The most talented, experienced, highly qualified and dedicated yoga teacher is not the one whose classes are full, retreats are wait-listed, with students beating a path to their door. It’s the teacher who takes marketing seriously.
My experience over the last 10 years of teaching digital marketing to yoga teachers suggests that most would prefer to do their taxes, rearrange their sock drawer, or door knock for charity than do their own marketing. But marketing is simply clear, compelling communication. Digital marketing is a commitment to develop and maintain relationships with hundreds and thousands of people, through your computer screen. It is a privilege not to be taken for granted, especially if you want to reach people who are most in need of yoga.
So what’s the bare digital minimum marketing that you can do, to be effective?
Stories are central
If marketing is clear, compelling communication, then you’re not compelling by constantly talking about your classes or only emailing your list when you’ve got an event to fill. That’s not marketing – that’s promotion.
Your business blog is the best vehicle to share your business’s stories – from cornerstone content, where you’re providing substantial, thoughtful, opinionated pieces, to answering your FAQs, and unravelling the complexities of what you do, how it helps, why you do it and how you differ. Your blog allows you to share your professional opinion and build your reputation around this.
Your blog could be video-based, audio-based, visually-led or regularly feature your clients and colleagues. Aim to publish one original blog post per fortnight.
Social media marketing: the middle path
Over the last ten years that I’ve been training yoga teachers in social media marketing, I’ve seen two major mistakes: being overly fixated on one social channel while neglecting other marketing, which is highly risky.
Or second, “drive-by social media” when the mood strikes, often accompanied by deep cynicism and scepticism about social media and its marketing purpose.
There is a middle path: where your social media marketing is regular, organised, and scheduled in advance, and one piece of the bigger marketing puzzle. So what’s bare minimum social media? Once per day per channel, for two or three channels. One social media channel is too risky, and more than three is unnecessary (unless you’re a professional marketer!).
And no, I don’t recommend you bypass getting a website and rely on social media instead – that’s like building a house on land you don’t own.
Three essential tech skills
The three technical skills that business owners needs to conquer is the ability to quickly and easily update their website (with a blog, timetable changes, a new event), the ability to put together and disseminate mass emails, and the ability to update or schedule your social media marketing.
That fancy lead page software? Building your new website from scratch? The lush promotional video for your homepage? A Facebook ads campaign? None are relevant if you haven’t conquered these three key technical skills.
Quickly and easily updating your website means you don’t need to rely on a website designer for each and every change you want to make. Putting together an email newsletter ensures you can share these stories with your community and keep in touch and top-of-mind. Social media marketing enables you to test your ideas for your blog, promote your blog posts, classes and events, gauge feedback, reach new people and encourage word-of-mouth.
The trifecta of digital marketing
Your blog keeps your website alive and fresh with new ideas, information and ways for people to find you and hear from you. It’s your customer service, sales and website promotion wrapped in one shiny self-published package. Your blog leads your email marketing and provides fodder for social media as well as igniting ideas developed on social media to be expanded into blogs.
Your email marketing and social media are your outreach. They get your website in front of people and keep you top-of-mind with students who intend to learn from you, just not right now.
These digital marketing techniques are low-cost, no-cost and generous-spirited, which makes them perfect for yoga teachers.
There’s no possible way you can reach people and maintain relationships with these numbers without this digital trifecta. Commit to your bare minimum marketing routine: one update per day per social media channel, one blog post per fortnight and one email newsletter per month. Create and schedule your marketing at the same time every week, and enjoy the creative process.
The vulnerability of visibility
I have run public marketing courses that have felt like group counselling. Typically, digital marketing provoke feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment, over-analysis or even shame. It can make you feel exposed and vulnerable.
But regular marketing is committing to relationships, and in the same way you keep in contact with friends, rapport is difficult to develop when contact is sporadic and self-interested.
The more you practice, get comfortable, and improve your marketing, the easier it’ll be to reach out to people over the phone, introduce yourself over email, attend the occasional networking event and widening your circle. Digital marketing is highly changeable, which keeps your attitude fresh and challenges you to be relevant and generous, which yoga teachers already have in abundance. Enjoy it.
[Break out box]
Recommended tech tools
WordPress, Squarespace or Weebly for websites.
Mailchimp or Reach Mail for email marketing.
Buffer for social media scheduling.
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.