Pilates needs to grow up
There is no digital technology involved in Pilates. Yes, there are several equipment pieces, such as the Reformer, that are made with technology but those apparatus were designed decades ago and are in essence still the same. To run a Pilates business all you need is a mat and an instructor. Well, think again.
In the last six years I joined quite a few Pilates studios and, with some great exceptions, it struck me how digitally immature these businesses were. If there was even a website it wasn’t kept up-to-date, in most cases it wasn’t possible to book online classes, pay online or even pay with your mobile, there were no automated reminders and most possibly the business owner didn’t have a clue who showed up, how much money was made or which client had paid or not. And it's not only the one-man-band businesses but also the bigger ones with plenty of instructors. Whilst doing my online research for Classical Pilates studios in New Zealand I came across various companies in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington where it was clear the owner had no idea how to use the website or make it easier for me to book or pay for a class.
Still, is that a bad thing when you offer good quality Pilates classes?
According to global technology company Accenture, research shows that 47% of SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) in the UK do not have a website and 23% of those SMEs are lacking basic digital skills. With a possible £18.8bn of incremental revenue available from going digital, there are a lot of missed opportunities. Then there is the ever-growing digital lifestyle that now spans all age groups and not just the teenagers. Accenture tells us that digital is everywhere, consumers can’t imagine a life without it and it’s multi-screen, multi-function and multi-device. At the same time though brands need to capitalise on improving and simplifying consumers’ digital lives. So, there is a wish to become more digital but at the same time not making it more complicated.
Top 3 must do's
How does that translate to the Pilates world? My top 3 of must-do's for the modern Pilates business owner:
1. Become digitally mature
First of all Pilates instructors need to become more digitally mature. Making sure they know what kind of digital technology is out there and determine how they can use that to grow their business. But most of all how to capture and engage with their clients using digital. Just having a Facebook page is not enough anymore and hardly engaging when a potential client is not able to find more information about the company let alone book a class.
2. Know the customer journey
It is important for any Pilates business owner to know the online customer journey and make that ‘trip’ as comfortable as possible. Consistent content about the business should be available on all platforms and screens. No matter how a client finds this information one should eventually be led to a ‘book here’ button. No-one should have to pick up the phone or send an email to book a class when I receive a flyer in my mail box.
3. Develop digital Marketing skills
Learn the basics of setting up a website, how SEO works, what makes good content and how social media should be integrated with your business. But most of all know how all these ingredients need to work together, make sense to your client and help them to book a class, share it with their friends, discuss your business online and in return make your business grow.
Attract, engage and convert
Of course ongoing Pilates education is essential to offer clients the best classes possible. No doubt that is the same with any type of teaching. However, using digital technology will enhance your business and will make it much easier to attract, engage with and convert clients who can choose so many quality studios out there. In fact, to be and stay successful in this type of business you need to offer more than being a qualified instructor and having great equipment in your studio.
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Marco Dingemans is a qualified Classical Pilates mat instructor