If you are just starting out as a teacher or studio owner, you may feel like getting you are fighting an uphill battle. How can you stand out in a Pilates crowd? How will you get noticed? How can potential clients find you? How can you compete? It’s enough to make you want to run and put your head in your Pilates sandbag!
I understand the challenges. 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. Imagine a Pilates studio on every corner. They may already have that in New York City!
Don’t despair! Take a look at these tips.
5 Tips to Stand Out
- Be Yourself: No one likes a copycat, 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 you can’t be them. You can only be you. People will be drawn to your authenticity. There was a trainer at a studio where 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 from each other. 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?
- Be Welcoming: I know this sounds like common sense, but, let me tell you a horror 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 find out why were people not coming in? Guess what I discovered. THEY WERE! Plenty of them. One morning I counted 6 different people coming in for information. There wasn’t anyone there to welcome them. The teachers were teaching and couldn’t stop 6 times to speak with these walk-ins, and there was no one manning the desk. I realize that a front desk person can be an expense you’re not ready for, but a simple hello from an instructor who is teaching and then a place for visitors to leave their contact info and pick up a brochure would have been better. Those 6 people left and probably discovered the Pilates studio around the corner. And guess who had an information sign-in sheet?
- Create a Culture: If you are consistent, authentic, and are having fun, you can create a culture among 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 said this two weeks ago, and I’ll be saying it again and again. I cannot tell you how many times I work with teachers and studios, and their websites are either nonexistent or very dated. 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, potential clients either won’t find it or they’ll be turned off by it. They’ll go on to the next studio website. Stay tuned, because in the couple of weeks, I’ll be diving into websites. I’ve interviewed a few web developers – just for you!
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.