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An Introduction to Niche Marketing ' Making Your Yoga Studio a Specialty Shop - Articles Surfing

An Introduction to Niche Marketing ' Making Your Yoga Studio a Specialty Shop

When I speak with a new client, one of the first things I ask them is 'Who does your studio primarily serve?' This was just what I asked Lisa and Joseph when they asked me for help in getting more students to their studio. There was a somewhat uncomfortable silence followed by Lisa hesitatingly speaking, 'Well, I guess anyone who wants to take yoga'wait, what do you mean?' Most studio owners respond like Lisa did. Basically they assume that it's obvious that they serve anyone who wants to take the style of yoga they teach.

It's a funny paradox in business: The more general the services you offer, the fewer you usually have. Don't believe me? Try this. What kind of car do you drive? Suppose you said you drive a Toyota (Fill in whatever you really drive for 'Toyota' as you go through this). Now imagine your trusty Toyota starts making funny rattling noises from the engine and doesn't seem to run smoothly anymore. Suppose you live in a small city that has only two auto repair shops: 'Bob's Auto Repair ' We fix everything. Foreign, Domestic, Late model, Classic ' We fix it all' and 'Joe's Toyota Engine Specialists.' Who are you more likely to bring your car to? It's not a trick question, the truth is that most people would choose Joe's. I know I would. But why?

It is because we assume that Joe specializes in Toyotas, so he must be better at fixing them than Bob. We've all heard about the consequences of assuming, but the truth is, judgment calls like this usually make sense. When someone says they specialize in a certain skill, it is reasonable to assume they are better at it than someone who doesn't. And this is exactly how your students, and especially potential students, feel about your studio.

If you specialize in what they need, you will be their top choice hands down. So how does this apply to a yoga studio? First a quick marketing review. Eighty percent of students come to your studio because it relieves some kind of discomfort or 'pain' they have in their life. It reduces stress, helps them to feel more centered in a chaotic world, keeps them fit, reduces joint pain, makes pregnancy more comfortable, etc. Yes, some people are really proactive, live blissful, balanced lives and seek higher levels of personal and spiritual growth from yoga, but these make up less than 20% of a typical studio's clientele. Let's focus on the 80% that come because they need you to 'ease their discomfort' in some way.

Step one is to decide who lives and works near your studio. Most people will not travel more than 5 miles for yoga. For Lisa and Joseph, they were in an upscale area with lots of young families and also several senior citizen communities.

Next, ask 'What problems do these people have that yoga can help with?' There were a handful of them in this case, but two obvious ones were pregnancy (young families) and loss of flexibility (seniors).

Now ask, 'What kind of yoga can help these problems?' Answer: Pre/post-natal yoga for the moms and gentle yoga for the seniors. Now we can create yoga classes and workshops that cater to these people, as well as target our advertising and marketing toward them.

Here's what we did for Lisa and Joseph. To test things out, they created two 6-session workshop series, one was simply 'Yoga for a more comfortable pregnancy' and the other was the 'Gentle yoga for Seniors program.' The pre-natal series was promoted through postcards left at OB/Gyn offices, recommendations by a few local Lamaze class instructors and cards left with the several local maternity shops. Notice how we chose the places to target by asking the question 'Where do pregnant women go?' Each of the postcards offered a 10% discount. They even customized one line on the postcards depending on who they were giving them to (e.g. '10% off for Motherhood Maternity customers' ' this makes the customer feel extra special and the store more likely to give them out'). It also let's them see who gave out the most cards which in turn brought in students (good to know for next time). Lisa and Joseph used a similar technique for the seniors series.

Business is experimental! Many of you have heard me say this before, but it is so critical. Try something (like a new class or marketing method). If it works, keep doing it (and expand on it). If it doesn't work, then dump it (or fix it and try again). With Lisa and Joseph, we didn't know if this would work or not, so the plan was that if fewer than 12 people signed up, the class would be cancelled. They didn't have a teacher on staff who could teach pre-natal, so they contracted a local teacher who had the background and offered to pay her 40% of proceeds from the class with the understanding that it would not run if the minimum enrollment was not met. Notice that there is really no risk here ' if the class doesn't fill up enough, there's little expense other than the postcards.

The results were amazing. Within two weeks, the pre-natal class series was filled to capacity and a waiting list was started for the next series. The class was conducted with 30 happy moms-to-be. 24 of them signed up for the next 6-sessions (at full price). But, the story doesn't end here. What inevitably happens to pregnant women? Yes, they have babies and naturally want to take the next class series Lisa and Joseph created 'Getting your body back after having a baby'. Can you guess that over 50% of women from the pre-natal workshop signed up for this after giving birth?

This is the power of niche marketing. A niche is simply a specialty. Lisa and Joseph picked a couple of them to start with (pre/post-natal and seniors). People in these groups easily chose their studio because they assumed that it specialized in the kind of yoga they needed (pre-natal, for example). Did it matter that they had to hire someone new to teach the class? Not at all. The students got a quality experience (demonstrated by their re-enrollment rate), the studio made money (and got new students) and everyone was happy.

'But I don't want to limit myself,' you say? Of course not, and you don't have to. The trick is that you can 'specialize' in a number of different types of yoga, and each type of targeted potential student will gloss over the niches that don't apply to them and focus on what does. It's like if our buddy Joe changed the name of his shop to 'Joe's Toyota and Honda Engine Specialists.' You don't care that he also fixes Hondas, just that he specializes in Toyota's.

The bottom line: You will get more students by targeting a narrow niche than by trying to just have classes for everyone. (This is similar to what Beverly Murphy talked about in the Super Studios Manual regarding her highly successful teacher trainings). Sure, you'll still have your general yoga classes, but add niches and see what happens. If you're not sure, give it a try like Lisa and Joseph did.

Incidentally, this technique increased their studios income by over 30% during the year that followed. In fact, many of the students who started in their specialty classes went on to become ongoing students in their regular yoga classes.

So, what will your niche be?

Submitted by:

Aurora Lipper

Al Lipper is a master business coach, business teacher and writer. For free resources on running a yoga studio as a successful and fun business, visit http://www.CenteredBusiness.com.



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