By Robyn Parets
For yoga studio owners, the stressful and chaotic back-to-school season is often the antithesis of relaxation. Every fall, yoga studios get busy again after typically experiencing a summertime slowdown. This signifies a key time to get creative withback-to-school marketing programs that will bring more students in the door and help you stand out in a competitive field.
After running a yoga studio in suburban Boston for 12 years, I sold the business in 2015. I continue to operate Pretzel Kids, a children’s yoga program and online training course. For both yoga businesses, back-to-school meant serious back to business. To help you generate successful marketing programs, take a look at my top four marketing strategies:
- Offer back-to-school deals for new students - Many retailers offer back-to-school promotions. You can piggy-back on the retail fever by offering your own special promotional rates and deals for new yoga students, like 50 percent off a 10-class pass or a free introductory workshop. To get the word out about my fall deals, I relied on social media and sent e-blasts targeting those who expressed interest in classes. I use Constant Contact, although MailChimpand other email marketing tools work just as well. You may also want to consider running a promotion through Groupon, LivingSocial, or another subscriber-based deal marketplace that will help draw in customers looking for yoga classes in their neighborhoods. My tip: Make sure you include “for new customers only” in the fine print if indeed you want to use the targeted promotion to draw in newbies. Also, keep in mind that these commerce sites give you exposure and attract new customers but your sales will be about 75 percent less than usual (as most deals are 50% off regular prices and then deal sites get about half of that). These deals, however, can still be successful, especially if you retain customers after they’ve used up their discounted classes.
- Welcome students with back-to-yoga - Kids return to school at the end of summer and this is the ideal time to run “back-to-yoga” promotions for their parents and your regular adult students. Many studios only target newbies (see above), but it’s essential to run promotions for your loyal customers as well. Each September I sent out “We Want You Back” e-blasts that included class coupons for discounts on class packages. I also had success with “free for all” deals. These promotions allowed existing students to get free classes each time they brought a new friend to try out her first class—also for free.
- Be a social yoga studio - The back-to-school season is a great opportunity to use social media to blast out your deals and tell the world about your studio. Playing off the new school year, you can create themed back-to-school messages that link back to your website or e-blasts. Here are a couple of ideas to engage your audience.
1. Highlight a teacher or class of the month. If you are coming off a slow summer season, this is the perfect opportunity to generate excitement about a new hire or class series.
2. Run a social media contest offering free classes. Invite students and followers to submit their favorite back-to-school stress-relieving tip or pose. Pick a set number of winners, and with their permission, post their winning answers while inviting them into the yoga studio to start taking free “stress buster” classes.
- Market programs for parents and kids - This might seem obvious when running back-to-school promotions but many yoga studios only target adults. If you don’t already run children’s class or programs, this is a great time to launch a new series or partner with a local after-school program to run kids’ yoga classes in your community. Partnering with another business also gives you double the marketing clout. Without my brick-and-mortar space, I use the back-to-school season to run promotions for Pretzel Kids classes and teacher certification courses, such as this 30 percent off deal on the complete training course. And no surprise—part of the course curriculum focuses on “How to Market Kids Yoga Classes.”
Robyn Parets: Robyn is a journalist and business writer based in Boston. A former writer for Investor's Business Daily (IBD) and NerdWallet, Robyn is also the founder and director of Pretzel Kids, a children's fitness brand and online kids' yoga teacher training school. You can follow her on Twitter at@RobynParets and keep up with her musings on her blog Away From Om.