At Perkville, we're about more than just rewards programs. We want to help our customers thrive in their businesses, big and small.
That's why we created Perkville Influencers, where we interview the top business and marketing experts in the yoga, health, wellness, fitness, spa, salon, and retail spaces.
Today, we chat with Dylan Robertson – founder of TribeGlow.com and yoga marketing guru – all about the best business tips for your yoga studio.
Give us a little background on who are you and what you do.
I am British-Australian and have lived in Tokyo for the past twenty years.
I have two decades of business development, consulting, marketing, and communications experience, working on all aspects of creating brand awareness and driving sales for organizations ranging from startups and nonprofits to Global Fortune 500 enterprises.
I also have taught yoga part-time for five years, managed the online marketing for a local yoga studio, and interviewed over 50 yoga teachers and studio owners.
In 2010, I established my own company, HelloYoga Co., Ltd., to serve the global yoga community. I currently run three online publications. HelloYoga, TribeGrow, and TokyoYoga. TribeGrow gives yoga teachers advice on personal branding, marketing and business.
I've also written three books based on my first-hand experiences and interviewing over 50 yoga teachers and studio owners: Marketing Basics for Yoga Teachers, Marketing Basics for Yoga Studios, and Teaching Yoga in Japan.
When were you first introduced to yoga?
Around 2002, I decided to learn about yoga and ordered some books and DVDs from Amazon.
After a couple of years, in 2004, I finally plucked up the courage to go to a studio for the first time. I started learning at a studio run by Buddhadeb Choudhury (brother of Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga).
After a year, I tried some other hot yoga studios. I later changed to a studio called Prana Power (no longer open) run by Naomi Hoshina, a student of Baron Baptiste, Chuck Miller (of Yogaworks)and others.
I was into yoga in a big way and on a trip to Australia to attend my friend’s wedding, I was teaching them on the beach. They suggested that since I loved it so much, I take a teacher training course. This was in 2007. Prana Power was one of the few studios that offered a Yoga Alliance 200hr registered yoga teacher training course (RYT-200) in Japan. I decided to take it and graduated in summer 2008.
How did you decide to make yoga into a career?
After teaching part-time for about five years, I decided that I would rather focus on helping yoga teachers and studio owners. I knew enough about teaching yoga that I understood where teachers were coming from, and I was able to combine this with my marketing and business background.
What was your first experience working as a yoga marketing guru?
I’ve been involved in online marketing in various capacities for over 20 years. While I was gaining experience teaching yoga, I started a blog. Over the years, this grew into three online publications.
I also ran the online media for Be Yoga Japan for a year and have interviewed many yoga teachers and studio owners over the years. This taught me a lot about what yoga teachers and studios need and how they operate as businesses.
What’s the #1 thing that new studio owners should keep top of mind?
If a studio is still in the phase of attracting new students, then once they have a website, they should be focused on Facebook ads. They are like magic and will give much better ROI than advertising in the local newspaper, sending out mailers or paying for signage. You can start out with a tiny budget, so there’s no worry about overspending. And, you can target them very finely.
That said, if a studio already has a strong student community, then they should focus on making their email newsletter very good. Your email list is critical. Social media platforms will come and go over the years (remember MySpace or Friendster anyone?), but everybody checks their email at least once a day.
What did you wish you knew then that you know now?
Over the years, I have wasted an obscene amount of time and money on trying to build out my own WordPress.org-based platform. Nowadays, I just have a simple website on Squarespace and run the above-mentioned online publications on Medium. The former is low cost, and the latter is free. Both allow me to fully focus on content and so I no longer have to spend any time or money on hosting, developers, designers, or software add-ons for my sites.
What do you think is the hardest thing for yoga studio owners?
Most studio owners struggle to keep up with the changes in the online media field. They feel lost and overwhelmed with even just the basics because everything is constantly shifting.
I interviewed Kino MacGregor a few years back. Not only is she a phenomenal yoga teacher, studio owner and business woman, but things such as personal branding, online media, and marketing just come naturally to her. She can do most things herself, but knows her limits, and so has set up a team to support her efforts and activities. When she needs them, she’ll bring in specialized professionals for projects such as a website redesign, or producing a video. She’ll also collaborate with people or brands when it fits her mission. However, people like her are as rare as unicorns - especially in the yoga world.
What can they do to make that easier?
First, you need to realize that this is important. People’s attentions are fixated on their smartphones and you need to be reaching them there with relevant content on a regular basis.
If nobody on your team is particularly strong with online media, then you need to get help. There’s just too much to learn if they’re starting from scratch and don’t even know the difference between a Facebook profile, page, group, or ad.
Finally, you need to get educated about the basics of digital media. Even if you are not going to do the hands-on work yourself, you need to understand enough so that you can oversee what’s going on and make sure that your students are being served in the right ways. TribeGrow.com is a great free resource.
What is the best part about working in marketing for yoga studios and teachers?
Yoga can change lives. If you want proof of this, check out all the stories we’ve been publishing on HelloYoga.
For me, 99% of yoga teachers and studios are like hidden treasures due to their lacking a strong brand and online presence. They are toiling away in obscurity with a very limited number of people even aware of their existence. So, if I can help make them more visible and discoverable, then more people can benefit from their gifts.
What's the #1 piece of advice you have for other yoga businesses?
It’s time to stop hiding in the shadows waiting for someone to give you permission to shine. Your yoga classes have the potential to literally change people’s lives - but only if people can find you. Set aside a little time each day to work on this. Start small, focusing on one platform (I’d recommend Facebook), and put out your own unique content daily. Learn that platform and master it. All the information you need is free and can be found with a quick Google search. Keep moving forward one step at a time.
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