Many retreat leaders will agree that the time spent dreaming big and designing a retreat, whether virtual, local, or destination-based, is an incredibly fulfilling part of the process. You get to explore what you know to create a program that invites positive transformation into attendees’ lives and inspires conscious growth.
The not so enjoyable side of it is marketing and filling the spaces through sales. But sustaining your dreams means making an income; there’s no getting around it. You know the value you can add, all that’s left is to convince the world of the same.
To do this effectively, you need to know the difference between just getting your brand name out there and actively marketing your retreat. Also, marketing doesn’t always convert to selling, so how do you ensure that leads become sales which fill spaces?
In thinking about this, we picked up a quick conversation with Alexandria Tomayko of Nomadic Planning.
Alexandria is the founder and experience coordinator at Nomadic Planning and has years of experience working with leaders of small retreats to create effective marketing campaigns. Here’s what she had to share with us.
Difference Between PR, Marketing, and Sales For Your Brand and Your Retreat – Q&A With Alexandria Tomayko
Q: Hi Alexandria! In your experience, how can retreat leaders differentiate in their marketing to fill spaces, especially if they are new to it?
A: First it starts with the understanding of PR, marketing, sales and how they differ.
PR is getting your name out there.
Marketing is getting leads.
Sales is getting money into the bank.
Creating a marketing campaign is crucial. Many think that because they only have eight spots to fill and they get 100 likes on Instagram or have 25 friends who said they would join, that the job is done and it’s easy to fill the slots.
Marketing is creating a message that is on point with your target audience. It should speak to their heart, and yes, their pain points too, enough for them to know that they are ready to jump on board.
It’s highlighting what makes you different and special, and why they need to go with you. You need to stand out and make it clear why they should be on the retreat.
Q: Let’s start with PR. Can you let us know how it factors into getting eyes onto a brand, and maybe some actionable channels retreat leaders can work with?
A: Public relations or PR is everything in the public eye that gets you seen. The entire purpose of PR is to be seen, and nothing more.
It’s the idea of ‘any publicity is good publicity’ applies. This is just yelling, “I am here!”
PR is important for reputation management. Yes, two friends may book spots on your retreat, but for the other eight attendees who don’t know you, they need to at least find you online and be able to form an opinion about who you are. No one is going to buy into a retreat experience if you haven’t got an established presence and provided them with reasons to trust you.
Actions for PR would be listing your website, social media profiles, or posting anything that will get eyes on you. It is performing Facebook Lives or collaborating on podcast interviews. It’s setting up a Youtube Channel and sharing content on Instagram and Facebook stories.
Q: Isn’t it possible to skip PR and start with marketing, though?
A: The purpose of marketing is to get leads. To start the conversations which make people listen long enough for you to let them know how amazing you are and your program is.
In reality, you can’t do marketing without including some PR, and vice versa. The purposes of both – to let people know about your retreat, as well as establish who you are – are linked. If people don’t connect with you, they won’t buy into your retreat. And if your retreat isn’t appealing, then they probably won’t connect with you.
Q: Can you shed some light on the types of marketing that retreat leaders should focus on for promoting their event?
A: There are several types of marketing that retreat leaders can use to generate awareness of their retreats. Note that these can overlap, and which ones you use depends on who your ideal attendees are and where they fit into the buyer’s journey.
Social Media Marketing – this means having a social presence so people can learn about you, look you up, and have an easy way of finding and booking you. These channels are generally great for building a following through giveaways, collaborating with other brands, and providing a funnel to your email marketing channels.
Outbound Marketing – this is all the outreach marketing, cold calling, emails, and even networking that you do to promote your retreat and brand.
Inbound Marketing – this is everything you share that attracts potential clients to you, including your blog, interviews (yes also PR), quizzes, white papers, and so on. Inbound marketing provides value which can turn to interest in what you have to offer, rather than pressing a hard sell.
Digital Marketing – this is anything in the digital realm, which encompasses a lot!
Content Marketing – this is also inbound, but with content that is more relevant to your audience. For example, as a retreat leader, your audience could be interested in ‘what type of yoga is best for you?’, ‘10 ways to manage stress,’ or ‘how a retreat can become a business write off.’
Paid Marketing & Advertising – this can be paid spots on media outlets such as podcasts or digital ads such as Facebook ads. That said, I don’t recommend this latter route unless you know what you are doing and have a page with at least 500 followers. There are also PPC (Pay Per Click) ads on google. All of these can drive traffic to your website or offer.
Q: With leads under your belt, how do you take the next step to secure sales for your retreat?
A: A tip for the “sales” part is to have a sales script. It might sound silly and it will definitely morph as you go. But, having reliable information in front of you when you are on the sales call will do wonders for your confidence. This script will help ease your nerves if you are not comfortable selling, as well as give a path for the conversation to follow to lead to the close.
And yes, you probably need to get on the phone to close anything $2,500 and over.
A good way to start is to write down all the objections you might have or see coming up to the sale.
It is important to log, and if possible, record the first call as a trial. Or get a friend or colleague to be your beta tester and do the call with you so you can practice how to lead to the close.
This is also the part where you can interview the client and see if they are a good fit. Do not let your need for money distract you from creating a curated and wonderful event. Some people are not the right fit and that is ok.
Q: Any last words for our audience?
A: An important note is to measure all analytics in your marketing efforts, to see what is working and moving your buyer (client) to the next stage more successfully.
You should also be measuring and tracking your sales conversion rates. If you do 10 phone calls and only one buys, you are at a 10% close rate. This means you need to get on 100 calls to fill 10 spots.
She’s currently working on a project titled the “Little Black Book Series App” – the current focus being on Bali. The app will contain all the do’s and don’ts of traveling and leading a retreat there.
From all of us at WeTravel, we would like to extend our gratitude to Alexandria for sharing her insights on the process of getting retreats to the market. If you would like to speak to her directly, please get in touch with her via email or LinkedIn.