- “Carpe Diem.” What does it mean?
- What is the first place that you would go to if you needed to find a plumber?
- You are looking for a dentist for the family. What would you do first?
- You want to know how to tie a tie. Where would you turn to find the instructions?
- “Seize the day”, if you didn’t know then you have probably Googled it (instead of flipping through the dictionary.)
- You will check out Google reviews to find a good plumber nearby (instead of flipping through the Yellow Pages.)
- You will post on Facebook asking about the best dentist in the area (instead of calling all of your friends with this question.)
- You will go to Youtube and look for a short video on how to tie a tie (instead of waiting around for someone to teach you.)
What do these things have to do with Pilates or your business? Most of the US population spends over 7 hours every day online (which includes social networks, emails, online video, search and other leisurely activities.) This number has a direct correlation to the health of your Pilates business (whether you are a business owner or just a Pilates instructor teaching at a local YMCA.)
Your clients are more likely to hear about you or find you ONLINE than through any other channel of promotion or advertising.
Just in the past 4 years the overall time that we spend online has increased by 233%! That is the number to consider when you are creating your business marketing plan.
According to the 2014 statistics shared by ReachLocal, one of the leading marketing and advertising companies in the US, 85% of consumers search for local businesses online. Unfortunately,about 63% of local businesses still don’t have a website and 25% don’t show up in local searches(ouch, let’s hope that your Pilates business doesn’t fall into any of these categories.)
By maintaining a vibrant website as well as leveraging modern web tools Pilates instructors and studio owners can present their high-end services in an attractive packaging congruent with the industry pricing.
Are you ready to take your Pilates business to the 21st century?
10 Ways to Create a Steady Flow of Customers to Your Pilates Business in the Web 2.0 World
1. Find your space
As much as it is important to have a good location for your business it is also important to have a good website. When looking for a space for your studio you have probably considered proximity to the business or tourist center of the city, ease of access, visibility from the main road, size of the space as well as the layout.
The same things are important for your website.
- Get a descriptive and easy-to-remember domain. Your clients must be able to remember your domain and the search engines should be able to pick it up as a reputable business address. Keep it simple, as short as possible and straight to the point.
- Have a good hosting provider. I like to describe a host for your website as your landlord (because you are in fact renting a space on their server.)
Make sure to pick a host that offers back-ups, has excellent customer support, has low downtime and makes your website as fast as possible. Do your research or ask a professional for help.
PilatesBridge is hosted on GreenGeeks – an environmentally friendly hosting provider with awesome customer support.
The PRO version of this article contains 7 practical tips for finding a good domain for your website. Access it here (you must be logged in.)
2. Make your space easily accessible
You want your clients to be able to easily access your studio so you will not rent an awkward space with unsafe stairs, maze-like entrance or very low doors.
These things seem obvious but modern business owners rarely think that their website has even more demands than a physical space. In January of 2014 CNN Money reported that for the first time mobile apps and searches overtook desktop usage in the US. In fact, consumers spend over 60% of their Internet time on mobile devices.
Responsive design is one of the must-haves of the modern web technology but the majority of local businesses are not mobile-friendly.
Here is another stat for you, 70% of mobile searches lead to an action on a website within 1 hour of the search (for Pilates business owners, it could be a phone call to schedule an appointment, opting in for your newsletter or buying a trial package.)
Talk to your developer (or contact us) about creating a mobile-friendly website and test the finished product on as many devices as possible.
3. Decorate your space
How would you describe your Pilates space? Is it calming, bright, energizing or fun?
You put a lot of effort into keeping it neat and clean, decorated to create the best possible experience for your clients.
The layout of your website should translate the same emotions as your physical space. Dull and outdated websites send the same message to your potential clients: your teaching style and studio are boring.
Access the PRO version to download a Practical Worksheet on how to use and create stunning images without being a designer (you must be logged in.)
4. Don’t tell a story, show a story
You can blame it on modern technology, busy lifestyles or laziness but most people don’t have time or desire to read. People want to be entertained and scan through information until they find exactly what they are looking for. In order to keep up with this trend you need to tell captivating stories through images instead of writing LOOOOONG paragraphs about how you became interested in Pilates or what benefits Pilates will offer your potential clients.
Use visually-appealing images for everything from sharing your favorite Pilates quotes, advertising a studio special or celebrating your clients’ accomplishments.
Let your smart phone be your best friend while teaching (ask your clients to fill out a photo release form first!)
Use these free tools to make your images stand out:
5. Share your news on a blog
Flyers were and still are a powerful way to share your news with the community. But today you can reach even more people through a blog on your website. Andrea Maida, from Solana Beach CA says that starting her own blog has helped her “articulate and deepen her understanding of the method.” Her blog brought hundreds of visitors to her website and has helped to share her authority and credentials with the potential clients.
However, few things look worse than an abandoned blog post advertising a New Year special two years ago. If you are planning to commit to blogging then get at it but if you don’t have the heart for it then use Facebook and Twitter to share your news and tips.
Should you add a blog to your website? Test if it’s a smart move for you in the Practical Worksheet (PilatesBridge members only)
6. Turn word-of-mouth into word-of-share
Americans today spend at least 40 minutes every day following a Facebook feed which means Facebook gets the most mindshare minute for minute of any other websites.
Find tips on how to maximize your social influence and engagement – The Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Online Marketing for your Pilates Business
7. Run an ad campaign
If you have ever considered advertising in a local publication then consider advertising on Facebook. The cost of a Facebook campaign would be just a fraction of a conventional campaign but it will let you reach your target audience.
ON Facebook you can choose who will see your ad so you can target only people living in your area, interested in fitness or the ones who like other local businesses that are relevant to your services. For example, a person who likes a local chiropractor or a massage therapist is very likely to be interested in Pilates as well.
NOTE: most people will not be willing to schedule a session with you right away. Let them sign up for your newsletter or like your Facebook page. Once you have their trust you will be able to market your services to them.
Consider it a way to increase your brand awareness and to introduce your business to more local people.
You can learn a lot of great Facebook tips from Amy Porterfield – make sure to sign up for her free video course, it’s 100% worth your time.
8. Get listed
The days of Yellow Pages are pretty much gone because everybody wants to see real-time business listings with genuine reviews.
- With Google being the #1 search engine these days it is imperative to add your business to Google Local, and the best thing is that it won’t cost you a penny. Simply create a Google page for your business and list all of the relevant details there (including your website.) Simply go to this link to get started: https://www.google.com/local/add/
- Also consider adding your business to any relevant and reputable online directories.
Backlinks from the directories will help your website rank higher in search results (Google these days pays less attention to backlinks than even a year ago but Yahoo and Bing still do. However, Google changes its algorithm so often that you never know what they are going to consider important tomorrow.)
- Having profiles in several relevant and reputable directories will give your potential clients an impression that you take your business seriously (which you do) and that you will be as professional teaching them as you are maintaining your online presence.
- You will create online brand awareness. When potential clients see the name and logo of your business everywhere online they recognize your brand and are more likely to use your services.
- Get real reviews. According to the 2013 study by BrightLocal, almost 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Harness this power of reviews by asking your current clients to review your business in different directories.
Consider the following directories as your main focus Google Local, Yelp.com and Pilates Finder at PilatesBridge.com
Do you struggle to get reviews for your business in the directories? Use our tips and an email template found in the PRO version of this article. I haven’t posted it here to eliminate any confusion that this information might cause between a Pilates professional and their students that might be reading this article. PRO members of PilatesBridge can access these resources here (log in first please.)
9. Create an on-going Open House for your Business
During an open house you get to invite visitors to your studio to check out the space and maybe try a few free or low-priced classes to get a feel of what you offer. It is a great marketing strategy but it can get quite pricey.
Consider creating a Youtube Channel for your studio. Digital Sherpa (the largest content marketing company in the US) shared that YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google and that most Internet users will spend a third of their online time watching videos. (why not let them watch your videos during this time?)
- When new clients find your website they want to get a feel for the classes and the instruction that they are going to get at your place. Pilates classes are not cheap so the consumers want to be sure that they get what they pay for.
- Creating videos doesn’t take special knowledge or training. Your smartphone has all the tools to record a great video and post it online (more Youtube Pilates tips here.)
- Recording yourself teaching will also be a useful tool in improving your teaching skills. You can later review your cues, gestures and even posture while teaching to look more confident in front of the camera and your clients.
10. Get into their email box
Send your current clients a newsletter with valuable tips, pictures taken during classes, special offers or maybe even some fun moments from the studio. Many business owners really lose an opportunity to connect with their current and prospective clients because they send out only boring promotional emails. These emails go straight to the Trash folder of most of the recipients.
- How do you get people to sign up for your newsletter?
- Where should you position your signup form?
- How do you turn your newsletter subscribers into clients?
- What content should you share in your newsletter?
Get the answers to these questions and more in the Pro version of The Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Online Marketing for your Pilates Business
Creating a vibrant online presence for your Pilates business or for your instructor services is not just a way to get more clients or get a competitive advantage. It is a way to influence the entire community locally and globally by spreading your love for the Pilates method. With each Facebook share, each picture upload, each article posted, each video shared you raise the awareness about Pilates in the entire world and ultimately create more excitement about Joe’s Method that all of us love so much.
Do you have questions or are you considering creating/redesigning your website? We can help you focus only on the things that TRULY matter for your business and explain any technical terminology that you might not feel comfortable with. We speak “Pilates” and not “techy geek” 😉