Episode 4 - The Secret to Great Event$ with Greta Ertl
Greta has had an incredible professional journey from entrepreneurial ventures at an early age (an accidental Hoola Hoop company, yes you read that right) to working in a Fortune 100 corporation.
Although successful, Greta couldn’t stay away from studio fitness! Greta now teaches yoga and barre, is a marketing maven for studios across the country, and works for 33 Threads, an apparel company for studio fitness.
Greta is here with us today to talk about how and why to host events in your studio. Follow these steps to gain your current member's loyalty, attract new customers and grow your sales!
Dan - Host: Hey, everybody, Dan Berger, co-founder of Fifth Degree here. As usual, I have co-founder and CEO, Nick Dennis with me as well. On today's episode of The Fifth Degree podcast, let's give a warm welcome to Greta Ertl. Greta has had an incredible professional journey form entrepreneurial, to Fortune 100 Corporate. Although successful, Greta couldn't stay away from Studio Fitness.
Dan - Host: Greta now teaches yoga and barre, does social media marketing for studios, and works for 33 Threads, an apparel company for Studio Fitness. Greta is here with us today to talk about how and why to host events in your studio. Doing this will gain your clients' loyalty, attract new customers, and grow your sales.
Dan - Host: Welcome to the sow Greta. We're so glad to have you on here, today.
Greta - Guest: Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here.
Dan - Host: Awesome. So you've had this awesome, awesome journey from entrepreneurial. As you shared with me, you started your own hooping company. You are hooping With fire. That's incredibly scary and really cool. And then you went from that to teaching, and then onto a fortune 100 corporate sales job. Give us a little walkthrough of how things progressed, and a 30,000 foot overview of what happened.
Greta - Guest: Sure. Yeah. I got interested in yoga at a young age, and that developed into a love of hula hooping, and making hula hoops on my own and creating a business by accident, I like to say. That stood out to my dad, whom I was living with at the time. He's like, "You have a knack for sales, you should maybe think about this as the next step in your education."
Greta - Guest: While I was going to college, I was teaching yoga and hula hoop classes, and performing with fire hoops at different events and things that, and was pursuing a degree at the time in business to business sales. I sort of had the intention of, "I'm going to open a studio one day, or I'm going to be an entrepreneur of some sort." But I ended up interviewing for an internship, per my advisors recommendation as practice; just to know what it's to interview in a more formal setting. I ended up interviewing for this internship and getting the job, which only 40 people in the country were chosen.
Greta - Guest: And sort of spun my life upside down, because it was an offer I couldn't refuse. Suddenly I was out of studios, the fitness scene, which is what I was so passionate about; working a nine to five sales job in an office. Which was really hard for me, because obviously that wasn't the lifestyle I was used to- [crosstalk 00:02:59]
Dan - Host: No flaming hula hoop.
Greta - Guest: Yeah. Little different than sitting in a cube for eight hours a day. But it was a great experience, even though it was really hard for me and challenging; I wasn't happy there. That unhappiness inspired me to make something positive out of it. So I started my own company on the side, doing social media and marketing for fitness wellness companies. Because I felt I had this great skill set combination of understanding the fitness, wellness industry, and understanding sales and marketing, and just a strong sense and love of business.
Greta - Guest: I was able to utilize my connections in the studio world, start offering, writing newsletter, managing social media pages for different studios in the area; first for free just to see if I could create results, which I quickly did. Then I had this other company, so I was doing that. I had my sales job and then I had my business and I put myself on LinkedIn as "Where Yoga Meets Business".
Dan - Host: Right. That's marketing.
Greta - Guest: Then 33 Threads, which owns ToeSox and Tavi Noir, actually a recruiter reached out to me and said, "Hey, you have actually the perfect skillset we're looking for. Any interest in basically having this job where you visit studios around the country, travel, and sell socks, essentially?" It was sort of too good to be true. I was like, "Really? I don't have to move, really? I am calling on studios, really? The company's based in San Diego and I get to go out there and [crosstalk 00:04:53] meet with amazing people?"
Dan - Host: Wow.
Greta - Guest: They're, "Yup, yup, yup." And so I took the opportunity. Now I'm I'm a year and a half in, a little bit over, and I manage 22 states in the country and I have just over 1,000 different studios that I work with on a day-to-day basis. My job is to grow ToeSox sales, and socks sales in studios. But what's really cool about the company I work for is, that we are all about studios.
Dan - Host: And that's the whole reason you wanted to come back to the studio fitness space, right? Because, certainly it doesn't sound like in your cube that there was much of a community vibe, or a happiness or feeling of togetherness. It's, "This is your job in this department," and now you guys are bonding here over wine and ToeSox and having grand old time. And I mean, well, it doesn't sound great about that? Usually nowadays, the sock industry, not to go on too much of a tangent. there are some really, really cool socks out there.
Greta - Guest: Well, yeah. And it's one of those cool products that, for all your studio owners out there, it's something that, yeah, our products are high quality and built to last; but they do wear out. I mean, socks wear out. So it's one of those things where it's yeah consumable, but not really. Yeah, it's a great thing for studios to become sock recommended or sock required, just because then they're able to increase their bottom line without ... it's a passive stream of income, which is cool.
Dan - Host: Sure. And people could also say it definitely would keep your mat cleaner.
Greta - Guest: Absolutely.
Dan - Host: A friend of mine's got a lighter colored mat, or some of these mats; some companies it almost seems like they're built to break. Yeah, they're biodegradable and they're breaking down. But if you're a heavy practicer, that's $80 to a $100 you're spending every year on a new mat.
Greta - Guest: Exactly.
Dan - Host: With these socks, it could really increase the longevity there.
Greta - Guest: Absolutely.
Nick - Support: Yeah, so that would be my follow-up question on it. I am a little new to the the yoga industry in itself over the last couple of years, but socks and yoga is completely blowing my mind. What are maybe the top three benefits people should know about why they should be wearing socks in yoga or Pilates?
Greta - Guest: Sure. Just to back up a little bit, our products are more popular in the barre and Pilates scene, just because you're sharing equipment. I have a little bit of a harder time, and I'm originally a Yogi, and because I bring my own mat to class and individually using my own products, I don't wear socks as often in yoga.
Greta - Guest: But as far as the Pilates and barre classes are concerned, the benefits of wearing socks, high level, it's hygiene and safety. So number one is, I mean the founder of Toe, Joe, who's an incredible human being; he talks about the five o'clock appointment. So you have, let's call it me four years ago, sitting in an office all day in my socks, walking around, basically just sitting there. Then I go drive over to my Pilates class and take my socks and shoes off, and I pop on the reformer.
Greta - Guest: Well, my feet or had been sitting in those socks all day long, you know what I mean? And sweating in and really the equipment is only as clean as the last person that left it. So, the socks just create a hygienic barrier between the human body and the equipment that you're using; that would be the number one thing. Then the second thing would be safety. So there are some poses, especially on the reformer where you're standing up or you're in a precarious position, and the socks just add that extra grip.
Greta - Guest: Some people are naturally a bit more sweaty in their hands and feet, and so-
Nick - Support: Dan, I can relate to that. The socks sound wonderful for that. I can catch myself a couple times in a yoga class, I wish I had some grippy feet.
Greta - Guest: Oh my gosh. Well, and then the last thing is ToeSox specifically, the benefits of spreading your toes are amazing. They've done so many studies of foot health, and spreading your toes is the best thing you can do for your feet. Because if you think about your spine, if you're crouched over continuously in that same position; as you age you're going to have a hunched back.
Greta - Guest: It's the same with your feet, if you're in shoes and socks your whole life, eventually your feet do start to hoof. That's why a lot of elderly people, their toes will start to cross, they'll get bunions or weird things like that. So ToeSox promote the spreading of your toes, which keeps you standing on all four corners of your feet, so your feet don't curl inward.
Nick - Support: Wow. So I just took my shoes off and I'm now practicing.
Greta - Guest: Stretch them out.
Nick - Support: Yeah, it's very interesting.
Dan - Host: So that's that's pretty cool. So for 33 Threads and the ToeSox, is that what you started doing a lot of these events-
Greta - Guest: Yeah.
Dan - Host: ... or were you doing events on your own first, and then they said, "Hey, you're going to plan events," and you went, "Great."
Greta - Guest: Well, having taught in studios for quite a while, there were scattering of events, but they weren't always done very well, or they were rushed, or they were like, "Oh, we're doing an open house," or, "We're doing an anniversary [crosstalk 00:10:10]."
Dan - Host: Right..
Greta - Guest: It was more about the studio, and less about the clients. I think what's cool about 33 Threads is when I came on, no one had my position before; my job was completely managed in-house. What was cool was, part of my job, a huge part of the description is still is, is doing these events because it's really the gift that keeps on giving. I mean, not only is it something really nice that we can do for our customers, but we do these events, now they're promoting us on social media; now ToeSox is out.
Greta - Guest: I've gotten new accounts based on the fact that they saw another barre studio having one of our Rosé and Relevé events and they want one too. Then I'm like, "Well, I'm happy to do it, but you have to buy socks from me first." Right? It's a win-win scenario for everybody.
Dan - Host: Awesome. So I was somewhat under the impression at first that, the majority of your event planning was done from your personal consulting and marketing. Is that one of your big strategies for your personal business as well?
Greta - Guest: Not as much. I do like to host at least one event with my clients a year. I'd like to do better at it. It's hard to get everybody in the same room. But even that has been, whenever I've had my clients over to my apartment, or hosted them at a restaurant or something. They make connections, they connect with each other. What I love about it is, I'm able to bring maybe it's a Pilate studio owner who meets another Pilate studio owner in essentially the same neighborhood, and by the end of the night they're friends.
Greta - Guest: I call that the abundance mentality, because I think that in business in general, people can feel like, "Oh, there's not enough to go around." What I love about like, "Hey, she owns a studio and you own a studio. We're all just trying to make it in the world." And to break down that barrier of competition, I think is really healthy. So that's more from business owner to business owner, where I think events can be super cool.
Dan - Host: Absolutely, and it's very community centric as well. Which a lot of people like to say, but Nick and I have started to realize, not to call shots or anything, but people seem to like to say they're more community-oriented; they like to talk about it more than they like to be about it. It's really nice to see when people are actually actively promoting this, "We're in this together," type situation.
Greta - Guest: Exactly.
Dan - Host: So on that note, for any of our studio owners listening here today, talk us through what some of the key aspects of hosting a successful event are. What's important setting it up, and executing and making sure it's profitable in the now, and in the later.
Greta - Guest: Sure, yeah. I have some super-actionable tips to share.
Dan - Host: Perfect.
Greta - Guest: I think with anything, I'm a huge fan of Simon Sinek's book, Start With Why. Which is, it's not what you do, it's why you do it. I think with any kind of event, being super-intentional about it is really important. One of the things that I think is the most important, as we've mentioned, is the community engagement. So, creating a setting that is going to get your students talking to each other, and making connections and new friendships, because that's something that's invaluable; you can't put a price on it.
Greta - Guest: Oh, I just moved to a new city and I've been going to this barre studio and they hosted this super fun event. I met my best friend in the city, I didn't have one before; that's so huge. I've made so many friends at studios, so I think the number one thing is that when you know that your why is to engage your community, how can you create an event that's going to get people to either come early, or in my recommendation would be to stay later.
Greta - Guest: So, typically I would recommend a with an event to have it based around one or two classes. In the beginning when I started hosting events, I recommended to pick a time, like a busy class time. Like your 5:30 barre class, that's probably always full. As I've done more events, I've actually almost recommended people do them at class times that aren't as popular. Because then you can almost use the event as a way to put attention on that class, and to get people going to a class that maybe they weren't going to before.
Nick - Support: So, it seems it can really be leveraged either way. I could definitely see how that would work. First thing you said, a hidden entrepreneurial a lot of people don't know, Simon Sinek. Absolutely, I am a huge fan of him. He really makes you think, and blows your mind away when he speaks. I think what you hit on too, is the why of the event. People just think, "Oh, an event."
Nick - Support: Dan said it before, people don't have a culture setup or they don't have a community setup; they just to say it. They throw an event together thinking ... like we just went to an event a couple of weeks ago for a morning breakfast. It was just like, we were all in a room and we could have all looked at each other and said, "Why are we here?"
Nick - Support: The person that put it together didn't think, "Why am I bringing people here?" They just thought, "Oh, get people in a room and it'll work." It's like, "No, you got to have a why when you're setting these things up."
Greta - Guest: Exactly. Exactly. So, yeah. Then as far as, again, picking the day in time, if you are going to serve alcohol, thinking about happy hour time. Or you can always do something in the morning, or on the weekend with mimosa. Just deciding what energy do you want to create? How do you want your community to engage with one another? That's my first tip is, to kind of get clear on why you're doing it.
Greta - Guest: I think the number one reason should be to engage your community, and then from that creating an atmosphere that makes sense; a time that makes sense for your community to have that experience.
Dan - Host: Right. Now, one thing you just said is creating the atmosphere. So as part of studio fitness, a barre studio, a yoga studio, you could think of the general ambiance they have; then it changes obviously from studio to studio. Do you want to almost create a different atmosphere for this event than the studio has on a normal day-to-day basis? Or do you want to maintain that? Do you want people to feel they're coming to class, or do you want this to feel different, maybe special?
Greta - Guest: I would definitely say make it special. Typically, I would recommend doing some giveaway away. I think that's how you can entice people to come. Another thing that some studios do is they open registration only for members.
Nick - Support: That's a good one.
Greta - Guest: That's a client appreciation thing. Then if that doesn't fill, then they can maybe open it to other people. But what the benefit of that is, that you are putting it in your marketing material, or your newsletter, your Facebook, your Instagram. You're saying, "Hey, we're hosting this members only event." Well, more than just members are going to be seeing that.
Greta - Guest: So all of a sudden you get these people, "Oh, that sounds really fun. I'd really like to go, but I am not a member." So that gets them thinking, "Oh, maybe I would want to be a member, because of this great benefit." [crosstalk 00:17:58]
Nick - Support: An exclusive event. Yeah. People love exclusivity.
Dan - Host: Now have you ever done something like members get a plus one? So now, if you're not a member but your friends with a member, the member gets to bring you as a plus one. It almost feels like you're being inducted into this inner circle. You're hanging out with the members and it maybe entices people to become a member; they're now being included on the center circle.
Greta - Guest: Yeah, that's actually, I've not heard of ... I haven't ever had anybody that I'm familiar with do it that way. But I think that is a really good idea. It's just a matter of how many members do you have? How many people can you fit in your space?
Greta - Guest: But yeah, back to your question of the atmosphere. I definitely think having something where people are walking in, they're entering their name in a raffle, suddenly they feel they might be winning something; that's a way you can create that right away. I mean, typically a with events it's more like, there's something you do in the beginning to sign up, or you can see that the space is, maybe there's some wineglasses sitting out or a table set out-
Dan - Host: Something out of the ordinary.
Greta - Guest: Yeah. You arrange chairs so people can sit and chat. But I think the real magic happens typically after the class. Yeah. So you have that class time to even, maybe they come in and things don't seem that different. They put their name in a raffle, things don't seem that different. But then they walk out of class and suddenly you've created this space that's inviting and sort of asking people to stay and chat.
Dan - Host: Right. So now you've just mentioned having some wine glasses out, having chairs, that to me seems some semblance of structure. So for these events, is it better to have a flow to them, a schedule, a rough skeleton of a structure, moving things along? Or do you want people to be completely relaxed? What's your ideal scenario to keeping people engaged, and having fun in what's going on?
Greta - Guest: Yeah, so I think the key with that is to be ... again back to your intention. What kind of event are you hosting? I would say in Andrew Community there are certain cultures in studios that are a little more intense, if you know what I mean?
Dan - Host: Yes.
Greta - Guest: They are all taking the same supplements, and everybody shows up for 5:00 AM workouts, and it's maybe a little bit more strict, and your clientele's a little more Type A. I always think meeting your clients where they're at, and doing it in a way that's for them. Because I think a lot of the times in general, people want to do businesses based on what they like to do. There's something to that. I mean, you want to be providing services and products that you're passionate about.
Greta - Guest: But at the same time, it's like when you're posting on social media, when you're creating something for your clientele, it's not so much about what do I like? It's, who is my client and what's going to make them feel the best?
Dan - Host: Sure. Absolutely. Since we had touched on entrepreneurs we like earlier, it sounds if you've read the book by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People. His big thing is, how often do we think us, I, me? How often do we think you, them, put the other person first?
Greta - Guest: Yup. Exactly.
Dan - Host: Great.
Greta - Guest: Exactly.
Dan - Host: All right, so those were two awesome tips. Do you have another one for us?
Greta - Guest: Yeah. So yeah, so we talked about community engagement. We talked about client appreciation, showing that it's special for them. That really is going to produce word of mouth marketing, because you want them to somebody to ask them, "Oh, what did you do last night?" Or, "What did you do this weekend?" And for them to say, "Hey, I was at this amazing studio event."
Greta - Guest: The third thing is, events are amazing to have a flash sale. It's a great way to put products or services on sale for a short period of time: like one day, or one night, or one time period in a day. This creates a sense of urgency around-
Dan - Host: Oh, for sure.
Greta - Guest: ... [crosstalk 00:22:15], and it's a great way to put things on sale that aren't moving. Or, maybe if you need to boost your membership. Sometimes membership sales can decrease in the summer, like in the Midwest because people start to work out outside. They don't value going to classes as much, because they feel they can get just as much on their bike, or running outside or something. It's a great way to be like, "We're having this event, and tonight only you can get your first month of membership half off," or something that. I think leveraging the event, and that excitement and that energy to have a sale can be really effective.
Greta - Guest: The next thing that's super fun and cool with events is to collaborate with other local businesses. I love when studios will collaborate with like a local brewery, and they'll probably give you a couple growlers, or maybe some kombucha. Or a local juicery that provides some green juice samples, or some cool granola or something. What's cool about that is, then suddenly you've increased your reach, right?
Greta - Guest: You're saying, "Hey, if you provide dah, dah, dah, dah, dah amount of beer or whatever, then I will put you on this many Instagram posts. You'll be on all this marketing material." Maybe they even want somebody present from the business there. Then they too might be willing to say, "Hey, we're going to be at XYZ Studio on this night with samples of our new beer," or something that. That's a really great way to then also bring your expense down in hosting the event. Instead of having to go buy all this food and refreshments, you might be able to collaborate with somebody else who's going to provide that, and they feel it's a win-win.
Dan - Host: Right. Have you found frequently that especially ... 'cause we worked very closely with a studio when we were building our product in Vineland, New Jersey. Vineland is very community-oriented, and she talks frequently, the studio owner, about collaborations. Do you find when it comes to local, local business, everyone wants to think big these days, but local business; those kinds of collaborations, people are just more than excited to do them?
Dan - Host: Because I think a lot of people think, "Oh man, a collaboration is a big deal, or this and that." But when it comes to local, people are more excited than you would think to get their name out there and be part of the community. What's your experience with that?
Greta - Guest: I think if you have connections in your community to local businesses, that typically they're very open-minded to it. At the very least, I think they're usually willing to do discounts, especially if it's a neighborhood thing. I think the closer in proximity to your studio, the better as far as collaborations are concerned, because that is going to more likely have a payoff.
Greta - Guest: I think it's a matter of just, typically these relationships oftentimes already exist. I mean, you want to collaborate with a brewery that you already go to, or a coffee shop that is nearby and already knows your name. Those kinds of connections typically are very easy to set up, and in my experience, businesses are usually more than happy to collaborate.
Nick - Support: Yeah, I would think so. And I think staying in your zip code is friendly, because they know you're right down the street. Or if they don't know now, they just found out that, "Oh, we have someone right down the street that could help us." Typically, these businesses that you're cross-promoting with, you have the same buyer persona that you're targeting.
Nick - Support: I think, like you mentioned, that I'm sure they're more than happy to do it, because they're targeting the same people. Now you create all these cross-promotion ideas, where if you go here maybe you get a discount here, and maybe we talked about exclusivity. Maybe if I'm a member at the yoga studio, then I get treated differently with my pricing at a brewery or something that.
Greta - Guest: Right, right, right, exactly. I mean I feel like it's kind of limitless. I think if you can have the right conversation, the right connection, and get on the same page, there's so many win-win scenarios in collaborating with local businesses.
Nick - Support: Yeah, it's like you mentioned, it brings your cost down, but not at the price of the business that's helping you. It's creating a win-win situation.
Greta - Guest: Exactly. Exactly.
Nick - Support: So that was tip number four?
Greta - Guest: Yeah.
Nick - Support: And what are we on to tip number five?
Greta - Guest: Yeah. So this is my fifth and last main tip is, using an event to spotlight a new class, a new service-
Dan - Host: I like that one.
Greta - Guest: ... or a new studio policy.
Nick - Support: Kind of like a launch party.
Greta - Guest: Yeah. So I have a lot of studios that are in the process of becoming sock recommended or sock required. A big part of my job is getting people to go in that direction, because obviously that's how I'm going to make my numbers. That's also a way for studios to truly increase their bottom line, by making there be some sock policy in the studio. However, a lot of people can see that as a bad thing. Like, "Oh, no. Now we have to buy socks." Or, "Oh, no. I already paid as much for my membership, and now I have to pay for these socks."
Greta - Guest: A cool thing with the event is you can be like, "Hey, we're having this party, we're going to be giving away a few free pairs of socks; from this day forward we're going to be sock required. Come in, get in on the flash sale where socks are going to be discounted this one time only. Then after tonight, socks are required in the studio," or something that. That is a way to put a positive spin, on something that could be perceived as negative.
Nick - Support: That's what you said-
Dan - Host: We're making lemonade here.
Nick - Support: Yeah. The idea of a new class, or a new product, and then a new policy. I'm like, oh that's not a launch party. But, if you're giving away discounted socks or free socks starting in that, then yeah, it could be.
Greta - Guest: Right, right. Or you could use it, to your point, launching, like say you are starting a boot camp, or you're a barre studio and you're now going to start offering yoga, or you now have a massage therapist. There's all kinds of things that you can use the event to get people excited about it, to bring some awareness to something new. It's a way to do it without having to blast it on social media a million times. You can have this party, and the party speaks for itself as far as why you're having it.
Dan - Host: So typically I would think that most of these events are free. But have you ever seen an event that is charged for, and there's an entry charge or something that?
Greta - Guest: Well, a lot of the times you pay either using your membership for the class that's part of the event, or you pay for a drop in class. So, yeah.
Dan - Host: Nothing hefty.
Greta - Guest: I think that typically there is some cost involved; usually these events aren't totally free. It's usually just revolved around a class that already exists. I'm sure you could charge if you felt like it was necessary, but I probably wouldn't recommend that.
Nick - Support: Yeah. I mean this is your basically your customer acquisition cost, or your customer retention cost when you put these things together. But depending on how much you do, it could definitely jack the bill up.
Greta - Guest: Yep. Exactly.
Dan - Host: So, for anyone out there that would definitely to learn more about throwing this awesome event and speak to you, you had mentioned to us that you do your own consulting and marketing. What's the name of your company?
Greta - Guest: I just operate under my name, GretaErtl.com. You can just go to my website, and there's all my information about through my background, what I do and who I work with. I can do on the phone, or if you live in the Twin Cities, I can meet you locally. I typically start with an hour to two hour session of learning the business, figuring out the pain points, where are you struggling? I work with business owners from communication strategy plans, to class descriptions. To even just helping them be more productive in their business, as far as prioritizing their time, and figuring out the best use of their energy and things that.
Greta - Guest: I feel like I've pulled from, I've been a client of studios, I've been a full-time teacher, I've managed studios, and now I visited hundreds of studios across the country; some of the best and most successful studios in the world. I just feel I have a great understanding of why they're successful, and how to implement it into your business plan or your studio, so that it's unique to you; but it's also a strategy that works.
Dan - Host: Absolutely. And you've got certainly the experience to back it up. Just for anyone listening today that wants to go to Greta's website. It's Greta Ertl, G-R-E-T-A E-R-T-L. That's correct, right Greta?
Greta - Guest: Yup. Yup.
Dan - Host: Awesome, perfect. Dot com, and that's where you can find her if you're looking for help within your studio.
Dan - Host: Greta, thank you so, so much for coming on our show today. I think anyone who listens to this is going to get a ton of value out of it, and we really had a great time speaking with you.
Nick - Support: Yeah, it was great meeting you Greta, and learning about all your experiences and we'll definitely stay in touch.
Greta - Guest: Thanks so much, guys. So happy to be on the show. Thank you for the opportunity.
Dan - Host: Absolutely. We'll talk to you soon.