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!
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.
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:
Many educational institutions use bulletin boards to visually convey information. Dance studio bulletin boards can be used to convey relevant studio information, offer seasonal tips and fun, and increase the community vibe in the classroom.
In creating your boards, think about the following:
Ideas and Tips That May Be Fun and Exciting for Students
Ballet Vocabulary (to reinforce your teaching in the classroom)
101 MARKETING IDEAS & STRATEGIES FOR DANCE STUDIOS
2. Ink Pens
3. Lunch Boxes
4. Beach Towels
7. Personalized Folders
8. Dance Bags
9. Car Magnets
10. Water Bottles
11. Sweat Pants
12. Jazz Pants
13. Athletic Shorts
14. Demo Days at Preschools
15. Country Club Programs
16. In-Studio Rewards Program
17. Community Performances
18. Community Choreography
19. Brochures & Posters in the Community
20. Demo Classes to Mothers’ Groups
21. Yard Signs
22. Children’s Books with Studio Labels Donated to Your Local Pediatrics Facility & Doctors’ Offices
23. Cards on Cars
24. Cards on Mailboxes
25. Setting Up Tables at Craft Fairs/Festivals
26. Setting Up Tables at Community Events (5Ks, etc.)
27. Parade Participation
28. Lollipop Tree
29. Email Messaging Infrastructure
30. In-Studio Flyers/Information to Current Clients
31. Birthday Cards/Notes to Dancers
32. Cross-Promotional Opportunities (Theatres, Shopping Center Events)
33. Donate to Auctions/ Raffles
34. Place a Box Outside of Your Studio with Information
35. Promote Complimentary Trial Classes
36. Use a Cell Phone to Be More Accessible Outside of the Studio
37. Respond to Emails Within 24 Hours
38. Promptly Return Calls
39. Have a Website
40. Have a ‘Contact Us’ Form on Your Website
41. Utilize An Easy to Spell URL on Your Website
42. Place Pricing on Website
43. Place Easy to Read Schedules on Your Website
44. Regularly Check and Review Your Website for Current Information
45. Use Facebook Pages for Your Studio
46. Maintain a Twitter Account
47. Consider Instagram & Pinterest for Your Studio
48. Determine What Form of Social Media Engages Your Audience (Photos, Shared Posts, etc.)
49. Have A Personal LinkedIn Page
50. Have a Professional LinkedIn Page
51. Claim Your Google Place
52. Use Google AdWords
53. Maintain Awareness of Online Reviews
54. Respond to Negative Online Reviews
55. Send Press Releases to News Outlets for Accomplishments
56. Open Houses & Festivals
57. Competitive Performances
58. Step & Repeat
59. Donation Drives
60. Join a Dance Educators Organization
61. Join a Community Service/Business Organization
62. Costume Selection
63. Cleanliness and Appearance of Your Studio
64. Your In-Studio Organization and Strategies
65. Welcome Packets
66. Class Placements and Recommendations
67. Recital DVD
68. Recital Pictures
69. Recital Performance
70. Buttons & Bands
71. Registration Gifts
72. Sibling Discount
73. Brand & Logo Consistency
74. Connect with Local Arts Organizations
75. Flash Mobs
76. Wedding Lessons
77. Birthday Parties
78. Friendly, Helpful, Professional Office Staff
79. Creative Class Offerings
80. Guest Artists
81. Seminars (Nutrition, Businesses, etc.)
82. Partnership with Dance Retailers
83. Staff Logo Wear
84. Staff & Student Dress Code
85. Advance Information and Organization
86. Attend Reputable Quality Events
87. Set Exceptional Standards for Time Management
88. Never Cancel An Event or Class Except Under Extenuating Circumstances
89. Set Social Media Expectations for Your Staff
90. Set Social Media Expectations for Your Team
91. Set Social Media Expectations re: Photography & Videography
92. Be A Role Model
93. Constantly Commit Yourself to Evolving and Improving
94. Re-freshen Your Facility When It Needs It
95. Involve Your Studio In Schools
96. Involve Your Studio with Local Print Media
97. Involve Your Studio with Your Alumni
98. Set a Budget & Maximize Your Cost Per Impression 99. ASK How People Heard About You 100. Keep In Mind that Word of Mouth is HUGE!
101. EVERYTHING IS MARKETING!
When thinking about building up your brand reputation and planning your studio’s marketing, focus on YOUR message and avoid comparative language that insinuates your facility is “better than” others.
In the dance education industry, comparative marketing does not speak as positively as true messaging. Via text, image, and graphics, communicate WHY your studio is a great choice. A great logo, strong social media presence, online testimonials: these are all marketing “musts” for you to express the strength of your brand.
You do not need to say why taking dance classes at “Studio A” is better than taking dance classes at “Studio B”.
When you define and commit to YOUR OWN vision and culture, success will follow. Stop comparing yourself to others and channel the energy into creating your own, unique version of AMAZING!
Want to get started using some creative marketing? Check out these articles on dance studio marketing to take your brand reputation to the next level:
Several popular dance shows and movies and the development of a more health-conscious population have driven growth for the dance industry. In fact, according to the IBISWorld Dance Studios Market Research Report, the dance industry has had an annual growth of 2.9 percent between 2010 and 2015, totaling 8,569 businesses with 50,266 people employed. And there is more good news: The industry is predicted to continue its growth over the next five years as the economy improves and consumers have larger budgets for recreational activities. How are you going to recruit these new dancers to your studio, you ask? Check out these dance studio marketing strategies to kickstart your fall recruitment.
1. Appeal to the Younger Generation
The past decade has been marked by an increased awareness of health and fitness in the United States. Campaigns and initiatives have set out to fight childhood obesity and create an overall healthier youth. Statistics show that Generation Z, people under age 20, are certainly more health and fitness-conscious than previous generations.
According to the Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Survey, 41 percent of Generation Z are cognizant of GMOs, ingredients and organic products and are willing to pay more for healthier foods. This compares to 32 percent of millennials and 21 percent of baby boomers. Such consumer trends toward improved health are also supported by IBISWorld’s report on Gym, Health and Fitness Clubs, which showed an annual growth of 2.5 percent between 2011 and 2016.
The youth population is concerned about fitness and health, and dance studio owners should appeal to those interests. Recruit new youth by advertising the great health benefits of dance and offering high-energy, fitness-oriented classes.
2. Have a Strong Social Media Presence
Social media is where we get our news, where we shop, where we socialize. Search Engine Journal reported that in 2014, 72 percent of all internet users were active on social media, and that number has increased since. This provides the perfect platform for businesses to engage in marketing, including dance studios.
Owners can post videos of performances, advertise promotions and create a key network. According to Nielsen, 83 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than advertisements, meaning that when an existing dancer or parent engages with a studio’s social media page, others will then be drawn to engage. Their networks will become the studio’s, creating a broader and more probable community from which to recruit.
3. Offer Classes For Senior Adults
On the topic of generations, the baby boomers are rapidly retiring. The Pew Research Center estimated that 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day until 2030. That creates an abundance of people who will be retiring and looking for new hobbies to fill their days. Recruit these potential new dancers by offering a variety of senior classes. And the great part is, you can offer the classes during the morning or afternoon so that they will not conflict with your existing schedule.
4. Maintain an Easy, Up-to-Date Website
As a service-based business, a dance studio must provide a pleasant experience for its consumers. In today’s world, that means having an easy to use website that allows new recruits to sign up quickly and effortlessly. Entrepreneur suggested having clear website copy, a strong call to action for users to sign up and proof of your studio’s presence on social platforms as the best three ways for businesses to convert website visits to purchases, or in this case, to new sign-ups.
5. Educate Your Community
As a dance studio owner, you may not only be competing with other studios for new dancers. Instead, you may be up against with other sports, other commitments and families’ lack of time. Educate your community and explain the importance of dance! Besides a medium of self-expression and art education, dancing builds physical health and personal confidence.
Dancing can and should replace some of the other extracurricular activities that students have during the school year, so be sure to show off the benefits of dancing at your studio. But, it takes careful planning and a variety of dance studio marketing strategies to reach that community. Making some great performance videos or other multimedia can go a long way in showing (not telling) potential customers about the amazing experiences they might have at your studio.
Welcome to The Done Club! Recital season is finally over, and it’s time to take a big sigh of relief. It’s also time to take a look at the next few months and plan out ideas for bringing more dancers to your studio. Use these 5 strategies to create a great dance studio marketing plan for the summer, and fill up your fall classes.
In today’s world of social media and powerful mobile phones, having great content to share from your events can be very valuable. And, if you didn’t make a dedicated effort to gather some photos or video this season, you can bet some parents documented their child’s recital experience. See what you can find! Sharing great recital images or video content on your social media channels is a sure-fire way to engage your parents and showcase your dancers’ talent. You can even use those photos as decorations for your studio!
But, be sure to have parents’ permission in writing before you put those photos anywhere. Some studios have a photo permission release form included at the beginning of each season. If you don’t have one of those, you can still email a parent directly and ask for permission. Just wait to get a positive response with clear approval language before you move forward on sharing a photo (or video) anywhere.
Write A Post-Recital Follow-Up Email
Along with sharing news and media from your recital online, consider reaching out to your parents and prospective customers with a post-recital email blast. That email can thank parents for their support during recital season (and should hopefully have a few great pictures included!). It can also invite prospective parents to reach out for more information about your studio. Most importantly, include an invitation for current customers to renew their registration. You should mention any referral or discount programs you might be planning on using this year. If you have online registration available, have a big section with a link to register and a call-to-action message:
“Don’t wait until the fall to sign up for your child’s dance classes!”
“Students are already signing up for fall lessons, be sure to register early before spots are filled!”
Sending out a letter to parents after a recital can show your appreciation for their business, and your dedication to their child. Especially if you had a photographer for your recital, try and find a picture or pictures of each student, consider including them with your letter! Parents will be thrilled to have professional shots of their child at their recital, and chances are they’ll reach out about getting more pictures to share with their friends and family.
Along with the positive relationships you can foster through a personalized mail piece, you can also include important registration information for parents to renew their child’s lessons for the fall. If you use paper registration, it is possible to include packets and forms in a mail-piece for parents to fill out and return. However, it’s less than appealing (as a parent) to receive a super-stuffed envelope with a variety of forms, and those forms could very well end up sitting on the counter for weeks before being returned. A much more effective way of engaging parents and encouraging quick registration is by including a small sheet with a website URL for online registration.
Our ideal mail-piece inventory would look something like this:
Thank you letter, with your signature (or a teacher’s signature)
1-2 pictures of the specific student
Registration reminder slip with a URL and social media information
Flier for any summer events the studio will be hosting
All of these documents fold neatly into a regular business-size envelope, keeping your mailing costs to a minimum (one stamp per envelope).
Host Summer Camps/Workshops
A good dance studio marketing plan isn’t only about sending out information directly to customers. It’s about creating community awareness for your studio and your brand. Hosting summer camps or dance workshops is a great way to keep your business on customers’ minds, while also creating some incoming cash flow during the summer months. These smaller events can also serve as great preview opportunities for prospective students! Having them sit in for a session can make all the difference in their decision about signing up for lessons in the fall.
Volunteer at Community Events
Unlike dance camps or workshops, community events put you and your dancers in the public eye. They can also help create a buzz about your studio. Having your dancers volunteer to perform at a local fair or arts event provides more performance experience for them. Plus, it showcases your studio’s potential to parents who are thinking about signing their child up for lessons. Similarly, volunteering your time to teach at a fine arts camp can create networking opportunities for you with other professionals in the area. Those events can even put you in touch with art-minded families who might consider your studio for classes.
There’s a great deal of work that goes into running a successful dance studio. From balancing budgets to managing staff, studio owners do so much to help create an environment where new generations of dancers can grow and learn. The fact of the matter is, however, that all that work can’t amount to much if there are no students to take classes or patrons to attend events. While there’s much to be said about the value of word of mouth from satisfied customers, dance studio owners can’t rely on other people to do their advertising for them. It takes a proactive approach to create an appealing marketing campaign, and it takes creative dance school advertising ideas to make those marketing plans inspire new clients to walk through the door.
1. Know Your Target Audience
While it’s great to imagine a world where every single person wants to buy your product and to give business to your studio, you know that simply isn’t the case. Some people will be more likely to use your services than others, so it’s important to target them with your ad campaigns.
The first step in being able to write ads for your demographic is to determine who that group of people is. Forbes reported that business owners must start by identifying who will be most likely to use your product. For dance studios, that may mean considering the ages you serve, the styles of dance you offer and the level of competition that students can expect. If you run an all-inclusive studio that allows for varying levels of novice dancers, or you primarily focus on younger students, you don’t want to write an ad that’s too focused on elite dancers, as you’ll alienate students who want to learn and take your introductory programs. Conversely, if your biggest sell is that you offer a rigorous training program for top-level dancers to expand their skill sets, you want to make sure you use the language that will appeal to their goals instead.
Regardless of the kind of services you provide, you need to remember that you have two separate groups you need to appeal to – the students of course, but also their parents. Parents and students will have some overlapping goals, like ensuring safety, fun and education, but they’ll take different factors into account. Parents will be more likely to focus on costs than their children are, for example. While it’s all well and good to create dance school advertising that appeals to the students’ desire to perform and enjoy their time, it’s ultimately up to the parents to decide if they’ll sign up for the lessons or not.
Consider ads that can do both, like an ad with flashy images that can attract new students but uses language that will draw in parents. Think of terms like “flexible class schedules” or “personalized payment plans” or appealing ways to describe any other specialty you might offer that will ease any parent’s worries about the time or costs that can be associated with an extra curricular activity. You can also choose to create separate ad campaigns that run at the same time: one that targets students and one for parents.
2. Choose a Platform to Spread Your Message
Once you’ve nailed down who it is you’re writing to, you need to determine the best way to let you message reach them. Fortunately for studio owners today, the internet and social media have dramatically increased the channels that business owners can use to communicate with clients.
One of the biggest mistakes that any business owner makes when trying to advertise a company is not tailoring content to the right platform. Carefully consider where your dance school advertising piece is going to appear before you start writing. Facebook ads, for example, have a different set of space and character limits than a Google Display Ad. Don’t waste your time writing out an ad only to discover afterwards that it doesn’t fit the restrictions of the site you’re using. Do a little research on what the requirements are for what platform you want to post on and then go from there.
Social media ads can be helpful because they let you target certain groups. On Facebook, for example, you can target by age, location and other interests. You could target a specific dance school advertising piece so that it’s only seen by people in your area that have listed “dance” or “ballet” as an interest, or whose favorite movies include “Center Stage.” Social media can also let you advertise for free in some cases. If you have a strong social media presence, simply making new posts can help you get the word out. Just be aware that this strategy will rely on other people helping to share your content so new people will see it, which can be risky.
While digital advertising is effective, don’t completely overlook traditional methods like newspapers and radio commercials. A lot of this will be geographic – do a little research, even if it’s just a quick search engine query, to find out which channels are the most popular in your area.
3. Answer Their Questions Before They Ask
People often don’t like advertisements, so it’s important to write dance school advertising content that can quickly grab their attention and tell them what they need to know before they get bored and move on. Start by answering the “five w’s an an h:”
What are you offering?
Who is it for?
When does it take place?
Where will it be?
Why should people be interested?
How do they get involved?
You don’t have to spell the questions and answers out, but make sure your wording is clear, concise and provides that information. Entrepreneur recommended that you read your ad copy out loud to yourself. It should only take a few seconds to read all of it, and you shouldn’t be stumbling over any complicated phrases. If you want to say more, instruct people to contact you directly, or to visit your website. There you can have pages that list the important cursory details on top for the people who are skimming for information, but you’ll also have room for more stories and anecdotes for people who want to read more.