GBSB’s innovative marketing strategy pays off

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Rodrigo Clark, Gracie Barra Santa Barbara teacher. Photos: Personal archives

Rodrigo Clark of Gracie Barra Santa Barbara has been somewhat perplexed on how to increase business at his school, since it’s situated in such a busy, transient college town. Many of Clark’s students are actual students; not just at his gym, but in life as well. They are college students, attending a variety of colleges and universities for which Santa Barbara is so well known.

Adding to that, GBSB is located on picturesque and trendy State Street, which is right in the heart of Santa Barbara’s beautiful downtown shopping district. This sounds like the perfect situation to attract a tremendous amount of walk-in traffic, which it is, but after doing some statistical research, Clark discovered that most people who enter his gym are either students, or tourists. Neither of which provides the long-term stability his school seeks.

So, as is becoming more common in this challenging economy, Clark is hopping on the business partnering bandwagon to help cross-promote and cross-sell each other’s products and services. It’s an innovative trend that’s taking off, so businesses can stay competitive, boost their revenues, and basically stay afloat during these trying times.

Clark just closed a deal with Spectrum Athletic Clubs. They’ve negotiated a deal that serves each business well. They will promote each other’s services through a variety of marketing strategies. “They are literally right across the street from us,” Clarks says, “Once a month we’ll give Spectrum Gym’s members a free Jiu-Jitsu class. For example, tomorrow, I’m teaching a women’s self-defense class. In return, our students can go train at their gym for free once a week.”

Clark says he’ll see how the Jiu-Jitsu class goes to determine how they provide classes to the gym members in the future. “We’ll probably have to ask their members to come to our school in the future,” Clark says, “Because they don’t have mats at their gym.” Clark says he wants to show the gym members what Jiu-Jitsu’s all about before he provides the classes at GBSB to reduce any intimidation. “Many people have no idea what Jiu-Jitsu is,” he says. This is a great way to educate the public about the gentle art.

In addition to providing each other with free classes and training at each other’s gym and school, Clark says they will provide full-color Gracie Barra fliers that will be displayed in stand-up advertisements throughout the fitness center. They will allow GB to set up display tables at Spectrum’s events and during high traffic times. Gracie Barra, in turn, will display Spectrum’s marketing and promotional materials for its members to see, along with any other Spectrum advertising.

The two businesses are trying this new venture out together and are looking to the future to see how they may be able to expand on this initial plan. The downtown Spectrum gym will not promote any other Jiu-Jitsu schools and Gracie

Example of flyer

Barra will not promote any other fitness clubs.

Clark says restaurants are also taking part in the cross-promotion of businesses. “Restaurants, like Wahoo’s are giving 20% off to GB members,” Clark says, “They will put our fliers in a stand-up display right by their registers, so customers can see them. Wahoo’s customers will get a free intro Jiu-Jitsu class and 10% off their membership when they join.”

Rodrigo thinks this new marketing idea will help boost his business, but he is also looking at other creative ideas to increase revenues. Because Santa Barbara is such a college town, many of his students freeze their accounts over the summer while they’re on break, leaving him short during that time.

“I created a three-month Jiu-Jitsu summer membership,” he says, “It’s like a summer camp. We get a lot of foreign exchange students here over the summer, so I created a program that gives a discount on gis and membership fees in order to supply us with some extra income during summer break.” Clark says it doesn’t create any kind of conflict between students because the discount only applies to short term contracts.

Clark's team

Through business partnering and innovative promotional ideas, GBSB can raise awareness of Jiu-Jitsu to other sports-minded individuals and in the community at large. This will increase traffic into their school and hopefully, bring in more customers. Creative marketing is the wave of the future and Clark is determined to ride this one out on top.

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There are 16 comments for this article
  1. Susie at 2:30 pm

    I would like to have some discount for a membership with my husband…we live in Goleta and are looking for some physical activity we can enjoy together…jiu jitsu sounds fun but money is an issue…

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