The Yoga of Email Marketing

My yoga teacher complained to me one day about how nobody showed up to her latest workshop. She is a fairly successful teacher with many regular classes at gyms and local studios, but one of the biggest ways to stand out as a yoga teacher is to host workshops. She was especially upset because she chose the subject for the workshop based on what many of her students were asking for, which was an introduction to inversions (yoga poses that include things like headstands and handstands). The concept was solid. She gave her students exactly what they had asked for, but nobody showed up. Why?

My response to her was that I didn’t even know about the workshop. If one of her most regular students was in the dark, how could she expect anyone else to know? I asked her one simple question: How did you get the word out?

Her response was more telling than I had expected. She told me how yoga was spiritual to her, and that she would feel awkward doing any kind of marketing. She told me how she doesn’t like the commercialization of yoga, and doesn’t want to get her practice all mixed up with money. She thought karma alone would make her workshops successful. I’m a big fan of karma, but she needed the yoga workshops to pay for groceries to feed her kids.

I asked her if she had a list of her students and their contact information. It turns out that she regularly emailed many of her students, but didn’t want to be “pushy” and promote her workshops in her conversations. I told her that these were HER STUDENTS and that they WANTED TO HEAR FROM HER. Reluctantly, she put together a list of 25 email addresses for me, humble beginnings, but a start nonetheless. I formatted a simple newsletter for her and we sent it out with only a few days left before her next workshop.

This time two students showed up. Not exactly a karmic miracle, but at least she was able to pay for the space she rented for the workshop. I handed her a clipboard. I told her that if she was serious about her dream of being a professional yoga teacher, she would have to get contact information from more of the students who attended her regular classes. A couple weeks later, we had doubled the amount of students on her list. Wouldn’t you know it, by the next workshop there were four students.

We’ve since added more content to the newsletters including links to her new blog. Her student list continues to grow almost daily, creeping into triple digits. One workshop had six students, another eight. As of this writing not a single student who signed up to be on her list has unsubscribed. It’s going to be a long road for her. Improving the content and expanding the mailing list will continue until she retires. It has only been a month since sending that first newsletter. I can’t wait to see how many students show up to her workshops a year from now.

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