Let's talk about marketing.
Typically for a small club that means a web site, a few leaflets and posters dotted around local community places - the local store, the centre, noticeboards at work etc. Most of this doesn't work too well unless you have high quality posters and design.
A successful method for getting the word out is attending fayres and other events and putting on performances and demonstrations. They always gather crowds, and that's the place to hand out flyers. It makes for "news" too so you can send out press releases to the local news outlets.
Community action is done in a simiar vein. Volunteer to give talks and demonstrations to various groups, even schools and other community organisations. If you rent from a church hall why not get involved in their fundraisers? It's all free publicity and shows a positive side to martial arts. (Better make sure you have something worth demonstrating though!!!!)
I haven't had a single query from a poster in years. The web page has been far far more effective at attracting people's attention. McDojos use the typical whizz-bang internet marketing advert approach, but better schools will have proper websites containing articles, a blog and useful information, soon that may get people making return visits to the site, or even deciding to go to the school. Positive websites are great - you don't have to "in your face" marketing with them.
Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing tools available. People who have seen what you do, or who attend your classes are always keen to tell others about their successes and "finds". They like to bring friends or relatives along, and they in turn put the word out. This is probably the most "honest" marketing method around. Likewise if you fall out with someone, they won't hesitate to put bad words out. You just have to be able to handle that side of things.
So how do you market what you have? Karate doesn't get a huge mention in the magazines any more (who wants to read an interview with a karate guy when you can ogle photos of ring girls?) What type of people do you want to attract to your classes? What are they looking for in a pastime or a learning experience? Think about your demographics.
Understand exactly what it is you offer, don't just post the usual generic "get fit" type of stuff. How will people get fit? What is so special about your programme? What are the benefits of training with you?
People's perceptions of karate are stuck in the 70s. It is good to get out there and show what you are about, which is why public appearances can be positive. Use a variety of methods to get the message out, but don't be pushy and avoid the hype.
How about making some Youtube videos? Do you have some interesting research to share? And bring on that community action news.
Get in touch with the magazines. Perhaps they are not printing karate articles because nobody is submitting material. Contribute to the letters pages, see about getting a few articles together. Put karate back on the martial arts map!
Recently I watched a "noticeboard battle" among some of the local clubs. The best advert I saw had the tagline "International level instruction - we have the current Under 21s World Champion" It made the other groups look a bit silly in comparison. (That was all they put on their poster, apart from the mechanics of where and when).
Changing the world is about making a new message and building a new paradigm. It's not just what happens in the dojo, what goes on outside is just as important. These posts might sound a little satirical or even angry, but I am trying to be positive!
Karate has survived change, and will continue to do so. This time it is up to you to be the instrument of that change.