How to Land Your First Online Student by Marketing Offline
When you first start your online teaching business, landing your first online student or customer is a huge deal. We remember the series of emails and phone calls it took for us to land our very first Namastream Teacher. To this day, it stands out as one of our most exciting entrepreneurial moments. We also remember just how much energy and time we put into building that first customer relationship.
For many of our teachers, after creating that initial product offering, marketing and selling is the next big hurdle to tackle. Next week, we will dive into online marketing strategies, but this post will reveal that, for many of our clients, the best place to begin your marketing is actually offline.
Imagine this: you’ve just opened a brick and mortar studio… On day one when you open your doors, would you expect a bustle of students walking through the door? Unless you had done some serious marketing, chances are that you’d see very few sales and some pretty empty classes. It is exactly the same with an online studio. Yes, you launch a site and people could just stumble upon your website (similar to foot traffic that just happens to walk by your brick and mortar). But realistically, you need to invest some serious time and resources marketing your business, no matter if it is a brick and mortar or an online studio.
Now that you have made the decision to have an online business, it’s easy to think that you can solely focus on driving sales online. This is wrong. More than ever, our online and offline lives are intertwined. As a teacher, you have already connected with many in person through your work. Cultivating relationships and partnerships offline can be some of best strategies for starting to grow your online business. Use your offline momentum to market yourself and your new online business. Many online entrepreneurs get their first few sales from in-person connections that they have nurtured well before they began online - it’s totally normal and really the most authentic place to start. Below, we share some of our very best offline marketing ideas to help you land your first few online students.
If you look back through our recent blog archive, you will see that we have been focusing on how you can prepare for launching your online teaching business. We shared the 25 Things You Need to Know Before Launching Your Next Online Course, we suggested The Toolkit For Your Launch and How to Price Your Online Classes. Perhaps, by now, you might have launched your website with your online teaching offering. You have this beautiful online studio, but no one is coming to your site to purchase from you? Hmmm, we know how frustrating that can be after you have spent so much time and hard work preparing to get your online teaching business ready and launched!
A friendly little shoutout to those of you that don’t quite have a website launched online yet, we can’t stress enough that this is entirely ok. You can start marketing your online offering even before you have an online studio launched. Many of our marketing tips (especially the offline ones) are very practical to do while you are still tweaking your website and product offering. Don’t wait to get a website launched; it is never too early to start marketing yourself and your business. Be Brave.
We don’t recommend that you try to do each and everything suggested in this post. Every business is different and you need to learn what works for your business, community, and for you as a wellness entrepreneur. Rather, we suggest you pick two or three marketing ideas and focus on them for the next 30 days. If, after 30 days, you haven’t gained any new students, consider tweaking your strategy or trying a different approach from this list.
Here’s the golden rule for starting any new business venture: start where you already have a following. If you currently teach in a studio or train in a gym, share the news about your online offering there. At the end of class or your training sessions, pass out small cards that include your new website address and invite your current students to check out your site (and perhaps even ask them to give you feedback). In fact, you should have already been talking with these students and clients in the process of shaping your initial online offering. (Hint: if not it’s time to read point 6 and 7 of 25 Things You Need to Know Before Launching Your Next Online Course and Phase 2 of How to Price Your Online Classes). Hopefully, those conversations with current students have resulted in you creating exactly the offering these students want. Your loyal, in-person students are likely to become some of your first online students too.
Cross-Promote With a Favorite Store or Small Business
Even if you haven’t been teaching in a local studio and only have private clients, don’t underestimate the kindness of studios. They are always looking for new ideas too. Could you connect with some of the local studios in your community to work on a joint promotion? In person + online membership? Or maybe you offer to run a special workshop in your niche at the studio with the understanding you will be promoting your online offering to their clients. Studios often do a monthly newsletter -- would they be willing to promote you in their newsletter with a promo code? If you present your offering to studio owners and explain the benefits to them, they may be very open to collaboration. What is good for their community is generally good for them too.
Local Newspaper Article
Don’t underestimate the power of local print. Contact your local paper and inviting them interview you (local papers are always looking for new, interesting, positive stories.) Share with them that Yoga is Booming and home practice is a growing niche. Explain why you have decided to start teaching online and describe your online offering. If you feel the local paper isn’t relevant, how about a local community newsletter? Could you do a local radio spot? Or ask the local news channel to come do a short clip as you film your next video or live class. People are always looking for interesting content and you teaching online - trying something new -- is really exciting and should be shared. Be brave and reach out.
Offer to Speak at an Event
If you are really ready to be brave, offer to speak at an event. Events throughout your community are always looking for speakers that are willing to share their knowledge and time for free (or at a discount). Don’t just focus on the wellness industry. Could you speak at a local small business conference happening in your area? Share your knowledge of becoming a wellness entrepreneur in the community. Many times people stay within their industry, but when you step outside of your niche, the results can be magical. Or look at the community you are serving. Is it expectant mothers? Could you offer to speak at a new parents evening? Giving advice for new parents and sharing some advice or tips from your online offering? The possibilities are endless.
As you can see, your new online business has a real offline component too. Don’t be afraid to put up flyers in local cafes, knock on the doors of local businesses, and reach out to the local media in your community! Stay tuned next week, where we reveal some of our favorite beginner online market strategies.