Promotions, Hype and Yoga

As Seen on TV - Old Fashioned TelevisionFor a vendor offering warm clothing on a foggy summer day in San Francisco, or those selling umbrellas during a torrential downpour in London, not much promotion is necessary to move product… the need is obvious and immediate.While yoga has made tremendous inroads into western culture — attracting students is not yet as easy as selling cold lemonade in the Sahara. Until yoga becomes a need to the masses (like it is for us), we’ll continue to use promotions to build our businesses.

Promoting your business can be fun, if you get creative. Here in North America, we’ve all laughed at ridiculous late night TV promotions that shout “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; 10 Days for $10; 20 Days for $20; 3 Classes for the price of 2; Unlimited Plan Sign up specials; Intro packages; Summer specials (fleece included); Mother’s Day sales; National Fight Procrastination Day sale (which I never do get around to preparing for… It’s on June 6th, if you must know). 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? Do it all through social media?

So many questions. How far should you go to promote your business? What works? What doesn’t? The clear answer to all these important inquiries is an emphatic “No one knows.” Because, as you’ll appreciate, it depends on some key factors that are unique to your business.

The frustrating thing is that a promotional program can succeed wildly at one studio and fail miserably at another. Why is that?Making a correct choice of how to promote depends on your studio’s personality, 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.

To me, the most important issue is resonance. Does the promotion you are considering feel like something your community will gravitate towards 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 insure you the same results.

Yoga entrepreneurs have asked my opinion on many of their 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 timessilence 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 what you have in mind matches your audience and only then spend the time, energy and money to implement it.

To help us all make better choices, post a comment or question here so that we can explore this issue in more depth with the help of many yoga entrepreneurs from our global community. If you have an anecdote, share your wisdom, experience, and stories of success (as well as outright disappointments). This should be interesting and informative.


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