How Can I Market My New Yoga Business?

How Can I Market My New Yoga Business?
by Ellen Parlapiano and Pat Cobe, The Mompreneurs

Q I've been working part-time with professional and amateur athletes for two and a half years as a flexibility trainer and as a yoga instructor. I have a "real job," so I've never advertised my services. But I would like to start doing this full-time soon in my area, where the market looks good. I could use some great low-cost marketing and networking tips.

A Yoga is a hot market these days, and you're wise to target it. With well-toned celebrities such as Madonna attributing their buff bodies and inner peace to yoga, there will be a huge demand for your service -- especially if there's nothing much already offered in your town or city. And for athletes and sports enthusiasts, flexibility training has the added bonus of helping to prevent injuries.

Here are some ways to stretch (forgive the pun) your advertising dollars:
* Establish yourself as an expert. Volunteer to write a community newspaper column or do a local radio show about the importance of being flexible. You can also offer free workshops or talks at schools, college athletic centers, libraries, health fairs, sports expos, health food stores and other health-related sites to get visibility for your business. You could demonstrate stretching techniques or easy yoga moves. Why not target your services for different audiences, and perhaps even make up brochures with specific tips designed for the needs of each special group? For example, since the risk of injury increases as people get older, you might target baby boomers to help weekend warriors avoid sports injuries. You might also feature some simple exercises for senior citizens to help them stay limber as their bones become more brittle. (You could advertise your services at senior community centers, retirement communities and country clubs.) For athletes, you'll want to emphasize the physical and psychological benefits of flexibility training and talk up how your services can help enhance their performance. Make sure you have plenty of marketing materials (brochures, cards and anything else helpful) to hand out, with your business name, phone number and other pertinent contact information featured prominently.
* Keep a mailing list. Whenever you appear somewhere, have a clipboard where people can leave their mail or email addresses so you can follow up with a letter, brochure or fitness newsletter and keep folks posted of new services and future appearances.
* Team up with coaches. Visit the athletic departments of schools and universities and let coaches know about your services. Always leave several brochures and business cards behind. Consider offering an introductory group lesson for a team (again, talk up how flexibility enhances performance.) After the lesson is over, you're sure to have many people interested in signing up with you privately.
* Take advantage of free and low-cost advertising. You might donate a free lesson as a prize at the school's fund-raiser. Advertising in school yearbooks and programs for school plays and other events are another great way to get the word out in your community. You might even consider sponsoring a neighborhood sports team. With your name of the back of the uniforms, you'll get great visibility in the very market you're targeting.
* Get a Web presence. Launch a Website to use as a marketing tool. There you can feature special flexibility tips of the day and testimonials from satisfied customers. You might even offer an interactive test-your-flexibility quiz, where potential customers answer questions on your site to determine the type of program that is best for them. Then, of course, they can click on a special highlighted link to contact you for information on starting yoga or flexibility lessons. You might even find that the Web broadens your market. Many personal trainers are now offering "virtual" training to clients over the Web, and you might think about new high-tech horizons that the Web can help you pursue.
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