For almost 25 years I have worked in corporate environments focusing on PR and Marketing. That experience is as you may guess very useful when running your own business.
Not so long ago I joined a year-long NZ mentorship program in which an experienced entrepreneur was matched with me. I can bounce off ideas, discuss options and the mentor can ask me brutal questions (which he does) why I make certain choices. One of the questions was what my USPs (Unique Selling Points) were? Ai, I did have a business plan, even a marketing plan but I completely forgot about those USPs.
Four of them
Defining your USPs is like creating an imaginary umbrella under which you can 'hang' your best business features. Strong USPs clearly articulate a specific benefit – one that other competitors don't offer – that makes you stand out.
My USPs centre around excelling in: client journey, equipment, training and premises. How I started this definition is by being honest to myself. Where am I now looking at those features and how can I achieve that excellence. Second, I need to know my competition, where are they, what are they doing (differently) but not getting obsessed over it since they are not me and I don't have (or want) to do what they do.
Excelling in 'customer journey' is the glue that holds the other three USPs together. From the moment clients are looking for 'Pilates in Queenstown/Arrowtown' they should come across my business, click on content and be inspired to either enquire about me or book a class.
Summarised creating a seamless journey from interest to booking to retention and referral.
Premises, Equipment and Training
Until now I have been teaching out of various locations; my in-home studio, a community room and at other people's premises. Even though that has brought me to where I am now, it is far from ideal. My goal is to create a space dedicated to Pilates which is airy, comfortable and inviting. A place not to have a coffee or a chat but to work hard, dive deeper into the work of Joseph Pilates and be surrounded by likeminded people. A Pilates Gymnasium for adults. I intend to open that space by the end of the Spring.
You can have the best pilates studio but when your equipment is rubbish, it will never create a great customer experience. From the moment I started with this business I have invested in high quality classical apparatus and I continue to do so. As part of the growth of the studio more pieces will be imported to create a variety of classes you cannot do anywhere else in the Wakatipu. After all, an authentic pilates studio is much more than having two mats and a China-made reformer.
In my blog 'Mapping my teacher journey' It is a fully comprehensive teacher program instructed by 2nd generation classical pilates teachers whereby the lineage is clear and traceable. Real Pilates should only be done by properly trained teachers who have done at least a 600 hour program and not a weekend course. Anything less is not good (enough).
To achieve the above I will invest heavily in my business. Not just with money but with more personal effort supported by automated technology. It is also highly likely I will expand my studio with more teachers and hands on deck to make growth sustainable.
ArrowPilates - Classical Studio will be THE Pilates studio in Otago sooner than you think.
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Marco Dingemans is a qualified Classical Pilates instructor and Director of ArrowPilates