Great question! You could be the best fitness instructor/yoga teacher in the world, but if you ignore the marketing side of the business you have very little chance of building a sustainable business. Before becoming a full-time yoga teacher I was a business consultant. The number one bit of marketing advice I gave all my clients was to find ways of “retaining their current clients”. Most people associate marketing with handing out business cards, putting up flyers and setting up a website. They are all use for attracting some leads, but everyone knows the best lead generator is a Raving Fan.
A “Raving Fan” is a student who tells everyone they know about your amazing classes. You can build a thriving business from just one Raving Fan!
My advice is to focus most of your time on “referral marketing strategies”. There are loads of them, but here are a few to get you started….
Referral Tactic 1: One Friend And Two Rolodexes
Call a friend and arrange to meet up to share referrals. Sit down and systematically go through your contacts (e.g. on your phone or in your rolodex). You’ll be amazed at how many referrals you can get from one friend in one sitting (and also enjoy a cappuccino if you meet at a coffee house).
Referral Tactic 2: One Friend And A Skype Chat
If you have friends who live too far to meet up, arrange a Skype chat (and turn on the web cam so you can see each other). Then follow the steps laid out in “Referral Tactic 1”.
Referral Tactic 3: Host A Cock-tail Party
Host a cock-tail party to enlighten a group of carefully selected well connected people in your network. The cocktail party is aimed to educate these guests about your areas of expertise so that they will be better informed about your company’s services and therefore more likely to send you potential referral opportunities. Be upfront with the party goers. Let them know the reason you are throwing the party is so they get to know a bit about your business. Make sure you provide good food, good company and don’t be too serious when you give your presentation. You’ll probably find several of the guests come to your classes, and several others start sending you referrals. You can also arrange time with each guest (following the party) to “work each others rolodex”.
Referral Tactic 4: Host An Informal Gathering
Have a few friends over for coffee and a discussion about “how we can help each other”.
Referral Tactic 5: Host A Gathering Somewhere Unique
Consider hosting a party in a unique location (e.g. at the largest underground trampoline: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2659044/Worlds-largest-undergrou…).
Referral Tactic 6: Organise Your Contact Lists
This is simple and easy, but most small business owners fail to do it. Get your contact list organised. Create a spreadsheet of all the people you know and contact every single one of them (e.g. to arrange to meet up to find out how you can help each other).
Referral Tactic 7: Offer Free Classes
A great way to get referrals is to offer your first class for free. Usually someone who is interested will want to come with a friend. If its free the friend will almost certainly come along (and may end up becoming a regular). So get used to offering free classes to friends, associates and total strangers. For example, say you’ve just had a great hair cut, offer the hair-dresser a free class or 1-2-1 session as a tip. Here’s another example. If you’re in a queue at Tescos,say something funny to the person next to you such as: “Tescos would like to offer you a free yoga class due to the inconvenience of waiting in this queue,” then hand them one of your business cards.
Referral Tactic 8: Loyalty Card
You can use vistaprint’s loyalty card template. I couldn’t believe how well this strategy worked with my yoga students. They loved receiving their loyalty card. You will need to initial a box on their card each week until they have 10 boxes filled in. It’s also a great way to chat and get to know your students because they have to bring their loyalty card to you to get signed. I find in my classes that 1 out of 10 students are really shy and find it hard to approach me (the loyalty card gives them courage to approach me). People love being rewarded for loyalty.
Hope that helps.
If you’d like to get your hands on 100’s of marketing resources, you might like to take a little peek at a resource I created for myself called “The Yoga Teacher Business Kit. Here it is: http://georgewatts.org/yoga-marketing-tips/
And if you’re a pilates teacher, you might like The Pilates Teacher Marketing Kit available here: http://pilateslessonplans.co.uk/pilates-marketing-kit/
BWY Yoga Teacher
Free yoga lesson planning tips & tools | http://GeorgeWatts.org