It’s the day of your big workshop. You’ve got your outline and visuals in hand and have memorized your opening speech. You walk in the room, ready to wow them and… find two people sitting there. Being the passionate yogi that you are, you give those two people the full treatment and it ends up being a blast. However, when people ask ‘how did your workshop go?’ you might be at a loss to come up with a succinct and honest answer. The two people who were there had a blast, but your paycheck didn’t reflect it and depending on studio policy, you might not be asked back for a second round.
When I first started teaching yoga, I felt incredibly resistant to ‘marketing’ myself. I thought that if I was just a good enough yoga teacher, people would keep coming back to my classes and sign up for my events. I saw that approach work for the teachers that came before me and honestly, it may still work for some rare charismatic beings, but they are not of this world and don’t need articles about filling workshops. I am not one of them. I have absolutely been there teaching my heart out to just one or two people. The truth is that the world is changing before our eyes and the methods that used to work are no longer effective. The advent of social media coinciding with the explosion of yoga’s popularity and the proliferation of yoga teachers has changed the game.
Your students are constantly bombarded by information, options, and people trying to sell them essential oils. Unless you are super super charismatic, nobody is going to attend your workshop just to bask in your presence. Even if they love your classes, it’s going to be harder to get them to commit and pay in advance – because something better might come along. In order to break through the noise and communicate the value of your offering, it is key to think of your workshop from your student’s perspective – and craft your marketing materials accordingly.
Most of the time when yoga teachers decide to teach a workshop, they choose a topic by thinking about what they are passionate about and what they love to teach. Which is a great place to start, but usually that’s where it ends. Instead, ask your students what they want to learn. Ask them what is bothering them in their practice. What is frustrating. What their goals are. Then find the places where your student’s desires overlap with your passions and talents. That is the workshop that you are going to fill with ease.
When you talk about your workshop to your students, do so from their perspective. Tell them the benefits they will receive, what they will learn, and what they will walk away with. When you ‘advertise’ you are basically still just talking to your students, only now it’s via email, through facebook, or on instagram. When I stopped thinking of marketing as selling myself and realized that it was about serving my students I was able to release my discomfort of marketing and also stop taking it personally if I put on an event that was less than successful.
If my nobody signs up for my workshop, it’s not because I’m a bad teacher or nobody likes me. It’s because I either didn’t choose a topic that people want to learn about OR I didn’t successfully communicate the benefits to my students. I don’t suck, but maybe my marketing does. That’s a lot easier for me to swallow, pick up the pieces, and try again. Since implementing these strategies, I have consistently sold out nearly all the events I put on. This method is more work up front. It requires research, connection, and practice. And, it’s so much more fulfilling to teach the size group that you decided ahead of time you wanted to teach, to make a fair wage for your time and effort, and to reach people who are truly hungry for your offering.
If you are like me, and you have a hard time marketing when it is about you, comment below. Has a resistance to ‘promoting yourself’ ever led to less than stellar turn out? How have you adapted your offerings or your marketing to make it about your students instead?