Marketing

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, we explore ways to approach marketing a yoga business.

Objective

Become familiar with ways to approach marketing of a yoga business.

Description

Explore ideas for social media and content strategies, including ways to make a teaching bio more effective. Describe strategies for building an email list. Provide an opinion in favor of branding a yoga teaching business, and an opinion against it. Explain ways to describe your “story” effectively. Describe considerations for managing email marketing and ways to build an email list.

Introduction

  • Do you have a tendency toward engaging in marketing only when you think of it, or only when you have few classes or low attendance? Consider, instead, to make marketing a regular practice.
  • You may wish to focus less on clever naming and more on identifying the feeling and experience that your classes or studio provide students.

FOCUS ON A REGULAR—DAILY IF POSSIBLE—MARKETING PROCESS

Just as breath control gives you greater flexibility in your yoga postures, controlling your marketing will give your business greater flexibility, energy and resilience. There are going to be lean times and there are going to be times when your classes are packed, mat to mat. In both cases you should still be focusing on a regular, daily if possible, marketing process. It could be as simple as updating your Facebook page or website with new class information, or writing an email to your subscribers and students informing them of an upcoming workshop or weekend retreat. A packed class one week does not guarantee the same attendance the next. Just as one deep breath does not guarantee a relaxed and clear state of mind. Unfortunately, many new yoga teachers fall into the trap of only thinking about marketing when their classes are empty. That’s a bit like only thinking about warm up stretches after you’ve pulled a muscle. – Jules Barber

See Also

To Brand or Not to Brand?

DEFINING YOUR “BRAND”

The word brand is usually synonymous with a product, and one that has an original, reliable and well-defined offering. Nike trainers make you run faster, Fairy Liquid keeps your hands soft and Red Bull gives you wings, that sort of thing. How can this apply to yoga given that we are people, and not products? There are a number of more helpful definitions, but this is my favorite:

  • It’s what people say about you when you are not in the room.
  • It’s the promise of an experience.

And here’s the rub: given that yoga is a highly experiential activity, students will attach as much, if not more, importance to the ‘feeling’ they get from a teacher or a studio as they would to other practical considerations like cost or location. – Jules Barber

CHOOSING NOT TO WORRY ABOUT A BRAND STRATEGY

My personal feeling is that setting up a brand strategy is the last thing you should worry about as a new or freelance teacher. The reason I say this is because most teachers who try to brand their style of yoga think that all they need to do is come up with a clever name and start a Facebook fan page or website in order to have a brand. The main issue is that most teachers don’t have a clear reason for setting up a brand. – Erin Aquin

Content Strategy

  • Due to the importance of your social media accounts for maintaining connection with your students and potential students, consider boundaries of what is “too personal”, your “do’s and don’ts” for how you use both your business and personal accounts.
  • In your bio or About Me page, tell about you. In all other marketing, focus on the benefits to students by describing the positive changes they will experience and providing a call to action.
  • When targeting newer students, address potential concerns they may have such as a particular level of flexibility or body size.
  • Be cautious not to exaggerate or make unrealistic promises.
  • In your bio, describe the transformative event that instigated your becoming a teacher.

DO’S & DON’TS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

Your students will find your personal account too, so it’s important to make sure EVERYTHING you post stays within a professionally groomed circle. Do restrict what gets posted on your page. Watch closely and monitor for things that need to be removed… Do share something personal as a tiny window into your life. Photos of your dog and you napping, you and your mom getting brunch on Mother’s Day, etc. Don’t overdo it. Nobody needs to hear you flaring in anger for any reason…EVER. “This a**hole cheated on me…” is not a great post. Take that pain offline and work through it in the safety of a friend’s arms. Oversharing is never wise. – Amber Scriven

WHAT I CAN DO FOR YOU AS OPPOSED TO WHAT I DO

Yes, of course, people want to learn about you, but that’s what your About Me section is for… In marketing your service as a yoga teacher, the most important element to focus on is transformation, aka What-I-Can-Do-For-You… Focus on What-I-Can-Do-For-You, as opposed to What-I-Do. Let that be your mantra and watch as others begin to gravitate towards your teachings…

  • Explain or describe the benefits
  • State the positive changes one will experience
  • Exude confidence to gain trust
  • Present a call to-action

Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about those you seek to serve. When you remember that it’s your students at center stage, it takes the pressure off self-promotion. You aren’t selling yourself, you’re promoting transformation through yoga and that is worth spreading. – Michelle Linane

For New Students

When preparing a web site or promotional materials targeted to new students, some issues you may wish to address include:

  • The idea that one must or should have a particular level of flexibility to come to class
  • The idea that one must or should have a particular body weight to come to class
  • If this studio, class or teacher can accommodate and / or address particular types of chronic conditions and acute injuries
  • Being a beginner is a great thing to be
  • There are many styles of yoga; key points related to the philosophy of this studio, class or teacher
  • Poses that students may be fearful of and the studio, class or teacher’s approach to such poses

See 10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Yoga Class for advice that can help students develop a wise approach toward their practice.

ACCURACY & ETHICS

Sometimes I find myself at the local cafe or health food store, reading over the yoga flyers that are posted there, and I”m often shocked by the exaggerated claims that some teachers make. In some cases, the claims are blatantly false and even dangerous. In other cases, the claims are exaggerations. The truth is that yoga is a profound and life-changing practice. It is helpful, directly or indirectly, for many issues, and there is absolutely no reason to exaggerate or make unrealistic promises. – Darren Main

Your Bio / About Me Page

Yoga Alliance offers these tips for writing an effective bio. See the article, Tips for Crafting Your Yoga Bio, for examples that Yoga Alliance has received.

  • Share How Yoga Helped You – “Whether a personal anecdote or one backed with research, letting people know about the benefits of yoga might compel someone to sign up for a class.”
  • Define Yoga in Your Terms – “With so many perspectives and types of yoga out there, honing in on what your concept of yoga is can help you reach students that connect with your perspective.”
  • Dispel Misconceptions – “If relevant to you, you can share some misconceptions you may have had about yoga.”
  • Set Expectations – “What can a student expect if they join you for a yoga class?”
  • Know Your Audience – “If you have a specialty or enjoy teaching to a particular population…say so.”
  • Let Your Personality Shine – “Give students a sense of your personality, even before they’ve had the chance to meet you.”
  • Be Brief – “The average reader on the web is not as willing to read a lengthy article, so be brief.”

See also So What Do You Do For a Living? for an in-depth article by a yoga therapist. She shares ways to think about seemingly disparate interests/careers to uncover the cohesive story that is your unique service to share.

Sharing Your Story

BEING CLEAR ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL “WHY”

What we have found is the teachers who stand out are the ones who are clear about their own personal “why.” In other words, the teachers that connect with their purpose and are able to speak from that place do not need to worry about standing out. Your “why” is your brand. What makes you unique is your own story… Stay away from a long chronological story. Go right into that one transformative event in your life. What instigated your deep calling to choose a path of helping others as a yoga teacher? Once you identify your “why,” building your brand becomes easy. Do not spend any time or money on branding strategies until you go through this exercise. – Justin Michael Williams and Karen Mozes

Your Elevator Speech & More

Be comfortable with your “elevator speech,” or how you describe yourself and your teaching when you only have 30 seconds. And be prepared, also, with a slightly longer version to ensure you can eloquently convey what you wish to, as needed, no matter the context.

Consider such topics as these when communicating about your teaching. Know which you consider the most important for you to discuss.

  • Stress-Relief
  • Pain Relief
  • Body Positivity
  • Strength
  • Challenge
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Alignment-Based Practice
  • Adaptive or Therapeutic Practice
  • Vinyasa / Flow Practice
  • Spirituality
  • Yoga Philosophy
  • Athletic Performance
  • Injury Recovery or Prevention
  • Breathwork
  • Meditation or Mindfulness

Email Marketing

  • Build your email list with opt-in offers in both real-world and online locations.
  • Opt-in offers can be free information, a discounted service or other.
  • Other ways to build your email list include webinars and guest blogging. The key in every venue is to include the call to action.
  • When a call to action brings the person to your website or social media platform, ensure they are directed to an appropriate landing page and/or immediate access to a simple sign-up.
  • Consistently reach out to your list, perhaps every two weeks.
  • Provide value in every email through such tactics as offering discounts and/or providing timely information about upcoming events or seasonal support.
  • Consider various subject lines to increase interest and open rates.
  • Study the latest SPAM filter guidance to avoid your email ending up in junk mail. (See quote below for some ideas.) And make a note reminding readers to add your email address to their address book to ensure your emails show in their inbox.

Building Your List

Ideas for building your email list include:

  • Provide an opt-in offer on your business card or flyer that you hand out and leave at studios, events and other community gathering locations.
  • Provide an opt-in via social media: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo etc. The opt-in offer can be offered on a free social media site and/or through advertising. Advertising includes options for promoting a post on Facebook or pin on Pinterest, for example.
  • An opt-in offer can be for free information such as a sequence for stress relief, mudras for energy, or a 10-minute guided meditation, for instance. Or an opt-in offer may be a discounted service such as a private session, class, event, or other related service from you or another community service-provider.
  • Another way to build your email list is to provide an article or blog for a site that reaches your market. Be sure to include a call to action.
  • Webinars can draw people who resonate with your message while providing face-to-face interaction with your targeted community and a way to present yourself and your services. Namastream recommends Google Hangouts for an inexpensive webinar and gives more advice here.

Readings

THE INCREDIBLE VALUE OF YOUR EMAIL LIST

Having an email list is your direct channel to communicate with those who are connecting to your message, be it existing students or new ones. A potential student only needs to come to your website once, for you to have the opportunity to begin connecting with her through email. From this one visit to your website, you can begin to build a relationship with her. And who knows what can come of that connection for both parties. We created both the Namastream software platform and the Soulful MBA training community as solutions to the expressed needs of those on our email list. Listen to those on your list, ask them questions, dig deep, and then serve them what they are asking you for. – Namastream

DECREASING CHANCES OF BEING FILTERED BY SPAM

There are certain things you do that increase your risk of being filtered by SPAM. For example, if you are using lots of punctuation in your titles you may be at risk of getting sent to Trash. Excessive exclamation points, question marks, dashes, dollar signs, etc are all controlled. When in doubt, go with very few punctuation marks and resist the urge to end your subject line with a plethora of !!!!!!

Another way you can get SPAM filtered is by including more images than words. For whatever reason, some email providers do not like this. In this case, try to include fewer images or use smaller images. Finally, have your subscribers ‘white list’ your email. This means instructing them to log into their email and adding your email address to their contact list. This reduces your chances of being accidentally sent to SPAM. – Jules Barber