Engaging New Customers With Digital Strategy

How a small brick and mortar business might grow its patron base



Keep a budding enterprise, a martial arts gym, on its upward trajectory by introducing new people to its classes and welcoming them to sign up for a membership. 


Develop an accurate customer persona that may be targeted through paid ads. Design campaigns, images, and copy to focus specifically on customer attraction through complimentary trial offers.

Press PLAY in the video above to see and hear the presentation. Feel free to follow along with the interactive slidedeck and transcript below. 


Customer Persona

I’d like to introduce you to “Brian.” His favorite quote is, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” He’s a single 38 year old male living here in San Francisco. He works as a software developer in the Financial District.

When asked about his health and fitness goals, he says he’s always played sports throughout his whole life. His main challenge now is time and growing responsibilities. He’s very injury prone, not very young, and wants to stay healthy as he ages.

Fortunately, there is a sportive activity that Brian can participate in that would engage his intellect, meet his health and fitness goals, as well as is suited well for his age.

Value Proposition

The cofounder for this particular activity practiced it into his 90s. What is this miracle workout? The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That cofounder is pictured there in the middle, Helio Gracie. Right behind him, wouldn’t you know it, future San Francisco gym owner Romulo Melo.

Fast forward to the present and this is the value proposition that I am suggesting for the academy:

For San Francisco’s busy professionals looking to get and stay fit, Romulo Melo Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the full body workout to give you a mental edge in work and in life.

It’s situated closely to Brian’s work, which is awesome, and there are classes every day of the week. Some as early as 7:00 AM, some as late as 7:00 PM, which works out well for his schedule. Sounds like a great fit. But how do we get this ideal exercise routine on Brian’s radar?

Business owner, Romulo, is already enjoying success. How can we help him stay on stride?

Business Model & Mathematics

The answer, of course, is digital marketing. But before we get into the tactics, I first want to get into the business model and objective.

  • The average order value is $175.
  • The cost of goods sold I estimated at $100. I got that by taking the space rental, dividing it by the number of students, and then projecting what utilities and other costs might be.
  • The gross margin is $75.
  • We also know that the lifetime value is approximately two and a half years. (If someone signs up for a membership and they stay longer than two and a half years, they might stay for up to 10 years.) At two and a half years, we’re looking at $5,250.
  • Minus the cost of goods sold, that gross margin is still pretty good at $2,250.
  • Conversion rate. One out of five people who tries out a class ends up signing up for a membership. A 20% conversion.

Romulo told me he’d like to acquire one new student per week if possible. So, that’s pretty easy to reverse engineer.

  • Objective: That means offering 20 free trial classes every month for which we get sign-ups and ideally, we would ramp up to that within six months. So the primary Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is the number of free trial class sign-ups.
  • Additional metrics that we might want to look at include: leads, walk ins, click through rates, conversion rates, and reviews.

User Experience and Empathy. By taking a walk in the customer’s shoes, we might understand where parts of our marketing and sales funnel are collapsing and consequently make adjustments to remedy these key areas. 

User Experience

Now, how do we get Brian signed up for a free trial? Without any changes, what is happening at present?

We’re going to look at the User Experience here. Brian would basically go to the home page and click on Schedule. He would be forced to log in or sign up for MindBody. Then even after he does that, there’s a suggestion here for a 12 month contract agreement, which is not attractive because he just wants to try a class, not commit a whole year.

Otherwise, he could go to the very bottom of the home page where there’s an analog call to action that says, “Give us a call or stop by to try a free intro class.” Again, not efficient nor trackable.

So, the big suggestion here, the one I really wanted to point your attention to is this Call To Action button: “Take a free class.” Of course, we would test that. The hypothesis being that we’re going to get a lot more sign-ups for the free trial classes with the button than without the button.

Paid Social

How do we get Brian to the website? Paid social might be one way to do it since we know he’s a tech savvy individual with an account. Here, we have a sample ad with the Value Proposition repeating as our copy. Again, driving people to start their Jiu Jitsu journey with that free trial class. We could test images as well as copy. But basically we’re looking for a higher click-through rate in any case.

Paid social continued would include Instagram because the Jiu Jitsu community does have a very strong presence on Instagram. We also know that the ideal client is a working professional here in San Francisco, so LinkedIn might be another way to test that out.


What else can we do to drive traffic? SEO and SEM which you know work well together. One of the big things I want to point out here of the many suggestions is potentially changing the URL to San Francisco BJJ because that’s going to be exactly what people will be typing in to find an academy here in San Francisco rather than the business’s name itself.

What’s currently appearing when you search is on the left. Basically, Google pulls the first sentence from the website, which is an incomplete sentence at that. My suggestion is what appears on the right, Jiu Jitsu training with Romulo Melo. Again, a repeat of the value proposition. This is a mock ad. Again, your first class is free. Let’s get people to those free trial classes.

Sample Ad tailored for a specific customer persona. The hypothesis: Generate more trial class sign-ups in order to see a boost in longterm memberships.





Budget and Return On Investment

Looking quickly at the budget, the main thing to really notice here is that industry benchmarks that we’re using come from Word Stream.

Outcome: The projected year would exceed the objective by more than double, meaning 44 free trial class sign-ups with a $1,000 ad spend. We’re looking at 1,980% return on investment.

What happens next? Of course, we’ll continue to test. I think we should build out the emails so that we get an onboarding sequence going as well as more referral practices, which is represented here by the microphone. Finally, we really need to look at content creation and educational videos.

Conclusion: Brian gets a great workout and makes some new friends.

Thank you so much.