During our hour long Marketing Webinar in July we focused on best practices and participants from Hollyhock, The Haven, Le Monastère des Augustines and Retreat Guru in Canada, Esalen Institute, Breitenbush Hot Springs, Omega Institute, Kalani Retreat Center in the USA and Findhorn Foundation in Scotland shared insights with each other in the spirit of collaboration.
The size of the various marketing teams ranges from one person to five with a dedicated focus in this area, in some centers the responsibility is shared among various roles. A few centers are in the fortunate position of being at full capacity, others are seeking to attract more guests. The long established centers have a strong reputation that has developed via word of mouth and repeat visitors, and rely little on traditional advertising, however, PR plays an important role in centers both established and new.
Some centers are in the process of upgrading their website and this is a challenging process, connecting with and streamlining back end functionality and database effectiveness. Key motivating factors include a mobile friendly site and ease of booking system. It’s reassuring to know we face similar difficulties, as we evolve into our potential and adapt to the ever changing nature of the 21st century. We share themes in our best practices too, storytelling was mentioned by several centers.
Twenty participants gathered in this virtual space, a manageable size for our first themed webinar. Some teams gathered around the one computer as we connected between continents and countries, enjoying seeing each other on screen.
We’ve collated a few of the key points for you to explore further within your own center and welcome any best practices of your own…
- Facebook advertising is most effective – split test different versions of your ads
- Instagram is popular among the younger generation – use hashtags
- E-promotions – track open rate
- Target audience – know your demographic
- Allocate budget to teachers and topics
- Encourage workshop leaders/presenters to mention host center in upcoming talks and tours
- Pay attention to Google analytics
- Grants for Google Adwords are available to non profits
- Learn about conversion tracking
- Define keywords
- Create an integrated approach to marketing from first point of contact
- Hire a social media specialist or work with an agency
- Significance of storytelling – the personal approach
- Create an active blog – online community – encourage enthusiasts to generate content
- Grass roots marketing style is effective
- Observe guest feedback – what others say about our centers is more important than what we say about ourselves
- Printed catalogues are still popular – most centers continue to mail either once or twice a year
- Running local events (talks, hikes, meetups etc.) connect people with each other before and after programmes
- Marketing is about communicating the soul of the center
- It is about helping the people who need you, find you easily and creating compassionate entry points for guests, wherever they are in their journey, curious, beginner, advanced or volunteer
“Our eye often goes to ‘integrated marketing’. Knowing that marketing isn’t only an ‘outbound’ strategy dedicated to conversions, rather marketing happens at every touchpoint of the guest experience, from their first glance of an advert, to the print brochure, to their ease on a website, to their phone conversation with reception, to the signs on the property, to the guest orientation guide at their bedside.”
Participant in the 2016 Centers Gathering in Quebec City
As an expanding network of holistic centers we have an opportunity to explore a great question and invite your engagement – “What is the larger story we’re all telling? Why are these centers important in the world today?”
Thank you to all participants on the call for sharing their wisdom and expertise with such an open heartedness and generosity of spirit. Together we can expand the transformational field, in strength and unity, recognising our diversity, uniqueness and shared humanity.
Although we only touched on this vast topic we all felt a sense of gratitude in coming together in this way and look forward to the next webinar…