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.
Many studio owners choose to list their businesses in an online dance studio directory in hopes of gaining more students. It’s a relatively easy marketing tactic, but like anything else, there are pros and cons to these directories. If you have some extra time and advertising dollars, here are some considerations to take into account before listing your studio on a dance website.
The most obvious benefit of listing yourself in a dance studio directory is the exposure you can gain. When new students are looking for dance classes, they’ll probably start with an online search. If they come across dance studio listings, you’ll want your business to be in the mix. Put simply, you won’t get new students if they don’t know you’re there!
Con: Paid Membership
One of the downsides of being in an online dance studio directory is that the best sites require a paid membership. Most directories charge a moderate yearly fee for a basic listing and have options for premium memberships. For example, DanceClassFinder.com, one of the highest directories in search engines, charges $60 per year for a standard membership or $120 for a premium account. If you have a few extra dollars in your marketing budget, this could be a good investment. However, when your dollars a little stretched, you can always search around for free listings. These might not get as much traffic as bigger sites, but like people always say, you get what you pay for.
Pro: SEO Boost
Another important reason to list your studio in a dance directory, whether it’s paid or not, is that you’ll get a boost in search engine optimization. When your business has online “citations,” you’ll show up higher in search engine results, and online listings that include your studio name, address and contact information count as a citation. If your studio is a little low in the rankings, it might be worth your time to submit your details to a few free directories to boost your SEO.
Con: Hit or Miss
There are lots of different online directories out there, so you might find that the one you choose doesn’t get the attention you were hoping. Many sites boast that thousands of students visit their listings each day, but keep in mind that those visitors are located all over the country. Directories can be hit or miss, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you’re marketing in your local community, as well as online. It might be worthwhile to also list your studio in the directories of local businesses, such as a chamber of commerce, community center or regional dance publication. These types of companies often get a lot of queries from parents and are a great way to get referrals.
Many small businesses have found that traditional advertising mediums like newspapers and flyers are becoming less effective in the digital age. If you’ve noticed that your dance studio advertising isn’t garnering the attention you’d like, you might benefit from a little bit of social media marketing. Facebook has a number of useful tools to help businesses create and optimize advertisements. Use these tips to make the most of your paid dance studio ads on the site.
Prepare Your Text and Images
Just like with other advertisement, you’ll want to put some time and effort into picking photos and writing text for your Facebook dance studio ads. Social Media Examiner explained that every ad should contain an offer or promotion, a call to action, relevant contact information and, if it fits, what sets you apart from the competition. Try to keep your text as concise as possible and use an objective tone so you don’t sound spammy.
As for photos, you’ll want to use images that are 600-by-315 pixels for optimum visibility. Crop or resize your favorite eye-catching pictures to get the attention of Facebook users. Don’t be afraid to use the test option to try out a variety of images and find which ones are the most engaging. Keep in mind that your ad photos can only be 20 percent text, or Facebook won’t approve them to run.
Resist the urge to set a large budget for your first few ads. The Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce recommended allocating just $10 per day to start. You may not see huge results, but you’ll figure out how the system works and what you can expect from each ad. Run a few small campaigns to start out and eventually you can give more funding to your most successful advertisements.
Find What Works
Don’t get discouraged if you fumble around with your ads at first. There are lots of different options that you can use – sidebar ads, newsfeed posts, target markets – and you won’t understand them all from day one. What’s important is that you take advantage of the analytics available and learn from each campaign. One of the best features that Facebook offers small businesses is the ability to target local users with your ads. Simply select your town, state or nearby communities under the “audience” option, and your ad will be shown to people in those locations. Try different combinations to figure out which areas garner the most engagement. You’ll slowly figure out what works best in terms of content, format and funding, and before you know it, you’ll see increased interest in your studio.
If you’re looking to expand your social media following, use these dance studio marketing tips to learn how to use hashtags for effective posts. Hashtags, designated by the pound sign, are extremely popular on Twitter and Instagram, so much so that Facebook has started using them too!
Social Media Examiner explained that hashtags are used to categorize social media posts with similar content. They’ll help you connect with other people that are interested in what you’re posting about and thereby expand the reach of your marketing campaign.
Use these dance studio marketing tips to educate yourself about the best practices of hashtags and make the most of your dance studio’s social media accounts.
Hashtags for Different Purposes
Hashtags are used primarily to start and cultivate conversations over social media. There two main ways that your studio can use hashtags: to join a conversation or to start a new conversation.
Joining an established hashtag conversation is sure to connect you with lots of other users who have similar interests. For example, dance shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” or “Dance Moms” likely have hashtags that viewers can use to discuss the show while it’s airing. If you want to weigh in with your opinion, craft a tweet or Instagram post using #SYTYCD or #DanceMoms. These are likely very popular hashtags, so you have the opportunity to get noticed by a lot of new people. The downside is that your tweet or picture might get lost in the flood of similar posts.
Your other option is to create a new hashtag to get people engaged in a conversation. This is a good route if you’re hosting an event, attending a competition or offering important advice. The key is to choose a phrase that’s easy to remember and for people to find. One fun option is to post up-to-the-minute updates during your studio’s recital. Come up with a unique hashtag, like #XYZStudioRecital2014, and include it on your Twitter and Instagram posts. Encourage the students, parents and teachers to use the hashtag on their own social media posts. This will help you make new connections in the community, receive valuable feedback and share interesting content with other users.
Interacting with Your Target Audience
Once you create a post using a hashtag, the word or phrase will automatically become a link. When you click through, you’ll be able to see all the other posts containing the same hashtag. Use this to your advantage! Interact with four or five other people who are talking about the same subject. Retweet an interesting post on Twitter or leave a comment on someone’s Instagram picture. When you engage with other users, you’re dramatically increasing your chances of getting new followers and more profile views.
Of this collection of dance studio marketing tips, this step is especially important if you’ve created a unique hashtag. When you thank other users for weighing in on the conversation, you’re making them feel as though their message is being heard. In the future, those same people will be more likely to engage with your social media accounts.
There are a number of hashtags that have become Internet sensations. DanceFit Marketing explained that these tags can be a great starting point for your social media accounts. For example, every Thursday, people around the world tweet and post to Instagram using the hashtag #TBT. This stands for “Throwback Thursday” and is used on nostalgic posts. You could easily use this hashtag on a picture of your studio’s grand opening or first official class. There are also popular tags related specifically to dance, like #TutuTuesday, when you can post your best shots of the adorable ballerinas at your studio.
Have you ever wondered how to market a dance studio using promotional products? Dance Studio Boutique noted that most people will keep a promotional product for around seven months and 62 percent of recipients are more likely to do business with the company. There are lots of high-quality items that are relatively inexpensive and easy to customize. If you have a little money left in your marketing budget, you can’t go wrong with customized promotional items.
Offer Registration Gifts
One way to put promotional products to good use to is create gift bags for new students. When parents and children register at your open house or enrollment period, offer them a goodie bag as a welcome present. You can include custom T-shirts, water bottles and key chains, or get more creative and hand out headphones and back massagers. Your new students and parents will love the free gifts and likely talk about your studio with their friends.
Build Brand Awareness
Giving parents and dancers items that are branded with your company’s name and logo is a great way to build awareness within the community. When students wear your studio’s T-shirts out in public or carry a custom gym bag in school, they’re putting your company name in front of lots of potential students. You’ll probably find that the investment is well worth the number of leads it creates. Dance Studio Owner also recommended donating personalized pencils to a local school at the beginning of the academic year or offering free promotional items at a nearby costume shop. The more people that see your name, the more inquiries you’ll have!
Motivate Your Students
Fun branded items are also a great way to motivate your students before a big performance or competition. The prospect of a reward will encourage your dancers to do their best. You can also sell merchandise to parents and fans at performances. Some studios also offer bigger promotional items, like jackets or duffel bags, to students who stay at the studio for a number of years or volunteer to assist with a novice class. These are all effective ways to get students excited about their time at your studio and increase brand awareness in the community. A small investment can often go a long way if you choose useful promotional products.
If your website is only showing up on page two or three of search engines, it may need an SEO boost. What’s SEO, you ask? It stands for “search engine optimization,” and in a nutshell, it’s the factors that help Google, Bing and other popular search sites rank their findings. SEO can be complicated, but there are a number of simple steps to take to push dance studio websites up the search engine ranks.
Focus on Local Keywords
The easiest way to improve your website’s SEO is to include keywords. They should be based on what your company has to offer and what makes you unique. Many times small businesses use general terms, like “dance studio” or “ballet classes.” While these keywords are a good start, they’re not specific enough to be helpful. In this pool, you’re competing with all the dance studios in the world! Hone down your keywords to those that pertain to your target market. Web Developer suggested starting with local SEO keywords. If you’re located in Dallas, your keywords might be “Dallas ballet studio,” “Dallas pointe classes” or “Dallas youth ballet.” You’ll want to incorporate these phrases throughout your website. Try to place keywords in your page titles, text, URLs and meta descriptions. If you’re unsure where any of these areas are, do a quick Google search or confer with a tech-savvy friend.
Increase Your Citations
Another simple way to climb the search engine ranks is to get more citations for your website. Citations are any other website where your business is mentioned. Whether it’s in an online phone directory or on a community blog, each “citation” of your business helps your SEO. Forbes magazine explained that citations are most effective when your company name is linked and accompanied by your phone number or address. The more quality citations you have, the higher your website will rank in searches. Joining your local chamber of commerce, sponsoring a community event, getting featured on a blog or even being listed in a plaza directory will all help increase your citations and SEO.
Provide Quality Content
The text on your website should be neat, clear and specific. Search Engine Watch noted that Google ranks well-written, on-topic content higher than sloppy or spammy text. You should aim to have at least 600 words per page. If some of your web pages are too short, consider combining or rewriting them. Everything should relate to your studio – no tangents! If you have a company blog associated with your website, follow the same guidelines while writing posts.
When a potential client puts your studio name into a search engine, the first results will probably be your website, social media profiles and your Yelp page. Right there in the search engine listings, customers can see your star rating – from one to five – and a few key words that reviewers have posted. Yelp is definitely one of the more popular rating sites, and a lot of consumers take reviews very seriously! If you’re hovering in the one- to two-star range and your competitor has four or five, it could seriously hurt your business. Use this guide to familiarize yourself with the basics of this website and learn how to improve Yelp ratings for your dance studio without compromising your ethics.
Setting Up Yelp
If you don’t have a Yelp account, you should definitely consider signing up. It’s free to create a business profile and shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. The only part that’s different from other social sites is that you’re required to verify your email and phone number. Once you enter your telephone number, you must be available to answer a phone call from Yelp. They’ll give you a code to enter on the website, and then your profile will be authenticated.
Once you’ve set up an account, take some time to fill out all the sections of your profile. According to Entrepreneur magazine, Yelp and other search engines rank pages higher if they’re thoroughly filled out. Include a profile picture, address, contact information, website link and hours of operation, as well as a detailed description and supplementary pictures.
How to Improve Your Yelp Rating
If your account is set up and your profile is complete, the next task is to get some reviews posted. The simplest way to do this is to ask your customers to take a minute and rate your business. Post the link to your Yelp account on your Facebook and Twitter pages so people can click right to it. Mention it to parents and students during class time as well. You can ask your instructors and vendors to write reviews too, as they can vouch for your studio’s environment and customer service. There’s no need to hound people, as your dedicated customers will be happy to do this small favor and you really only need four or five great reviews to put your studio on the map.
Another important way to improve your Yelp ratings is to check your spam filters. Like many other website, Yelp sorts out comments that seem automated or inauthentic. Fox Business explained that you should go through the reviews marked as spam, which are located at the bottom of your business page, and see if any are legitimate. The best way to get these ratings to go live is to contact flagged reviewers and ask them to add to or reword their comments.
Sticking to Yelp Ethics
The methods above are Yelp-approved promotional tactics. However, there are some other ways to improve your ratings that fall into an ethical gray area and that you should probably stay away from. Yelp is pretty firm about its policy that you can’t pay people to write reviews. You can offer incentives, like coupons, but you can’t fork over cash in exchange for a rating. This probably goes without saying, but Yelp will also take action against you, a.k.a. delete your account, if they find you’re writing fake reviews for yourself. It’s easy to create a number of different profiles to get some positive feedback, but that’s misrepresenting your studio and reflects badly on you.
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!