8 Ethical Marketing Tips for Combatives and Firearms Instructors


Astore_Marketing_Plan

1) Adopt an Evangelist’s Mindset

You are really selling a better way of life as opposed to a product. Your content is something that needs to be shared with the world.

Don’t take it personally if people turn down taking your class in favor of the $75 (done in 2 hours or less) class at the gun show. Those aren’t the people you are looking for to begin with.

2) Document Your Story

  • What brought you to your current position today?
  • Which other instructors were influential to you?
  • How is what you teach now different from what you taught 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago?

3) Find Your Niche and “Stay In Your Lane”

  • What geographic area is your target market?
  • Ask yourself the following questions and answer them honestly.
    • “What are you good at?”
    • “What separates you from other firearms and combatives instructors out there?”
    • “What is your 15 second elevator pitch?”
  • What Unique Article Formats or Material do you bring to the table?
  • Be careful about what topics you pontificate publicly on prior to having done all of your research and practice.
  • Be very careful about attaching your name to products
    • A certain instructor attaching his name to an overly strenuous endorsement of the Oral-IV product comes to mind…
    • Test the products first!
  • Don’t be afraid to consult with experts in fields outside your own
    • This keeps you from “stepping in it” when a product you endorse turns out to be less than optimal.

4) Make Friends, Network, and Address Competitors

  • Go to tactical conferences
  • Present your best material.
  • Define exactly who your competitors are.
    • Find the commonalities in material.
    • Find the commonalities in market demographics.
    • Articulately Point out the competitor’s gaps and fill those gaps.
    • “His students aren’t idiots. They are just ill informed.”

5) Build up your initial web presence!

  • Lock down web domains with your name and any corporate names you want to keep
    • Cost is usually $10 to $20 per domain name
  • Build Your Own Forum?
    • I am inclined to say “No” simply because there is a glut of gun/tactical/combatives forums out there at this point in time and another forum is just another Username and password to remember.
  • Start a Blog Site
  • Start a Facebook Page
    • You can easily integrate this with your blog and gain new students/readers via FaceBook.
    • You can also control the content that is posted to your page.
  • Create a Twitter Account
    • You can integrate this with your blog.
    • Be careful with automatic retweet services based on hashtags…
  • Create a Tumblr Account
    • Have pretty photos at the ready…
  • Create an Instagram Account
    • Again have pretty photos at the ready…

6) Generate Content!

  • Listicles
    • This is the classic “clickbait” headline but it can be effective to get your message across in a world of short attention spans.
    • Break down longer articles you’ve written into smaller articles.
  • Memes are a fun and easy way to get your key points across
  • Write out FAQs and Ready-Made stock replies to common questions
  • Good videos of your classes are a way to generate word of mouth publicity
    • SouthNarc’s ECQC videos are a good example of this in action.
  • Your class photo library is a good source of material

7) Build a Digital “Street Team”

  • Happy students are some of your best marketers
  • Instill them with the “evangelist’s mindset”
    • Summed up as “The material is awesome. Let’s share it with everybody!”
  • Prepare content that can be easily “drive by” posted on forums.
  • These are the guys who will post your content in places that you don’t spend time in or have time to spend in.
    • AR15.com
    • GlockTalk.com
    • Reddit Gun Groups
    • DefensiveCarry.com
    • Large Facebook Gun Groups
  • They provide a degree of “plausible deniability” for your marketing activities

8)Hashtags!

From Wikipedia

A hashtag is a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content. Users create and use hashtags by placing the hash character (or number sign) # in front of a word or unspaced phrase, either in the main text of a message or at the end. Searching for that hashtag will then present each message that has been tagged with it.

The key is to have your content and the content of instructors you’ve allied with all marked with the same hashtag so that people can easily find it.

Hashtags are also a way to build up a brand identity and let customers know exactly what your company is all about.

There you have it! Marketing is not that difficult and it can be done ethically. No hype, no empty promises of badassery, no sleazy spamming.

All of the above tips are things that you can do for free (or pay someone to do for you. My consulting fees are very reasonable).

For instructors, what have you found to work well and keep your conscience clear? 😉

References

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Firearms Instructor in the DC Metro Area

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Posted in Critical Thinking Skills, Training

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