Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Social Media

I had a conversation with someone about whether or not Instagram’s useful for marketing my school. I suspect it’s not that useful, since it’s a local business. I’m thinking that people on jiu-jitsu IG are already doing jiu-jitsu. The number of followers and likes aren’t driving people to walk in. But maybe they are. I’ll keep at it, since it’s free and doesn’t take up too much time.

Then the conversation turned to BJJ influencers. There are people out there with audiences, and they sell information products or services like reviewing your sparring video.1

All this reminds me of the internet marketers that make money “teaching” others how to make money. It’s an old industry, going back to the days of small ads in the back of magazines. It evolved into internet marketing, using squeeze pages and email sequences2, and now it’s quite big on social media platforms.

Do legitimate, successful coaches do this? The ones with schools?

John Danaher, widely considered the best coach in the sport, sells instructional videos on BJJ Fanatics and posts short essays on Instagram. He doesn’t have time for roll reviews or selling ebooks, or even marketing himself.3

I’ve watched quite a few influencers who’ve bought his videos and simply rehash what’s there. I’ve been watching someone with over 10,000 IG followers that’s appeared on multiple podcasts talking about their services, as well as another with over 50,000 followers that blatantly rips off Danaher for their videos, using exactly the same language.

Who’s real? Who’s fake? What are their credentials? When you follow someone on IG, what does follower count mean? Could it be another false proxy, like a black belt or trophy?

These influencers have testimonials 4, so maybe their services are actually useful. I just can’t imagine a random “teacher” from the interent is going to be more helpful than my actual teacher who knows my game and whom I can speak to directly for instant feedback.

But I myself have experience of having bought courses or ebooks on various topics from people on the internet for $100+ 5, when a comparable book on Amazon was available for $20. I’m sure at least some of these people are doing an actual good, and some of their customers are receiving actual value. But there’s a reason everyone selling an info product has a disclaimer saying, “results not typical.”

Now, does having a school mean you’re a good teacher? I run a school, and it’s somewhat new. We opened last September. But all the instructors here have over ten years of teaching experience. That’s not necessarily an indicator of good instruction, but it does mean we’ve taught a lot and learned a lot. And we’re not pretenders.

  1. I’m undecided on whether this is ridiculous, a little ridiculous, or something else. It’s definitely smart, for the people selling this service. But for the buyer, why not review it with your sparring partner first, or with your instructor? Looking for the “secret” to catch someone off-guard is not the way. ↩︎

  2. Disclaimer: My school uses automated email and SMS campaigns to nurture leads. ↩︎

  3. Some may disagree, but what he does is slightly different, as he’s working on his personal brand, which is a subcategory of marketing. And the truth is, even if he wasn’t appearing on IG or podcasts, he’s got decades of proof of his effectiveness as a teacher and innovator, if you simply looked at his history. ↩︎

  4. Of course they do. One of the principles of persuasion if displaying social proof. Read Influence, and maybe you’ll be a little less affected by smart marketing. ↩︎

  5. Of course, it was some dollar amount ending with a 7. =) ↩︎

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