Lucy Bannister, the founder of Lucyoga, achieved a full page in Time Out magazine through the power of PR. It resulted in a very challenging time.
Without the right technology in place, it took a lot of time and effort to manage the huge increase in clients. Something that TeamUp was there to help with. But there’s another surprising marketing opportunity, that Lucy reveals, that has been a source of leads.
Lucyoga, currently based in London, and soon to be launching in Yorkshire, is an exciting and fresh take on yoga. Delivering Dru Yoga to the masses is Lucy’s ambition, and she takes delight in seeing how much it helps people overcome obstacles in their lives.
But it wasn’t always so straightforward. Struggles with both the business side of things and personal health taught Lucy some key lessons which she shares with us.
Yoga and money
One of the big hurdles Lucy sees for yoga teachers is that they really struggle with the financial side of things. Yoga teachers can often find it hard to ask for money and have difficulty working out how to price their classes correctly too.
“Because they love what they do so much, they find it really difficult to price properly. Because they think, “Why should someone pay me to do something I love so much?”
Standing out in the crowd
Most business owners spend a lot of energy trying to stand out. Lucy literally took things to another level.
“I ran rooftop yoga on the top of a multi-story car park. It was amazing in the first year.
I was expecting about ten, if I was lucky twenty, people per class to these sessions, and I thought, “Well, what I’ll do… instead of people emailing me and me dealing with paper forms I’ll do a Google form and they can fill that in and that will reserve them a place.”
I sent out a press release and I sent it to Time Out, and despite the little voice in my head saying don’t, I did. It went in Time Out, a whole page in Time Out, and it went crazy. I had about forty bookings in about twenty-four hours.
“My “system” could not handle that, and so I spent that summer basically handling the bookings and trying to deal with things coming in by Google forms, and of course no automated emails, no advanced payments, trying to unravel everybody’s contact details and a slightly not properly firmed up disclaimer and all this kind of stuff, and printing out my own registers.”
“When I had cover teachers I was having to email them registers, but people would be booking in up to the last minute. And then I was working out how to update my website when a class had sold out, or if a place came free how would I fill it back up again? Then there was how to handle a waiting list…all of these kinds of things. So I started experimenting with booking systems.”
This search eventually led to TeamUp, which you can learn more about in Lucy’s case study.
Helping others find their path
Over the years Lucy has also developed another side to her business where she works with business owners as a consultant, many of whom are running their own fitness business, and include yoga teachers too. She addresses common fears and questions with them.
As well as aiming to focus on adding value and focusing on abundance one of her recommendations is to find a niche to stand out from the growing number of yoga and fitness teachers around. A tip that has been shared by other TeamUp users.
“I’ve noticed that increasingly, as more and more yoga teachers qualify, the popularity of yoga is obviously booming, but there’s a lot of teachers as well. It’s about finding that niche that you can go into.”
Lucy walks her talk about niching in her consultancy and has developed an online training system too. She focuses on working with yoga teachers, however, she also has other business people contacting her too.
Many are yoga or fitness teachers who have been in the business for a long time and they need to change their skill-set to be able to keep up in the modern marketplace.
Dru Yoga made a big impact in Lucy’s life and this is the niche that Lucy now focuses on for her yoga business.
I’ve been there too
From the point of view of her training business, Lucy has distinguished herself by being a yoga teacher too. “I’ve always approached what I do as being me setting up my yoga business and looking at everything that I do within that sense.
I want to run a business that’s passionate and honest, that comes from a place from integrity, however, I also need a business that does make enough money for me to be able to live comfortably.”
It’s OK to be abundant
“I talk to some of my clients about abundance as I think we often see it in the wrong way. “Remember that abundance is lots of things. You need to be abundant in your life so you can pass that energy on to your students.”
“Not that that necessarily means driving around in a Range Rover that costs two hundred grand and having a five-bedroom mansion house, it could be that you have a nice little Clio and a two-bedroom flat, but you’ve got enough money to spend on your continuing professional development and you’ve got enough time to take out for yourself, so so that you’re not pressured.”
“Whatever abundance is to you, it should be part of your business plan to make sure that you have priced your offer accordingly, so it’s good value to your clients, and it’s good value to you as well.”
The value of social media
As business owners, we may instinctively turn to Facebook for online marketing and feel that this is a must-have in business however this may not always be the only social media channel to find clients.
For recruiting new students Lucy’s presence online is vital. Most of her students either find her through a Google search or through word of mouth.
“I get quite a few who come by Twitter or Instagram. No one ever says Facebook, interestingly. I’ve always been better on Twitter and Instagram. They’re my strengths. However, they’re saying in my classes it’s probably my playlists.”
“I have a Spotify account and I create playlists on Spotify, and then people can follow me on Spotify and listen to the playlist. It’s become quite a thing that people really like my music.
However none of the social media things that I use generate revenue, none of them income generate in a direct sense, although YouTube potentially could. They all generate brand awareness and viral marketing, essentially, so they’re about allowing people to stumble across me.
A lot of it has added value to what I teach, that’s how I focus on it, so it’s for my students to give them more than just coming to a class.
I also find that people discover me on Spotify and then will come to my class.”
An unusual journey
From an unconventional background, and building an unconventional business. It started very differently for Lucy.
“My background is in contemporary arts and I worked with other people often for very little or no money and we would stage our own exhibitions, events, concerts, performances, projects, whatever it was, we’d do it all ourselves.
For a while, I was running a small art gallery which involved lots of multitasking.
Promotions, press releasing, posters, designing all your own stuff, and possibly even selling tickets to events.
Arranging logistics, planning days, getting volunteers involved, getting staff, making sure things run smoothly, and getting equipment.
I learnt to use all the different things about a computer.
I learnt about the web and my first ever job was actually building a website so and that’s how I ended up being so digital orientated. I used that all the way through, making websites and using the Internet to help organize and promote what I’m doing.
All of those skills have been really, really important in the business, whether it’s a PA, a projector or I now run and intriguingly the art world and the yoga world are not that dissimilar.
They’re both very communal, cooperative, friendly and everybody is in it together, while at the same time being really competitive.
Knowing who else is doing what you do in your local area, having a very good network. Having a really good community. All of that’s super important. Supporting each other… but then at the same time there’s is that underlying competition, which in yoga there shouldn’t be at all!
Especially in London, where if you’re trying to run classes and you’re trying to make your living out of it — it’s hard. Really hard. Luckily though people will pay for yoga. They rarely pay to come to an art exhibition.”
Recognizing your skills even though they might be from different business or career and make them work for what you want to do now is a great way to develop a fitness business.
For five years before she started teaching yoga full time, Lucy worked specifically in digital media for the arts, she worked on a YouTube channel and was helping develop the social media strategy for a very large public institution, to help argue why social media was important.
“I was training my colleagues on how to use social media because many of them didn’t know.
Instead of promoting art exhibitions and writing critical art essays, I applied all that knowledge to work out how to sell yoga classes and write blogs about yoga.
After about six months of doing that, people started asking me for help, and so at that point thought, “Well, maybe there’s another business in this too” and that’s when Om Line Training was born as a sister business to Lucyoga.