Before I say "YES"
As a traveling yoga teacher and presenter of anatomy workshops, I do a lot more website evaluations than you might think. Oh, it’s not like it’s for money or anything. Well, actually, that isn’t quite true. Sometimes, the evaluation I do either leads to me agreeing to do a workshop or not. And in that sense, it is connected to me continuing to make a living doing what I love: traveling, and teaching yoga and anatomy workshops.
To accept or not to accept; that is the question
Here’s a typical scenario. I get an email from someone inviting me to teach a workshop at their yoga studio. After doing this for so many years, since about 2000, I have organically come up with my own set of criteria to decide whether or not to accept the invitation. It’s changed over the years, but this is basically what I do.
First, I get a gut feeling from the email itself. Do they seem professional, direct, honest, etc.? What’s the tone? Do I know them or have I met them before?
These days, the next thing I do is go to their website. In a sense, what I am asking myself is, how are they marketing yoga? I don’t mean, how are they selling it. In other words, it’s not about hype or not hype. I mean, how are they communicating what it is they do, why they do it, and more importantly, how they’re intending to help the community they’re in?
Clear communication is key
This is an important point: marketing yoga authentically is really about clear communication. It’s not about slick sales tricks or any dark arts taking over our very important yoga sensibilities.
Communicating effectively usually requires a number of key components.
First and foremost is understanding the WHY of what you do. In my scenario, I often look at what they have done to differentiate themselves. Sometimes this is by teaching certain styles of yoga or inviting certain teachers. Sometimes it is by emphasizing things they do in the community. But in the end, I hope to find a cohesive WHY that is touched upon or that runs through the entire website. If I’m not clear on why they’re doing what they’re doing, I may not ever get to the WHAT and HOW.
An organized website means an organized business
Depending on how that scan went, I’ll then look at the slightly more technical side of the website. Generally, I’m looking to see how organized the website is and for me, that reflects back to how organized they are. With the underlying question in my mind being, “If I agree to do a workshop here, will their audience find it?” A website should be organized in a logical way which we call site structure. Essentially, good site structure makes it easy for your visitors to get where they want to go easily without thinking about it too much. In other words, it’s obvious.
I recently did a workshop at a venue where they had workshops listed in two places on their website. This happens sometimes when using an add-on software such as MindBody Online or something similar. I was listed in one of the places, but not the other. I literally had a hard time finding the details for the workshop I was supposed to teach. This happened post-acceptance of the workshop invitation. It made me wonder what percentage of visitors would never even see my upcoming workshop?
This is probably a good example of the organic changes that happen on websites over time. In other words, they wanted to list things in places that seemed obvious to them as well as in the software package. However, that means you have to enter workshops twice. They probably missed adding the same exact thing in both places. The more places you have the same information, the more you have to keep tabs on changes in one place being reflected in the other.
Lights, camera, landing page!
Once I’ve looked at their general organization and site structure, I definitely move on to landing pages. A landing page is a page where important information goes and where the action happens. In other words, this would be the page where they put all of the information for my workshop. A good landing page is critical in the flow of good communication and organization. I always take a closer look to see how they present other workshops that they’ are hosting. Is that page organized and orderly, communicating the specific benefits of working with that teacher?
More specifically, does the information on that workshop landing page have a clear sign of what the visitor should do next? Is there a button that says ”Register here”? Does it work? This is what we refer to as a “call to action”. Every landing page should have one.
The importance of yoga marketing
Believe it or not, all of these factors give me a sense of the place where I’m being invited. If I feel that their website isn’t professional or clear, I will typically just thank them for the invitation and not go.
As it turns out, I’m busy and can do that. If I were really hungry for work, maybe I would go everywhere I was invited, but thankfully, I don’t need to do that. Not anymore at least.
In the past when I would go to places that I was unsure of, it often led to disappointment in some form or fashion. It wasn’t necessarily just because they didn’t have a good website, but because they weren’t clear with their communication with me. That means that they probably didn’t communicate well with their students and community.
Just like Indra's net, everything is reflected in everything else. Communication matters. Having a clear message that you convey is important and gives your website a cohesive message and feeling. Organizing your website isn’t really for people like me who might be a guest presenter. It’s for the everyday visitor who needs to find the information they’re looking for without thinking about it.