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:
Want to continue the conversation? Join us on Instagram Live at @stagedoordanceproductions on Thursday, January 30th at 1pm (EST) for digital tips and techniques that have worked for us!
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:
Looking for more ideas on creating key messages? Check out the following articles:
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!
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.
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:
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!
Thanks to the new TutuTix POP app, dance studios can now accept credit card payments AT their recitals. POP makes it easier for dance families to make purchases at events, and can help generate extra income for studios. If you haven’t been able to accept credit cards in the past, or you’d like a simpler, low-cost way to accept credit cards and collect sales proceeds, take a look at these 5 ways you can now offer more to your dance families.
Dance studios who use TutuTix offer tickets to dance recitals online, letting family and friends of dancers purchase tickets ahead of time, without having to wait in line on ticket day. But, sometimes those family members and friends aren’t able to get tickets early, and instead need to purchase them on the evening of the event.
Now they don’t need to show up with cash in order to see their favorite dancers perform. The TutuTix POP app will simply scan their credit card, and you can give them a beautiful TutuTix ticket with their seat number for the evening.
Many studios offer packages prior to the recital that include flowers for dancers following the performance. But, depending on the studio, flowers might instead be offered for sale at the venue at the performance itself.
Just like tickets, dance studios can now receive credit card payments for flowers, making it that much easier for dancers to be celebrated after the finale.
Branded Dance Studio Merchandise
When we say merchandise we’re thinking:
And whatever other merchandise your studio has to show off some dancing spirit! A dance recital is the perfect time to set up a merchandise table, since family and friends will be excited about the event. Attendees are likely to see merchandise on the day of the event and buy items as gifts for their dancer.
Plus, you want your dancers wearing some studio swag around over the summer! Branded clothing items and other merchandise are a great way to get some word-of-mouth marketing for your studio going around in the local community.
Souvenirs (like DVDs)
Besides merchandise, souvenirs act more like memories of the event, and might include items like DVDs, photo packages, or souvenir playbills.
With TutuTix, you can offer packages for items like these before the recital itself that include bundled items, including a ticket to the event.
However, you can also take orders for DVDs or sell printed programs at the event, and can now accept credit cards for these higher-ticket items! Souvenirs can be a special way to remember a big performance, and by accepting credit cards you offer one more way for family to go home and receive a DVD of the evening’s dances.
Depending on the venue in which your studio performs, you may or may not be able to sell concessions during the performance. For those venues that do allow concessions, being able to accept credit cards can be a great solution if there isn’t an ATM nearby.
Some of the most common buyers of concessions are dance parents who may have arrived a little earlier in the evening to drop off their dancer on time, but haven’t had a chance to get dinner! If your venue allows concessions, they can be a big lifesaver for your dance parents.
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:
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.
Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out: