Many in the community have asked me what exactly is yoga marketing? I mean, isn’t all marketing just marketing? The short answer is yes: marketing is just marketing. If you are a new teacher going out into the business world for the first time, then you are going to have to start dabbling in the realm of “how do I make money as a yoga teacher?” If this is you then you are probably wondering what exactly is the difference and what makes something “yoga marketing?”
There are a few key ingredients that differentiate general marketing from yoga marketing and they include:
Most people would agree that a lot of the marketing tactics they see out there are either very aggressive or just cheesy. In the yoga marketing world, most (not all) has a much more subtle and gentler tone. The message is not in your face and not trying too hard to shove something down your throat.
Since yoga is an art form of just “being” and in many ways is the antethesis of what the rest of our world is doing, then the marketing tone should reflect that. I think most people can agree that yoga is a gentle lifestyle and one that translates an essence of peace and tranquility (however you want to define that) So the tone and messaging of any yoga marketing campaign would probably want to reflect this as well.
Of course this goes without saying that the product or service being marketed to the yoga community is generally much different then what other products and services offer. I think it goes without saying that many (once again speaking generally here as there are many cheesy yoga products out there) in the yoga community would agree that we are a counterculture to the mainstream consumerism one that ensconces our society. Therefore the reality we live in is not one of constantly wanting or needing, but one of just joyful necessity.
While in the beginning the yoga community was more about renouncing all possessions and against selling anything yoga, I think now there has been a general consensus to live in the modern world with joy but being mindful of our footprint and how we consume. So in many ways, this ideological approach and new form of balanced consumerism translates into how yoga marketing is being handled.
There are many different sects in the yoga community and it will be important for you to know who is who and how to best reach them. Remember, marketing is just the simple act of communication. More importantly, it is “how” you communicate with them that makes all the difference in the world. So yoga marketing is also about understanding all the different niches within this community, who you best fit with, and how to best reach and connect with them.
If you have not done so, I highly recommend you do some research into the LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability) market segment. LOHAS is a sub company of Gaiam and was originally started by some of the cornerstone people of the green, yoga, and wellness sector that include Jirka Rysavy (CEO of Gaiam) and ex CEO of Seventh Generation Jeffrey Hollander.
The mission behind this acronym and organization was to try and label a growing sector of people interested in healthy and green living that includes the yoga community. One of the major cornerstones of the research that was done on this segment was how authenticity was key to building relationships with this audience. In other words, these are the people that are sick and tired of being sold to in a cheesy way.
The main approach in LOHAS marketing is telling your story of who you are and why you are doing what you do. Meaning that your marketing should be mission and passion driven. You are coming from a place of authenticity where you care about people’s health and well being and are doing something about it. Most in the yoga community fall into this category since we care about other peoples happiness and health which is why we have dedicated ourselves to yoga.
One of the backlashes of this type of marketing are the people who are being fake about their intentions. These are companies and groups (which will remain nameless here but you can Google “greenwashing” and see what comes up) But basically, there are those people that want to capitalize on the do-good movement and industry and come up with fake stories about who they are and what they do. So this term is coined as greenwashing as it pertains mainly to people being fake about creating an eco-friendly product. That being said, there is “yoga-washing” but this term has not been coined (maybe until now)
Simply put, there are many people who see the yoga industry and just see dollar signs and nothing more. Lets be clear, there is nothing wrong with making money so long as your intention comes from a positive place. In fact, you should make as much money as you want and deserve so long as you provide a good product and service. No need for feeling guilty or bad because you want to make money. The key here is authenticity. Are you doing it to only make money? Or are you doing it because it actually provides something that people want and you do it in a way that exudes good taste (defined by you of course)
So as you start your path of becoming a yoga teacher and learn to teach yoga professionally, remember that the key here is knowing who you are and communicating yourself and your intentions with clarity. Take a step back and look at the community as a whole and see how you best fit and whom you best connect with. Then think about how you want to communicate your message to them. However, be careful as to not try to be everything to everyone. This is a big mistake that many new companies (both big and small) make sometimes. Trying to please and reach everyone is only good if you plan on being a mass-consumption type of product or service that most (if not all) in the yoga community are not doing.
Remember that when you approach your yoga marketing, that people come to yoga because they want to distance themselves from the mainstream ideologies. So identify your unique niche and express it with joy and clarity and you can’t go wrong!
About the author: As the Yogi Coach, Sergio DiazGranados offers yoga marketing support which includes web design, yoga SEO, business strategy, and much more. He has been running his own business since he was sixteen years old and used to work for Gaiam, one of the largest yoga media companies where he published their yoga magazine Gaia and helped manage their online media division LIME.com and the LIME Ad Network.
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