiu-Jitsu Students? Local SEO for Jiu Jitsu

Jiu jitsu SEO local map pack results

SEO IS The best method by far

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is possibly the best way for any business to find new customers over the longer timeframes required to truly grow a successful BJJ gym.

As opposed to other tactics, SEO relies on search terms that can be targeted locally if desired.

This means that people who find you in search results are actually looking for the service you provide –in this case, it is likely a BJJ school. Growth potential from people actually finding you when they are searching for a BJJ gym is much higher than running ads.

Note that SEO does require long-term investment into your website content and speed, managing your Google Business Profile effectively, and performing citation and link building with relevant websites.

Jiu jitsu seo organic search results

Organic web traffic leads to new students, and once you rank, you are not paying per lead, so any new prospect looking at your site does not cost you additional money out of pocket.

As such, getting your website ranking with proper SEO will get your return on investment

How to Attract More BJJ Students? – Hire Professionals

While you can certainly grow your business by the methods mentioned above in this article, hiring a trusted professional can really jumpstart your gym.

Consider bringing on a professional social media manager. Make sure that they provide you with plenty of examples of successful campaigns they have run and ask for references.

Finding someone who truly understands the current social media landscape is important. Trends are ever shifting and so is the general focus of people online, so having a person on your team that gets it will definitely help.

Local SEO - Getting More BJJ Students Online

You will find a host of marketing agencies out there, but make sure to find one that is specialized in what you are looking for.

There are plenty of agencies that say they do it all, but that is rarely true. Even if they do offer many services, you don’t want a jack of all trades and a master of none.

One service that many marketing companies claim to offer is SEO. However, search engine optimization is best left to a company that specializes in the craft.

In terms of Jiu-Jitsu marketing to attract more students to your gym, search engine optimization is the most powerful tactic. Gaining organic traffic to your website, traffic that is actually looking for your service is always going to be the best way to attract new students.

SEO is one of the most complex and ever-changing landscapes in the digital world. You also want to hire a company that understands your niche such as Dynamic SEO, a digital marketing agency that specializes in providing Jiu-Jitsu marketing, including SEO for BJJ and martial arts gyms.

If you currently have a Jiu-Jitsu gym website and are interested in growing your rank on Google, you need to start with an audit of your site’s current performance.

The great news is Dynamic SEO offers a free web SEO audit and report —you just need to enter some quick information to receive your website performance report.

The Final Tap

Now that you understand a number of ways to grow your student base, get out there and try some of them and see what comes back.

Marketing is just like rolling, you have to try new things and learn what works for you best. There is no one answer to getting more students, but there are many ways to go about it in combination that will likely work.

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