You’ve deep cleaned the showers, pruned and preened your schedule, and launched a seasonal class series or 30 day challenge — complete with silver and gold sparkle stickers for your participants. Both your studio and staff have had an overhaul.
How else can you improve business at your studio during the slump? By taking a look at your website, your social media, and your digital marketing.
While students are away at the beach, on vacation, or working doubles, they won’t be checking your website as often. This is a great time to make changes! You don’t want to launch a new site in the middle of the holiday rush, or find out on January 1st that your online booking isn’t working.
Online Sales – Bring in the Browsers!
We talked about this a bit already in our Embrace the pace? Managing your studio during the blah blah? blog, but it’s worth repeating. Gyms are notorious for seasonal deals — but there’s no reason why the rest of the fitness and wellness sector shouldn’t get in on it! Offering seasonal memberships and deep short term discounts will keep bodies in your classes and give you the chance to do something for students who are staying committed during the lazy days of summer.
- Seasonal Memberships — Run time-sensitive deals, 30-60 days, for either memberships or short term class cards. Don’t discount it more than your auto-renew memberships, but make it tempting enough that you can keep people committed, despite the sound of the ice cream truck.
- Groupon/Gilt City — If you have run these kinds of deals before, you’ll know what your target demographic is more likely to use. Think not just about bringing people in the door, but about which service will bring in folks more likely to come back once the deal is done. While this can be a great way to flesh out smaller classes, a lot of studios are firmly opposed to using these kind of services. A lot of these clients are just shopping for best deal, are not likely to come back, and it can create added admin/overhead and slower sign ins. Talk to other studios, your teachers, and weigh this one carefully before diving in. It might be better to run & promote your own “deal” — you’ll keep more of the revenue.
- Bring a Friend — Reward people for coming in pairs or groups.
- Discount Codes — Offer discount codes to people who are actively engaging with your business. People who come to events in the community, who are opening their newsletters, and maybe even making purchases in-studio already.
Engaging Pages – Revamp Your Social Media Presence!
It can be hard to keep up with your social media regularly, especially in a way that is engaging and exciting. During slower periods, your social media becomes doubly important. Your social media serves as a tool not just to market to potential clients and really connect with new members, but also to stay connected to those who might not be making it in regularly. You are speaking to clients in town and in that far away ‘vacation’ land. You can keep them interested in what’s going on in the studio, and excited to get back in class.
- Curate Kick-Ass Posts — Think back over the past year. Did you find a great holiday prep guide a week after New Years? While you have some down time, spend a few extra minutes here and there gathering content to schedule and share later. Create a backlog of relevant articles and tips, photos around the studio, in class, of teachers and clients in the space to share later.
- Create a Regular Feature — This is a great community-minded way to engage in your newsletter, blog, social media or even across platforms. Create and send out a Teacher Feature questionnaire, or 3-5 quick questions for a regular client spotlight. Gathering this info now will mean you can schedule these out in advance, rather than scrambling to get people to fill things out when they are juggling a full schedule, extra classes, and holiday plans.
- Review Your Timelines — Look back through all your feeds, and pull some ‘Best Of’ posts that you can re-share.
- Engage with Your Followers — The importance of this one cannot be understated. If someone comments on your post or picture, respond! Answer questions, address feedback, and maybe even reach out and engage on your own. Let your students see you engaging with your staff, with other community members, and maybe you even grab the bull by the horns and compliment your students on their faraway vacation scorpion pics.
Time for a Facelift – Revisit Your Website
We’ve passed the precipice — long gone are the days when a studio could make it work without a website. And in this age of instant gratification and our ever-decreasing attention spans, you want to make sure your website is as sticky as they come.
- Time for an update? Is your site giving you and your students headaches? Are platform updates ruining user experience? Is your current site failing to convert? It might be time to bite the bullet and invest in something shiny, new, mobile-friendly and fully optimized.
- Don’t let it get stale! As the great Dolly Parton will tell you, a little maintenance goes a long way. Swap out banner images, staff bio pics, and in-studio photos. You should be making these changes at least seasonally.
- Stock up on photos. Not everything has to be professionally shot and super high res. For in-content photos, or to accompany events, workshops, and bios, take some shots on your phone, or grab a camera. Have a backlog of shots that are not season-specific, so that when you’re up to your eyeballs in the holiday madness you have photos on hand to freshen things up.
- Help your clients book easily. How are your clients booking classes and sessions? Is it easy for current and potential clients to book on mobile devices? If not, now might be the time to make things a little easier. This could mean looking into your options in terms of enabling or optimizing your mobile booking system.
Making bigger changes to your website and booking can be major, but it can also make a huge difference in how people engage with your business and register for classes — or if they don’t. Now’s the time to do some research into client experience, budget, and return on investment for your studio.
Build Up Your Blog Presence!
Blogs are quickly becoming a staple for pretty much every fitness, wellness, mother, dancer, dog groomer, and pre- and post-pubescent biped on the planet. Are you getting anxious thinking about having to gather content and start writing? You’ll be fine. Blogging isn’t about sharing deep philosophical discussions or laying the foundations of your ‘method’, it doesn’t need to eat up hours of time. Blogs can actually be a quick and painless way to share information, improve your website’s search engine ranking, increase the credibility of your studio and staff, and collaborate with members of your community. Make sure you add CTA’s throughout the text (if you have a lot of content), and have a strong and clear CTA (perhaps reminding folks to buy a new member special, or “book now”) at the end of the blog.
- Create an Editorial Calendar — Think of how often you could get something up. Monthly? Biweekly? Weekly? Get it in stone to keep yourself accountable.
- Bring on Guest Contributors — Send feelers out to your staff, potential guest contributors, and draw yourself up an editorial calendar.
- Promote Events — Have a weekend retreat coming up? Turn it into a blog post.
- Promote Client Experiences — Long-form testimonials can serve as blogs as well. If you get a great client feedback that’s a little too long for the website, make it a blog, run ads to it, and there you go.
- Teacher Spotlight — Feature a member of your staff, have them answer a few questions, one of them can be funny or a non-sequitor and you’ll finish by giving their class/time slot a push!
See how easy that was? This is something you can delegate to staff and teachers, or bring in an outsider to help with. As you get started, it’s more about consistency than in-depth content. Once you have a good rhythm going, then start to take your content more seriously.
Revisit Your Pricing Strategy
When was the last time you raised class and session rates? When was the last time you raised your teacher’s rates? Slow periods are an ideal time to take a long hard look at your pricing model, and make adjustments.
When you’re looking at how much to raise, balance competitors rates against your actual operating costs, and what it takes to pay your teachers a fair wage.
Increasing rates during the summer gives students who are away time to adjust to the idea. They drop off while they’re away or working, prices go up, time passes, and they forget about the old rates.
For those who stick around during the change, you can reward them for their loyalty by grandfathering in old membership rates — usually this is for 6-12 months. They get to feel like they’re a part of the old-school crew, and a step ahead of the game. This also reinforces healthy attendance habits, which can drop off during the summer.
For non-members, offer a last chance class card at your current rates. Like any other season deals, you’ll want to keep the redemption period short to make sure the clients get to class. The more classes they take, the better chance you have of helping them see the value in your classes and sessions.
Promote the increase a month or two in advance, so students have time to jump in or brace for the increase.
In general, keeping your pricing simple, and straightforward is the highest priority. Too many options can make your clients feel like they are being quizzed, or worse, like they are being tricked. Make sure that any additions to your rate structure make sense in the scope of the whole universe, and don’t get too fancy. Keep it simple, keep it clear and clean.
We hope this has given you some meaningful ideas for filling the slow season, and using the extra time to invest in your business. Like the Ant and the Grasshopper, you could spend the extra time relaxing at the beach, or you could put your nose to the grindstone and make sure your every aspect of your business is fully optimized, air tight, and ready to embark on another action-packed fall, winter and spring adventure.