A slowdown in attendance only makes it all the more important that you pick up the pace on promoting your studio. Keep catering to your target market, but cast a wider net to capture a greater audience. Break away from your traditional marketing. Remember: EVERYONE IS A POTENTIAL STUDENT. It doesn't have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot, but a little extra work and attention can increase your attendance and your profit.

Offer free classes. The plane is flying, so why have empty seats? Your classes are the single greatest and least involved form of advertising you have. Getting a client in the studio and keeping them coming back is paramount.
Offer a buy one get one free deal, bring a friend to class promotion or free yoga week, or designate one week a month as free classes for new students. With fixed expenses, it costs the same to teach three or 30 students. Offer free classes to every hair stylist, massage therapist, beautician and nail tech in town. Whether they join or not, they will likely share their experience with their clients. Also target chiropractors, acupuncturists and naturopathic doctors. You will find new students come from referrals from these professionals who deal with bodies on a regular basis.

Spread the word locally. High schools, PTAs, community newspapers and local corporations all have bulletin boards -- don't discount this advertising just because it’s free. Look at natural food stores, co-ops and other locations that offer community advertising, as well.
You can also print your schedule and a coupon on 8.5x11" sheets of colored paper and make a few hundred copies. Every week, spread them around town to every place you frequent -- coffee houses, health food stores, natural health and chiropractors and massage spas.

Build community. Think outside the traditional group class. Anything that brings students together will help you build a large following. Create a community of like-minded people with fun and exciting workshops and events. We used to hold full moon meditation, nutrition classes, yoga dances and even wine tasting at the YogaFit Studio.

Make instructors responsible for building their own classes. Give your instructors goals and make them accountable for creating a great class and customer retention. Give them free passes and ask them to distribute to their friends, coworkers and social contacts. Hold monthly meetings to reinforce the importance of greeting each customer with a smile.

Beth Shaw, E-RYT, BS, CMT, is the president and founder of YogaFit. She has been showcased in numerous fitness magazines and shows including Oprah's O magazine, Time, CNN, NBC and more. Shaw is an animal rights activist and the innovative educator and entrepreneur responsible for more than 30 DVDs and CDs.


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