the art of promoting your yoga business

In North America, we’ve all laughed at ridiculous late night TV promotions that state: Order before midnight tonight to get an extra super special wizbop absolutely FREE! Admit it, there was a time you saw those Ginsu knives cutting through copper pennies and thought they might do a pretty good job on broccoli.

Wherever you find yourself in today’s fast-paced culture, certainly you’ve experienced the feeling of thousands of offers and promotions vying for your attention. With yoga’s dramatic growth, the yoga business community has doled out its share. You’ve heard them all: First class free. Second class free. Bring a friend. Refer a friend. Ten days for $10. Twenty days for $20. Three classes for the price of two. Unlimited plan sign-up specials. Intro packages, summer specials, Mother’s Day sales, National Fight Procrastination Day sale. And then of course, there is the method of delivery: Will you send out a postcard? Put up flyers? Advertise in the paper? Put brochures on cars in parking lots? Send an enews?

There are so many questions. What works? What doesn’t? Should you use them at all? The clear answer is yes, no and a definite maybe. Why would one program succeed wildly at one studio and fail miserably at another?

Making a correct choice of how to promote depends on your studio’s personality and your community; the way you, the owner, think about your business; what the self-talk tapes running in the background of your mind are saying; and so many other factors that have more to do with your attitude than any cookie-cutter formula for successful promotions.

The most important issue is resonance. Does the promotion you are considering feel like something your community will gravitate toward naturally, or will they consider it a cheesy annoyance? Will it support the feeling and philosophy that drives your business, or detract from it?

Once again, the answer to this tricky business question lies in knowing your audience. Just because a yoga studio somewhere had success with a particular promotion does not ensure you the same results.

Yoga entrepreneurs have asked my opinion on many promotional ideas. Before even assessing the merits of a particular idea, I ask, “Would you participate in this yourself if you were the student?” It’s amazing how many times silence follows that question

Make sure that every promotion you think of implementing is something that you would feel good about if you were the student. Never expect good results with an idea you yourself could not get excited about. Then, once you’re sure it’s something that would feel good to you––ask some of your students. Make sure that what you have in mind matches your audience, and only then spend the time, energy and money to implement it.

In general, people do respond to offers and promotions. However, most promotions I’ve seen don’t even spell out the true benefit. They focus instead on just the money savings—which is only a benefit if the person has already decided to try yoga! In which case, you haven’t gained anything and lost money by giving a discount. Saving money is only useful as a tool to tip people off the fence and get them to make a decision to give it a try and see what this crazy yoga thing is all about

Be very careful. Too much discounting dilutes the value of this beautiful, life-changing service you’re offering. Think about it. Do you want to be known for having the cheapest yoga in town, or changing people’s lives? With that said, promotions are still important to growing our businesses and we need to understand exactly how people respond to them.

It’s actually quite simple. People respond to offers by judging the interplay of two distinct elements:

1. The perceived value (benefits to them).
2. The risk involved (what it will cost them in money, time and effort).

They ask themselves, “Is the benefit greater than the required risk?” If it is perceived to be, the person will usually participate. If not, they won’t. If the perceived value goes up and risk stays the same, the response to your offer will increase. If risk goes up and your perceived value stays the same, your response rate will go down. If your perceived value went up and your risk went down, what would happen to your response rate? It would go skyrocket!

So work to increase the perceived value of your offer by describing in detail the specific benefits of embarking on a committed yoga practice. Use testimonials (your happy students’ words are far more powerful than yours), and avoid hype at all costs. Be authentic in your promotions. Come from the heart, and make every offer one you can be proud of.

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