Blogging is all the rage nowadays. Moms have blogs. Huge corporations have blogs. Dancers have blogs. All the blogging that’s going on may lead you to think, “Should I start a dance studio blog?”
There are definitely benefits of creating and maintaining a blog for your studio, but there are certain notable downsides as well. Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about expanding your dance studio’s online presence to the blog-o-sphere.
Benefits of Blogging
Ask any marketing guru or SEO wizard and they’ll tell you that a good blog can only help your small business. It’s true that blogging can give you a leg up against the competition while boosting your marketing efforts – when done correctly, that is.
“A well-maintained blog can only help your studio.”
Improve Your Online Presence
SEO is often a challenge for small businesses, especially when you’re in the middle of a saturated market. In many communities, there are a number of dance studios competing against one another. This competition doesn’t just involve snatching up students though – you’re also vying for the top spots on Google when a prospective dancer types in “dance classes near me.”
Here’s where a blog can come in handy. HubSpot explained that thanks to Google’s new algorithms, websites that have fresh content often rank higher in searches. The more frequently you’re putting new content up on your website, the more your site will get crawled and indexed. This is a good way to gain a competitive edge over non-blogging studios in your area.
Solidify Your Brand Image
A well-maintained dance studio blog can also help to improve your brand. Dance Advantage noted that studios with blogs often come across as more personal and welcoming to prospective students. Blogging is a way to show website viewers your studio’s environment and atmosphere, and this often comes across as more appealing than a cut-and-dry informative site.
Connect with Students and Potential Customers
Finally, blogging can serve as a great means of communicating with your current students and parents, as well as with prospective dancers. If you often find yourself sending out a barrage of emails, notices, social media posts and more, you can condense your studio’s communications by posting all this information on your blog. Not only will this drive traffic to your website, but it will also reduce the number of calls your studio gets from parents wondering about recital tickets, class schedules, audition attire and more.
Common Blogging Pitfalls
As mentioned above, your studio’s blog will only be as useful and effective as you make it. If you’re going to commit to blogging, be sure to avoid these common pitfalls.
Many small business owners claim that they simply don’t have the time to post regularly on a blog, and this can be a problem. There’s no denying that studio owners are notoriously busy, but if you can’t commit to posting at least once or twice a week on your blog, it may not be worth your while. Consistency is key when it comes to blogging, and you need to post new content for your readers. Otherwise, the endeavor may not pay off.
“Don’t limit your topics to studio-related posts.”
Running Out of Topics
Another common woe when you’re trying to get your dance studio blog off the ground is running out of topics. After all, there’s probably only so much studio news that you can write about. Don’t let this deter you though! You can come up with fresh content ideas by browsing the Internet, talking with your students or simply reflecting on your own interests. Write about anything and everything dance-related, and you’ll find that your audience quickly grows.
Lack of Promotion
As with any new endeavor, you’re going to need to promote your dance studio blog to get it off the ground. Chances are that your students won’t find your new blog on their own, so promote it within the studio, on social media and through newsletters. With a little bit of strategic marketing, you’ll soon get the traction you’re looking for.
Take these points into account when you’re launching your dance studio’s blog. Be sure to check back next week for Part 2 of our Blogging Basics series! We’ll be talking about general tips for an effective and readable blog.
Digital marketing is a preferred method of advertising for many companies nowadays, but good old-fashioned snail mail still has its purposes. Studies have shown that consumers still enjoy going out to their mailboxes and sorting through letters, so why not take advantage of the nostalgia associated with direct mail when it comes to dance studio advertising?
Mix up your marketing strategy this year and incorporate a postcard or letter campaign. Here are some tips that will help you make the most of your marketing dollars while working with direct mail.
Pick a Specific Event
The first thing you’ll want to do is pick a specific event or promotion to promote via direct mail. It’s much better to send out postcards specific to your open house or tuition discount than just general promotional materials. A few good events to tailor your campaign around might include:
Summer workshops or classes
A seasonal recital
Your annual open house
A seasonal registration period
New classes schedules or genres.
Having a specific and time-sensitive topic to promote will help you to create a sense of urgency and encourage recipients to act immediately.
Design Your Card
Once you’ve decided on the purpose of your postcard or other direct mail piece, you’ll need to design it. You can do this yourself if you’re a whiz with Photoshop, or there’s likely a design professional in your community who can create a sleek, chic postcard for you.
When designing your postcard, you’ll want to include some sort of eye-catching graphic to grab the reader’s attention. Dance Studio Life recommended using a photo from your studio, whether it’s an adorable group of dancers or a wow-worthy action shot. Include a short and sweet statement about your event or promotion on the front of the card, and save the majority of the text for the back.
As you fill in the back of your postcard, don’t forget to include your contact information and website, as well as all the details about your event or promotion. Use actionable language to encourage readers to act soon, otherwise they’ll likely toss the postcard in a pile of mail and forget about it.
Compile a Mailing List
The next step is to figure out who you want to receive the postcard. There are two main groups of people you can market to: existing or prospective customers. Keep in mind that the average response rates for these two groups are 3.4 percent and 1.1 percent respectively, according to the Chief Marketing Officer Council. This factor is essential when figuring out return on investment – if you spend $100 on just 50 post cards, chances are that you won’t make your money back.
If you decide to target prospective customers, you can either buy a targeted mailing list from an online company or use the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail option.
Measure Your Success
After you’ve stamped all the postcards and shipped them off, you’ll want to devise a way to track the results of your campaign. If you’re promoting an event, you can ask people how they heard about it when they register. If you’re advertising a sale, have new customers bring in their postcards so you can see how many people you actually reached.
This type of data is essential when it comes to future marketing efforts. If you get a great response from your postcard, you may want to use the same strategy again in a few months. But if the results were less-than-stellar, you’ll have to revisit the drawing board to figure out how to better target your customers.
Nothing sells your dance studio to prospective students quite like a perfectly captured photograph. Maybe it’s all your dancers smiling during their final recital number or a great shot of a tumbler in action. Whatever your favorite pictures may be, they’re likely an essential part of your marketing strategy. But sometimes pictures need a little help before they can wow your audiences. Capturing action shots is tricky to begin with and even more difficult when you’re in a dark auditorium. That’s why it’s important for studio owners to learn how to artfully manipulate digital photographs with editing software. Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide with dance photography tips that will help you capture the best pictures and transform them into invaluable works of art.
How to Get the Best Pictures
Just like with choreography or any other work of art, the better your materials are, the more impressive the final product will be. You’re not going to create a breath-taking performance with lackluster tricks, and you probably won’t end up with an amazing photograph if you start out with a sub-par snapshot.
With that in mind, use this tips to get the best pictures possible:
Use a digital single-lens reflex camera, also called a DSLR, if possible. These cameras are easy to use and capture much clearer pictures than point-and-shoot cameras.
You’ll want to put your camera on the highest ISO setting, which will make the camera more sensitive to light and therefore better able to capture quick snapshots of moving subjects.
Try to take photos in quick bursts so you have a number of action shots to choose from. A fast shutter speed will improve the clarity of these pictures.
Don’t get stuck in one spot. Move around to capture different angles so you have pictures from every side.
Try to take pictures both close up and far away. To accomplish this, you can either use the zoom function or simply move closer to the stage.
Choosing an Editing Program
Before you can start digitally altering your photographs, you’ll need to find editing software. There are many great programs available, and there are options to fit just about every budget. Software like Apple’s Photos is free for Mac users, as are online programs like Pixlr and Photobucket. If you’re willing to spend some money for a more high-tech option, look into Adobe Photoshop Elements or Pixelmator, both of which have low one-time fees.
Whatever program you choose, you’ll need a few key feature editing capabilities. Look for software that offers the following tools:
Shadow and highlight adjustment
White balance adjustment
Sharpen and blurring
“Photo editing is often learned through trial and error.”
How to Edit a Photograph Step-by-Step
Now that you have a host of pictures and editing software, it’s time to start learning the ropes. For many amateurs, editing pictures is a trial-and-error style process. You have to figure out the flow that works for you! Here are a few guidelines to get you started.
1. Upload and Store Your Images
You’ll need to transfer your pictures from the camera onto the computer, whether it’s through a USB cord or the Cloud. Once they’re uploaded to the computer, create a file for the original images and label the folder clearly so you can quickly find them later on.
2. Pick Out Superior Snapshots
If you have dozens of images to chose from, you can make your job a little easier by doing an initial run-through of all the pictures. Find five or six photos that are clear and focused, and separate them into a new folder. These will be the images that you edit.
3. Crop and Straighten
Start by using the cropping tool to cut off any empty space in the picture. It’s often better to have a close-up view of your subjects than to have them get lost in a big background. You’ll also want to use a straightening tool to level the horizons of your photo. If the picture is on a slant, tilt it so the dancers are standing tall.
4. Adjust the Levels
Now comes the tricky part. There are many different levels that you can adjust in a photograph, including exposure, brightness, white balance, sharpness, shadows, highlights and more. Some pictures may not need adjustment in these departments, but you can fool around with the aspects to see how you can improve the photo.
In general, you may want to tinker with the white balance so that any white objects appear clearly and aren’t tinted by the stage or studio lights. You can also sharpen the image a bit if it’s unclear or blurry. This is also a good time to remove red eye from any of your subjects and smooth out blemishes on any close-up shots.
5. Save or Scrap Your Edits
The great thing about digital photo editing is that it’s easy to revert back to the original picture if your edits don’t come out right. Keep working at your editing skills, and soon you’ll discover that with a few quick tweaks, your photos look as if they were shot by a professional.
Chances are that, like most dance studios around the country, your cash flow drops during the summer. You may host dance camps and a few summer classes, but you won’t be as busy as you are during the school year. Just because your studio has hit its seasonal lull doesn’t mean you can’t continue to market your business and services. In fact, summer is the perfect time to hone in on some of your marketing tactics and see how you can revamp them for the seasons to come. Here are five dance studio marketing ideas for specific areas that you may want to focus on while you have a little extra time this summer.
1. Work on SEO
Search engine optimization best practices are always changing and evolving. The strategies that may have boosted your website in search last year may actually be hurting it this year. That’s why you should take time this summer to read up on SEO and how you can improve your studio’s site. Here are some of our SEO tips for beginners, but you may also want to look into mobile optimization, keyword strategies and best landing page structures.
2. Set Up a Referral Program
If you don’t have a student referral program, set one up this summer! The Dallas Chronicle explained that referrals are one of the most cost-efficient ways to bring in new students without shelling out a ton of money for advertisements. Think about what you could offer students who refer friends to your studio – discounted tuition? Free merchandise? Free recital tickets? Whatever you choose, just make sure that it’s valuable enough to be appealing to your dancers, but not so generous that you’ll wind up regretting it.
3. Create Testimonial Videos
You probably have some great videos stored on your phone or computer from seasons past, so why not put them to good use? Gather your videos together in one place and work to compile short films that you can display on your website. You may also want to see if a few of your long-time dancers are willing to sit down and talk about their experiences at your studio. A compelling testimonial video will likely perform well on your website and social media pages.
4. Work on Your Brand
Small businesses are always growing and evolving, and it’s essential that you keep your brand consistent across all forms of communication. If you haven’t had the time to upload your new logo onto your email newsletter or are still using outdated class prices on your website, take time this summer to update all these little inconsistencies. It may not seem like such a big deal, but potential customers are more apt to trust your business if they receive consistent messages about who you are and what you do.
5. Keep Up Your Newsletter
Your summertime marketing should ideally grab the attention of prospective students, but you also want to keep your current dancers engaged. That’s why it’s crucial to keep up your studio newsletter during the summer. Send out updates about what’s going on in the classroom during the warmer months, changes that you’ll be making for coming seasons, what other dancers are doing at summer intensives or even just tips on how dancers can stay in shape over break.
Don’t have a newsletter? Create one soon! There’s no excuse not to take advantage of this easy marketing strategy, as free platforms like MailChimp provide you with all the tools you need to put together a professional, polished email blast.
Zero time? Yes. That’s what I call the period after recital. In my world, it looks something like this:
From eating out every day at rehearsals to ZERO food in the fridge at home the next week.
From 800 students on the day of the last recital to ZERO students the next day.
From performance adrenaline to ZERO energy the morning after recital.
From hundreds of people telling you how great you are at the show to seemingly making ZERO people happy after fall placements come out.
It may feel like zero time to those of us in the trenches of dance studio ownership, but to quote YouTube sensation ‘Sweet Brown,’ “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
It’s dance registration time, people! So kick off the recital dust and “zero time” blues and get ready for 5 Tips for Dance Registration that Rocks:
Amp the excitement with a new program. Last year I felt like our registration buzz was a little low, so we added Acro, Leaps & Turns and Modern to the roster. Every one of those classes was full with a waiting list in 9 MINUTES after online registration opened. While that was exciting, the real win for us was that the people who rushed to register for the new and exciting classes also registered for the standards like ballet, tap and jazz at the same time.
Tie accepting a performance company placement to registration. At our studio we hold our auditions for performing groups the week after recital. Audition results go out at the same time as registration info. To accept a placement, a student must register for fall (and summer) classes. This is a great way to firm up involvement for fall, especially with teen students who may lose motivation for returning classes as the summer wears on.
Race to Registration. Last year we launched a “Race to Registration” contest that was very successful. Here’s how the contest worked: At the end of each week of the contest we drew a name from those who had enrolled over the course of the week. The winner could choose from a $100 studio gift card, a studio jacket or a studio birthday party. To claim the prize, they would need to come with a parent to the studio and have their picture taken, which was then promoted on Facebook and Instagram, and ultimately shared by the winning family to their social circles. We ran this promotion for the four weeks leading up to fall classes and captured more than 50 additional students in the process.
Make FB actually work for you. Gone are the days of counting on FB posts alone to drive action from your fan base. FB has changed its algorithm so that less than 10% of people who like your page will ever see a post from you. The new power of FB belongs to paid promotions to targeted audiences, boosted posts and getting people to share posts, which puts your message into the news feed of people who already know and love you. If FB advertising isn’t already in your budget, make room for it this year. Even a small budget of $5/day for a week on a specific call to action can make a big difference.
Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Do you know what the least expensive way to get enrollment is? DON’T LOSE YOUR CURRENT STUDENTS! This should be obvious, but based on the number of calls I get from people wanting to know how to attract new students, it isn’t. My first piece of advice is to do whatever you can to get the current students to return. Do you have a system to measure who returns and who doesn’t? What do you do to reach out to previous students? No, they won’t all come back. Some move on, some age out and some just weren’t your cup of tea. Many, however, probably had a great experience and just have not gotten around to re-registering. If too much time passes after recital time they might figure it’s just too late. Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Even if they don’t re-register, they will appreciate the care you showed in reaching out to them and likely refer future families to your studio.
The importance of a strong studio website can’t be overstated in today’s digital world. Potential dance students will likely check out your studio’s online presence before committing to classes, so you should do everything possible to make sure your site can effectively convert viewers. One important aspect of an effective studio website that often gets overlooked is the call-to-action.
This marketing tool, often referred to as a CTA, is a small but crucial part of your dance school’s webpages. If you’re uncertain about how to use CTAs, this guide will explain how to implement them onto your studio website.
Define Your Online Goals
Before you can create CTAs for your website, you’ll need to figure out your goals for the site. Your overarching objective is likely to generate new student leads, but you probably have supplementary goals as well.
Start by outlining how you would like prospective students to interact with the site. Once they reach your home page, it’s generally good if they view your “About” page and maybe then your class schedule. Then what do you want them to do? Fill out a contact form? Call the office? Send you an email? Figure out what your preferred method of communication is with leads and make a note of this.
Your website can also help to keep current students and parents engaged with your school. Think about what you’d like these visitors to do when they visit your site. Have you been trying to get more people to sign up for your newsletter? Or maybe you want to get more parents to connect with you on social media? These are both objectives that you can further with CTAs, so jot them down!
Determine Your Main Call-To-Action
Once you’ve outlined your goals, it’s time to put together your CTAs. HubSpot explained that effective CTAs are buttons or links that capture people’s attention and get them to take action. It’s best to keep the copy for your CTA under five words. That may seem like a tiny amount of text, but it’s easier than you might think. For example, if you determined that you want prospective students to call your studio so you can connect with them quickly, your CTA might be a button that says “Call today for more information!” It’s short, sweet and to the point.
Create Supplementary Calls-To-Action
You’ll also want to figure out a few effective CTAs for your supplementary website goals. If you’re aiming to connect with people on social media, your button might read “Like XYZ Studio on Facebook” or “Get daily updates on Twitter.” Similarly, you can encourage people to sign up for your newsletter with a CTA that reads “Register to receive email updates.” As you can see, these phrases are succinct, actionable and set clear goals for the viewer.
Add the Assets to Your Studio Website
Once you’ve figured out how your CTAs will read, it’s time to place them on your website. If you work with a graphic designer or developer, work together to design CTA buttons that will work with the aesthetic of your site. However, there are also many websites that offer free CTA templates, like these ones from HubSpot, so you can still have professional-looking features on your site if you curate it yourself.
When it comes to the actual placement of the buttons, Econsultancy explained that case studies have shown CTAs are more effective when they come after your product description. So you may want to place your main CTA at the bottom of your “About” page or toward the bottom of each class description.
As for the CTAs targeted at current students and parents, try to place them in areas of your site that these visitors are more likely to use. If you have a parent login page, this would be a great spot for a CTA promoting your newsletter or social media sites. Another strategic placement option would be alongside studio updates or on a ticket-purchasing page.
Many studio owners have experienced the following situation: Your school is doing great. Enrollment is through the roof, and just when you think it’s smooth sailing for the next few seasons, you see the sign. A new studio is opening up right down the street, and even worse, they’re offering the same classes! All of a sudden your prospective students have another viable option to choose from, so how do you ensure that your school continues to thrive? In the world of running a dance studio, studios need to stay vigilant if they want to succeed in a sometimes crowded field. Here are four steps that will help you keep your school’s doors open, regardless of how saturated your market becomes.
1. Stay Focused on Your Studio
Your first instinct when you find out there’s a competitor opening nearby is to shift your attention to learning everything you can about the new business. After all, it’s upsetting when someone thinks they can one-up your studio! However, you shouldn’t obsess about this new establishment. Instead you should start obsessing about your own.
“There are always going to be people who think they can do it better than you, and maybe some people actually will do it better than you,” Kathy Blake, owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios, explained on DanceStudioOwner.com. “But what this is all about is you have to be your own voice; you have to find your own culture.”
Blake explained that studio owners need to stay focused if they want to get ahead of the competition. If you’ve been slacking on marketing or facility upkeep, use this as the kick in the pants you need. Crunch some numbers – what’s the return on investment for your different marketing strategies? What’s your customer acquisition cost? Focus on the nitty gritty aspects of running a dance studio, and you’ll be equipped to compete in a saturated market.
2. Find Your Sweet Spot
If your new neighbor is offering the same classes as you, it’s essential to figure out what makes your studio unique. Maybe, like Blake mentioned, it’s your school’s culture and atmosphere. Or perhaps you have more experienced teachers. Sit down and think hard about what your niche is and why it makes your school a great place for dancers to learn.
Coming up short? If you’re floundering to find your differentiating factor, you may want to consider revisiting your business plan. Your previous success may have been based on your lack of competition, but now that there’s a new sheriff in town, you need to reevaluate your business model and figure out what you can do to make your studio competitive.
3. Differentiate Your Marketing
Once you’ve figured out exactly what it is that makes your studio unique, take that aspect and run with it. You’ll need to thoroughly differentiate your marketing from your competitors to ensure that potential students know exactly why your school is the place to dance. Revamp your website and social media sites. Update your fliers with a new emphasis on your sweet spot. Design new ads and do research into effective marketing tactics you may be neglecting. Your goal should be to reach students in new ways and convince them that your school is the best option in town.
4. Take Care of Your Existing Students
In the midst of all this marketing mayhem, it’s easy to overlook the needs of your current clientele. However, Marketing Donut explained that if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you’d do well to cater to your patrons like never before. Improve your customer service, orchestrate an amazing recital or poll your dancers to see what changes they’d like made. Paying ample attention to your existing students will ensure that they re-enroll for next season and that you’re not losing business to your competitors.
As a small business owner, you should be doing all that you can to establish your studio’s brand. All the materials you create, whether they’re internal documents, marketing advertisements or informational brochures, should present a cohesive image of your studio. An important part of branding that can sometimes be overlooked is a dance studio mission statement.
Importance of Mission Statements
Do a little research into other educational institutions – schools, colleges or even gyms – in your area and you’ll likely find that they have mission statements that outline their purpose and tie together everything they stand for. Your studio could probably benefit from a similar maxim.
The Houston Small Business Chronicle explained that a mission statement is important not only to a business owner but also to the staff and customers. The mantra explains the primary purpose of the business and outlines the values the company strives to uphold. It can guide decision makers in important choices and help to draw new customers to the company.
How to Create a Mission Statement for a Dance Studio
Your mission statement doesn’t have to be long or complex. In fact, it should ideally be just one or two sentences. To start crafting your studio’s guiding statement, think of what sets your school apart from others. Do you place a heavy emphasis on teaching your students about healthy living outside the studio? Are a lot of your students training to become professional dancers? Or maybe you compete in the most prestigious competitions around the country? Try to work these defining aspects of your studio into your mission statement.
When you know what information you want to include, it’s time to draft the mantra. Dance Studio Life provided this example of a basic dance studio mission statement: “Our mission is to provide professional dance instruction and instill an appreciation for the art of dance in a safe, high-quality studio environment.”
A school that focuses on dance competitions might want to write something like: “At XYZ Studio, we work to provide our dancers with all the necessary resources to be their personal best and encourage students to test their skills by participating in highly selective competitions around the country.”
Once you’ve drafted the statement, put it away for a day or two. Then, reread it and make any changes that jump out to you. You may also want to ask your teachers or a few trusted parents for their thoughts. When you arrive at a final polished mantra, go ahead and include it on important documents, from marketing materials to class registration forms.
When it comes to marketing and communicating with your clientele, few mediums are as easy and inexpensive as email. Most people have round-the-clock access to email via their smartphones, so it’s a great way to keep in touch with your MVPs – most valuable parents! Here are a few suggestions on how to make the most of a digital dance studio newsletter and send out content that your customers are actually going to read.
Have a Clear Purpose
If you’re going to send out a studio newsletter to your parents and students, you should have a defined goal for the email. Otherwise, you may end up with a rather jumbled, unfocused newsletter that’s ultimately uninteresting to your recipients. HubSpot recommended that all e-newsletters have a common thread that ties the content together. So when you’re coming up on recital season, you might send an email that has performance-related tips and tricks, along with your recital schedule and how to purchase tickets. During your registration period, a influential newsletter might contain an article on the benefits of dance, a list of new class offerings and details about your early bird specials. When your newsletter has a clear purpose, it will be much more engaging to readers and serve as a valuable marketing tool.
Craft an Awesome Subject
When you see a book with a boring, generic title, do you feel compelled to read it? Probably not. The same holds true for emails with boring subject lines. The subject is the first thing a reader sees, so it sets the tone for the whole newsletter. If you send an email with the subject “Studio Updates,” your recipients may very well put off opening it. Inc. magazine recommended keeping your subject between five and seven words and changing it up with every subsequent email. For a newsletter during registration season, a compelling subject might be something like, “Early bird discounts on new classes are going fast!”
Populate with Compelling Content
Once you’ve established a purpose for your newsletter and crafted a pithy and engaging subject line, it’s time to focus on the bread and butter of the email. Each and every newsletter needs to have compelling content if you want your readers to continually open the emails. It doesn’t have to be award-winning journalism, but you should certainly put some thought and effort into your content. On Suite.io, former studio owner Terry Finch suggested using the following prompts to get started on newsletter content:
Reviews of previous performances or competitions
Interviews with industry professionals
Tips from teachers or choreographers
Question-and-answer sessions with students
Dance industry news
Exciting studio announcements
Original content relating to the newsletter theme.
HubSpot noted that a good balance of content is 90 percent educational and 10 percent promotional, so be sure to add a call to action at the end, but keep it short and sweet.
Don’t Forget Aesthetics
With all the newsletter programs available online, there’s really no need to pay for a platform. However, be sure to use a template that will make your emails look professional. It’s important that your newsletter is easy to read, organized and overall aesthetically pleasing. An email that is jumbled and not intuitive to read will lose the interest of recipients and possibly result in people unsubscribing. When it doubt, keep it simple – don’t go overboard with fonts and colors. You should also choose a template that is optimized for mobile viewing so busy parents and students can scroll through the email on their phones.
If you follow these easy steps as a guide, you’ll quickly learn to put together great newsletters that will engage your customers and serve as supplementary marketing material for your studio.
The unfortunate but honest truth is that girls make up the majority of students at dance studios across the country. Dance is too often viewed as a feminine pastime, and as a result, boys who may be interested in taking classes are sometimes hesitant to ask. So what should you do if you want to bring boys into the studio? Here are a few steps you can take to encourage dance for boys and make your school a welcoming place for males and females alike.
1. Consider Your Facilities
The first thing you should do if you’re trying to attract more boys to your studio is take a good look around the premises. Are the walls pink? Is the waiting room decorated with pictures of female ballerinas? Are your changing rooms for girls only? These design choices may be in line with your current clientele, but they will likely work against you when it comes to selling dance for boys in your studio. Dance Advantage explained that simple, vibrant decor in neutral colors is often a good choice when catering to both genders. You should also be sure to feature a variety of dancers and genres in your artwork.
2. Rethink Marketing Efforts
In the same way that your studio might be female-centric, your marketing efforts might give off feminine vibes as well. Revisit your website and consider whether it’s clear that you welcome and host dance for boys. You may want to consider adding a note that you offer classes for males on your advertisements and promotions as well. Don’t just assume that boys know they’re welcome – make it crystal clear in your marketing efforts. It may also help to rethink where you’re advertising. Consider putting up fliers in community centers that boys frequent or reaching out to male youth groups in your town.
3. Find a Male Representative
A strong male role model can go a long way toward increasing your male enrollment numbers. Dance Teacher magazine explained that a talented and dedicated instructor is often the reason that studios become a mecca for male dancers.
“You need to find someone who is committed, community-centered and not self-centered,” Erik Saradpon, director of hip-hop at Temecula Dance Company in California, told Dance Teacher magazine. “You want someone reliable and dependable who can see the program in terms of years and isn’t impatient.”
If you have a few male students already, it might be worthwhile to have them speak to potential students about their experiences at your studio. Boys likely want to know that they’re joining a facility that focuses on athleticism, and they may be more convinced if they hear about classes from a peer.
4. Be Prepared for Their Needs
When you finally get a few males to come in for a class, be sure your instructors are prepared to meet their needs. Boys may respond better to different teaching methods than their female counterparts, so it’s best to delegate the task to a teacher who’s worked with males before. Dance Magazine explained that guys often get bored during the same classes that females thrive in, so teachers should try to mix up activities to really engage the students.
“One time we brought a mini trampoline into the studio to work on entrechats,” Peter Boal, director of Pacific Northwest Ballet and the PNB School, explained to Dance Magazine. “The boys were so excited, it was as if had we had turned on the TV.”
For your first few male classes, be sure to have an arsenal of activities ready so you can find what resonates with the students. If you wow them during the first few sessions, you’ll likely retain more male students and be able to grow your enrollment.
You probably have some big goals for your studio in 2015, whether it’s to increase enrollment, diversify your class offerings or stage a bigger and better recital. While you work toward these objectives, it’s also important to take note of a few big dance studio trends that are at work within the industry. Dance studios need to keep up with the latest trends if they want to remain competitive, so think about how you can incorporate these changes into your business.
1. Digital Here, There and Everywhere
If you’re still not quite computer savvy, now is the time to catch up. Unfortunately for the computer illiterate, the dance industry is quickly embracing all the wonders the Internet has to offer. Dancers and their parents like to keep up on studio news through emails, text messages and social media sites. It’s also a good idea to reassess your studio website and see if it needs to be updated or otherwise improved. Consumers frequently use digital devices to access websites, so be sure your site is optimized for mobile viewing. All these little steps will help to ensure students new and old can quickly and efficiently get the information they need.
2. Increased Emphasis on Culture
Another aspect of your studio that might need a facelift is your mission statement. If you’re located in a competitive area, it’s essential that you have clear goals and policies that set your school apart. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that students want to feel as though they’re part of the culture of your studio. Play up the atmosphere, morals and opportunities that your business offers in your advertising this year. It may very well help you achieve your other goals too!
3. Cultural Dance Trends
Sometimes it can be beneficial to switch up your class offerings in an unexpected way. If you want to give your students a unique learning opportunity but aren’t sure what direction to go in, you may want to consider offering some cultural dance classes. For several years, the Zumba craze has been introducing dancers to steps from around the world, and the Upstart Business Journal noted that Bollywood-inspired dance classes will likely be a hit this year. If you have the resources to offer this type of cultural dance, it can certainly bring in new students and help your current pupils expand their repertoires.
4. Biketards Take Center Stage
Tired of selling the same old sparkly leotards? If so, then you’re in luck. There’s a new dance costume movement that’s gaining steam, and it features the biketard. Dance Hub explained that these costumes offer a little more coverage than traditional leos while still allowing seamless movement. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and you can choose skirted options as well. Biketards are especially popular for lyrical performances, so look into these costumes when you’re planning your 2015 recital.
5. Positive Reviews are Powerful
Finally, be sure to keep an eye on your studio’s ratings on sites like Yelp and Facebook. Forbes magazine noted that 75 percent of consumers look at online reviews before purchasing a product or service. If your ratings are a little lower than your competitors, it could hurt your business, so take steps to ethically improve your online reviews. This can be as simple as asking a few of your long-time parents to jot down their thoughts online. Even small steps can go a long way toward improving your studio’s online presence and capturing the attention of potential students.
In the digital world, every dance studio needs a website, and every site needs an “About Us” section. This page is often home to information about the studio and classes, but it’s also essential to give viewers a little bit of insight into the teachers, directors and owner. If you’ve never written a dance teacher bio before, it can be an intimidating and confusing process. Here are a few tips to help studio owners and instructors create accurate and succinct bios that they’re proud to display.
1. Keep It Short and Sweet
If you’ve been working in the industry for many years, chances are that you could fill up numerous pages with your experience. However, when it comes to writing a dance teacher bio, it’s better to touch on only the most important aspects of your background and keep the text as short as possible. If you’re writing a bio for your website, DanceStudioOwner.com recommended that you lead with the most important information, like your education and biggest accomplishments. A good rule of thumb is that readers shouldn’t have to scroll down the page to read your bio. Try to keep it all “above the fold,” so to speak.
2. Show Your Personality
Your bio doesn’t have to be dry and informational. In fact, many people would argue that it should show your personality as much as it details your experience. Consider who your audience is and adjust your tone accordingly. If your studio caters to young children, you might want to keep your bio light and fun. A school for pre-professionals, on the other hand, may benefit from a more serious tone that emphasizes your commitment to professionalism.
3. Make it Easy to Read
You can write the most informative bio in the world, but if it’s not easy to read, it won’t get the attention it deserves. When drafting, keep in mind that website visitors have short attention spans and want to get information as quickly as possible. Long paragraphs of text seems daunting to visitors, so consider breaking your bio up into sections. After your short and sweet summary with key facts, Dance Kelly Style recommended you include any memberships, accomplishments, honors or titles you may have. These notes can be laid out in bullet format to make them easy to skim through.
Dance classes for most studios in North America tend to follow the school year schedule, beginning sometime in late August to early September and ending with a run of recitals or spring performances in May or June.
By the time the calendar flips to October the rush of registration has calmed down and the daily rhythm of studio life is setting in. But, don’t let the calmer waters of October lull you into taking your foot off the gas in terms of promotion and enrollment! October is a GREAT time to promote your studio to new and former students.
Think about it: Families are getting into a routine so adding a new activity may not seem as overwhelming as it might have in September. Soccer and other fall sports are coming to a close and exciting announcements about spring recital and costumes are starting to roll out.
Last year 10% of our enrollment came in between October and January!
Read on for 5 ways to get last minute dance students in the door.
Renew relationships. Take advantage of different reporting features on your dance studio management software to find out which students from last year have not re-enrolled for this year’s classes. Reach out to former students with a compelling and personalized offer. It doesn’t cost anything, but time to send an email inviting students to get back on the dance floor. Go a step beyond and send a letter directly to the student. As Dale Carnegie said, a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Be personal with your offer.
Host a free Frozen themed camp. Every other Saturday since the studio opened we have hosted a free Frozen Fun Camp for an hour for students age 4-7. We teach a short routine, make a craft, review the routine and then do a mini show for the parents. At the end of the camp, all children leave with a gift bag including a studio pencil, stickers and a gift certificate for free pair of shows if they register within one week. We have had over 165 children participate in this special camp over the last two months, most of them new.
Take a field trip. If you can’t get the students to come to you, go to where the students are. Currently we send teachers out to two different day cares, the local Children’s Museum, our regional performing arts center and a church each week. This allows us to provide services to busy parents during the day and as well as to reach to the edges of our market where parents might not be willing fight traffic at 5pm to get to the heart of town for a 30-minute dance class.
Put on a show. We perform heavily in the community in the early fall. It’s still warm enough to do outdoor performances in our area, so we take advantage of the beautiful fall weather by performing at area expos, fall festivals, trick or treating events, breast cancer awareness and Down Syndrome walks as well as sporting events. Whenever possible we include our studio information in participant welcome packets, help to sponsor the event or have a booth.
Track results and don’t give up. While there is no magic bullet when it comes to getting students in the door, the key is to continually put effort into getting the message across that even though school has started, you are still open for registration. One initiative may bring 2 students. Another may bring 8 students. But wouldn’t you rather have 10 more students than no more students? Absolutely! That is 10 more little lives that you get to positively impact☺.
Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out these great articles:
Social media sites are great free marketing tools for dance studio owners. The most commonly used mediums are Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram in hot on their tails in terms of popularity. The picture-centric site can expose your company’s images to millions of dance students, parents and professionals around the world. If you’ve just created a dance studio Instagram account, use these best practices to reach a wide audience and improve your dance studio marketing.
Choosing and Altering Photos
The rules for Instagram content are very similar to those of other social media sites: Use high-quality photos, keep all posts relevant and tailor content to your audience. The need for quality images can’t be emphasized enough. Blurry, unfocused pictures come across as unprofessional and are ultimately uninteresting to your followers. Use the flash, anti-shock and framing features on your phone to take the best pictures possible. Crisp, clear photos will get the most views. Just look at the “Top Images” page on the app if you want proof.
When choosing which pictures to post and how to edit them, consider your target audience. You’ll need to decide whether you want to engage dance students, parents, industry professionals or a combination of the three. If you’re targeting students, they might respond better to dance and stretching tips. On the other hand, professionals might be interested in your marketing tactics. These same considerations should be in effect when you’re editing. Students will respond better to fun digital stickers or filters, while other studio owners might prefer plain images that are to the point.
Making the Most of Captions
A fabulous image and flawless editing aren’t enough on Instagram. Your photo captions are equally important! Top Ten Social Media explained that keywords and hashtags are how people will find your images. To make the most of your text, keep it to a few sentences with four or five hashtags. Do a little research to see what dance topics are trending, and add your input to the electronic conversation. Once you’ve been using the social media site for a few months, you’ll get a feel for what topics garner a lot of interest and which go unnoticed. This valuable insight can help you tailor your future content and engage your followers through your dance studio Instagram account.
When you’re first starting out, you’ll want to spend some time looking for inspiration. Check out the profiles of other dance studios, browse Pinterest for image ideas and research tips on photo editing. The more prep work you do, the quicker you’ll see results. Consider using these five pictures as a jumping off point for your dance studio Instagram account:
An action shot: Whether it’s from class or a performance, a great picture of a dancer in action will catch people’s attention. You can go the cutesy route with a photo of a young dancer having the time of her life or the more serious path of a talented performer executing a move perfectly.
Backstage at a recital: An image from backstage at a performance will be popular with parents and students. You can showcase costumes, makeup application or simply the excitement in your students’ eyes.
A video on stretching: Make the most of those 15 seconds and show viewers a quick an effective stretch that you use in class.
An inspirational quote: If you’re low on images, don’t be afraid to post a quote from Pinterest or We Heart It. Bonus points if you can find a quote from a popular dancer or choreographer.
A popular hashtag: There are lots of photo themes that pertain to different weekdays, like #TBT (Throwback Thursdays), and #instaballet. If you have a ballet class, participate in #TutuTuesday with a cute shot of your little dancers.
Small Biz Trends also suggested posting collages, photos of new staff members and contests on Instagram. Use a variety of content to keep your profile fresh and interesting for viewers. You can also share your uploaded photos on Facebook and Twitter. The app makes it easy to connect your different social media accounts.
Interacting with Followers
Once you have a few photos under your belt, start interacting with your dance studio Instagram followers and other people in the industry. To start out, find 10 to 20 other studios, dance professionals or photographers to follow. Be an active Instagram participant by “liking” and commenting on other people’s pictures. The more you put yourself out there, the more people will be attracted to your account. You should also try your best to respond to each comment you receive – be sure to tag the person’s username so they know you’ve replied. Interacting with your fans will help to build relationships, engage your followers and hopefully translate into some new students!
As a studio owner, you probably relish your free time in the summer. However, you’ll want to be ready for back to dance season before the air cools and kids head back to school. Make sure you incorporate these six steps into your pre-season checklist, because before you know it your dancers will be back!
The offseason is the best time to attend to the peeling paint and dusty corners in your studio. The Dance Buzz recommended refinishing your floors, cleaning out messy rooms and upgrading your waiting room while you have an empty studio. You can also use this time to spruce up your landscaping, clean windows and mirrors, scrub down changing rooms and plan any construction that may need to be done. It’s also a great opportunity to make space for new trophies you’ve earned. Don’t put these tasks off until the season starts, or you’ll be setting yourself up for a headache.
2. Revise paperwork
You’ll want to review and rework your paperwork before classes start up again. This includes applications, schedules, billing forms, liability waivers and general contracts. Some forms may just require a few simple date changes, but it’s important to double-check all your paperwork for policies or contact info that may have changed. If you alter any legal documents, have them double-checked by an expert. You probably don’t keep up with local legislation, but a lawyer will know if any new laws affect your practice.
3. Meet with staff
The Dance Exec explained that you should make a point to meet with all your instructors before each new season. You can choose to meet with them individually or as a group. Either way, it will give them a chance to discuss any problems or concerns they might have and brainstorm solutions together. You should also go over any new policies, talk about your goals for the year and reiterate how much you appreciate their hard work. Keeping your staff included in the business will ensure that they are dedicated to their work and aligned with your goals.
4. Reorganize and redecorate
If your filing cabinets are a mess and the curtains are faded, take the time to reorganize your office and spruce up the studio. Evaluate what aspects of your file storage system are working and what could be improved. It’s a lot easier to establish a new system in the offseason than trying to implement one between classes. You should also evaluate whether your studio is aesthetically appealing. A bright and happy dance space will make a good first impression on potential students, and summer is the best time to repaint the walls and design a new sign.
5. Strategize your marketing
If you’re looking to expand your class offerings or raise your prices this season, plan ahead with your marketing efforts. Dance Informa recommended having your graphics and advertisements designed in advance. Make a calendar of which publications you’ll be sending ads to and when each one is due. Clear a special spot for it on your cork board so you won’t be scrambling to meet deadlines.
6. Book performance space
Finally, use your free time to book performance space for next season’s recitals. This way you can include the dates and times of each performance on schedules for parents. It’s just one more hassle that you can get out of the way early. Plus when you book a theater far in advance, you’ll get the best dates and times.