Discussion #4146

Creating an Online Presence

65 min - Discussion
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On May 28, 2020, we talked to Connie Holen to learn how you can grow your online presence through your website and marketing. She explains how you can research your market so that you get the clients you want to work with as well as what needs to be shown on your website. She also shares the best practices for email marketing so that you can keep clients coming to your classes.

Links and Resources

- Acuity Scheduling

- Connie's Website

- Namaste Light

- Brandbot

- Courtney Miller Website

What You'll Need: No props needed

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Jun 04, 2020
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Welcome everybody. Today, my guest is Connie Holen and we are gonna be talking about online marketing, web presence, advertising, websites, all of that kind of stuff. And something that in today's virtual world where we're all physically distancing, is really, really relevant. Connie is a web designer, online marketer for fitness, Pilates, yoga, studios and platform, teaches in those worlds. Those are some of the things that she did.

And we first met at the Pilates Method Alliance conference last year in Monterey. That seems like a different age. It has seemed like ages ago. That was not even a year ago. So today, we're gonna go through things.

We don't have every answer to every question, we'll do the best we can in looking forward to exploring this subject. It's a big subject, I'm trying to do this in 60 minutes, it's gonna be pretty tough. So I'm gonna just start off with a quick poll here, just to find out who's on the call, who's here on this webinar. So you can pick a Pilates teacher, studio owner or something else. And I will try and make sure that the content helps everybody in each of those categories.

So just let that run for a few more seconds, then we will share the results. So 70% are teachers, 30% are studio owners and nobody is or something else. Wow, that's good. So what we're gonna do today is we're gonna split our little conversation into four parts. We're gonna talk about researching your market, really understanding who your customers are, those sorts of things.

So we're gonna talk about online marketing for Pilates teachers that have that on their own and then for studio owners, and then we're gonna take the last part and we're gonna just try and answer any questions that you have. Does that sound good, Connie? That sounds great. So when you get a new client, tell me, what do you do? Do you start off with trying to understand their market?

What they're trying to do, that research? Can you go through some of the questions that you explore? Yeah, absolutely. So whether we're running marketing campaigns or whether we're starting with a website design or redesign, really the basic questions all come down to the same thing and that's, what are you selling and who are you selling it to? And really those two things inform a lot of the design, a lot of the strategy behind the website and a lot of the marketing in general.

So, a lot of people wanna jump into like, let's use this image in an ad or let's really hit Instagram hard, or those are the tactics of how things work. But yeah, I think really taking a step back at that research phase and really what is the message that you're trying to get out there, informs all of that. And do you think that that is unique to each person? Or do you think it can be generic, or? It's a little bit of generic, like within the industry, I mean, most Pilates instructors are in for the same basic design.

Is like they wanna help people learn the method and learn how to improve their lives. So there's that overarching thing that you can guess that it's gonna come out, but really there's so many varieties of how people communicate that. Like you think it's all the same thing, but it's really not, there's so many different personality strengths that individual teachers have, the passion that they have for different people, it all just connects in a lot of different ways, and that's part of, I mean, it really is branding, I guess in a bigger picture, but that's part of what needs to come out in marketing too, to make that marketing connect with the right people. So I'm always really surprised at when you really can get past that first layer of everyone should do Pilates, how you find it and how actually, when you can tap into the unique person's experience and drive and motivation and desires to help people, how that gets nuanced and how that's fun to market that way. And how do you help people understand the nuance of their focus, their market?

Sometimes, really if you just ask yourself the question, just a little bit of self reflection and just having somebody ask it, and in the course of working with me, usually there's a project. Usually there's an angle, we need a website, we want a marketing campaign, there's a goal, but it's a simple act of asking yourself that question, I get comments all the time on my intake questionnaire. A new client comes through and I have them asked several questions and they're like, "Wow, that was so helpful, just filling out those answers. "Because we rarely take time to just really think about "what it is that we do and what we do well "and how our experience is different." So I think just a moment of self reflection and asking yourself, what am I known for, what are, looking at my favorite clients, my best clients, the ones that I work with best and get the best results for, what do they have in common? What has risen to the top in the way that I teach?

You can think of marketing is I'd like to get more of this type of customer. You've got this particular person, Jane, I just wish that the room was full of them. And in a way, that's what helps tell you I think like, okay, that's the heart of what I'm after. Mm-hmm. Cool. It's definitely for,

obviously for people who are just starting, who don't have that, and they're like, I don't really know. I mean, the way to fine tune what your marketing message is is just to go out there and get experience, knowing that every client you work with might not be your favorite and that's one more kind of data point in your brain for, hi, this is, I wanna shift into somebody who's not looking for this, but who's looking for this. Starting out, you don't have to have that down to market your business, just get out there and do what you think and follow the trails and see where it leads. And I think the other thing, if you have customers that you really don't like, that's as valuable as finding out the ones you really do like. Absolutely.

I've talked to a lot of people who have been graduating from college about the fact that it's just good to try things, try a job, you don't know what you wanna do, you're the same as everybody else. Not everybody knows at 21, 22, what they wanna do and it's gonna change from that point to somewhere in your 30s and 40s and so on. So yeah, I'm a big fan of trying and finding out what you like, what you don't like and maneuvering based on that. Yeah. So I'm gonna now move on to, I think that's a really important part that sets the stage for everything else.

You're like, okay, this is the sort of client that I'm looking for, this is the kind of life that I'm looking for. So I'm gonna move on to Pilates teachers and begin that section. I have another polling question, I just wanna find out if everybody has a website. So, just launch a quick poll here, do you have a website? Yes, no, not yet.

56% have a website, 23% don't and 20% are planning to have one soon. I guess that's how I would interpret the not yet. Well, for those that are looking for a website, Connie is good enough to come and talk about her business and what she does and what she creates for other people. So, thinking about you as a Pilates teacher, so thinking just as the Pilates teacher, how would you do your marketing if really your Pilates businesses, what existed before the pandemic was that you had maybe 10 private clients? Do you think that needs a website?

What's the kind of marketing that you need for something like that? Yeah, I think the first layer of marketing, and it's all marketing, whether if you have a business and you're trying to get it in front of people, it's all marketing, whether it's online or offline, but I think the first layer there is how, especially if your business can stay afloat and it's working well with just a handful of 10, 20 clients, how can I just use good old fashioned personal outreach to communicate with the personal emails, texts? You can't run into them in the grocery store anymore and check in on them, but you can still, that's a one to one personal relationship and that doesn't have to change right now. As somebody who runs digital marketing campaigns, you don't have to do that. If what you're working and as a private instructor, personal instructor, you don't need that many clients, so just connect with the ones well that you have and follow up with them and just do it all manually, go back to just good old, personal outreach and caring about your people.

That's what I would say is the first level, once you have picked the point of that, where you need more clients, those aren't enough, you want to grow, you have more capacity, you want to do more, especially I think there's a big opportunity right now with things moving online. If you did a one-on-one, a private session and you drove halfway across town and you met with them and then you drove back, well, now you've freed up a little bit of your time. Now you can just pop on Zoom, you're even not, it is physically engaged, so it might be a little less exhausting for you to be doing some Zoom stuff. So you might find yourself a little more capacity and a little more desire to grow your business as a personal brand. In that case, I think that's when you start looking at, okay, what can I do that can make myself look a little more credible online, plant my flag online that I am a legitimate business and you can hire me, and here's how...

Because in reality, for someone that's focusing on private clients or small groups, that word of mouth is still that referral is going to be the number one marketing tool that you have, but you need to give those referrals some place to go to learn about you, other than hey, meet one-on-one meeting, when you're out and about, 'cause that's not happening as much anymore. So the website and just planning that piece of the corner out so that if someone says, yeah, Jessica is an amazing Pilates teacher, you should try it with her, or here's a website, she'll tell you exactly how to get started. So that's filling a hole that we have lost with the in-person actually meetings. And that I think once your personal network of just personal outreach is exhausted and you're ready to grow a little bit and go into that next level, then we start talking about some marketing tools and the websites, one of the first ones. So a little bit like, in olden days we had things like business cards.

Our new version of a business card is our online presence, is our website. Absolutely, yeah. But if I'm hearing you right, you're saying if you're happy with your 10, 20 private clients and you have that relationship, you don't really need a website. No. Is the same point in this.

Yeah, as long as you have a way that they can easily schedule with you and communicate with you and process payments in a legal way, as long as you have, you are a business still at that point, but marketing becomes less important. You just need to retain the clients you have and make things efficient for both you and your clients at that point. Some of the Pilates teachers have been talking about, the hassles of sending out Zoom links and making sure that we've chatted before and you have some great tools that you've been using to help people with that? Mm-hmm. So one, I would recommend checking out, it's called Acuity Scheduling and actually Squarespace bought Acuity Scheduling.

Squarespace's a web design platform that I use. So they merge together nicely if you are looking to pair a basic website with Acuity Scheduling, but Acuity has been around for years, the owner of it, Gavin, his mom was a massage therapist, so he built it basically to help independent practitioners manage their schedule better. So it was built for the use case, if I would say, independent Pilates teacher scheduling one-on-ones, it's grown over the years so that now it does have a Zoom integration as well. So you can sell a package of say five one-on-ones, your client can go schedule on your online scheduler and then there you get instantaneously kicked out a unique private Zoom link that it'll be on your calendar as well, and you meet up at that link at the same time. So it's a great seamless integration that existed before this whole pandemic thing, is, because Pilates instructors and other coaches and other people have been doing this as well for a while.

So I think that's a great tool, and one of the starting tools that when you were ready to get to take your business up a notch online, something like that, that can just help make everything really seamless for you on the back end and also for your clients, is a great place to start. Cool. And I think if I remember rightly the basic plan that is really suitable for Pilates teachers is about $15 of U.S. dollars a month. I believe so. And then I would say most private Pilates teachers, yoga instructors that I work with probably have the next level of plan, which I think is in the 25 a month range because that one allows you to sell packages of classes.

The basic one you can sell, you can do schedule appointments, there's nice little reminder emails that go out, which is nice. So as a client, if I get reminder, your session is tomorrow, and then I'm like, oh, I can't do that, I don't have to call you up as a business owner, I can just click right in the email and reschedule it myself. So that's all included in that basic level. And I think the next one up is the one with packages, I know we looked at it the other day, I think it's $25 a month. And if I've got those prices wrong, I'm sorry.

And I know people all over the world and whatever their pricing is there, I don't know. But it allows you to take credit cards, it's credit card processing, and if you imagine, if you use Google calendar or one of those similar online calendars, you can block out, like I only wanna work these hours and people can find their own things. So if you spend more than 15, $25 a month rescheduling people and sending reminders, then I think it's a pretty good first step. And you can do that without having a website, you can have it just on its own. Absolutely you can, yeah.

It also has those reminder emails, so you have less, no shows. So I know that can be a problem and cost you money and time when you're planning on something. So you get those reminder emails and then you also can set up followup emails. An automatic email that goes the day later, thanks for that session yesterday, if you'd like to book another one, look here, that's all in their system. So it's a great little system.

Cool. And do you typically find this as something that a Pilates teacher can set up on their own? Or do they need help from somebody like you? Yeah, I do. Acuity is pretty, it's pretty well guided on how to set it up.

And there's a lot of tutorials out there for free on YouTube, on how to set it up basically too. Their support is really good too. So you could definitely set that up yourself. Cool. So when you get beyond something like that and you have this website, can you talk about what are the bits that make up an individual Pilates teacher's web presence?

What would you recommend? Can I show an example? Awesome. I have an example to show, let's see here. So I'm gonna show an example of a personal brand website.

So you're beyond the point of I'm just working within my network and you want to get a little bit bigger and you wanna start getting known as a personal brand. So some of you may know Courtney, but she took this opportunity, this website is still on draft, it's not published yet, but we're working on it right now, we decided this was a good time to resurrect her personal brand, her own personal brand website was dated. So I just wanted to show it as an example of the core five pages that I would look at or independent teacher, you could just make it pretty simplified page website. This was built on Squarespace, that's a platform if you're gonna do it yourself, you can pick a template you like, and you can get it set up pretty easily. But what you're looking at having as a home page and about page, services page, blog and contact.

Courtney has got a couple other here because she does workshops on Pilates any time and or in person, and then she has some online classes on Pilates anytime. But really those five pages, the home page is just where you plant your flag, let everyone know who you help, how you help them, just the big picture of what you do. The about page is where you're gonna tell a little bit more about your qualifications, your background, not your entire life story, but just why you are qualified to do this and how you can help people again, bring all the ways back to the people you're helping there. A services page, this is where you could just put very simply what you do. In this case, she does online one-on-one virtual private Pilates instruction, she also does business mentoring, and then this is an example we were just talking about, that Acuity Scheduler.

We did say you could just send people directly to your Acuity Scheduler, but this is an example of that embedded onto the website, which is really easy to do. So people could schedule right here on your website, on your services page. And then the other two, I recommend are contact page, every website should just have a contact page. And that's just very straight forward, how do you want people to get in touch? If you screen people before you work for them and you don't want your phone number on there, I get it, that's what most personal brand people do.

So a contact forum where they can actually just reach out and if they have questions about things, would be a good spot and then links to social media too, if they want to connect there. And then the last one to consider totally not required, but this is like the catch-all webpage, so I do recommend one if you're having a basic five-page site, and that's a blog. This is where you can just post different news, announcements that you have, specials, maybe some seasonal stuff if you have some tips, basically you can just get in the habit of creating content and playing around with your brand messaging, it's your playground space on your website. If it's you put an article out there and you share it and you get, hear crickets, all right, well maybe that messaging didn't work, but you can try a different one and that you can just delete them if no one really engaged with them. But this is an area on your website that if you are starting to grow a personal brand, you need to practice using your voice and what you're talking to, the people that you want to market to, and a blog is just a good catch-all, whether it's a resources page, just a good place to gather all that altogether.

So I would say the anatomy of a personal brand website, I would start with five pages, home, about, services, blog and then contact, and that can help if I can get people to engage with you, engage with what you do, get to know what you do, actually buy from you and schedule with you. Fantastic, it's a good looking site. Thank you, I can get you that pretty well. Cool. Courtney Miller, one of my favorite people in our industry, she's very lucky to have you to help her with her branding there, so, very, very cool.

You got a lot to work with. Courtney presumably had a lot of great photographic assets already to work with. How important is the visual elements of this? I would say not as important as you might think, everyone wants to focus on the visuals right away. But the important thing is that it's clear, there's a lot of clarity involved with working with you, what you offer and how to get started is the most important thing on that website, and then if you don't know who you're talking to or what you're selling, doesn't matter how beautiful the website is.

I would say, as far as imagery goes, you need one solid photo of yourself, they need to see who you are before they engage with you, but does not need to be a professional photo, it could just be like a nice headshot photo. The rest of the images could be just basic design type and images as background. So not required, that would be the, I have to get a basic setup going, get out there, start putting your information out online, fine tune who you're talking to and what you're doing, and then when you get to the next level of professional photo shoot and branding and that stuff, that's next level. But I don't think it's, if you look around the industry, there's not a whole lot of, there's a lot of, like we just saw, there's a lot of Pilates instructors who don't even have websites. So if you do and it's organized and it's clear, then you're gonna be ahead of the game.

And when I think about, you see something, so people say, I've really focused on say seniors, and all the pictures on my website, so 20 some things, there's a disconnect there. So do you help people think about their photo shoot design to help them stay on message? Yeah, definitely. In fact photos, I mean, imagery is one of the biggest part of the vibe of your website, the vibe of your brand, and if you're right, you're saying you work with one type of person and your pictures show a different type of person, that trust factor is out the window immediately. So I would say don't use photos if they don't match who you're talking to, or make it a priority to go get some photos with permissions of course, of real clients.

In a perfect world, absolutely you're like your real clients, some professional photos of your real clients and you're working with them is gonna be what I would invest in before you invested in a logo or anything like that, or social media ad spend or anything, get that marketing assets first that you can use for all those things. But yeah, make sure that, really think about who is in the photos, and how they represent who it is that you wanna work for. And I'll tell you, if you're using stock photos, they're all gonna be one type of model that does Pilates, and we all know that's not reality. Me as the consumer, I'm looking for somebody who does look like I fit in, we're all looking for that. Like whether we go to a studio or work with someone individually, I'm not gonna be, it's uncomfortable trying something new anyway but if I can see on your website that there are other people like me who work with you, that's gonna make me wanna hire you all that much more.

I don't know if I noticed the logo on Courtney Miller's personal site. Is there a logo? There is, yeah. It's text-based though, so there's nothing fancy about it, there's no graphics or anything, it is just a clean font. I can show it again really quick.

All this its font and we actually repeated the font throughout the site, but it is, I mean, this is her personal brand logo right there, it's just the same font. The bottom words are outlined, so it's a really simple type treatment. And really that is the more, the way that logos are going anyway. Once, the teaser or pose on their photo, they want something that is visually representative of what they do, but that's not necessary at all. Because if you think about it, that the logo is going to be on top of images that show all that stuff.

So the logo is rarely seen in isolation for an instructor. So I don't think you have to have this really fancy designed artistic creative logo. Cool, thank you. My feeling is on the continuum of expenses. The logo design is quite a long way down, it's not something that you need to do to begin with.

I agree, yeah. And I think it's great to have the word, what you do in that logo, John Marston Pilates. It's like make it clear, make it easy to understand what they do, what you do. Yes, definitely. Cool.

So I'm an individual teacher, talk to me a little bit about the kind of social media presence you think I might need. I think I would focus on organic social media in that case. There's social media, there's different platforms and different platforms go to different people, but there's generally two sides to the same coin on each platform, and that's organic growth, which is just, I am a user, I'm posting stuff, tagging people, commenting, engaging with a community on there, and then there's paid advertising. The strategy and the investment behind both is quite a bit different really, the first is community building, it's more natural, it's more authentic, it's talking with people on social media, it's being social. So if you are an instructor and you're trying to grow your base, that is the way that the strategy that I would focus on first before you even look at paid ads ever.

The main thing there is just be personal, reach out and talk to people individually, whenever you can on social media. And then it's also an extension of that playground that I was talking about with your blog or your resource center, where you can put content out there, little snippets of video showing the proper way to do an exercise or a quick little five-minute after work routine that you can do. You're putting little teasers of your content so that people can get to know and like, and trust you and see the value in working with you in little bite sized pieces before they actually invest with you. So that's how I would use it as a personal brand. Just get out there and put stuff out, see what people like, be helpful, genuinely helpful, and engage and connect with people individually.

I had the word there, snippet. I've seen a lot of free full length Pilates classes streaming on Instagram and Facebook and so on. But you were saying snippets, so you weren't saying give away the product there, you were just saying, give away taste. True, yeah. And admittedly, the last few months has been bizarre when all that kind of stuff goes.

So a lot of businesses have been just resorting to putting full length stuff out there because they're trying to retain their clients right now. So I would not look at this window in time as best practices for the industry in general, for marketing. I personally don't like seeing anybody giving away full length classes for free, I think it devalues the industry and it also just makes people devalue the importance of committing to their practice and to themselves too, when it's just anytime, anywhere I can go get a free class online. There's some kind of commitment that happens when you are paying for it or when you're signing up for class and showing up live or booking a one-on-one. So I think we'll start to see a little less than that, of that going forward.

But yeah, as far as marketing goes, don't give away the whole thing, give away a snippet. Enough that there is value in that snippet that you do get, the person gets some results, some taste of whether it's just a good stretch, whatever it is, if there is a little bit of value, but yeah, I don't I recommend putting the whole thing on there for marketing purposes. All right. There are a multitude of social media platforms where you can put your content. If all of your clients, let's say over 60, they're probably not gonna be on Instagram to the same extent as your 20 year old clients.

I'd also encourage people to think about, is this the right content for this channel? Is that where my customers are? Is anybody gonna see it, that it's relevant to me? It's not, when you have that small business with 10 to 20 clients that you regularly see, my guess is, it's not the core of where you should put your energy. Do you agree with that?

Yeah, I do agree with that. It's free, yes, social media is free and so, people are like, yeah, let's drop on social media, but it's not really free, it does take your time. There's a cost in creating high quality content, a bit out there we're engaging with people, like that is costing your time. So yeah, I think your time is that's better spent connecting individually one-on-one and outreach and asking for referrals and networking. And then that next, if you want more visibility on what you're doing, social media maybe a place to do that, but social media can also then be where you reach out to certain people too on social media and connect with them that way.

I'm a big fan of the old fashioned marketing, talking to people. And today, we can't go and meet them, but we can still use our phones and call them up. So yeah, I've been surprised the people that have texted me and reached out, they used to teach me either in the gym, there's some fitness, sort of Pilates, really impressed that they've reached out to me, checked in to see how I am, and that's great. And some of them I'm doing online privates with, because of that reach out. That's my step one in this, how do I get more customers reach out to the people you know already?

Get on the phone. And along with tying that social media with that idea too, if you create some snippet size, valuable content, put it out on social media and then ask your diehard clients, hey, I just posted a new five-minute exercise, do you have anyone who you could share that with? And get it that way. So they're not doing a hard sell or referral or please, just please share if you find anyone who might find this valuable. I think a lot of times too, just letting those people who do adore you already know that you have more availability can generate.

It's not a numbers game at that point when you're working one-on-one people, you really don't need that many clients to make your business profitable. For a lot of people, suddenly they can take a class with you in the middle of the day. Because before, they might have been in the office, maybe working from home now. And I think I'm at nearly day 80 of working at home. So I haven't been in a Pilates studio since the middle of March, very sad.

Very sad about that. Where does email marketing fit in, in terms of individual teacher? Again, if we're talking about just a small, you have your core group of clients and you want to retain them and engage them and remind them to book again, I think that can be done right out of your own inbox, your phone, text messaging, personal outreach. When you get to the point where you have to throw out a random number about like maybe more than 20 people in your sphere of influence within this business, then I would say it is time to get a little more serious and get email marketing platform. Because when you get to that point, legally, if you're sending marketing emails, you're supposed be doing it, you need to be doing it from a marketing platform, not from your own email inbox, because the clients need the ability to unsubscribe with a click, that type of thing.

There are laws surrounding that, so when you get past the point of it is individual to individual outreach via email, now you need, when you wanna send what I'm doing this month or of everybody this month to a group of people, now I would say you need an email marketing platform to get that information out. Do you have a favorite platform? I personally like, there's a lot of good ones, but I like NamasteLight, I've started working with them a lot more because they work with MINDBODY if you happen to have a MINDBODY account, that's more studios than personal brands. But they also work, they have a lot of clients in the wellness space, so their templates are really nicely designed for Pilates instructors, wellness businesses, design is an important thing in there, which I like a lot. The platform itself is pretty user friendly to use.

You can also set up things like welcome sequences, that's one of the things I tell personal brand or individual teachers. If someone signs up to hear more from you, don't just send them one email confirming that they want to sign up for that. Line up, queue up three, four, five, six emails to go out to them over that first month, just with some more of your best free content, some helpful tips, asking questions. Engage with them because they just signed up like, hey, I'm interested in you and your services. They're basically saying, tell me more, and if you don't send out another newsletter for six weeks, that moment's gone.

So with NamasteLight, you can set up a welcome sequence, is what we call that, a welcome email sequence, where as soon as they sign up to be on your email list, they get a welcome email, four days later, they get this other email, three days later, they get this other email. So you can plan out some helpful content that you're giving them when they're new to your world and you're welcoming them in. And when we were talking yesterday about this, you were saying how email marketing has evolved from here's my monthly newsletter to these automated response ones. Can you just go a little bit deeper in that area? Yeah, it's been a really good change, I think for the better in the last couple of years.

Email marketing used to mean one thing, and that was a monthly newsletter. So whether you're a studio owner or brand, weekly, monthly, you just sent out like, here's what's happening in our world email, to everybody all at the same time. That's being replaced with more personalized communication where if you, like I already just mentioned, Connie signs up for your email newsletter list, I was just on your website and I just put my email in, because I'm interested more in what you do. Now, you know exactly where I'm at in my journey of Wellness (crackling drowns out Connie) You know that I'm just getting started with you. So the things that you might tell me if we were sitting in a coffee shop, having an actual conversation, what types of questions might I have?

What's the difference between yoga and Pilates? Why should I do Pilates? Do I need a reform or do I need equipment for it? Those types of thing, you know I possibly in that point in my conversation with about working with you, versus someone who has three years after they started working with you. Now they have different conversations, they're interested in different things.

So you can plan those communications out to where everybody, right when they sign up for your newsletter, they get those beginner information about really literally how I go about buying and then scheduling with you and working with you, maybe a case study about someone else, a story about another client who had just started and the changes they saw in 40, 50, 60 days, those type of things are really valuable communication touch points at that point in time when someone has just signed up to hear from you from your email list. So that's one example of that. On the studio owner side, you can do a lot more when you have a software like MINDBODY where you can trigger emails that go out. If John hasn't been into his Pilates class in 30 days, John gets an email that says, hey, John, we miss you. We know you haven't been here in 30 days.

We've discovered one of the best way to stay up with a workout program is to practice with a friend, do you have a friend who'd like to come with you? Here's the link to our schedule. So that communication is very tailored to where John is sitting today, thinking probably, and I haven't been to Pilates class in 30 days in the back of his head, that email hits him right where he's at, right where he's thinking. So, gone are the days for the most part where we're just blasting out information about our business and it's been replaced with more thoughtful communication that's based on the right time and the right person based on what they've purchased and their participation with you at those times. And most email platforms can do that to some extent right now, depending on how it integrates with what you're using as a scheduling software.

The easy one that everyone can do, even if you don't have a really fancy scheduling software is that welcome sequence. Someone's new to your world, you line up a series of emails that talks them through working with you more. It's really an exciting time in email marketing and what we've seen and why that shift has happened so much is that we've seen those open rates, the amount of people who are actually opening those emails from those just straight up email newsletters are down like 10, 15%, only like 10 or 15% of people open those. Whereas we can see on the other end, there's more personalized emails that go out at certain trigger points, those get 50, 60, 70% of the time opened up. So that's the effectiveness, and that's why the industry, the best practices for email marketing has shifted in that direction.

Cool, thank you. I still get more emails than I can ever deal with, but rather, they were targeted to what I needed that day, rather than something very generic. We have so much to talk about it. Let's move on to talking a little bit about studios. So just for a second, what is the first thing you would do if you were opening up a new studio?

Opening up a new studio. My perspective, it would be, get really clear on your brand message. So what it is that's gonna make you different in your community, looking around, you probably, if you were just opening up, you probably had an idea because you looked around and you said, I could do that better, or, I could do that differently. Or there's a group of people in our community that are not being served by what's offered right now. So hone in on that, don't forget that when you go to start marketing your business and double down on that message.

And then think from the marketing question, you've gotta start with a website, you've gotta have some place that all these other marketing activities, whether it's email or social media, even word of mouth, signage outside, you've gotta have some place that they can go to, to actually pay you money and find out more and schedule. So that's your home base, that's your hub and all the other marketing activities, support that and draw people in that. So from a marketing perspective, I would say you gotta get a website up preferably a little bit of time before you actually open your doors, so you can start to generate that community. And how would that website for a studio, how is it different to the ones that you create for individuals? They're usually bigger studios, sites are usually bigger.

The scheduling functionality has to be there. People are used with studios, for sure, reserving their spot and going in and scheduling right there. Purchasing activity has to also be on that website, there's typically more pages. Let me pull up an example here too, that you're gonna want on that website. You're still gonna want to home, about, you need that schedule page and that pricing page are the two big ones that people actually go to, then you need those up in your navigation very clearly.

And then there's all the other kind of supplemental pages about our team, our staff, why we're different, the brand messaging goes throughout all of that. But I would say the difference mainly typically, studio websites are just a few pages bigger at a minimum, and very focused on action. People don't sift through many of the pages, when you go and actually look at the data of what pages they go to, mostly they go to the schedule page, the pricing page, and then maybe the about page, if they're not quite sure. All that other kind of extra info pages needs to be cleared out of the way. Maybe is on the website, but very clear navigation, for sure.

Some people don't, when you type in the name of the studio, it doesn't come up on Google. How do you solve that problem? There's two aspects, so that's called search engine optimization, and there's two aspects of that. If you ever look real closely at the search results, you'll notice there's a search result that comes up with a map and a box up near the top usually if you're searching for a certain location. So those results, the studios that show up in those results, those are actually their Google My Business page that's showing up.

And then below that, there's more text links, the normal typical results that you would see, and those are linking to their website. So the bottom half of the page, those results are dependent on the bit of information that you have on your website and whether it's very clear to Google, what you do, who you do it for and where you're located on your website, that helps that out a lot. The more important spot where everyone really wants to be is in that top box with the map and everything with the pin, that's the prime real estate on that search page. So the very first thing I would do, even if you're a personal brand, or if you're a studio, you haven't already, is go claim that Google My Business profile page, you do need a, for studio, you need your street address, once you claim it, they'll send you a postcard in the mail so that you can confirm that that is the location that you're at. Personal brands like independent teachers can also do a Google My Business page too.

You do have to put your home address in there, but you can choose that you are a service to area business, and they will mask, they won't show your home address, but they'll put a ring around your location, not the exact location, but say I'm a independent Pilates, private and pilot Pilates and instructor in Sacramento and I work with these suburbs. So I can put in this suburb, a 10 mile ring around that, I'm willing to travel that far to do one-on-one Pilates. So that's a question I often get too, individual Pilates, if you are individual teachers, if you are growing a personal brand, you also can have a Google My Business profile, and that's for studios as well, getting reviews and uploading images and your hours and just showing that profile some love, will help you get into that top block there. I think Google is gonna be busy with people, making sure they have that. Is the social media, as a studio owner, is it substantially different?

I'm thinking mostly of the organic, I'd like to go on to paid in a minute? Organic, no. It's the same basic idea, you wanna give helpful content and you want to develop a content, helpful content and then sell. You wanna layer that in to where it's not just you're promoting your sales stuff all the time. So generally the same, some people have a knack for community building on social media.

If you find one of those people in your studio, hold onto them and let them do their thing. It's not for everyone, but if you get it, that can be a really valuable thing to grow there. You gotta go on to paid advertising in a sec, but I just wanna ask a quick poll question. Do you buy advertising? And this is a multiple choice one, do you buy ads on Google, on Facebook, somewhere else, or you don't buy any?

And I'll just let that run for a few seconds here. That'd be interesting. I'm interested to hear. So, 10% buy on Google, 20% buy on Facebook, Instagram, 3% by other places and three quarters are people who don't buy any paid advertising. Make the case for why people should have paid ads.

It is a, two reasons. One, if you're not running paid ads, you are treading your time for trying to build up a social media following instead of money. So there is a cost too, building it without the ads. The main reason why I recommend ads is you can get very specific about who you're targeting, you can also test your brand messaging, you can go out and say you have a Pilates Bridal Bootcamp that you're promoting, you can go out and you can show that whether it's an online class or whether it's a challenge that you're running, whatever it is, you can go out and you can find females between the age of 20 and 30, who reported getting engaged in the last year. The targeting on those paid ad platforms is so sophisticated.

You can get your specific message, and this goes back to at the top of the hour, where we were talking about knowing what you're selling to who and connect that brand message. You can do that on paid ads, you don't have to just sit back, host your stuff organically and wait for people to come to you or the right people to find you, you can go out and find them with a specific product that you think or specific offer that you think is really gonna land well with those people. The other side thing there is, like we talked about earlier too, buy for the new studio or new owner or new instructor, just going out and working with anyone and getting data, you get a lot of information from paid ads just black and white in front of you. I've tried $100 ad spend trying to get this offer in front of people and it flopped. Something's wrong with either the audience or the offer.

It's not working, it's not connecting. And so you can find that out in a matter of two days, instead of planning out this big elaborate challenge that you're gonna run and finding out you can't fill it with anyone, you can test out things pretty rapidly, which is handy and you can get that information good or bad because you know exactly the type of person who saw it and you know how they reacted to it. So that's why I like paid ads, it's a little more proactive way to spend your assets. And it does, it costs money but it costs less time too. Cool.

Are you a big fan of Google, or Facebook? Where is the budget going? It depends on the business. For the most part, I lean towards Facebook and Instagram because in Facebook and Instagram, two separate social media platforms, but they're owned by the same company. So you run ads from the same platform, literally on the same screen, you can check a box to show this on Instagram, Facebook, both or neither.

So that's why I combine those together. You have those, you can test a lot within those. I typically find better results on Facebook and Instagram versus Google, because you can go out and you can find people a little bit better, their targeting is more sophisticated. That said, if you are in a industry or a market that there are a lot of your competitors running ads on Google already, or your competitors show up in a natural search and you don't, you're way down at the bottom, then that's a scenario where you I would say, run Google ads first, because you're gonna catch those people who are actively searching for what you offer. In most industries like you just saw, in the Pilates industry, most people aren't running Google ads.

So if you have Google My Business profile that does pretty well, if your website is optimized for search pretty well, if your Google Pilates studio in your town and you show up pretty high up on those things, there's no reason to pay for ad space to push yourself further down the page, unless all your competitors are, and now you have to play the game that they're playing too. So it depends, I do lean more towards social media versus Google, with the one caveat that's the fun new one that everyone's talking about, is YouTube ads. So that is also run through the Google platform but I see that as more going out and you can actually show your Google or your little videos to people that way. But that's to be determined, that's the wild way still, with the return on investment is on those. So I have a half dozen questions for you, but if anybody here would like to ask us a question, please put it in the Q&A, it's a little box at the bottom of the page, and Connie and I will work our way through them as best we can.

So the first question here is from Jackie, how do you go about creating a name for your brand? Is this like actually the business name? Yeah, so maybe we'll start off with, let's just assume Jackie is a personal, that she's just as an independent teacher, not just, but she is an independent teacher and she's teaching that way. What would you suggest her brand? And then I'll ask the same question, but as a studio owner.

The way most people do it is your name, Pilates. So like I showed Courtney Miller Pilates. But I would look at that as the first option because you might wanna get really creative with a brand name, but when it comes down to it, a lot of those are already taken and unless you have a really unique spin on what it is you do, finding a cute brand name is going to be one hard to get, hard to own the assets and hard to keep up with the way your business might evolve as well. You see that all the time where find a really cute brand name that I like now, five years later, I'm a whole different person, a whole different instructor, my brand has evolved, and now I feel stuck with that 'cause that's a business I've built. So your name is the safe way to go, that side, especially, I'm looking at Jackie's name right now, if you've got a name that's hard to spell or, and it depends on where you live, for sure, whether that's unusual.

Then you might wanna look at a nickname or a take on your name that's a little more simplified. But I would start with your name and then add Pilates to be an event for personal brand. What about if she opens a, I'm talking about Jackie again here, if she opens a studio, what would you recommend her? For the most part studios, do have more branded names that's not your personal brand name. And boy, brand naming, it's like a whole different industry, I mean, finding a good studio name.

I do have a resource that can link up and find a free brand naming, of course my workbook that my friend has, that it's pretty good if you're just looking to play around. But yeah, for a studio, you do need to think a little more about the community that it's in for sure, probably wouldn't go with a personal name brand for a studio, unless you are the only instructor there, but you think as you have other instructors that are gonna form the core of what that brand is, it's no longer just you one-on-one. So looking at different combos of words, looking at your local area to see what you can pull out that says I'm not a chain, I'm here with this community, those are usually good ways to start for studio naming. This is a question that we've had in various ways. So I'm gonna paraphrase this question 'cause we've had different ways of being asked.

So I used to be teaching in-person in my studio and now given the coronavirus, I am mostly online. And so, I'm an individual teacher trying to build up my online presence, what would be the steps if you were to give like a five point checklist kind of thing of trying to build up that online business? I would first say, make sure that we're gonna assume here that you are in good standing with the studio owner or the studio that you are working with, and that you have communicated who owns these clients, and that that's all 'cause what's ethical, what's legal, all of that, I just don't make a bad, that storm off and steal clients if they're not yours to take. So I would say we'll just assume that that's all kosher and good. From there, I would, and this is having quite a few under 100, but having quite a bit of a following already, I would say number one, get your website up and going, just a basic website.

Claim that domain on the internet, have some place where people can send other people to, and then get a subscriber forum on that website somewhere right away. So you can have that, just go store into a Google sheet for now, if you need to, if you're not into the email marketing thing. But start collecting contact information, just emails so that when you do have something to really promote what you wanna get out there, you have people to reach out to. So website, I would say email marketing platforms, you can communicate with them, I would say a scheduler like Acuity Scheduling so that you can sell things to them, process payments and exchange payment for time on your schedule, where you're using Zoom classes or whatever. And then go claim your social media profiles with your business name, whether you start really actively using them or not, I would choose one to start on.

If your people seem to be collecting there, well go claim those private profile names elsewhere too. And then claim that Google My Business page if you just go to google.com/business, I believe you can claim that business page there, that would be a great place to start sending people, these people who you have worked with, sending them there to give reviews for you. You can then take those reviews and put them on your website too, but that's a great place to collect reviews. So that's probably five items right there, but that's how I would start to put your stake, put your flag in the sand that you have a personal brand that you are a legitimate business, getting those things in line first in that order. Francis followed up with a question here that she has the challenge of having three areas that she works.

She works in Pilates, nutrition and myofascia release. Can you have somebody that has multiple talents like that? How do you solve that problem? Because probably one customer is just coming for Pilates and the next customer is just coming for massage. So it's almost like running three personal businesses.

I think that's a great opportunity actually. If you're building a personal brand, you have a lot to talk about and although one person might be coming just for Pilates, chances are, they're interested in what you have to say about nutrition and massage as well. Those are three very complimentary things. So I would say that is a part of your brand message right there, is to be in your optimal health and to feel great and all those things, this is the trifecta of what I can help you with, and I think that's a really powerful, interesting personal brand right with that. So I wouldn't subdue those, I would create, definitely have a website where you can talk about all that stuff.

I would say have a one high-end package where someone could, not that anyone will buy it right away, but just putting it out there, this is my ultimate signature package that involves all three, it's a three month program, six month program, whatever monthly membership, however you want to structure it, but it is a combo of all three of the things that you do offer, and that's like your ultimate signature offer. And then you've got offers for all the other things independently, but that sets the expectation that these all work well together, I can hire her to get these ultimate results, buy this customized plan has all three of these things (ringtone drowns out Connie) So I would lean into that and I would organize your website to talk about that signature package and then also have, important for search engine optimization to have three separate pages, one for each one of those services, 'cause Google looks at, they look at your whole website, but they look at, they rank individual pages. So if you wanna show up for nutrition in your local area, your nutrition offers page is the one that's gonna have the most authority in search results. So have a page for each service, but then also have a like ultimate I want it all package that's out there. Cool.

Francis, I was looking at your name and it's Francis Healer, which first of all is a great name for the industry you're in, wellness, but I think I'd call it something like Francis Healer Wellness, and then underneath that, have those three elements. 'Cause I think Connie is absolutely onto something, there are days when I wanna have Pilates, but also wanna just feel better. So I think there's an opportunity to cross sale between those things. Good luck with your business there. The next question is from Diana.

And do you think that I should start with live streaming classes or video on demand? That is a complicated question. Should I start answering that one, Connie? Is that okay? Yeah, go for it.

Video on demand, it is all about filming something really well, saving it, editing it, putting it back up and then finding a way of getting people to buy those things. There's many, many steps to that, that's what I wanted to point out there. And if you're gonna live stream your classes, you can be up and running really, really quick, it's really relatively simple. And people have a big expectation and an acceptance that if it's live, if my video froze for a couple of minutes during this webinar, it's not the end of the world. But if you're doing a video on demand and the sound's not perfect, and you've done all those things, then why did I pay so much for this?

It's a different kind of mentality. So I think that the entry level opportunity for teaching Pilates, I'm assuming that's Pilates at home is to use video on demand. Sorry, not video on demand it's not what I wanted to say, it's to livestream it. Using something like the Zoom platform, you can integrate it into something like Acuity. Hope I said that right.

Is that right, Connie? Acuity, yeah. (murmurs) charging to send out your Zoom links and all of those things. Pretty simple to get into that business. Doing the whole same thing of charging for videos that you've recorded of yourself teaching much, much more complicated business.

So that's my, I think it's easy, go live stream. So Connie, what do you think? Yeah, I agree. I think the only caveat on that is if you have a studio and you have in person classes, there is a pretty clear distinction in price points and offers for video on demand and in person classes. It gets a little messy in the middle when you're live streaming in person classes, but that instructor is not engaging with the people at home on the live stream.

So I would say if you're in that case and you are open for in-person classes that possibly live stream is a temporary window here where that's going to be needed because of social distancing and reduced capacity and stuff, but longterm, I think that's going to die away a little bit when you have full capacity in the studio and a video on demand library can supplement that, can be a good retention tool to supplement your in-person classes. So it gets a little muddy between right now, what I would recommend and where we're guessing six months from now we'll go, but if you, and whether it's private or a studio too, it can be a little different. Cool. I just might've added up even more. It's been like a lot of things, it's complicated.

So Connie, we're over our allotted time here, I'm sorry, we've gone over. What's your last piece of wisdom that you'd like to share? I think I would have to say that they're, just a little bit of encouragement, that there is people, there are people who need Pilates, there are people who need help one-on-one with their health, with their wellness, and that's not gonna change through all of this. It is exciting for me to be on calls like this, especially in an industry like Pilates where I don't see a whole lot of personal brands or even independently owned studios out there compared to some of the other ways that people take care of themselves physically. So I think that there is an opportunity for the Pilates industry and for you as instructors and studio owners to emerge from the other side of this and help people care about their health more and to get out there a little bit more, instead of all of the clients that I work with, the Pilates industry is probably the least represented in the marketing arena compared to yoga and fitness and all that, they're doing a lot of these things.

So I think there's a lot of opportunity for you as Pilates professionals to market and grow your business and expand your reach and to continue doing what you love and helping more people. So just a little bit of encouragement, this is gonna shake or this is shaking things up in the wellness and fitness industry in general, but I think that's gonna leave some opportunities. Thank you, Connie, thank you for sharing your wisdom and your time with us. Thank you everybody for joining us. And, what is it?

It's Thursday today, it's a bit of a confusing day, it's like a four day week here. I'm trying to work out what day it is. But we'll be back on Tuesday, and more importantly that tomorrow we're back, actually with Courtney Miller. So at 8:00 a.m., we are doing a Math class with Balanced Body, maybe Jay you can put this in the chat, but we are doing 24 hours of Pilates all around the world, Balanced Body is leading this, we're supporting them. And at 8:00 a.m., Amy Havens, Courtney Miller, Tracey Mallett and Maria Leone will all be doing Pilates class and there'll be tag teaming there, but there are 24 hours of amazing content.

Really encourage you to join that and cheers, put a link in the chat. The other thing I would say is at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, Pilates Anytime is having a live dance party tomorrow night. So, '60, '70s, '80s music, get that costume bulks out, bring the kids. It's free to anybody in the world, just come to our live page and join us in the dance party.

So that's what's up next here on our live channel. Connie, thank you so much. Thanks everybody for joining us and see everybody soon. Bye. Thanks, everybody.

The Pilates Report - Playlist 2: Maintaining Your Business During the Pandemic

Comments

Really helpful! Thank you
Thank you Pilates Anytime for organizing this talk
Jo
Extremely helpful, thank you very much

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