Create Your Vision and Action Plan
I rent space at my friend’s studio in Los Angeles. Across the street is another Pilates studio. Kitty-corner to that one is another Pilates studio. Five blocks west is another Pilates studio, one mile west is another Pilates studio, one mile north are two more Pilates studios. Then if we go two miles west there are four more! I haven’t even gone East yet. Needless to say, that’s a lot of Pilates in one little spot. Joseph Pilates believed that everyone should be doing Pilates. A Pilates studio on every corner. They may already have that in New York City!
If you are just starting out as a teacher or studio owner, you may feel like it’s an uphill battle. How will you get noticed? How can potential clients find you? Maybe the neighboring studio is offering classes at half the rate you are. How can you compete? It’s enough to make you want to run and put your head in your Pilates sandbag. Before you do, take a look at these 10 tips for standing out in a Pilates crowd:
10 Tips for Standing Out in a Pilates Crowd
- Be Yourself: No one likes a copy cat, knockoff, or worse, the feeling that something is a fake. Just because the studio next door is modern, hip, and has great music doesn’t mean that it’s your vibe. Maybe you walk by and see a busy studio, but don’t go out and buy the exact same decor or create a website that copies theirs. First, you will never feel confident about it. Sure, it’ll look good, but it’s not you. Second, people will confuse you with them, or worse, expect you to be them. But, guess what? You can’t be them. You can only be you. People will be drawn to your authenticity. There was a trainer at this one studio I was coaching. He wore bright colors and was loud. He built his business faster than a wildfire could catch, so other trainers started to wear bright colors, and some started to get loud. These trainers started to lose business because their existing clients had been drawn to them for who they were before they changed their approach.
- Mind the Gap: What is missing in your area? The two studios close to me are very different. One is a group reformer, membership-based studio only. The other is more physical therapy based. I offer only privates and duets. If someone is looking for another type of class, I am happy to refer them to other teachers I know who offer that. What I have to offer is not covered by my neighboring studios. What is your specialty? How can you market it to stand out among those around you?
- Stick with your Vision: it may seem like you need a retail space, classes, discounts, etc. But, before you dive into any of these, know what your vision is for your Pilates business. If you don’t already know what it is, then take my course. It’s so easy to go into all the studios in your area and get excited by what you think is working for them. But, truth is if it’s not in your vision it won’t give you the return on your investment. Plus, you don’t even know if it’s working for the other studio. It just happens to look nice.
- Be Welcoming: I know this just sounds like common sense, but, let me tell you some horror stories. Well, one story that I have experienced on more than one occasion. A while back I was working with a studio that was trying to build their business. They have this amazing space that gets plenty of foot traffic. But, they were not getting a lot of new business. I took a few classes to see what was happening. Why were people not coming in? Guess what I discovered. THEY WERE! Plenty of them. In fact one morning I counted 6 different people coming in for information. There wasn’t anyone there who could welcome them. The teachers there were teaching so they couldn’t stop 6 times to speak with these walk-ins, and there was no one manning the desk. A front desk person can be an expense you’re not ready for. But, a simple hello from an instructor whose teaching and then a place for them to leave their info and take a brochure would have been better then what was happening: they would walk in, the teachers would ignore them because they weren’t able to give them any direction on where to leave their info. These 6 people left and probably discovered the next Pilates studio – which in this studio’s case was around the corner. Literally 4 doors away. And guess who had a more-information-sign-in sheet?
- Follow Up: Even if the student was in town for the week and will probably never come back you follow up, within a couple days! You must acknowledge that they took time out of their lives to be at your studio to take a session from you. You can use a template to make this easier and quicker for you, but be sure to have at least one sentence in there that is personable to them. Mention a goal or need they had. This will make them feel appreciated and that you paid attention to them specifically.
- Be direct: If you are trying to reach everyone, you will reach no one. Know who you are for, who you want to work with. Engage with those people. We all have gifts and niches. That’s what makes you stand out. Direct your marketing and networking to these gifts and niches. If you work best with athletes, then own that and direct your time and marketing energies towards that.
- Know your area: Along with being direct and minding the gap you’ll need to know the community you are teaching in. I mentioned this in my blog, “How to get new clients for your Pilates business.” If your area is a college area then you’ll need to find how your teaching can attract college students. Offer classes at times students enjoy working out.
- Create a Culture: If you are consistent, authentic and are having fun, you can create a culture amongst your clients in that studio. When they leave your studio their energy will be noticed by others. People will ask them why they are standing so tall and smiling so much. They’ll be shouting you and/or your studio’s name. I have a client who was coming two times a week. Her friend saw a difference. She wanted to do duet sessions with her. The original client added the duet not wanting to share one of her private sessions with someone. The new client added two more privates as well not wanting to hold her friend back. When they travel they text each other about Pilates now. How amazing is that?!
- Be Google-able: I know I said this two weeks ago and guess what?! I’ll be saying it again, and again. I cannot tell you how many times I work with teachers and studios and their website is either none existent or they built it when they first started and never kept it up to date. Tell me, would you build a studio and never clean it? I don’t think so. Your website is your calling card when you are closed. It’s your assistant when you are teaching. It can work 24/7 for you. But, if it’s outdated, or looks like you haven’t been there in years… well they either won’t find it or worse they’ll be turned off by it and go on to the next. It’s possible they won’t even make this decision consciously! But stay tuned, because next week I’ll be diving into websites. I’ve interviewed a few web developers – just for you!
- Lastly, here’s a bunch of things you may think are common sense, but guess what? In my tours, I’ve discovered they are not: hire or be a good person, have a clean studio with toilet paper, have systems in place so you are organized and most important remember why you are teaching Pilates in the first place. Enthusiasm is freaking contagious!
All the studios nearby are busy. Why? Because each of these studios offers something slightly different. They offer what they rock best at. If you feel you are getting lost in the crowd, take some time to step back. What is it you do? Who are you for? What do you have to offer? Then look at how you are presenting yourself. Are they in alignment with each other? If not, then make your way back to doing YOU. If you think they are but are still feeling lost in the crowd, hit me up! Let’s talk about it.