Conventional wisdom states that you would first set up your new yoga studio and then start promoting it. However, this is a recipe for failure. A much safer approach is to spend at least a year building a following of potential students before ever signing a lease. Below, I outline the process for doing this.
1. Building Your Audience
Start small on just one platform and build up from there. I recommend a blog as your first step. Set up one on a domain name for your studio brand. It can be simple to start with. The main thing is to get started.
Then, moving forward, the key is to put out content of value to your target audience regularly and engage with them. Since you are targeting people interested in yoga within a particular area, you need to make all your content location-specific.
Here are some topics and content types that can help get your brand name out there:
Inspirational Quotes: These are a bit over-used, but they can work well if adapted to fit your target audience. One approach could be to take photos of nature in the neighborhood and overlay a quote using an easy to use tool such as Canva, DesignFeed, Pablo, QuotesCover, or Relay. Better still, have yourself in the photo doing a pose.
Showcase Local Businesses: Find all the complementary businesses in the area where you intend to open your studio. Is there a place selling organic fruit and vegetable smoothies? How about a vegan restaurant? What about the local herbal medicine shop? If they are are businesses that deserve attention, make it your mission to introduce them to the health-conscious people in your area. Interview the owner, take photos, and build goodwill by publishing a piece about them on your blog. Share the photos through all your social media.
Event Information: Make your blog the go-to place to learn all about the upcoming events that have synergy with yoga such as Sunday vegetable market, Earth Day festival, and workshops in complementary disciplines such as bodywork and other natural therapies.
Charity Fundraising: Can you hold yoga classes in your local park in the spring and late summer to raise money for a local charity? Can you find a venue that will let you hold regular charity fundraising classes in their space for free?
Area Guides: Can you make a map or put together a kind of guide for all the healthy and natural things to experience in your district?
Many of the people, businesses, and organizations you give exposure to through your work will be happy to share your posts and mention you. By bringing value, you can gain exposure via word of mouth.
Throughout all your materials, you want to keep mentioning that you intend to open a studio in the area. This way, among all the value you provide, this information will seep into the back of people’s minds.
2. Sharing the Journey
Once you have become the go-to blog (and associated social media and email newsletter) for all things related to yoga and natural health in your area, it’s time to start moving forward towards establishing your studio. Throughout this journey, you should be sharing everything with your audience. Don’t worry about your ideas or information being “stolen.” Anyone can come up with great ideas or research facts. The value is in execution. And 99.9999% of people who follow you are not going to have what it takes to follow through.
The Planning Stage
Feature People: Did you find an excellent accountant who does yoga on the side and helped with putting together your business plan at a discount? Do a write up for them on your blog. Interview them. Give them exposure. Show the world that doing business with you comes with rewards beyond just the fee that you pay them.
Share Learnings: During the research and planning process, what are you learning that others might find useful or interesting? It’s all great content for your blog.
Be Vulnerable: While you want to keep everything upbeat and positive, it’s ok to reveal areas where you are challenged. This adds to the realism of the journey for your followers.
The Setup Stage
Bring Your Audience: When you are finally ready to start looking for property, share the whole process with your audience. Show them the spaces. Talk openly about the pros and cons.
Keep Everyone Updated: Your fans will want to where you are. Don’t just go silent for a month and expect people to be able to read your mind and know what’s happening.
Be Visual: Where possible, take photos, shoot videos, and perhaps even stream live from your phone. This way, your audience will connect with what you are going through and feel that they are part of the journey.
The Pre-Launch Stage
So, you’ve signed the lease and are now preparing the space. It’s time to start converting your blog into the studio website. You can install a header banner with a countdown timer and so that people know you’re not yet open. But, by having everything there, people will be able to get a sense of what they can expect once you do open for business.
Give your followers plenty of prior notice of the opening. Don’t just briefly mention it once and expect people to remember it. I recommend getting the word out as follows:
1. Once 3-months out from the date
2. Once 2-months out
3. Then from 1-month out, post weekly for each week counting down to the date
4. The day before
3. Listing in Directories
About one month before opening, prepare all your studio’s details and list your studio in relevant directories.
General Directories: These are often the first place people look and should be your first priorities. The top ones are Google Maps (Google My Business), Bing Maps, and Yelp.
Local Portals: Any specific websites that are focused on your area such as local news sites; especially those that focus on lifestyle.
Photos of the studio are crucial for giving people an idea of what to expect before they go. If it’s too early to have good photos ready, perhaps your interior designer or architect put some sketches together for you.
Alternatively, make a note in your task list to go back and upload photos to your listing once they are ready.
4. Post Launch
To see what a well-marketed yoga studio looks like post-launch, all you need to do is check out the online presence of the top yoga studios around the world.
Websites: What are they doing that you could learn from?
Blogs: Which of their posts resonate with you?
Social Media: What posts are getting the most shares and likes?
Email: Subscribe to their email newsletter lists. What are they doing right and what are they doing that could be better?
As long as you are focused on providing high-quality, original content that speaks to the interests of your students and are putting it out at a consistent and regular pace, then the size of your audience can only grow.
5. Managing Your Studio’s Social Media
I suggested that you start with a blog above because it’s your highest priority. However, if possible, you would have a branded presence on all the main social media platforms as well. This is a lot of work and needs to be well organized. The following may help you to sort it all out.
Planning & Organization
Recording what and when you post will help you to mix things up and avoid boring or irritating your audience.
Free Tools such as Google Calendar or Google Spreadsheets are a perfect for helping keep track of everything and can be shared with your team.
Project and Task management Tools such as Slack or Trello can help keep track of things in more detail if needed. These are free, but offer various upgrades for a fee.
Adapt Organically by accepting that you can’t do everything immediately from the start, and planing to phase in additional measures as you find capacity for them.
To avoid losing followers on each platform, it’s essential to decide on a posting schedule and stick to it.
Too Much: If you post too often, you will annoy people, and they will unfollow you.
Too Little: If you don’t post enough, you will be forgotten, and, when you finally do post the sudden reappearance in their newsfeeds again will be an annoyance.
Just Right: The optimal frequency will depend on your audience. The safest approach is to post once per day per platform. If you need extra exposure, try paying to promote your best and most important content.
Timing: Note that each platform has its ideal times for posting, and this will shift as your audience evolves. If you hit it perfectly, then your content will be at the top of most people’s newsfeed when they are online. Several of the tools mentioned below have ways to calculate this for you.
There are a wide variety of social media tools available that will allow you to automate posting. You can prepare your posts in advance and let them go out at the times you set. Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses. For use with the social platforms discussed above, the following options are worth your consideration. Most of the tools offer a free trial period, and some even offer a “free forever” plan.
Multi-platform Scheduling Tools: These work with multiple social platforms include Buffer, Dlvr.It, Edgar, HootSuite, MassPlanner, PostCron, and ViralTag.
Instagram Scheduling Tools: Most of the multi-platform tools don’t support Instagram, so to fill that gap, you may like to check out AutoGrammer, BufferGram, Grum, HopperHQ, Instamize, Later, OnlyPult, and Schedugram.
Pinterest Scheduling Tools: While a few of the multi-platform tools do support Pinterest, once you get more invested in the platform, you may like to take a look at Ahology, BoardBooster, TailWind, or ViralWoot.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of choices, take your time in reviewing each tool’s site, and use this as an opportunity to learn more about social media overall. In the end, the right tool(s) for you will depend on which social platforms you use and how you would like to approach things.
Note that these tools are by no means prerequisites for success on social media. In fact, some well-known social media professionals refuse to use them at all. Instead, they prefer to work directly on each platform; an approach which certainly has its advantages at times.
How Will Your Studio Approach Marketing?
Take a long-term view and seek to build a solid community around your brand before taking on the risk of a lease. If you do this really well, you will become what marketers call an “influencer” — and big brands will be falling over themselves to sponsor your studio and any other ventures you may have.
Need help marketing your yoga studio? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.