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How to Generate More Business for Your Yoga Studio with Minimal Cost
Have you ever met someone who could really benefit from yoga but has no idea what yoga is? For example, have you ever met someone with a back problem, and after talking to them, you explained that yoga helped them improve their back? Next thing you know, they’re a regular student, maybe even a client for a private meeting.
In this post, I’ll share with you a strategy for bringing people like this into your studio day in and day out—all without requiring you to be the person talking to them in the first place.
The basic idea is that you make an arrangement with some other professional or business that provides services to clients who may also wish to participate in yoga. They refer people to you, and in exchange, you refer people to them. Its technical name is “Business Alliance”. Here is an example:
Jenny owns a yoga studio. She has a teacher who is certified to teach gentle yoga classes for people with low back pain.
Rob is a chiropractor. Many of his patients suffer from low back pain.
Jenny reached out to Rob and explained that her studio offered yoga classes, which could be of real benefit to his low back pain sufferers. She asked him if he was familiar with yoga as a treatment for back pain, and invited him to attend a class (free of course, for him, of course) just for back pain sufferers.
She also explained that she was happy to offer special discounts to his patients. He checked the class and found that the teacher knew her stuff and she could really help his patients. Jenny agrees to give Rob’s patients a 10% discount on all classes and private sessions. She also told Rob that she would be showing his business card in her studio and referring students to him.
This is a complete win-win deal. Jenny gets students and clients who have never considered yoga before, and Rob has another way to help his patients with less back pain and win more patients for himself.
There are many variations on this, but I think you get the general idea. I like coalitions because everyone benefits and it’s free to implement. So, here are some additional details. First, who can you form an alliance with? Here are some possibilities (but by no means limited to this list):
o Massage therapists
o Rehabilitation Clinic
o Physician (to treat ailments that yoga can help treat)
o Obstetrics (prenatal yoga)
o Pediatricians and hospitals/birth centers (postpartum/yoga for new mothers)
o Health Center
o Weight loss clinics (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.)
o Therapist (yoga for stress relief)
o Day spa
o New Age churches, spiritual centers, classes or teachers
o Sporting goods stores (including specialty stores for ski equipment, golf, etc.)
o PE teachers and coaches (tennis experts, golf coaches, etc.)
o Organic produce store
Basically, they are businesses or professionals that make your student’s life easier or sell products/services that support their wellbeing. Your “affiliate partners” tend to work best when they have a direct, individual connection with potential students. In other words, when a doctor suggests yoga to a patient, there is an 80% chance that the patient will show up at your studio.
You need to present yourself to potential affiliates about the benefits of yoga. They may know about yoga, or they may know nothing about it. Talk about their level. And always talking about how this will benefit them and their clients or customers. Avoid focusing on you and your studio outside of what you can do for them.
This is very important and I repeat: always talk about how this will benefit them and their clients or customers. As fascinating as your studio or even yoga is, people are more willing to talk and listen – and work together – when there is a clear benefit to them.
Next comes the details of the arrangements. You want to provide your affiliate partners with coupons, business cards, flyers, brochures, etc. so they can gift them to the people they refer. These programs should offer potential students special discounts on the purchase of class cards. Appropriate discounts are generally in the range of 10-25%. It might also get them a free lesson.
Ideally, you want it to indicate what specific benefits people will get from yoga (this could mean different flyers or coupons for different affiliate partners. For example, a postcard-sized coupon for a chiropractor might specifically state How Yoga Can Relieve Back Pain, one of Weight Watchers will highlight yoga as exercise to support weight loss.
Tailor your handouts to the target market you’re after. If it’s a coupon, it probably says it all. If it’s a business card, put a special stamp or sticker on it indicating that the cardholder will receive a special discount when it shows up at your studio. It should be a unique marker so you can tell who it came from (or you can ask that person). That way you can know things like “Jody’s Hairstyling gave us 8 recommendations this month, but Dr. Brown only gave us 2.” How to use this information will be described in detail in a future article.
The other half of the affiliate relationship is that you will be promoting the affiliate partner’s business. This looks like putting their materials (cards, leaflets, brochures, etc.) on a table by the studio door. It might include having the teacher mention them when appropriate (i.e. in a class on back pain relief, “By the way, I know a lot of people in the room have been using Dr. Brown, the chiropractor in town, to help with low back pain and Had good results. If you’ve been looking for a chiropractor, talk to me after the class and I can give you more info.”) Maybe include advertising them in the newsletter (or even getting them to do it for you write an article). Maybe that means listing them on your website. You decide what you can do.
Remember, you’re never like a telemarketer trying to sell people something they don’t need. Instead, you do it because it might be of real benefit to some of your students and clients – and you want to help them.
Finally, I will briefly mention some variants of the above model. One is that instead of promoting an affiliate partner, you can simply give them something (cash or service) in exchange for them referring you a client. Maybe you give them 10% or $10 for each referrer who buys a class card. Maybe you give them free yoga. Again, whatever works for you.
Another variation on the overall model is to have affiliate partners pay you to promote their business (in addition to referring people to you). This works if you have a lot of people who can be promoted. Usually, it’s worth it after you’ve established your affiliate program and your affiliate partners have a good idea that they’re getting clients or customers from you.
Be sure to try your own variations. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – if something is wrong, note it and move on to another variant. Business alliances are a proven strategy that has been used for years. Let your studio help others while benefiting.
I know I’ve covered a lot in this article, but hopefully it gets you going in the right direction. As always, please feel free to email me questions (which I will answer on my blog), especially about your success stories.
for your success,
PS I would like to give special thanks to Kirsten Elfendahl, Manager and Academy Administrator of Purna Yoga Academy (www.yogacenters.com), for providing the background to this article and the effective implementation model procedure for a successful business alliance. Be sure to check out their website.
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