In order to stand out, you don’t need to be necessarily ostentatious and flashy. Sometimes, it’s as simple as returning to the basics.
Vittoria Palazzi, a co-owner of OmBase in Portland, Oregon, shared how her and her husband, Todd Williamson, operated an in-home studio for four years before opening a stand-alone location. It was student need that allowed them to offer “organic, free-range yoga” in the studio located on Capitol Highway. And one of those needs – community – is how OmBase has continued to stand out in the market.
“I’ve realized in the last few years how important every single relationship we make, every single contact we make with people, is vital,” said Palazzi.
Community is also at the root of Yoga Six’s 12 locations that span six different markets. But with each different city comes a different community. This means that in order to stay competitive, the studios need to have individuality while maintaining the overall brand.
“We’ve really built a brand and experience that can be agile and flexible, so that it can speak to different people, and you’ll see that even in our classes,” said Dustin Towery, the head of marketing at Yoga Six. “Our studio managers are so connected to the community, and they value community so much that we’re really able to speak the language.”
Whether it’s launching kombucha in Yoga Six’s Point Loma location, or hosting yoga in Willis Tower in Chicago, Towery said they spend a lot of time and energy crafting details and messaging that fits the individual market. Plus, even though events don’t necessarily bring in revenue, Towery explained they are huge community builders.
But how do you compete with all of the voices out there? Kelly Clifton Turner, the director of programming and product development at Yoga Six, listed various ways to stand out in your market: events, word of mouth, Yelp! reviews, Google reviews, social media, etc.
However, after you get someone to come to your studio for the first time, the true challenge of standing out begins. Yoga Six focuses on creating a positive first experience for every member — especially those new to yoga — to entice them to return.
Asking, “What are the fears of someone walking into a studio for the first time?” has helped Clifton Turner create a better experience for the new client. “From the moment they walk through the door, they’re walking into a place they feel really comfortable, safe and welcome; so that starts with whoever is at the front desk,” she said. “We try to coach [the new client] and support them into the right class so that they will have that great experience and get what they’re coming for.”
A studio’s community and energy are huge differentiating factors, and the space can affect both. Williamson said OmBase is made from recycled material, and it has homey touches like a gas burning stove and lending library. Plus, students got involved in building the space, one even creating glasswork for windows. “Visually, it’s stunning,” he said. “It’s a handmade thing. It’s not a cookie cutter thing; it’s very unique.”
While the brand’s image is important to maintain, Towery said they have really tried to work with each of Yoga Six’s spaces, making them speak to the community. No two are the same in looks, but what is consistent is the environment and experience.
“Who do you want your customer to be and who do you have now? Hopefully they are relatively aligned and you can design the brand to support, drawing in new people,” said Clifton Turner. “Basically, finding the way to really match your brand so that it does feel consistent and genuine, because if it doesn’t, that’s where it becomes a bit of a square peg, round hole issue that just feels ingenuine.”