Today, I want to talk about a topic that many yogis find distasteful, downright slimy even…
Yes, that topic is—marketing. (Cue scary music.)
As the Chief Marketing Officer for Yoga in Your Park and the CEO of Spooky Digital, I work with tons of yoga teachers to help them fill classes and make more money.
They often tell me how they feel about marketing themselves, and it seems as though there’s a lot of inner conflict for people when it comes to growing and promoting their practice.
If you’re a teacher, you’re probably familiar with this predicament, and if you’ve been around long enough, you know that the yoga community is split into two deeply divided camps when this topic comes up.
Which one of these groups do you fall into?
1) You understand the need for marketing, but you aren’t quite sure how to do it. You’d rather be on the mat than stuck behind a computer screen making ads, or posting on social media. At the same time, you don’t want to spend money hiring someone to do it for you, because you’re not sure you’ll get your money back.
2) You believe that yoga should be free, and that marketing goes against the philosophy of yoga. You see the Westernization of yoga as a bad thing, particularly how money has taken over the practice.
I understand and relate to both of these positions completely!
The truth is, marketing is not the evil thing it’s made out to be. It’s an incredibly misunderstood practice—mostly due to the large number of so-called experts that do marketing the wrong way—and there’s a lot of misinformation out there on what “good marketing” really is.
All I ask is that you listen with an open mind and an open heart. Allow me to introduce you to “real marketing,” and let’s get rid of the misconceptions that are holding you back from growing your practice and helping more people.
Here are the most common myths and misconceptions yoga teachers have about marketing:
1) Yoga should be free, and making money from it is wrong.
I wholeheartedly agree with the intention behind this belief.
Yoga should be accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime, regardless of their ability to pay for it. Healing belongs to everyone and should be given away freely without regard for what you’re going to get out of it.
At the same time, you can’t ignore the fact that even yoga teachers need to live. You need to pay rent and eat, just like everyone else.
You aren’t charging for the yoga you’re teaching. You’re charging for the time it takes you to teach. Your time has value, and you deserve to be paid for it.
So how do we integrate these two ideas that seem to be at odds? Everyone should have access to yoga, regardless of their ability to pay; at the same time, yoga teachers also deserve to get paid for their time.
At one studio I work with, they solve this problem in two ways.
First, they offer sliding scale pricing. No one is turned away for their inability to pay. Many students choose to pay more, which helps cover the cost for those who can afford less.
Second, they offer free “karma classes” to people who are typically underrepresented in the yoga world, like lower-income families and people of color. The money they make selling yoga to those who can afford it allows them to spend their time giving away free classes to those in need.
Selling your time to those who can afford it allows you to give freely to those who can’t. You can use money to increase your reach, and effect change in the world. Money is power and we need to get it into the hands of people who will promote peace and positivity!
2) Marketing has to be salesy.
You don’t have to be a cliché slimeball marketer to get more students in your class. Good marketing means knowing who you are at your core, and expressing that authentically in every single way.
Good marketing is about building relationships. You don’t actually want to “sell” people anything at all. You should go into any sales situation and do all of your marketing with one question on your mind: “How can I help this person?”
When your marketing is based on that question, you provide something of value to people—before you even ask for anything in return. This method works on the idea that if you give someone something of value, they’ll come to you when they want what you’re selling.
This makes the whole challenge of marketing much more simple, stress-free, and authentic. Just be yourself, give as much value as you can up-front for free, and you’ll pack your classes full of new students.
3) Marketing is annoying and invasive.
Good marketing is actually unnoticeable and seamless.
When you do it right, you don’t have to nag someone or convince them to do anything. If you spend more time educating, inspiring, and adding value to the lives of those around you, you’ll be the obvious choice when someone wants what you have to offer.
The best part of all is that you already know how to do this. No sales experience necessary!
People come to yoga classes for a variety of different reasons. Your job as a marketer is to show that you understand your students’ needs, and offer them something that addresses those needs specifically.
When your marketing is relevant, useful, and solves a problem, there’s no way for it to be annoying and invasive. People will actually love to hear from you, because you add so much to their lives.
4) Marketing is a waste of money.
Marketing should always be done “by the numbers.”
If you can’t make as much money as you’re spending, you need to rethink your strategy or invest in an expert who can rethink it with you.
Be careful not to call it quits too quickly though. You should figure out what the lifetime value of a customer is—the amount (on average) that a customer will pay you over the course of their lifetime—and be prepared to spend up to that amount getting that new customer through the door.
You can spend up to this amount acquiring a new student, because you’re likely to get it back later. At most studios I’ve worked with, the lifetime value of a student is somewhere between $500 and $1,000.
Ideally, your marketing should pay for itself. When you sell a low-cost intro offer, for example, you can use the cost of that intro offer to pay for your marketing efforts. It’s easy to make money while doing your marketing, it just takes some careful planning and attention to the numbers.
5) Marketing takes too much time.
Marketing isn’t necessarily something you need to spend a lot of time on!
If you devote just one hour a day to doing some kind of marketing—whatever you feel like doing that day—you’ll be filling classes and making more money in no time.
Like anything else, the key to success in marketing is consistency. Try new things, track the results, and make improvements whenever you can.
The best marketing comes from expressing who you are and the unique offering you bring to the table as clearly and authentically as possible.
Please let me know what you think in the comment section below!
Author: Dan Sevigny
Image: “The Love Guru/YouTube”
Editor: Travis May