Shouting at buses

I have an advert running on Facebook and Instagram at the moment. I take these out once or twice a year to help promote my martial arts school. It’s an amateur affair but I like to think we punch above our weight in terms of marketing and so on – I’m lucky to have some really talented people who train with me and occasionally help out with their professional skills.

The results are that we have really good photography and graphics – it helps make us look more professional than maybe we really are. It’s still an amateur affair. 

Online ads are a mixed bag. It’s highly debatable that they draw people in, but other than the old fashioned practice of putting flyers on lampposts, it’s actually quite hard to spread the word about a club like mine. You go where the audience is, and in this case, the demographic of people who take up martial arts is predominantly online.

I spend around €100, targeted down to men and women between 18 and 40 within commutable distance of where we’re based in Harold’s Cross. For this money, I typically get a reach of around 13,500 people, and 52 of those clicked the link and of those, around 11 people out of all those people actually clicked the button and got in touch.

So yeah, that’s not a great result. 

The reason I’m writing about this is that there is another effect that happens when you run ads like this. Because we’re pushing our ‘messaging’ in front of people who haven’t gone looking for it, we get unsolicited feedback. And it’s not always pleasant.

Last week, I got three unpleasant messages. One guy accused us/me of being a conman, ripping people off. I’m not sure what his logic was – we actually offer a very competitive and substantial package of training. Whatever. That’s what the delete button is for. A second guy left two comments in quick succession, this time criticizing the training methodology Japanese martial arts use and have used for 500 years. Again, out with the ban hammer.

So, 13,500 people saw this ad, and a total of two people left negative feedback. This is the problem with ads – instead of people coming looking for us, we go out and push our message in front of people. A certain percentage aren’t interested, and hopefully our ads aren’t so intrusive that they’re annoyed by them.

Another percentage never knew we existed but are interested in martial arts, so that our ads could actually be a service to them. They’re the people we want to connect with.

Then there are the others. The troubled ones. I can’t really understand these people because I don’t feel the need to snipe and criticize others online. If I did have a problem with someone or something, I’d connect with them personally and put my issue to them. 

I wouldn’t do the digital equivalent of standing on the street, shouting at passing buses.

Anyway, if you’d like to take up a martial art, we’re taking students in from August 31st. Check it out at