Growing your studio doesn’t have to be stressful, right?
There’s got to be a better way; a better way to streamline marketing and sales, and get more students… right?
Yep, there is…
Hey, I’m Austin Roberson—Founder & CEO of Studio Studio, the all-in-one marketing automation tool for studios, and in this video, I’ll share with you my unique approach to growing your studio & scaling up fast.
Maybe you’re in a place where you’re already successful, but you constantly feel behind…
Or perhaps you’re growing quickly, but so is your to-do list…
Or maybe you’ve got a different problem because, for whatever reason, you can’t seem to get more students than you had last year so every year ends up the same 😩
These 5 pillars will help you build the foundation for rapid studio growth, so that you can stress less, get more students, and scale up fast!
With increased consumer engagement rapidly expanding in the digital sphere, how do we create purposeful boundaries and opportunities for engagement in our dance studios? The line between the personal and professional can often be blurry in this sphere, and it’s caused a serious digital dilemma. If we embrace the strategic potential of the platform versus resisting change, it can result in exciting and meaningful growth for our businesses.
THE DIGITAL DILEMMA:
The ability for us to “be connected” all the time is certainly a recognized dilemma in our society. While it is amazing to have the ability to remotely check-in, it is also putting a strain on our mental health and emotional well-being. Purposeful boundaries are necessary in order for us to continue thriving in our businesses, our creativity, and our personal lives.
In the New Year, try the following:
Schedule Phone-Free Times Each Day
Schedule Email Checkpoints to Refrain from Constantly Refreshing Your Device
Make Your Time Spent Online Intentional: Try to Refrain from Mindless Scrolling.
Set Boundaries (and Enforce Them) re: Social Media Engagement. Business Questions should be handled via email or through the office.
Make Sure You Maintain and Enjoy Non-Digital Activities
Keep Dance Classes a Digital Distraction-Free Space (for students + instructors)
THE DIGITAL STRATEGY:
1-page intro to recital sheet in every student’s digital welcome packet at the start of each season
A detailed timeline of when to expect information, including specific dates/times for emails so they can easily search to reference materials
The dissemination of information by class, so families are not overwhelmed or confused by too much information at once
A digital, all you need to know recital guide for parents and students
Recital Q+A Events: In-Person and on Instagram
BUILD THE HYPE
The recital is something to celebrate, and we plan events to make the experience an inclusive conversation piece in our programming.
While we only work on choreography in classes during the months of March, April, and May, we start promoting the Recital and its surrounding events in January with our Theme + Costume Reveal.
Other ways we hype up the show include:
Conversation Components to involve the family outside of the studio. For example, if your show is based around books, create a family reading list. If your show features character concepts, consider age-appropriate worksheets for a series of monthly themes.
Shared Choreography Rehearsal Videos so families can rehearse their routine(s) at home. This increases the students’ accountability, involves the parent in the process, and generates respect for the rehearsal process, as well.
A Recital Pep Rally featuring photo booths, themed stations, merchandise sales and seminars (how to make a bun, packing your backstage bag, etc.)
Complimentary group photos that are taken at dress rehearsal and posted to social media prior to the performance days.
Studio Branded step and repeat for use on show days
“I Rocked Recital!” Buttons that are distributed to every student prior to the Recital Curtain Call at every performance.
CREATE YOUR RECITAL PLAYBOOK
In order for your clients to benefit from a smooth and easy recital experience, you have to enter the season calm and in control. The recital is a major undertaking, and with appropriate planning, you’ll be able to enjoy it as much as your students!
Set a timeline and stick to it. With our timeline, everything is finished a month prior to the show.
Train your staff on the general aesthetic of the show. Every routine and every recital should fit the overall brand of the studio.
Implement systems (e.g. hiring a stage manager to deal with the production components) and/or vendors (like TutuTix!) to make your life easier.
Delegate! Everyone should know their role and assignment and expected place/location- from paid studio staff to parent volunteers. Make sure they are trained and prepared for their assignments.
Create consistent workflows for check-in, pick-up, stage entrance, stage blocking, and stage exit.
Expect the unexpected. With live theatre, everything will not go according to plan. When the unexpected arises, creatively problem solve, stay calm, and keep your focus forward.
Looking for more great ideas to navigate the Digital Dilemma at your studio? Check out the following articles:
As you are preparing for the new season of dance, you’re probably putting together ideas for your marketing plan and looking at the BIG picture of where your studio will be over the next nine or ten months. You may be considering which programs need the most marketing when you should focus on each one, where you want to spend your advertising dollars, and who your efforts will target.
One aspect of marketing that I LOVE to create with my team is our key message (or messages) for the year. These are the go-to phrases that promote who we are and how we serve our dance families; they speak to our customer avatars and what they desire from their experience with us. Our key messages inform and influence just about everything we market! We use them around the studio, in our print materials, and on social media.
Key messages can also tie into your recital theme, celebrate an anniversary studio year, appeal to specific goals, or even serve as the lead-up to a big reveal, like for a new building or new branding. Your key messages establish the vibe of your ENTIRE year … AND they help your marketing efforts stay consistent throughout the season!
To help you brainstorm key messages for your studio, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite ideas. Take one of these and run with it, or just use them as inspiration for your own interpretations! Either way, you’ll have many options to consider and share with your team.
Here are 7 Ideas for Your Studio’s Key Messages:
Confidence that Shines
If developing character qualities in your students is an important theme for you this year, this key message can easily apply to dancers of all ages and skill levels. You could also add key messages about other qualities, like teamwork, resilience, artistry, or commitment. It could also coordinate nicely with a recital called Shine Bright or Let Your Light Shine where you honor your students’ unique strengths.
Leading with Grace
Perhaps leadership is a critical message for your studio this season, especially if you are adding or improving programs with your student assistants, performance teams, social media ambassadors, or honor society members. This key message allows you to continue leaning on the lessons of leadership throughout the season, and presents fun opportunities to show your big kids and little kids together!
Lessons for Life
As we all know, dance lessons and life lessons go hand-in-hand, so if you are trying to appeal to parents who value the opportunity for their children to learn life skills through dance, this simple key message aligns perfectly. A monthly key message about a specific lesson could also keep this idea going strong.
Shaping the Community
Many small businesses are big influences in the community, and dance studios are no different! If you consider your studio an influencer (or you want to increase your influence) this key message says that you care about giving back and celebrating your hometown. It could open up opportunities for cross-promotions too, especially with other kid-centered businesses
One Family, Many Hearts
This may be a season where you are striving to rebuild connections at your studio; perhaps your retention is lower than you’d like, or you’ve noticed that you need to encourage more unity. Taking action on a key message like this one can show that you are moving forward with new motivation, where the studio is one big family.
Research tells us that everyone’s potential goes up when a group supports one another and feels encouraged. A positive self-image results when students can see themselves being successful; they feel stronger because they are inspired. This key message emphasizes that every child’s strength is limitless.
Celebrating a Legacy
Whether you are recognizing a studio anniversary, revealing a new project, designing a new logo, or commemorating a milestone, a celebratory key message keeps the momentum going all year long and is super-fun to incorporate into your recital!
No matter which key messages you use at your studio this year, remember that you can get a LOT of mileage out of just one or two ideas if you create a plan for putting them in action. Capitalize on your team’s strengths and involve them in how to implement the messages too; their personal connection to the message is essential!
I hope YOU find a key message or two that fits perfectly at your studio this year, and I encourage you to put your key messages in the comments below, so we can ALL benefit from sharing ideas. Wishing you much success as you put your choices into action!
The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.
I don’t know about you, but marketing is at the VERY top of my priority list at this time of year! With back-to-school enrollment underway and goals to meet, achieving success at my studio—for my studio—depends greatly focusing our marketing tactics and message. After all, there is no mission to serve if we haven’t attracted the right clientele to our programs!
First, my team and I establish our strategy; that is, we figure out the overarching objective we want to meet and the way in which we want to approach it. For this year, our objective is to increase total enrollment in the studio and participation in each class. Our strategy is to use key messages about our youngest dancers’ potential and our special opportunities for all ages.
Since marketing is all about bringing the information you want people to know about your studio right to their fingertips, you want to do so in a way that is both educational AND appealing. But too many marketers focus on the “WHAT” (dance classes). You want the tactics you employ to pique someone’s curiosity and prompt them to want to know more about WHY you do what you do and how you do it.
The best ways to market are always evolving of course …. as they should! You always want marketing for your studio to feel fresh and exciting with every step, not stale. Keep reading for my 7 Most Important Marketing Tactics to Implement at Your Studio!
Here are my 7 Most Important Marketing Tactics to Implement at Your Studio:
Sell the feeling on social media
As we are all well aware, social media is a huge place to market these days! Establish a system for regular posts about how being a part of your studio makes people feel, kids and parents alike. Promote your happy students and parent testimonials even more than you promote the features of what you offer!
Micro-commitments are small, free (or low-cost) programs, like a free day of dance or a low-cost mini-camp, that allow prospective customers to try out your studio without a big commitment. Use them as a tactic to demonstrate that your studio is the place to be for kids who want to have fun and learn. Remember that most people like to “try before they buy” and micro-commitments allow them to do just that.
Video marketing is everywhere and people love it! Create short (less than two minute) videos to embed in your e-newsletter or on social media. Keep your videos informal yet professional and highlight your studio mission, fabulous people and services. A simple tour of classes in progress or a message is a great place to start.
Bring back snail mail
With so much “noise” in our inboxes these days, mail can be an attention-grabber if done right. Consider sending postcards, special mailings, or small gift boxes to prospective customers, and make sure whatever you send is well-designed and eye-catching. Just don’t forget to set a budget for postage too!
Amp up referrals
If you have a referral program in place, market a flash sale around it. For example, if your referral incentive is $25 off one month of tuition, offer to double it during a specific (short) time period. If you don’t have a referral program, what can I say? Get to it! Your existing customers are an excellent resource.
Go big for special moments
When you recognize a student or group of students, use those moments as opportunities to market the news to your community! For example, when you choose a student of the month or cast roles in your annual holiday show, go big with the announcements: put up a yard sign at the student’s home and congratulate them individually on social media.
Everyone loves a great contest because everyone loves prizes! Contests could be as simple as commenting on a social media post with a photo in a dance pose. For example, one of our affiliated studios, Arabesque Dance Center, has a contest where students post pictures of them doing an arabesque on their travels. If you have a contest that includes a reward, make sure the prize is something desirable, like a cute gift basket, a gift card to a popular store, or a tuition credit.
As you begin putting your marketing tactics to use, remind your staff too, that EVERYONE on the studio team is in marketing! Whether they are in the classroom, at the front desk, at an event, or somewhere in between, your employees are always in marketing-mode.
My hope is that these marketing tactics have sparked even MORE ideas for you to use this fall. I wish you luck as you dive into your new season!
Think about your dance studio front desk person(s). Is he/she friendly? Is he/she focused? Is he/she committed to the success of your business?
If your answer is:
(1) I don’t have a front desk person.
(2) My front desk person is not friendly.
(3) My front desk person is not focused.
(4) My front desk person is not invested in the success of my business.
Then, STOP. Houston, we have a problem.
Why You Need a Front Desk Person
Your front desk person is your gatekeeper, your pulse, and your frontline of battle. All of those roles are considered mission: critical to the success of any operation. Your front desk person is no exception.
This person represents your studio, and generally, makes the first impression a client experiences when entering your facility.
The front desk person should know the ins/out of your studio and its operation, and if a tricky question arises, he/she should know the proper communication procedures for finding the answer. He/she should be friendly, eager, enthusiastic, and happy to be a part of your organization.
The front desk person should never gossip or show preferential treatment to particular clients.
Of course, like any other staff member, the front desk representative should be trained, evaluated, and supported within the infrastructure of your business. After all, the front desk person can make or break a prospective client’s interest in your facility and/or a current client’s experience with your facility.
Choose someone that will make a positive, lasting impression!
You’ve held your open house. You’ve put out your back-to-school social media campaigns. You’ve advertised in a local parenting publication. If you’re like me, you are feeling like you are on a roll for getting new students into the studio this time of year!
The good news is, new students are coming in and you are VERY glad to see them. The bad news is, maybe you feel like your existing students need a little extra attention now, that they need to be thanked and loved on for choosing your studio.
Retaining students—not just getting them in the door—is at the heart of sustaining your business over time and demonstrating that you have happy clientele. We often think of retention mid-year, when some kids want to quit, or at the end of the season, when we want them to re-register after recital. But this crucial back-to-school time can’t be ignored. It is an excellent time—right out of the gate—to show you personally care about your dance families and appreciate their business.
So classes are in session, and you’re meeting new faces every day….how can you best use this time to show the love? What can you do to increase retention and keep those families engaged?
Keep reading for 4 Way to Boost Dance Studio Retention Early in the Season.
Meet people in the hallway – OK, I know this might seem like an obvious one, but hang in there with me. Make a point, every day during the first week of dance classes, to walk the hallways and mingle with your customers. Learn names and ask about their summer, and you’ll begin forming real relationships. It’s these high-quality relationships that have much more meaning than just a “hello” or “goodbye” …. you get to know people! You won’t do this every week, but be sure to do it during the most important weeks. But the positivity you gain from making a true effort to know your customers is priceless.
Have a “withdrawal turnaround” plan – You know these calls will start coming about the third week of classes: “She’s too tired.” “They moved her swimming lessons to Tuesday.” “She doesn’t seem to like ballet anymore.” It can seem like the beginning of the year is rife with people who get started, and then want to withdraw from lessons. Turning attrition to retention isn’t guaranteed, but it’s worth trying a few extra steps. Having a “withdrawal turnaround” plan with your staff can completely shift the process and help retain customers who might have otherwise disappeared. Be prepared to offer families a new day of the week or a different style of dance instead of withdrawing right away – a free trial of that new class couldn’t hurt! Chances are they didn’t realize what else could work for their schedule, or they didn’t know that their tiny dancer might really love a jazz class.
Calls, emails, and cards – A personal “check-in” phone call, email, or handwritten card to every enrolled student’s family can go a long way to show they are not just a number at your studio. Decide what you can do yourself, and delegate the rest to a staff member or two. The phone call could be as easy as saying, “Thank you for dancing with us this season! How is Sara enjoying her classes?” And then just listen (and take notes)! An email can say something similar, along with a special message from the teacher. And a gratitude-filled, handwritten card – well, that is worth much, much more than the price of the stamp. Choose the method that makes the most sense for your time and your studio, and run with it! Not only do you get to show that you care, these communications may open the door for you to solve problems that you didn’t even know existed – saving you AND your customers from future frustrations.
Ask for feedback – Although we may typically survey our customers at the end of each season, why not reach out at the start too? A simple “How are we doing?” can go a long way. Maybe you had no idea that parking was an issue for families during the 4-5pm hour, or maybe there were inconsistencies with the way welcome folders were distributed. Hearing this valuable feedback right from the get-go can help you make immediate improvements for some things, and plan for others – keeping your customers happy. When your dance families feel truly heard, they’ll feel more invested in staying at your studio over time.
Retention is something you ALWAYS want to strive for, and starting right away during the back-to-school months is imperative. Take these four tips and customize them to your studio, then tell us in the comments what worked well for you! You can also find me on social @MistyLown. I’d love to hear from you. Until then, I wish you a successful start to the year with your retention only going up and up and up!
Looking for more great enrollment and retention ideas? Check out the following articles:
It could be the BIGGEST promotional day of the year at your studio…the open house! You know you want your studio to look its best, and you know you want to positively engage with prospective customers in addition to current customers. This is your opportunity to love on returning clients, WOW potential customers and invite the community to see what your studio is all about.
Among studio owners I know, dance studio open houses are usually two to three hours long on an evening or Saturday, and have a “come-and-go” schedule. Some families will stay nearly the whole time; others will attend just to look around your facility, shop for shoes or obtain registration information.
After you’ve set a date and begun marketing for the event, what can you do to maximize the relatively short amount of time? How can you make this your best Open House event ever? Keep reading for 6 Keys to a Successful Open House:
Here are 6 Keys to a Successful Dance Studio Open House event at your studio:
SPARKLE up that studio space – I know that you always want to present a clean studio anyway, but for open house, go above (literally) and beyond: clear those ancient cobwebs from your 20-foot studio ceilings, put a fresh coat of paint on the hallways, deep-clean your bathrooms….and if you already planned to have your carpets professionally cleaned, or plants freshened up for fall, make sure to schedule those tasks at least two weeks prior to your open house.
Be ready to SHARE – A dance studio open house isn’t complete without dancing! Whether you offer full classes to demonstrate each style offered at your school, or 20-minute bite-sized sessions, get people moving and grooving in your classrooms. Hire one or more of your teachers to come up with a fun and easy class agenda suitable for a variety of ages, and invite some of your current students to take the lead in class.
Meet your TEACHER – Just like at school, prospective students and their parents want to meet their teacher, see their classroom, and learn more about what to expect on the first class day. Having your teachers present at open house not only allows them to introduce themselves and mingle with the community, they can also help guide tours around the studio. This is also an opportunity to give name tags to dancers for the first day of class.
A REASON to show up – When people show up at your open house, have a studio staffer immediately get their contact information and enter them into your raffle (and make that raffle prize super-fun, like a dance bag full of studio swag)! Also offer an open-house-only, big-value registration incentive, such as a free or discounted recital costume or double-referral rewards for a parent and their friend.
Hear from other PARENTS – Your open house presents a unique opportunity to have your existing dance families chat with prospective dance families. Think about it: if you are signing your child up for dance, who do you really want to hear from? Other parents! Make a point to invite a few of your most loyal dance parents to share their experiences, and thank them afterward with a small tuition credit or free pair of tights. Be sure to have veterans on hand to help field questions as they arise or consider going the extra mile by setting aside one or two 20-minute time slots during open house to moderate a “Question and Answer” session between those parents and prospective customers.
Get SNACK-Y with it! – It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it IS a nice gesture to have some kind of food offering or snack at your open house. A fun way to incorporate food into your event is to invite a food truck to attend (and pay that food truck for a minimum number of items to ensure it’s free for your guests). From snow cones to tacos, a third party food vendor can be a huge win! If you are looking to save those costs, consider a simple yet stylish “candy bar” instead: set up a table with five or six different candy options, logo-ed cups, and let the kids (and parents) scoop up what they want to munch on during the event. Just make sure the snacks aren’t near the merchandise. Chocolate and leotards do not mix. 🙂
I hope these keys help “open” the door for you to have the best open house ever! If you have other ideas to share, please include them in the comments below or find me on social @MistyLown. Wishing you a fantastic and fun event full of new registrations!
Looking for more great marketing ideas for your studio? Check out:
Now that you’re about to get started opening a dance studio, you have to begin planning your initial marketing strategies to let the public know that you now exist. How will you get the word out? How will people know that you are a credible institute of dance? Before mentioning any detailed strategies, the most important thing to realize is that the more time you have for planning and marketing your opening timeline, the more successful your efforts will prove.
SECTION 1: Opening Strategies
Here are some strategies that worked well for The Dance Exec’s Studio during its opening:
“Coming Soon” Sign
Placing a “Coming Soon…” banner over the doors at the soon-to-be studio site (which stresses importance of location, visibility, and neighboring businesses)
Set Up Tables Around Town
Set up tables at nearby locations to promote your coming location. When The Dance Exec’s Studio was opening, tables were set-up at a fun park (putt-putt, go-karts, arcade games, etc), nearby preschools, local swim clubs, nearby churches and local country clubs on a regular basis. The studio set up at any and every community festival and event possible. These events are frequently free, and you can create an extensive prospective client database by gathering emails and phone numbers with a raffle or give away (e.g. enter for a chance to win a free month of classes, just give us your email!).
Some places that may not work well for setting up a table (local schools), may be willing to put out flyers or business cards advertising your services. Our philosophy is that it never hurts to ask.
Free Demo Classes
Be prepared to give lots of free demo classes! You must be so confident in your service that everyone wants to buy-in. Visit as many places as possible and show them what you have to offer. Very few places will refuse an offer for a free demo class. If you do not ask to offer a sample class, it is unlikely they will ask you. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there.
SECTION 2: Logistical Preparation
Any time you are in the public, you must be prepared. Before beginning your marketing, follow-up information should be ready.
Prior to beginning your marketing / grand opening announcement efforts, make sure the following are fully functional and ready to go:
Class offerings/schedule information to give to people
Flyers & Information Sheets
Studio T-Shirts with Logo (not required, but encouraged)
It is incredibly important to remember that if people are contacting you, you need to be ready to respond. Be prepared to answer the phone and respond to emails in a prompt, efficient manner. Show your prospective clients that your level of customer service is exceptional from their initial interaction with you.
SECTION 3: Grand Opening Event
We also recommend planning a large Grand Opening event, which can be the centralized theme of your early marketing efforts.
At your Grand Opening event, this is your first time officially introducing yourself as a business entity to your community and prospective clients. The studio should be as close to completion as possible and should be clean and in neat order. Show people how organized you are from the very first day.
The Grand Opening event should include any of the following options:
Complimentary Sample Classes for a variety of ages, featuring a variety of your instructors
Facility Tours (we recommend having a tour script that highlights the studio and its best features so that everyone visiting the studio receives the same, standardized information)
Face Painting/ Balloon Animals/ Craft Stations / etc.
Separate Registration area, so interested clients can be efficiently and sufficiently addressed
Separate Shoe Fitting/Merchandise Purchasing area
At the end of The Dance Exec’s Studio’s Grand Opening, we had over 100 students registered. This number will vary significantly based on where you are opening and your marketing efforts. When the studio began, it began from scratch. There was no taking of half of a student base of a nearby studio, or any of the “ick factor” stories you often hear associated with the opening of a new studio.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If students choose The Dance Exec’s Studio, it is because we are building a reputation and are providing the best possible experience for each and every one of our clientele. As a Studio Owner, you have a huge responsibility—in the world of dance studios, there is not a quality control department or corporate headquarters where we can send dissatisfied clients; rather, dance studio owners are all-encompassing title holders.
Be ready for every scenario possible. One of The Dance Exec’s Studio’s greatest mentors and advisers gave us this initial advice,
“You are now a business owner first, and an artist second.”
Take that advice, and enjoy the ride that is opening a dance studio!
Once you complete your end-of-year show, you may have a few remaining souvenir merchandise items. If you are wondering what to do with them, here are some creative ways we make use of our leftover dance recital items!
Distribute A Copy to Advertisers
Save Copies to Promote Next Year’s Program
Place A Few In the Lobby for Reference
Frame the Cover for Display
Play in Your Lobby
Send to Prospective Clients for Reference
Recital-Specific T-Shirts or Clothing
Frame and Display in Your Lobby
Use As Summer Door Prizes
Replace the Show T-Shirt with a Logo T-Shirt and Include in Auction Baskets/Giveaways
Donate to children’s hospitals
Donate to preschools
Donate to elementary schools
Flowers or Flower Bouquets
Donate to a Nursing Home
Give extra flowers to your parent volunteers
Give flowers to any of the merchants you used for your recital (printers, caterers, venue management staff, etc)
There’s nothing like seeing a dancer’s joy after a successful recital! And having a great gift for them after the performance will make the night that much more special. Check out these 9 dance recital gift ideas your dancer will love!
1. Bouquet of Flowers
For many dancers, flowers after a performance are a sign not only of a job well done, but of recognition for all of the hard work they’ve put in throughout the year. Plus, a dancer in costume holding a beautiful bouquet makes recital pictures exciting and vibrant.
As far as what kind of flowers to include in your bouquet? That’s where you have the opportunity to make this gift extra special. Roses are a staple flower choice, and for good reason! But if you know your dancer likes a particular kind of flower, or you know a flower might have a special meaning, you can use this opportunity to customize the bouquet for your dancer.
After the recital? Take them out for some ice cream!! Or include gifts like candy, chocolates, and other treats the dancer can enjoy. You can even make a tradition of going out for ice cream after dance performances, so the whole family can celebrate the big night.
3. Dance-Themed Jewelry
Dance is a part of who dancers are, and so giving them a gift that reminds them of their talents and passions will be that much more meaningful. Think about getting a dancer a personalized necklace, set of earrings, or other piece of jewelry to remember their achievements, and to create a beautiful memory for this particular recital!
4. Charm Bracelet Tradition
We mention charm bracelets separately from jewelry, because a charm bracelet is the start of tradition instead of a single gift. By giving a dancer a charm bracelet, you can then buy a new charm for the dancer after big recitals, competitions, or other dance events. That way, they can look back and remember all of the amazing memories from dancing throughout their life.
5. Studio Swag
When dancers performs on stage, they’re acting as ambassadors for the studio. The teachers who have worked with them care a lot about their development as both dancers and people. So, help your dancers show off some studio pride with studio-branded items!
What you get your dancer depends on what your studio currently offers as merchandise. But, if you and a group of parents get organized ahead of time, you can work with your studio to produce a custom piece of swag (like a recital-specific shirt, or jacket, or other item) so your dancer always remembers this recital!
6. The Gift of Comfort
At the end of the day, dancing is work. Those dancers on stage have tired feet, tired muscles, and could use a little rest and relaxation after the recital is over. Consider giving dancers comfort items like:
7. Summer Dance Prep
More serious dancers know that dance never stops – after a big show, it’s time to take a break before getting back into training mode and getting better and better every day! If your dancer plans on continuing to dance over the summer, think about getting them some new dance gear that will help them on their dance journey.
This might be a new pair of sweats, warm-up gear, or a new dance bag as a reward for their previous hard work, and a sign of your continued support for their art. Plus, with a little preparation, you can even add some dance studio designs to personalize the gift!
8. Picture Frame
Recitals are events that create long-lasting memories, and what better way to capture that memory than by framing a beautiful recital picture? Dancers will appreciate a nice frame for their recital photos, and can decorate their room, locker, or future dorm with a memory of their friends and mentors.
9. Feeling Ambitious and Creative? A Dance Scrapbook
Just like a picture frame can help capture an important memory, a scrapbook can show a collection of memories, and can also help your dancer remember their dance journey over the course of a whole year. When the next dance season begins, go out of your way to start taking pictures of the dance class, competitions, dress rehearsals, and compile those pictures into an amazing scrapbook for your dancer!
VERY IMPORTANT: ask your studio for permission to be taking pictures! For example, you shouldn’t be taking pictures at recital. But, with permission, maybe you can take a picture or two at the dress rehearsal? The same goes for competitions. And always remember, no flash!!
We hope these ideas have been helpful! Leave us a comment with any other suggestions for gift ideas your dancers have loved in the past!
Of the many hats studio owners wear, one of the most important ones is that of a marketer for our business. In fact, if you think of all of the ways you have marketed your studio over the past year you will probably be surprised to find out just how much time is spent promoting your studio to the next generation of dancers. When I reflected on my studio’s marketing initiatives over the course of this school year I came up with a long list including: printed brochures, postcards, Facebook ads, free trial classes, free dance days, community performances, camps, workshops, master classes, birthday parties, field trips, print ads in the local parenting magazine and various community partnerships.
But if you are only marketing to the public you are missing one of the most powerful marketing tools of all: re-selling to your existing client. Various studies report that it costs anywhere between five to seven times more to attract a new client than to re-sell an existing client. And there is no greater opportunity to re-sell the value of being a part of your studio to your families than the upcoming annual studio dance recital.
Make the most of your annual studio dance recital by adding these 5 Easy WOWs to make a great day-of experience for both dancers and attendees:
Tell your story
The recital is a great opportunity to tell your story either in a welcome letter at the beginning of your recital program book or laced throughout the show announcements. For example, if one of your core values is being family-friendly, take time to highlight some of the ways a studio becomes like family. Ideas include having seniors share what it meant to them to grow up at the studio or including quotes from parents and students in your program book. If academic achievement is one of your core values, take time to highlight how your the discipline of dance is helping your students to achieve in the classroom.
Go full service
There are a lot of details that go into planning recital including rehearsal times, picture information, show details, costume instructions and hair/makeup directions. While it’s important to have all information on a master document, it’s even better to deliver JUST the necessary information so that parents, especially first time parents, don’t have to wade through hundreds of lines of information just to find the few details that apply to them. Whether you present this info digitally or a hand out, parents will appreciate this concierge approach.
Greet them at the door
Nothing says “We’re happy you are here!” like actually having someone at the front door of rehearsal and recital actually greeting families in person. At rehearsals we have a rotating team of teachers greeting students at the door and showing them where to go. At recital, our teachers move from the greeter position to the backstage and dressing posts and I take the lead on greeting families. Every year I hear from families, especially new ones, how nice it is that the studio owner is accessible. Recital is likely the only time of year you will see every parent in one weekend so this is your chance to get personal and thank them for being part of your program.
Double down on details
Over the nineteen years I’ve had my studio I have found that more parents arrive at our rehearsals and shows each year with less preparation. We do our best to combat this trend on the front side with great information, but still we will have parents show up to rehearsal without the proper tights and costumes that need attention. We’ve turned this trend into an opportunity to serve families and provide some WOW with our “Emergency Table.” The emergency table is a place where we can solve most of the common problems of rehearsal and recital. We have a sewing machine, a steamer, extra tights, shoes and makeup. If it’s broken or they haven’t bought it yet, we can fix it. Our Emergency Table has saved a lot of tears over the years.
Adopt the phrase: “Everything is figure-out-able”
Even with the best of planning you are going to run into issues once the curtain goes up, so have your team adopt the mentality that “everything is figure-out-able!” Did a child forget their shoes? No problem, we can borrow a pair from another student. Missing headpiece? No worries, we can come up with a solution. Did something major happen backstage? No need to stop the show if you can calmly switch the order of a couple of dances. Issues and challenges that happen backstage should never become the audience’s worry. Just remember, “everything is figure-out-able”!
So give these a try! Make the most of a marketing opportunity that you already have and create an even better recital day for your dance families.
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
YOUR DANCE SCHOOL WEBSITE = YOUR INTERNET STOREFRONT
The Internet is here to stay, so instead of avoiding cyberspace, dance studios should embrace the endless marketing opportunities available. There are numerous ways to increase exposure, strengthen your brand, and provide insight into your programming. Most online options are an incredibly reasonable expense, especially after doing a cost-benefit analysis in potential for strengthening, growing, and building your brand.
Your storefront defines your business within your community. Your website defines your business within the Internet. Your website should be taken seriously; spend the money to make it look professional, intellectual, and representative of the product you are offering your clients. When you are representing your business, you should have a cohesive graphic identity and that should flow from your print marketing to your website design. It is your responsibility to make sure everything makes sense to the consumer.
Within the dance studio world, there are a variety of websites, some effective and some ineffective, and because we are in the arts industry, studio owners tend to devalue the importance of their web presence. This is a huge mistake! Your dance school website could influence a prospective client’s decision to choose your studio versus another studio or extracurricular activity.
Here are some things to consider during your website design process:
The appearance of your website is the first thing that will catch a viewer’s eye, and it will also influence whether or not the viewer chooses to continue reading the information your site provides. Your online appearance is of vital importance.
Hire a web designer: Free, homemade, or cheap-looking sites are not acceptable for your business. If you want your clients to take you seriously, design and brand your website in a professional manner.
Keep your site updated. An outdated or neglected website is a disservice to your brand and will only negatively impact you. Make sure you have a format that is user-friendly for updates and regularly skim the site for outdated content.
Be aware of the design quality. In the dance world, we love bright, crazy colors and sparkly things. Your website may not be the best avenue to showcase that love, so when designing your site, think “less is more.” Less vibrant tones will be more visually appealing to your site visitors.
Use proper grammar and spelling. This would seemingly be stating the obvious, but there are many dance studio websites with improper grammar and spelling. Ultimately, this is a poor reflection on the studio, so when preparing your written content for the website, please proofread and check for grammatical errors (often, it takes two, three, or more people to sufficiently proofread content).
Make sure your site offers easy, logical navigation options with a sleek and clean design. If your site is cluttered, it will be frustrating for clients to navigate.
Use your own content. Do NOT copy and paste materials from other studios’ websites. Be creative, be original, and create content that exclusively represents your studio and your business. On a similar topic, you should only use photos that actually represent your business; stock photos or photos from another studio are not an accurate representation and should not be used to promote your business.
Dance School Website Content
Your website content should be informative, accurate, and thorough. If a person visits your website, you should be willing to provide all of the information necessary to enroll and be a part of your program. Being evasive with your information is not an efficient way to promote your program or your business. Providing commonly requested information will also decrease time spent informing new or potential clients about your programming (since they will have access to that information).
When building your dance school website, you should include:
Your location and contact info on every page; people should be able to easily connect with you via your site.
Links to your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog, photo sites, etc.)
Information about the people that currently work at your studio: owners, directors, and instructors.
Information about your business: mission statement, class descriptions, facility photos, testimonials, and contact links.
Class schedules presented and formatted in an easy to read and easy to find format that makes sense to non-dancers (remember, the majority of your parents will not be experienced dance professionals).
Online Registration! Make it easy for people to register for classes.
Information about your studio’s special events (intensives, workshops, open houses), performances, special offerings (birthday parties, private lessons, etc.), community service, and anything else that is important to the culture of your brand.
Your studio’s policies and calendar. (If this information is on your website, people will not have an excuse for not knowing.)
Photos and videos taken from within your studio (with parental permission and acknowledgement).
Contact form that makes it easy for people to communicate with you.
When people visit your site, it should be informative and functional in the following ways:
Visitors should gain a solid knowledge of the overall culture and brand of your studio. They should know your complete expectations for enrollment, tuition, recital participation, etc.
Visitors should be able to register students for classes.
Visitors should be informed about upcoming events, schedules, and calendar.
Last year, our studio purchased lunch boxes with the studio logo to distribute as gifts for dance students. This began a tradition of distributing a logo-oriented item prior to the Winter Break. All of our students love receiving the gift, and it doubly serves as a marketing strategy and brand reinforcement technique.
Gifts for dance students could include:
Bracelets / Wristbands
And any other items you think your dancers might like! Think of these gifts both as a “thank you” to your students for their hard work and for their commitment to your studio, and as an investment for keeping your class sizes high and hopefully attracting some new students.
When I was a child and my mom went to enroll me in dance classes, there was only ONE OPTION: sign up for a weekly class for an entire school year. In fact, enrolling in a weekly, 9-month class was the ONLY way to get involved with dance lessons for my entire childhood and it became the primary offering we used to attract potential first-time clients for the first fifteen years of business.
And then times changed…as they always do.
About five years ago we started seeing fewer parents who were willing to make their very first experience with dance a 9-month trial. Parents would say, “We’d like to try it before we buy it.” I was opposed to offering trial classes for two reasons. First, I felt that a steady stream of trial students would be disruptive to regular classes and secondly, I felt that our reputation should speak for itself. But the millennial moms didn’t want to sign up for a year’s worth of lessons and the requests for trial classes didn’t go away.
So we decided to do something even better than just offer trial classes; we built an entire staircase to getting involved in dance at our studio.
Keep reading for tips on moving towards increased full-time enrollment with 4 New Ways to Increase Dance School Registration.
Step #1 – Free Dance Day Trial Class
The free trial class is now my number one source of enrollment referrals. We recently ran a Free Dance Days promotion during which time we opened all of our low enrollment classes to the community for one week. The event, which was promoted on Facebook with a link to a simple enrollment form within our website, attracted 144 trial students to the studio in one week. At the end of the free trial class, students were given a small gift for attending and a an opportunity to register for regular weekly classes on site (with an incentive of free shoes). We converted 22% of the trial students to regular weekly students during this promotion. But what about the 100+ kids who did NOT enroll in regular classes? This is where Step #2 comes in.
Step #2 – The “Mini-Mester”
We offered students who were not interested in enrolling in regular classes, or were not able to make a commitment to an entire school year of classes, an opportunity to enroll in an 8-week “Mini-Mester.” Thirty students chose the “Mini-Mester.” This was a huge improvement for us because we normally would’ve just run the free promotion and called it a day after making the offer to enroll into regular classes. Making a smaller commitment to classes available made it possible for more trial students to become actual students.
Step #3 – The “Monthly Class/Camp”
So we now had roughly half of our trial students enrolled in our programs between regular weekly classes and the “Mini-Mester.” But what about the other half? To the remaining students, we offered an opportunity to come to an hour and a half long theme-based camp at the end of the month. These monthly class/camps have become so popular for busy parents that we offer them every month with an average of 20 kids in attendance.
Step #4 – Nurture
My feeling is that if we give someone a free trial class and they still don’t sign up for anything after an invitation to join regular classes (with an incentive), an opportunity to enroll in a shorter “Mini-Mester” and the ability to take a monthly camp/class, then they simply aren’t ready to be students at this time. Students who fall into this category are offered free tickets to one of our shows and put into our regular monthly newsletter.
The bottom line is that as time goes on there will probably be more parents who want to try before they buy or who are looking for smaller commitments. We will serve our studios and future students well by working to create more opportunities for new families to become involved. And who knows? Your next great senior company dancer just might be a three-year-old whose mom will smile and say someday, “I never knew when I signed her up for that trial class that we would be here all these years later.”
Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out:
Running a dance studio is not a walk in the park. It takes time, it takes money, it takes passion, and it takes love. Here at TutuTix, our mission is to help dance studio owners grow their businesses and to help families enjoy their children’s love of dance.
We want to be here to support YOU, the studio owners working every day to promote your art. We’re here to help you have one less (giant) thing to worry about at the end of the year. But, we’re also here to be partners in your success. And that success happens all year long, not just during recital season!
To help make your success even better, the TutuTix team has compiled a guide filled with tips and strategies for the studio owner looking to grow their business. Best of all, we’re offering it to you for FREE. Just like our ticketing service, this e-book is available at no cost to studio owners.
You can download “Dance Studio Ideas and More: The Official TutuTix E-Book” below: