I recently got a call from a potential client who needed some marketing help. She’d just opened a Berkeley yoga studio, but the Grand Opening was a bust and no clients had shown up that day. She’d apparently put this whole business together in a month—identified financing, found a space, hired a staff of eight (a little overly ambitious), created a website, did some marketing which consisted of a Facebook page and a Yelp advertising.
There are so many things wrong with this . . .
As we chatted, I did a little googling for yoga studios in Berkeley. I pulled up Yelp and stopped counting at 25. This doesn’t include those that are close by in Albany, Emeryville and Oakland where those neighborhoods overlap. As a long-time resident, if there’s anything Berkeley doesn’t need it’s another yoga studio. What’s really interesting is that this woman lives in San Francisco and commutes to Berkeley.
Remember those first-generation websites?
While she rambled on, I pulled up her website—it looked like those first-gen websites that businesses created in outdated technologies eight years ago. With the great web platforms that we have available to us these days that enable us to look like web developers, it’s just hard to imagine why a business owner would launch a website that looked as if she had pieced it together in her garage. A website just says so much about you—that you can write, organize and display information, take pride in your business and most of all, look like a professional!
By now I had a pretty clear picture of what her challenges were
I asked her my standard next question: “Are you doing any networking?” Her answer: “No. What’s that?” I went on to explain that everyone I know who’s been successful building a business has busted his/her ass networking. You’ve simply got to get out there and meet your community and build connections. People need to get to know you and trust you and want to come to your studio and refer their friends and colleagues. I explained how the industry-specific networking groups worked and suggested that she go to a Chamber mixer—they’re inexpensive and a good way to meet other business owners in the neighborhood. Believe it or not, she didn’t know what the Chamber was.
My last effort: I know this neighborhood really well, and there’s a coffee shop downstairs, one around the corner and a several more well-known café/coffee shops within four blogs in either direction. I asked her if she’d been to these shops and met the owners, passed out her card, etc. She’d been to the one directly downstairs but had no idea that there were others in the neighborhood. A couple more problems—the new studio is up a flight of stairs—no leveraging foot traffic, and this is an ethically diverse, working-class neighborhood, not one where people are rushing off to yoga sessions. This poor woman clearly didn’t do any kind of market research before signing her lease.
Start with some work on her website . . .
I put together a proposal. I would like to help her improve her site—add some images and good content, which would provide SEO value. But she needs more than a website. She needs to understand that opening the doors to her business is the easy part—getting clients to walk through those doors is the bigger challenge. Unfortunately, this is something she’s going to learn very quickly.