Yoga teachers have a natural advantage in marketing themselves and their businesses. Regardless of whether you’re a studio owner or a jobbing teaching, travelling from gig to gig, regardless of whether you’re building an empire or want a ‘lifestyle business’ that’s more focused on fun, we have several secret weapons up our sleeves when it comes to marketing – if only we recognise this and start using them.
Effective marketing is empathetic
Modern marketing, called content marketing, is based on two key things: empathy and generosity. It’s about gathering a community around your business by consistency sharing information that is useful, valuable and relevant to people. To do this effective, you need to know exactly who you’re seeking to attract and what they’re interested in.
Empathy is crucial. Knowing your ideal client is about far more than what TV shows they watch – it’s about knowing what wakes them up at 2am and being able to talk to those issues, in their language. Teasing out the benefits of yoga is about far more than harping on about flexibility, strength and peace of mind, it’s about unraveling the many, varied, small and deeper benefits and illustrating how those benefits apply to people’s lives.
Effective marketing is generous
Content marketing is what you’re doing when you share an article about yoga on your Facebook page. It’s about being generous with your marketing so that people can get a taste of what you do and how you do it. By increasing the generousity of your marketing with real, applicable, high-quality information shared freely and easily through the internet, you’re better able to reinforce boundaries around your time and consider raising your prices.
Being generous with your marketing doesn’t mean giving away your time for free. It does mean that people can get a sense of your value while you increase your community through growing your email list, increasing your new and repeat web visitors, and growing your social media numbers.
Clarity and brevity are key
Your marketing needs to be clear, compelling … and brief. Think of marketing like a conversation. Someone who talks incessantly about themselves, only emails or calls when they have something to sell, or takes far too long to get to the point isn’t much company.
Approach marketing like you do a conversation, breaking your message up into pieces. First this, then that, then the next thing, with always an invitation for response.
Opening your marketing up to real communication and collaboration isn’t easy. It challenges our beliefs about the teacher-student relationship, about what it means to be professional and how to keep healthy boundaries both online and face-to-face. But it’s invaluable.
Repeating yourself comes with the territory
When you tell your class to “place your left hand to the outside of your right foot” and not everybody does it, you try again. Students hear your instructions differently, so you’ll need to adjust, by phrasing it differently, by demonstrating, and with physical adjustments. And, despite your best efforts, they won’t all be listening all of the time, so you need to repeat yourself.
Communication is not about what you say; it’s about what people hear. It’s the same with marketing. Nobody’s listening that closely so we need to keep repeating ourselves. It’s not obnoxious, it’s helpful, just like when yoga teaching.
Creativity is crucial
In the last nine years of working closely with yoga teachers across Australia, I know first hand that we tend to be highly creative people. And yet, when it comes to marketing, we get constipated.
There’s no excuse for not channeling your creativity into marketing your yoga teaching – it could be the most creative thing you do! Having restraints such as a small budget, or limited hours or resources provokes creativity, not restricts it. A deadline can be fantastic for igniting creative thinking.
As the beige brigade continues to take over social media, main street fashion, and the suburbs, creative marketing is not ‘a nice to have’, it’s imperative if you’re to stand out. And you must stand out if your marketing is to have any effect at all.
Serving only those who are ready
As yoga teachers, we don’t roll out our mats on the side of the road and bully people into joining us. We know we can’t bamboozle people into trying something if they’re not ready.
It’s the same with marketing. You’re wasting your time, energy and money by attempting to convince people to come to your class. By getting really clear on the exact and specific ‘type’ of person your business is most suited to (known as your ideal clients), not only will your marketing be easier, cheaper and more effective, but you’ll start enjoying your work far more too.
People are busy, and distracted. We walk around with blinkers on to cope with the deluge of information and marketing we have coming at us all day and night. Marketing that is broad, general and generic is invisible. The more specific you are, the more visible you’ll be. Effective marketing is highly targeted, personal and direct. Just like teaching yoga.
Yoga is a practice, as is marketing
Yoga teachers have natural discipline and know that yoga is a practice and process, not theory. The same goes for marketing. This is not something we read in a book or learn at university. It’s highly practical and best done a little a day, every day.
Building a community and rapport online takes time. You gain people’s trust by being consistent. So whatever marketing you do – whether blogging, email newsletters, social media, advertising, networking or event sponsorships and partnerships – needs to happen consistently, over time.
Most importantly, keep on keeping on. The world needs more yoga teachers who are in business for the long-term, to bring yoga to more people.
By Brook McCarthy
Brook is co-presenting ‘Business with Heart’ retreat in Bali with Rachel Nokes in November 2019. Brook McCarthy is a qualified teacher of 20 years’ experience teaching yoga, as well as a digital marketing trainer and business coach who specialises in the health and creative sectors. Brook’s business, Hustle & Heart short-courses), teaches face-to-face and online courses on digital marketing and sales, combined with the self-insight and resilience that all business owners need.