A common misunderstanding among yoga professionals is that marketing refers only to actions taken to gain new clients. Yet a marketing strategy includes steps to address all types of relationships in your business—potential clients, new clients, and existing clients. In order to stay in business long-term, you want to stay connected with your yoga students in all of these phases. The ideas in this article show you how to do so in a meaningful way.
This is important because it costs far less to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one. So you want to treat your existing students like gold. Take deliberate action to make them feel special. And, think of the numerous ways you can serve them well so they are delighted to continue working with you.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to stay connected with students in person.
On the plus side, I got to take virtual classes with teachers around the world. I also got to take a peek at the creative ideas they’re using to stay connected with their students.
Most classes will reopen to the public shortly. Yet students might still be afraid to come back right away. That’s why a virtual aspect of your business can remain highly valuable to your community.
Photo Credit: Osmanpek
WHAT IS MEANINGFUL CONNECTION?
With 7+ billion people on the planet—and access to the World Wide Web—it’s easy to stay connected with others. Yet there are different levels of doing this. Meaningful connections are ones in which you display the following attributes:
You know your strengths and weaknesses alike, and allow yourself to be seen for the whole of who you are. This aligns with the second Yama, Satya. It’s about being honest with yourself and truthful with others. By doing this, you give others the freedom to be the same in your presence.
With access to so much information today and the trend to keep busy schedules, it’s easy to be distracted. That’s why staying focused in the moment, especially when connecting with others, is so important. Breathe deeply. Look people in the eye. Smile. And do your best to give your full attention to those right in front of you.
This attribute is about your ability to ask questions. Curiosity is about letting go of the need to know everything and staying open to learning from others. In this space, your own beliefs about yourself and the world can evolve. This not only supports your own journey of expansion, but provides innumerable ways to connect with others in meaningful ways.
You likely embody many of these traits already. In fact, you build trust with your students each time you:
- Show up prepared
- Craft memborable yoga experiences
- Teach yoga in a way that promotes self-sufficiency
- Communicate clearly and frequently
- Appreciate your clients in visible ways
Below are five additional ways to stay connected with your yoga students in a virtual format. They can also be continued once life gets back to normal post-pandemic.
(1) SEND A SURVEY
Asking questions and listening to your student needs is easy to do in person. This can be more challenging when you can only stay connected via virtual channels. That’s why sending frequent surveys can be one of the best ways to serve your community. I was pleased to see that Riffs Yoga Studios understands the importance of posing questions to their community. This gives them a pulse on the perspective of their students. And they can use this updated information to better serve their existing clients.
Riffs recently included a survey in their weekly email. This google form took less than 5 minutes to fill out and gives them a ton of information about their students. Some questions they asked were:
- What are your main concerns about coming back to the studio once we are clear to re-open?
- If your concerns are met, are you comfortable rejoining our regular group classes? Why or why not? *
- Do you have any suggestions/requests to make of us that would make your return to group classes more comfortable? *
The above questions are directly related to reopening after COVID-19. Yet you can send a survey any time to stay connected to the wants and needs of your community.
Photo Credit: Ember and Earth Photography
(2) CREATE A BOOK CLUB
As a yoga educator, you’re often looking for ways to weave yoga philosophy into your classes. Starting a book club gives you a simple way to talk about these ideas in a straightforward way.
Christina Rairdan, of the Bend Yoga Teacher Training, is reading a book this month with her students. As a group, they read once chapter between classes. Each chapter topic serves as a simple class theme for class. Christina spends 3-5 minutes discussing the topic, then weaves in brief snippets of insights as students hold poses on the mat.
UpYoga Minneapolis also started a book club that meets virtually on Monday evenings. This is separate from any specific yoga activity and is free to all members. This is a great way for students from various class styles and time frames to get to know one another in a meaningful format. Yoga teachers running the book club also get to understand student viewpoints in fresh ways as well.
How to get started:
- Pick a book
- Select a time frame in which to read the book
- Choose a format to discuss the book (separate zoom class, small sessions prior to each yoga class, etc)
- Invite your students to participate. I suggest you include a link directly to the book, and if possible, use your amazing affiliate link so that your business makes money on the transaction. This flow of resources helps you stay in business in the long run!
Book Club Suggestions:
- Living your Yoga, by Judith Lassiter
- Spiritual Graffiti, by MC Yogi
- Perfectly Imperfect, by Baron Baptiste
- The Book of Awakening, by Mark Neppo
(3) COME TOGETHER FOR A GREATER GOOD
One of the best ways to stay connected with others is to join forces for a greater good. Instead of looking at differences between people, you can stand together and focus on similarities. The best part is you can do so to uplift your communities. Many yoga professionals are doing this on a regular basis. Others have started doing this more during the global pandemic.
Here are some ways this has been visible in the yoga community lately:
- Single Class in which all proceeds go to a local charity. UpYoga Minnesota does this frequently, donating to charities such as Neighborhood House (an organization dedicated to helping low-income families thrive)
- IGTV or FB live class series where a percentage of revenue is donated to local charities. Daneen Farrall Yoga raised over $1K in two months time and was able to support charities like Feeding America and the Cleveland animal shelter. Check out her inspirational post below.
- Shift your pricing structure for your students. Sometimes making your classes available to those in need is one of the best ways to support others Although I can’t remember the studio name now, this studio had a three-tier pricing structure. Students could pay $10 (below regular rate), $15 to match regular rates, or $20 (above cost to pay it forward to others). Free community classes are another common way to uplift your community.
(4) CROSS-POLLINATE WITH OTHER PROFESSIONALS
In order to expand your reach as a yoga professional, it’s essential to form collaborative partnerships. This is true with other teachers in the industry. It’s also important to bond with leaders in other realms who also serve a similar student population.
Many yogis shy away from this due to a competitive mentality. Instead, when you have an abundance mindset, you realize that you can amplify your positive influence when you work alongside others. And your students learn more from these cross-pollination partnerships, too.
Partner with other yogis:
It’s common in the yoga world to host other teachers at your own studio. Virtually this is even easier to make possible. For example, Rolf Gates has made appearances at both Pleasure Point Yoga and Groove Yoga, in Bend Oregon.
This is a win-win-win for all involved. The hosting teacher adds more value to their community. The guest teacher gets more visibility. And students not only stay connected with their home studio in this digital format, but they are exposed to other teaching styles as well.
Keep in mind that you can also cross-pollinate with other industries to keep the practice interesting and fresh for your students.
(5) START A PODCAST
I had the pleasure of visiting Steamboat Springs, CO last April on my travel west from Florida to California. The mountains were still covered in snow. Yet the fields below them were full of vibrant colors of yellows and purples with flowers fresh in bloom. To offset my car body, I decided to take an evening class at Out Here Yoga.
Now, a year after that positive interaction, I still get their updates. One really cool thing they are doing to stay connected with their community is via podcast. As you know, students learn in three main ways. Students learn with their eyes through sight, which is why you demo poses. They also learn by moving the body and kinesthetically absorbing the information. You also learn with your ears. This last element is what makes a podcast so special.
You can use a podcast to talk about yoga philosophy. Or you might interview your teachers and share positive stories of transformation of students in your community.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
A strong marketing plan nurtures all stages of a relationship. It brings potential clients into your world. You also nurture new students and make them feel welcome. The last of this triad is to serve long-term clients to the best of your ability. When you stay connected to your community throughout all these phases, your business can thrive. And you’ll have a foundation of strong relationships to propel you forward.
Take Action Now:
- Acknowledge the attributes you embody that help you relate to others in a meaningful way. Seriously, take out your journal, write them down, and celebrate your authentic self!
- Decide how you want to best stay connected with your students in a virtual and in-person way.
- Tell us what’s working for you! Please leave a comment in the section below to share how you best support your community! We can all learn from each other as we’re in this together!