Racheal: Hey. Welcome back to Yogipreneur Radio. I’m your host, Racheal Cook. I’m so excited to be joined by my dear friend and co-host of Yogipreneur Radio, Francesca Cervero.
Francesca: Hi, everybody!
Racheal: We have been just so excited to talk about what we’re going to talk about today because this has become something that I think is confusing and holding so many yoga teachers back.
I’m totally going to take the fall for this one because I’m the marketing and business strategist for yogis and I think that this concept has actually held people back from serving the people that they’re meant to serve.
The concept is finding your dream yoga student.
We’re both shaking our heads as we’re looking at each other because this is something that anyone who is in the yoga world — if you start looking for yoga business advice or just business and marketing advice in general — one of the biggest exercises a lot of people have you go through is what’s called Creating a Customer Avatar.
It’s basically creating a description of who your dream client is. We have a great one in front of us that I want to share.
She’s a 32 year-old professional single woman named Ocean, who makes $100,000 a year. She’s also engaged, has her own condo, is traveling, fashionable and has an hour and a half to work out every day.
Francesca: Oh, no.
Racheal: This is the dream client for Lululemon Atheletica, one of the biggest yoga businesses on the planet. Ironically, Francesca is like, “This is me!”
Francesca: I was like, “Oh, no. That’s embarrassing.”
Racheal: Chip Wilson has my number.
Francesca: Chip Wilson has my number; makes me hate myself a little bit.
Racheal: But, at the same time, this is the strategy — this is a concept — that does come from big branding, big corporate world.
I think one of the challenges with applying this to a solo yoga teacher or a solo yoga business is it just doesn’t translate the way people think it should.
I think a lot of people who are focused on finding this dream yoga student, they’re really leaning into the idea of law of attraction is going to bring me 20 of these exact people and that’s who I’m going to be working with for the rest of my life.
I actually think that starting with this exercise is incredibly challenging if you’ve never actually worked with anybody.
Francesca: Yeah, it’s true. I always think that working with lots of different people is how you figure this out. It’s how you figure out who you’re supposed to teach. I say that all the time.
You can’t know who it is that you’re meant to teach if you haven’t taught every different kind of person.
I’ve said in previous episodes I’ve taught at senior centers, I’ve taught super athletic people at gyms, I’ve taught very serious, high powered professional women, I’ve taught very athletic men.
I’ve taught every single kind of person in every single kind of demographic that you can and I did that for years before what turned out to be my niche — or my ideal client — appeared in front of me.
But I still worked with lots of different kinds of people.
One of the kinds of people that I love to work with are people that aren’t really sure that they want to do yoga. People who are a little yoga-skeptic.
I love working with people like that because it’s fun because I have to kind of trick them.
Racheal: It’s more challenging for you as a teacher.
Francesca: It’s more challenging, yeah. I have to kind of trick them into loving yoga. But it can mean, sometimes, that they’re more difficult to work with in the beginning.
Especially if we’re talking about teaching private clients.
A lot of the people who will come looking for a private teacher are people who aren’t necessarily comfortable going to a yoga studio for whatever reason.
They’re uncomfortable with the culture that surrounds it, there are parts of the practice that are alienating to them or they have some kind of therapeutic issue or injury that they need to work with.
That makes them, in some ways, harder to teach than the person who loves yoga, who has been doing it for a long time, is injury free, shows up to yoga class pushing.
Racheal: They’re harder to teacher than Ocean.
Francesca: They’re harder to teach than Ocean. Ocean walks into yoga class, she puts her mat down, she gets her two blocks and her blanket, and she knows how to set up a good seat so her hips are higher than her knees.
You know, when you’re trying to create a really full practice teaching — whether that’s private clients or group class students — you don’t get to teach a whole class of people who are really easy to teach and who love yoga. I worry about that a little bit when people are thinking about teaching.
Racheal: I worry about a lot of it. I’ll just put it out there. I worry a lot about it. I think about the big challenges as I get assignments back from my students as they’re going through my programs.
I know that a lot of ideal clients, a lot of dream yoga students, look a lot more like Ocean than inspirational yogis.
If anybody’s watched the whole State of the Yogiverse Masterclass I created, we know that aspirational yogis are people who are interested in yoga, but haven’t taken a yoga class, they don’t have a yoga practice and they know the benefits of yoga, but for some reason they haven’t taken that step forward.
That’s where all the opportunity is.
I rarely see people who have a well-designed yoga business built around those types of people; people who are actually looking for the benefits of yoga, who aren’t already in the yoga club.
Francesca: Yeah. So I think that this is something for people to keep in mind that it’s like if you only want to teach people who already love yoga and who are easy to teach, that really limits who you can work with.
But, like you were saying, the real opportunity is to reach people who aren’t already in that world. I worry that when people have the idea of their dream client that that means that they aren’t going to work with people that they find more challenging to work with.
I think the people that are sometimes more challenging to work with in the beginning are the people who have the most fruitful and meaningful experiences because you took them from Point A to Point B.
They’ve come so far from someone who is injured, thinks yoga is weird, doesn’t want to do it, to having a practice that they love and that’s really meaningful in the scope of their whole life.
It’s what I love to do; to take people from this really far Point A to Point B, but that is harder work in the beginning.
Racheal: It’s very hard work.
Francesca: To convince someone that yoga is worth it?
That’s takes so much effort. I happen to like doing it, but I think that because it takes so much effort, people are like, “They’re not my idea client, so I don’t want to work with them anyway.”
Racheal: It’s too difficult to work with them.
Francesca: That’s what I have said, to sort of be a little controversial.
Francesca: I don’t mean that, really, but I just say that to get people’s attention that doing the work of building a yoga teaching career full of students who will benefit greatly from the practice, but aren’t quite sure about it in the beginning, it’s hard to do.
It takes a lot of energy. But that doesn’t meant that it’s not good for them, that it’s not good for you, it’s just hard work.
I don’t want people to confuse the hard work with being, “They’re not my ideal client. I wouldn’t want to teach them anyway.”
Racheal: Yes. I 1000% agree with everything you just said.
I think one of the challenges I see is a lot of people who go through the whole dream client exercise or create a client avatar or any of those types of things, one of the biggest problems I have with that is it’s like this character sketch.
They’re crafting everything on paper, but they haven’t actually gone out there and found that type of person.
Ocean is not a real live person. Ocean is something that a brand strategist came up with and said, “In general, this is what this type of person likes and is drawn to and this is how we can position and market to her.”
When you’re a solo business owner and you’re building — I mean, we’re not building multi-million dollar, huge yoga clothing lines. We’re building intimate, very intimate-based, businesses.
I’ve found over and over again, even in my own practice, the reason I know who my dream clients are right now is because I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and I knew which ones I loved working with. I knew which ones totally didn’t get who I was or what I was trying to help them with and I’m fine letting those people go on.
The people who were amazing for me to work with, again, I was able to take them on this journey from point A to point B. They came to me wanting a skill-set or an insight or some experience I had and I was able to help them get to the other side.
It’s very much like being Yoda to somebody’s Luke Skywalker. You’re right there taking them through the trenches.
All that to say I wouldn’t have known who my dream clients were if I sat down years ago when I came out of my MBA program and started consulting. I would have never been able to write down who my dream clients were.
I had no idea. I had to go through all the wrong ones first.
Racheal: It’s kind of like dating at that.
Francesca: It is a little bit like dating. One of the benefits of doing the dream client avatar is the way it helps you write your copy.
Francesca: When teachers take my teacher training, this is sort of what I talk to them about. I’m telling them to go out, teach, say yes to everyone.
Say yes to every single person who wants you to be their private teacher. That’s how you’ll figure out who it is you want to teach.
As you’re teaching, you have these questions in your heart:
- Who am I?
- What do I have to offer?
- What is important to me about teaching
- What is it about my unique story that makes me a special teacher
- Who am I uniquely suited to serve?
Then you start thinking these people that you’re uniquely suited to serve as you’re doing lots and lots of teaching.
Then you can take one of your favorite clients, fill out a customer avatar form, get a sense of who that person is and then when you’re writing your copy on your website, you’re talking to that person so that copy on your website is specific. It’s not like, “I love yoga and yoga helped me,” and very general.
You taught me this.
When people are reading your website, you want them to say, “Ah, she gets me. She understands me.”
Racheal: I’m in the right place or I’m not in the right place.
Francesca: Yeah. Right. “She’s my teacher.”
Francesca: For people to have that kind of experience, the copy on your website needs to be kind of specific and for the person that you think you can best help. But that doesn’t mean that you say no to the people who you can’t best help.
Racheal: You have to go through the experience of working with those people to figure out who that person is.
I’m actually revamping some of the way I approach this whole thing because so many people hit this exercise and they start thinking about these avatars and these dream clients and they’re not thinking anymore about real live people that they’ve worked with or had some sort of relationship in their life.
Over and over again, I see that the people who are thinking about their favorite two or three clients, they’re the ones who their copy resonates and they get more clients. The people who are making this an exercise in…
They’re the ones who continue to struggle and whose message is changing all the time because it’s not rooted in a real live person.
Racheal: To wrap, yes, start working with people right away. That’s how you’re going to find your dream clients and that’s how you’re going to get clarity on it.
The other thing is, know that this is not a linear thing.
Imagine a big spiral. Your big client’s there. You’re never going to actually touch them, you’re just going to keep spiraling around and spiraling around and get closer and closer and closer.
You’re going to have those experiences of people who you’re like, “Oh, no. I’m not supposed to teach them. They’re not here for me. They need another teacher.”
You’re going to have people who you absolutely adore and then you’re going to have people who make you grow the most. Pay attention to those ones.
Francesca: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. There’s benefit in doing a dream client avatar at some point.
Francesca: But you have to do a lot of other teaching before you get there.
Racheal: Yeah. Make sure that dream client avatar is based on real live people who actually exist, not figments of your imagination.
Francesca: And don’t confuse hard work — effort intense teaching — with being the wrong clients for you.
To learn about designing an online home to speak to your niche, check out: