For many of us as yoga teachers, one of the more challenging parts of this profession is marketing ourselves and our offerings. I have been teaching yoga and running my own studio for the past ten years and during this time I have learned quite a lot about marketing skills, both through my own personal experience and also the advice and guidance of my husband who is an experienced international sales manager. As I know from speaking and listening to other yoga teachers, this is an arena where many of us find difficulties cropping up, and because of this, I have compiled a list of helpful marketing advice suited to the business of yoga.
Here follows my top 10 ways to approach marketing yourself as a yoga teacher
1. Listen to your student and put yourself in their shoes
Practice the art of mindful listening when dealing with students, especially when it is initial conversations around what they are searching for in their practice. Sometimes when speaking to potential students for the first time we feel like we have to “sell” ourselves or even yoga and so many fall into the trap of speaking too much about themselves, their practice and potentially overwhelming students with too much information or philosophy.
If a student has taken the time to call to enquire about classes, they have already chosen to call you instead of a different teacher. Use this first contact time wisely and actively listen to what they are after in terms of practice or classes. When students are being sold on a class or a product and they feel that they are being listened to with a compassionate and open heart, they will intrinsically feel drawn to joining your class or workshop.
Let the conversation flow naturally, work to build a rapport, answer questions, put their needs and potential results from practice first and from there elaborate on how to book their class or workshop.
2. Be consistent with classes
We all know the feeling of starting new classes and only having one or two students per class, in these cases, it may be tempting to just cancel lessons or to reschedule for when you have more students. When these situations arise, it’s good to come back to the philosophy of yoga. If we look at the Niyama of Santosha or contentment we are reminded to have gratitude for every student who chooses to come to our classes and to put in the same amount of effort and energy as we would for a class full of students.
Often it helps to change our perception. Take the opportunity to give this student a great private lesson, perhaps that is what they are needing. This type of continued effort and heartfelt teaching will lead to repeat students and very often to student referrals
If you are unable to teach because of illness or personal reasons it is always a good idea to ask a fellow teacher to stand in for you rather than cancel the class, in some instances this may mean being out of pocket if your class is a small group, however, in the long run, this will surely pay off as your students will sense this commitment that you have as a teacher towards them and their practice.
3. Create a community
Just like we prefer to sit in a full restaurant rather than an empty one, the group dynamic of having fuller classes tends to attract more students. A yoga studio is really about creating a Sangha or a community and in today’s world where many people feel quite lonely, it is this community spirit that will attract people to your space or your classes.
Think of creative ways to attract people by consciously creating this spirit of community – invite your family or other teachers to come and practice, run events or special classes where students are encouraged to bring friends or family – this creates the group atmosphere you are wanting to achieve and will very often lead to sign-ups and interest.
4. Know what you are selling
We have all been to yoga classes that are held in fitness clubs or gyms, where you are treated to ear-deafening dance beats from the aerobics class next door and can feel the thud as someone drops their weights in the upstairs area. Far removed from being relaxing and tranquil these classes are often full as students have memberships that let them use the facilities and join group classes.
Remember that what you are selling is the whole yoga package, the movement, the breath and the still space for students to unwind and reconnect with themselves. This is what you are selling as a yoga teacher and you can market and charge accordingly. Don’t ever feel like you have to compete with these spaces in terms of pricing as what you are offering is a more unique, rich and authentic yoga experience.
5. Know your worth and charge accordingly
One thing that many yoga teachers find difficult is how to price classes, especially when the popularity of yoga classes is on the rise and there is more competition in the market, this can make a lot of teachers underprice their classes or even give away their time for free.
It is important to remember to value your time and energy, for that along with your knowledge and training is essentially what you are selling as a yoga teacher. Think logically in terms of what you are offering and compare what other teachers and studio’s in your area charge, then set a price that matches your value as a teacher and your experience. Always make sure that you are charging is an amount that you are comfortable with and that you are clear about what it is that you are offering in exchange for this.
This way you set yourself up with clear expectations and clear guidelines for your students as to what you have to offer as a teacher. If you are a senior teacher with ten years experience you will naturally charge more than someone who has just completed their teacher training, and similarly, if you are a new teacher you would charge a fee in line with that.
6. Remember that marketing is part of being a yoga teacher
As much as the company’s market their products, you need to market yourself as a yoga teacher. This is how people will find out about you, what you offer and where they can join your classes. Remember that you are serving people, and let this stand as your strategy for marketing yourself and your services. There is a great benefit to having an experienced teacher lead you through a practice, use this as your selling tool.
Be confident, speak honestly and truthfully about yourself and your story, and then let the right people find their way to you. The age-old adage of what we put in is what we get out stands true in this instance. Much the same as what we as teachers need to consistently practice and hone our craft, so we need to be consistent with sharing what we know with others through our classes, workshops, and trainings.
7. Know your niche and your marketing audience
Be clear and honest with yourself and your students about what you are offering. Knowing your niche means that you have a clear message and service that you are offering and once you know this, you are better able to market yourself as you now know who it is that you are marketing your services to. These two areas work hand in hand and once you are clear on the one the other becomes much easier.
Tailor your marketing to appeal to your niche, therapeutic yoga for relaxation and stress, will have a much different feel and look than hot yoga to tone and sculpt.
A picture can speak a thousand words. Splurge on good quality images of yoga poses that represent your style or teaching modality to use as a visual representation. Focus on the benefits of yoga and relatable stories and skills in your marketing efforts.
8. Identify your fears.
Knowing yourself and your fears may seem like a daunting task and many of us are quite wary of stepping into these shadow aspects of ourselves. Only through understanding and uncovering what our fears are will we be able to overcome them.
It’s important to look at our fears in the face, to dissect them, to give them a name – what is it that you are afraid of? The fear of survival – how will you make a living teaching yoga, the fear of marketing or of exposing yourself to the world?
Fear can be debilitating when it comes to business and it’s therefore vitally important that we look at what may be standing in the way of our success and blocking our confidence and flow.
Once we have identified our fears, we know what we are working with and we can devise a plan or strategy to overcome these fears, either by doing the work ourselves or working with a friend, colleague or business mentor or coach.
Invoke the power of tapas. Just as we keep consistently practicing, returning again and again to the mat, to the breath, to the asana with a fiery burning of devotion and persistence, so too should we keep returning to our efforts of self promotion, burning away our feelings of smallness and fear so that we are able to authentically attract the right student to our classes. If you consistently keep up your efforts the momentum will keep growing and so too will your business. The difference between success and failure is very often our ability and willingness to persevere and to keep believing in ourselves and our dreams.
10.Devotion and self-belief.
Believe in yourself and be proud of your standing as a teacher. You have spent many hours of practice and have invested your time and money into your skills and abilities as a teacher.
Be proud of yourself and your unique and authentic voice. Be devoted to yourself and others will naturally follow. Those that share your energy and path will be drawn to you and your tribe will grow.
Just like a yoga practice – only through devotion and self-belief will your business bear fruit. Good luck!
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