House of Yoga in York, Pennsylvania, operated as a pop-up space from January until June in 2015. It was then that the studio finally found a permanent home in the heart of downtown. Their community was flourishing, due to the grand opening of the space. Students were chomping at the bit to get in, and House of Yoga rode that wave throughout the first year.
Then the second summer hit, which brought a slow spell. Jason Konopinski, the studio manager of House of Yoga, said their high was still going from the first summer and they initially expected the second one to be similar.
“Honestly, we were a little surprised that the summer was going to be slow,” said Konopinski. “It wasn’t even in our understanding that we potentially could have a smaller summer because we had the enthusiasm running us from the first year.”
As a result, House of Yoga had to channel their marketing minds to get the ball rolling on attendance during that time. Because the studio is right in the heart of downtown York, they rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing. Konopinski explained he believes they break the rules a little when it comes to marketing, by not doing a lot of paid marketing and using more organic methods to get people through the door.
As they were looking for strategies to broadcast the word about House of Yoga, they had an idea. Since everyone loses or throws away flyers or schedule cards, they decided to create wooden nickels to advertise free classes.
“The wooden nickels have a free class offering on one side, the logo on the other,” said Konopinski. “Just from a tracking perspective we can see how many go out and how many come back in. We have had a great return. All of our teachers carry a handful with them. I have some in my backpack right now. If I enter into a conversation with somebody, whether it goes directly to yoga or they are discussing something they are struggling with, I’ll go, ‘I know a place for you,’ and hand them the nickel.”
Simply doing yoga in the park across the street has also been a strategy to bring in new students during the summer months. To earn approval to teach classes, Konopinski approached the city and explained they wouldn’t be blocking public access to the park. By doing this, the city didn’t require he get a permit.
“Outdoor classes have great promotional value,” said Konopinski. “No one wants to be inside on a beautiful, sunny day. On a higher level, we are just creating other reasons for people to connect downtown. Our students are coming downtown and they are staying. They are coming for class, but going around the corner to grab a bite to eat or to do shopping. This becomes a way for us to share the story of our studio and why we do what we do.”
While Konopinski believes each studio will have different marketing strategies based on location, target audience and studio goals, if one wants to grow their reach during the summer months, it all comes down to taking an honest look at your studio.
“Check in to see if things are slowing down this summer,” said Konopinski. “That may be an opportunity to see where things are happening. You might not need to do more digital advertising or print publications, but figure out if you are in some way blocking people from coming in the door. Are you using all of your tools at your disposal? If the community doesn’t know you in some way or the value you bring, it will be a challenge. It will be work.”