How we market ourselves has grown exponentially in recent years. Between social media, print ads and printed material, word-of-mouth, collaboration with others, and promotions on radio, television or the web, the possibilities could drive a person into Corpse Pose for many hours. In this post, I want to share with you some of the directions you could take your marketing, all with the caveat that you need to find what best aligns with your values and your joy. Yes, it all comes back to what yoga comes back to: yoking and alignment—connect with who you are and what you love, and align yourself accordingly.
Ask people for marketing advice, and common refrain you’ll hear that you need “brand yourself,” another way of describing how you need to get a quickly identified look/image/symbol of who you and what you do out there, and keep it out there through consistency (such as having something that communicates your “brand” in all flyers, website, Facebook pages, etc.). While we have a culture that worships the branded—whether it’s a celebrity identified just by one name or the Apple logo that shining out of every Apple product—you need to decide for yourself how this notion translates into your beliefs and character. Many redefine branding as simply a way to identify the core message of your teaching, and if you Google “brand yourself as a yoga teacher,” you will see a lot of this discussed in detail. Some see branding as commodification that goes against the spirit of their work. Consider deeply and continually over time: What do you most want to communicate with potential and current students about your classes and who you are as a teacher?
“They,” meaning most people who do marketing and giving marketing advice these days, will tell you that you need a website, a Facebook page, and probably also a Twitter feed, a LinkedIn account and possibility other social media. I’m actually one of the “They” who would suggest that you definitely have at least a simple and clear website, and a Facebook business page, and more social media and web presence if you feel so moved. Here’s the minimum I believe most yoga teachers really could use, especially when that this kind of marketing has become home central for getting out the word on yoga classes these days:
- WEBSITE: There are many free website-building templates, such as Wordpress (my favorite), Blogspot (which can be made to look like a very simple website), Google Sites, Tumblr and more. Setting up one of these needn’t take more than an evening, and if you feel challenged, you can get help (there are people who actually can build, for far less than a code-from-scratch website, your site for you, and hey, there are books like one I own, Wordpress for Dummies). You can also see if there are potential or current students who might swap website construction or updating for classes or workshops. (Note: This wonderful Hugger Mugger blog is a Wordpress blog.)
- FACEBOOK: You can easily set up a Facebook business page, the kind that people can “like” and you can then use to pass on information about upcoming classes, when the studio might be closed, special events, etc. It’s ideal to post something regularly, like at least once a week (and I would recommend more like two to three times a week), such as links to blogs or articles concerning yoga, or short comments (“Another rainy day. Come do yoga with me and find your own clear skies”) or updates (“So excited to be offering a new session starting this Thursday at 7 p.m. Please pass it on”). I know some people, like my husband, for example, want nothing to do with Facebook. If you’re one of those people, you might see if someone from your studio might do a Facebook page for the whole studio (if it’s not already happening) that would feature your classes as well as others, or if you can trade classes with someone to do a Facebook business page for you.
In Print: Flyers, Brochures, Postcards, Ads
I’m a person who loves paper, so despite all the possibilities with social media, I like to also print out things I can hand out. Particularly for studios and big events, having some print marketing can help multiply the effect of your social media marketing, but again, like all marketing ideas, it comes down to what feels true and right to you. If you are interested in doing some print marketing, be prepared to pay—sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot—and here are some ideas:
- BUSINESS CARDS: These babies are relatively inexpensive (just about free at Vistaprint.com if you have the Vistaprint logo on the back of your cards) and handy to give to people who express interest. You can list on the cards your name, website, email, and even your Facebook business page if you like, and if you feel comfortable with it, even your phone and address (which you can also choose to keep private).
- POSTCARDS AND/OR BOOKMARKS: Postcards are not just for mailing. A beautiful postcard looks lovely on a bulletin board. Postcards have the advantage of being bigger than a business card and yet smaller, cheaper and easier to put together than a tri-fold brochure (which, truth be told, is a lot of work when it comes to figuring out what goes where and then honing all the copy). Bookmarks are great if your people are readers because they have a long (literally) shelf life.
- BROCHURES: The standard tri-fold brochure is a cool thing when it comes to holding a lot of information gracefully. You want just enough to flesh out who you are, what you offer, hours and class schedules (which could also be a brochure insert, giving you ease in updating a more general brochure). Writing copy for a brochure takes focus, discipline and great clarity. If you're not comfortable with it, see if you can swap some classes with someone who has a knack for such writing.
- FLYERS: You can easily make a flyer on your computer, playing with fonts, inserting photos, and sharing general information about classes. Your flyers can be full-color quality posters or half-page announcements copied off on your printer. You can post them in coffee houses, yoga centers and studios, gyms, colleges and adult education centers, doctor offices (anywhere someone is waiting around for a while) and even give some to doctors, therapists, and others who might recommend yoga for their patients. One tip is to look for where others publicize yoga classes (and also look for other places to reach audiences). Posting flyers gives you the added bonus of doing some extra walking.
- ADS: Print ads can be costly and, if you’re planning to do any, should target your best potential audience. If the local paper in your town is well-read by many who would be potential students, you could try a small ad, but instead of promoting the classes in general, you might want to focus on a free class that gets people into the studio (where people really get sold, or not, on your classes). You can also look at regional publications or specialty ones (such as a visitor guide that goes to all people new in town).
One of the best ways to market your classes is to get into people’s inboxes. As you teach, keep an email list, and keep updating it over the years. There are wonderful programs such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact that allow you to email out lovely e-newletters or more simple announcements, and also keep good track of your email list, who opens the email, who “clicks through” to visit your site, and more information. Many such programs are free for a trial basis or for up to a certain number of addresses, so check them out.
Word of Mouth and Doing Excellent Work
What really helps most people do their most effective marketing? What people experience at the yoga class and then what they say to their friends and family. More than anything, give your all and your heart to your classes, letting each session you lead help whoever is there find greater vitality and joy.
In case you’d like to review Part I of this series, here’s the link.