“Help, my retreat is not filling up!”
There is nothing worse when you are planning your retreat than the thought of not being able to get enough students to sign up.
You’ve poured all of your time, energy and love into planning this beautiful experience for your students.
Hours visualizing and crafting your retreat idea.
Emails back and forth with venues to pick the right one.
Putting together your retreat budget, and your pricing options.
Giving the venue or retreat center a downpayment to hold your dates.
But there are crickets on the other side. "Is this retreat going to flop?" you ask yourself.
The fear of not being able to fill your retreat is real.
As a retreat strategy coach, I see this fear come up for retreat leaders almost every time I help people plan and promote their retreats.
So what do you do when your retreat is not filling up? What do you need to look out for?
I thought it would be valuable to share a few things you can do to troubleshoot your retreat marketing if you find yourself scrambling to figure out why people are not signing up for your retreat.
Below are 4 ways I like to walk my clients through to troubleshoot their marketing and sales strategy when things are not flowing for them.
#1: Troubleshoot Your Communication
Is your retreat marketing message resonating with your ideal retreaters?
Is the way you are communicating your retreat actually speaking to your students?
So many times we forget who is on the other side reading our marketing material.
Go back to your marketing copy (on your website, retreat sales page, flyers, social media posts, etc.) to check if the way you are communicating the benefits of your retreat is coming across in a clear and concise way. Is your retreat marketing speaking directly to the needs and desires of your ideal retreat clients?
Here are some tips to check your marketing copy:
Focus on the benefits of your retreat. In other words, communicate the transformation you are promising your students and what you want them to walk away with by the end of the retreat.
Is your retreat telling a story? Paint the picture of the experience you are offering your students. Help them visualize sitting on their mats in the middle of the jungle, miles away from the hustle of their daily lives, only surrounded by the playful sounds of nature.
Are you giving your students enough information to feel empowered to register for your retreat? Make sure that you are covering all of your bases when it comes to providing the info they need to make a decision to join you. Is there enough info on the content, travel plans, location, rooming/accommodations, meals/catering? Are you clear on who the retreat is for and do they have sufficient info on it?
#2: Troubleshoot Your Content
Is the type of retreat you are offering your community what your students are looking for?
This is a big eye-opening question I ask my clients, and has to be something you look into, especially if you are struggling to get momentum to fill-up your retreat.
Ask your community for feedback when it comes to what they want in a retreat and, if possible, modify your content to fit the needs and desires of your students.
Some simple ways to do this is to ask a few trusted students to answer a few questions about your retreat to see if the experience is resonating with them or not. You can also do this by sending out a survey to your email list/database, asking for feedback on your retreat offering.
I believe that one of the biggest mistakes retreat leaders and yoga teachers make when planning retreats is to by-pass the initial validation process where they ask the community for input.
When you are at the point of troubleshooting your marketing (well into the planning phase), it can be harder to go back and change some things about your retreat, for example, dates, locations, price.
But there are always things you can shift in your content and theme to make your retreat more attractive to your community. Focus on what you CAN change to fit the needs of your potential clients.
#3: Troubleshoot Your Community
Speaking of community, we also need to troubleshoot if we’re reaching the right people with our retreat marketing. To do this, we need to make sure that we are clear on who our ideal retreat clients are.
Who did you create this retreat for?
Is it for stay-at-home moms who need a well-deserved break from juggling kids and home?
Are you creating a retreat for people who are caretakers or have family members battling addiction?
Are you building an experience focused on helping your community create more space for meditation in their daily life?
Regardless of what type of retreat you are building, it is essential that you have a clear vision on who the ideal clients are.
This is key to making sure you're marketing message is reaching the right people and that your efforts are not in vain.
More importantly, before you decide to plan a retreat, you want to make sure you have a community full of “ready-to-retreat” people. This is how you can make sure your retreat has the potential to be successful and that the filing your retreat won’t be a problem.
Most people who attend your retreat won’t come from a random post on social media or a retreat booking platform. They will be students who know, like, and trust you. Who have interacted with you somehow, through your classes, workshops, events, or your personal network?
#4: Troubleshoot Your Consistency
People need to hear about a service or a product more than 7 times before they make a decision on it.
What does this mean in terms of troubleshooting your retreat marketing?
Well, if your marketing is not heard by your potential retreaters many times over, you run the risk of it being forgotten; especially considering all of the attention-grabbing distractions of the modern digital world.
It is not sufficient to tell a few students after your class about your upcoming retreat. You need to also think about ways to reach them via email, personal invitations, social media and other creative ways of reminding them about the wonderful experience your retreat will be for them.
Make sure your marketing is consistent and reaches your people continuously.
Follow up with students who express interest and make sure you have a marketing plan where you are sharing highlights of your retreat in different ways to make things exciting and fun.