YOUR DANCE SCHOOL WEBSITE = YOUR INTERNET STOREFRONT
The Internet is here to stay, so instead of avoiding cyberspace, dance studios should embrace the endless marketing opportunities available. There are numerous ways to increase exposure, strengthen your brand, and provide insight into your programming. Most online options are an incredibly reasonable expense, especially after doing a cost-benefit analysis in potential for strengthening, growing, and building your brand.
Your storefront defines your business within your community. Your website defines your business within the Internet. Your website should be taken seriously; spend the money to make it look professional, intellectual, and representative of the product you are offering your clients. When you are representing your business, you should have a cohesive graphic identity and that should flow from your print marketing to your website design. It is your responsibility to make sure everything makes sense to the consumer.
Within the dance studio world, there are a variety of websites, some effective and some ineffective, and because we are in the arts industry, studio owners tend to devalue the importance of their web presence. This is a huge mistake! Your dance school website could influence a prospective client’s decision to choose your studio versus another studio or extracurricular activity.
Here are some things to consider during your website design process:
The appearance of your website is the first thing that will catch a viewer’s eye, and it will also influence whether or not the viewer chooses to continue reading the information your site provides. Your online appearance is of vital importance.
Hire a web designer: Free, homemade, or cheap-looking sites are not acceptable for your business. If you want your clients to take you seriously, design and brand your website in a professional manner.
Keep your site updated. An outdated or neglected website is a disservice to your brand and will only negatively impact you. Make sure you have a format that is user-friendly for updates and regularly skim the site for outdated content.
Be aware of the design quality. In the dance world, we love bright, crazy colors and sparkly things. Your website may not be the best avenue to showcase that love, so when designing your site, think “less is more.” Less vibrant tones will be more visually appealing to your site visitors.
Use proper grammar and spelling. This would seemingly be stating the obvious, but there are many dance studio websites with improper grammar and spelling. Ultimately, this is a poor reflection on the studio, so when preparing your written content for the website, please proofread and check for grammatical errors (often, it takes two, three, or more people to sufficiently proofread content).
Make sure your site offers easy, logical navigation options with a sleek and clean design. If your site is cluttered, it will be frustrating for clients to navigate.
Use your own content. Do NOT copy and paste materials from other studios’ websites. Be creative, be original, and create content that exclusively represents your studio and your business. On a similar topic, you should only use photos that actually represent your business; stock photos or photos from another studio are not an accurate representation and should not be used to promote your business.
Dance School Website Content
Your website content should be informative, accurate, and thorough. If a person visits your website, you should be willing to provide all of the information necessary to enroll and be a part of your program. Being evasive with your information is not an efficient way to promote your program or your business. Providing commonly requested information will also decrease time spent informing new or potential clients about your programming (since they will have access to that information).
When building your dance school website, you should include:
Your location and contact info on every page; people should be able to easily connect with you via your site.
Links to your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog, photo sites, etc.)
Information about the people that currently work at your studio: owners, directors, and instructors.
Information about your business: mission statement, class descriptions, facility photos, testimonials, and contact links.
Class schedules presented and formatted in an easy to read and easy to find format that makes sense to non-dancers (remember, the majority of your parents will not be experienced dance professionals).
Online Registration! Make it easy for people to register for classes.
Information about your studio’s special events (intensives, workshops, open houses), performances, special offerings (birthday parties, private lessons, etc.), community service, and anything else that is important to the culture of your brand.
Your studio’s policies and calendar. (If this information is on your website, people will not have an excuse for not knowing.)
Photos and videos taken from within your studio (with parental permission and acknowledgement).
Contact form that makes it easy for people to communicate with you.
When people visit your site, it should be informative and functional in the following ways:
Visitors should gain a solid knowledge of the overall culture and brand of your studio. They should know your complete expectations for enrollment, tuition, recital participation, etc.
Visitors should be able to register students for classes.
Visitors should be informed about upcoming events, schedules, and calendar.
Last year, our studio purchased lunch boxes with the studio logo to distribute as gifts for dance students. This began a tradition of distributing a logo-oriented item prior to the Winter Break. All of our students love receiving the gift, and it doubly serves as a marketing strategy and brand reinforcement technique.
Gifts for dance students could include:
Bracelets / Wristbands
And any other items you think your dancers might like! Think of these gifts both as a “thank you” to your students for their hard work and for their commitment to your studio, and as an investment for keeping your class sizes high and hopefully attracting some new students.
When I was a child and my mom went to enroll me in dance classes, there was only ONE OPTION: sign up for a weekly class for an entire school year. In fact, enrolling in a weekly, 9-month class was the ONLY way to get involved with dance lessons for my entire childhood and it became the primary offering we used to attract potential first-time clients for the first fifteen years of business.
And then times changed…as they always do.
About five years ago we started seeing fewer parents who were willing to make their very first experience with dance a 9-month trial. Parents would say, “We’d like to try it before we buy it.” I was opposed to offering trial classes for two reasons. First, I felt that a steady stream of trial students would be disruptive to regular classes and secondly, I felt that our reputation should speak for itself. But the millennial moms didn’t want to sign up for a year’s worth of lessons and the requests for trial classes didn’t go away.
So we decided to do something even better than just offer trial classes; we built an entire staircase to getting involved in dance at our studio.
Keep reading for tips on moving towards increased full-time enrollment with 4 New Ways to Increase Dance School Registration.
Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out:
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.
With the chilly temperatures and few hours of daylight, summer seems ages away. While it’s hard to imagine lazy days of sun during not-so-fun January, it’s a good time to start thinking about how you will generate revenue for your studio during the summer months. Since many families go on vacation, ensuring your dance studio has an income from May to September takes some creativity. There are many summer dance ideas that your studio can keep revenue up during the summer months, including camps, intensives and workshops, and by renting out your facility.
During the summer, we’re all guilty of spending a few too many minutes daydreaming about the beach while we’re supposed to be working. But keep in mind that kids are even more susceptible to laziness and distraction during these dog days. To remain profitable over the school break, dance studios need to offer creative programs that keep students engaged and entertained.
Here are some summer dance ideas your studio can generate income this summer:
Summer camps are a win-win for everyone: Kids get out of the house, parents get some more time for themselves and dance studios get increased visibility. Camps can take place over a few days, a week or even a full month. Whichever duration you choose, the important thing is that your attendance policy is flexible. Since families have vacations and other commitments during the summer, letting students drop in and avoiding scheduling camp on Fridays and weekends makes the program convenient for parents. Also, allowing parents to pay for a total number of days, as opposed to one set fee for the entire camp, accommodates summer plans and reduces stress, which ultimately means greater profits for your studio.
Camps are especially great for young children, who are typically at home during summer break with lots of energy to spare! While your camp should include some elements of dance, it’s important to keep in mind that kids are raring to let loose and have fun. A creative camp theme that combines movement with crafts and other activities will garner the most interest and keep kids engaged.
Here are some easy theme ideas:
Princess Party: Kids will love living out their fairy tale dreams with this theme. Have them wear their favorite costumes to camp and spend the day dancing to songs from princess movies. Kids can decorate crowns as a fun craft, and lunchtime can be transformed into a royal tea-time!
Fairy/Butterfly Garden: Have the kids don sparkly wings for a day of fluttering fun. After learning some simple choreography, campers can “fly” around the room, maneuvering their way past some easy obstacles. The fairies or butterflies can pair up and learn a dance routine together that they then present for their friends. For a craft, the fairies can decorate wands and the butterflies can draw or paint colorful butterfly friends.
Pirates: A great idea from Dance Studio Life is offering camps that are geared more toward boys at the same time as your other camps, since parents are then more likely to enroll siblings. Mini-mateys will love a swashbuckling pirate camp, where they can learn simple dance-inspired “sword fight” routines (with foam cutlasses, of course!) and watch scenes from their favorite pirate films.
Intensives appeal especially to teenage and young adult dancers and are a great chance for students to dive into subjects that they may not have a chance to learn about during the school year. Try to make them as creative and in-depth as possible to attract the most students. To give your intensive an extra draw, hire “guest teachers” from local universities or big city-studios. Another idea is to focus your intensives on unique specialty subjects that expand students’ experience with dance. For example, Juilliard’s three-week summer intensive includes classes in yoga and improvisation, and collaborates with the music program. Another creative idea is the Dance College Preparation Intensive offered by Cornish College of the Arts, which provides students with technique classes in several styles along with lectures in helpful areas like essay writing.
One-day workshops are flexible and low-commitment, which makes them perfect for the summer months. To attract the most students, keep the purpose of the workshop ultra-specific. Dedicate the day to improving a specific set of moves, or focus on other useful skills, like choreography or improvisation. Think about an area that’s important for a dancer to learn in order to improve and grow, but that isn’t usually offered in regular classes. For example, Skidmore College’s Summer Dance Workshop includes a course in Performance Techniques.
“Rent out your studio for birthday parties or town recreation programs.”
Rent Out Your Studio
In addition to offering the programs above, renting out your studio will help you garner a higher income during the summer. Rent out the studio for birthday parties and town recreation programs or to school teams and fitness instructors. Consider the demographics and specific needs of your community to generate the most revenue from renting out your facility. DanceTeacher magazine profiled the owners of Downtown Dance Factory in New York City, who began offering birthday parties after noticing that there was a space in the local market.
“We knew from our own experience as moms that there was a demand for interesting, well-run birthday parties, and in downtown Manhattan, hardly anyone has room for that type of party at home,” said Hanne Larsen, one of the owners, in an interview with the magazine.
Beyond creating additional income, renting out your facility introduces new dancers to your programs. The more people that come into your studio, the better, and many parents whose kids attend events or parties at your studio will enroll them for classes come autumn.
Keep your studio hot this summer with these creative income generators.
As I sit down to write this article, it’s 10 below zero outside the doors of my studio. We are in the depths of winter in Wisconsin and summer is on my mind. But, I’m not thinking about vacations or visits to the local pool. My mind is fixed on the programming I can offer to bring kids IN to the studio once school is OUT.
Summer is typically a hard time to keep things going for school year-based businesses such as ours. I suspect that if you are reading this article you, too, are looking for ways to strengthen your summer programs.
If so, keep reading for 7 Ways to Ensure a Stronger Dance Summer! The road to a strong summer starts NOW.
Take an afternoon to pound through this checklist. You’ll thank yourself in July.
You’ve jumped and soared to incredible heights throughout your dance career, but now it’s time to make your biggest leap yet. With a love of dance and a passion for sharing it with others, you’ve decided to open your own brand new studio.
Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this article, TutuTix has created an even more in-depth resource for studio owners looking to take their studios to the next level. You can download the official TutuTix E-Book for FREE by following this link!
Starting a dance studio involves considering a wide variety of categories that concern everything from advertising methods to payment processing systems. It’s a lot to think about, but following a checklist will help make the process a little less stressful. We’ve outlined the major categories involved in how to start a dance studio, and the smaller tasks that they encompass:
Of course, after passion and determination, the most important thing you need to open a dance studio is money! While you can’t predict every expense, try to prevent surprises. Hiring a financial advisor is a smart move to make sure that you have sufficient savings to not only start your dance studio but continue operating it for the long-term. An advisor can also help you determine if you need to take out loans to help finance your business.
The first category you need to consider when starting a dance studio is location. You need to reconcile your studio’s ideal location with the facility size and layout that best suits your needs. A studio located in a populated, busy area that’s visible to passing traffic will get you noticed the most and draw in more customers. The location should also be in a neighborhood that’s safe for children. Research the demographics of the area and how many other dance studios are located in the proximity. When looking at building layout, consider how many rooms you want the studio to have and the number of office spaces, storage rooms and bathrooms needed. Make sure the lobby and reception area is spacious enough to be comfortable. Your studio will also need to have more than enough parking spots to accommodate not only the daily class load but the added influx of parents and students during performances and other special events.
A strong, well-developed brand communicates who you are and what you have to offer to clients. Branding involves a range of duties, including choosing the decor of the studio, deciding on a name and creating a unique logo and sign. You should create a business plan early on, and in this plan outline your mission statement, values and goals. Think about what makes you and your teaching style unique and valuable to students. Make sure you dedicate ample resources to advertising, because you will have to rely on it as a new and unknown studio. Create business cards, brochures, a company website and advertising campaigns on social media sites. Contact local schools and community groups to investigate opportunities for partnerships and collaboration, and see if you can participate set up a table at at town events like festivals and parades. Hold an open house day, and consider offering incentives for signing up for classes on the day, like studio-branded dance gear or a discounted tuition rate. A strong brand helps customers recognize the value of your services, so don’t skimp on getting your name out there.
Starting any kind of business is a confusing and taxing process that gets even more complicated when you add in all the legal mumbo jumbo. Consider hiring a lawyer to help you deal with these complexities. A lawyer can read over and advise you on the lease of your building, and can help you make sure that you register your business correctly. Take out an insurance policy and draw up waivers and other necessary forms to help protect and support your studio. Enlist the help of other legal and business professionals to ensure that your studio complies with all health, safety and environmental standards and that you possess all necessary permits. You may also need to determine if you are required to pay music licensing fees.
Order and install the big pieces of your studio, like padded or marley floors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and barres. Buy a sound system for the studio, and sound-proof each studio room as much as you can to cut down on excess noise and distraction. Is there sufficient lighting in classrooms, throughout the building and in parking lots? Beyond dance equipment, you also need the basic equipment required for running a business, like a computer system, studio-management software and payment processing system. In order to accept credit card payments, you’ll have to register merchant accounts with the major providers. Install locks and a security system in the studio to help ensure it is safe and protected. You’ll need to maintain your studio, too, so set up regular shipments of cleaning supplies and restroom products. And don’t forget WiFi!
“Establish your studio policies early on.”
Think about all the things that will be necessary for you to successfully run your new studio. Establish your studio policies early on, including tuition rates and attendance and discipline rules. Create your schedule, deciding when the registration period for classes will be, how many and which types of classes you will offer each week and when and where performances will be held throughout the year. Create a document including your policies and calendar and make copies of this. Determine how many instructors and staff you will need to cover all your classes and what experience and skills you require, and hire those that are a good fit with the culture and attitude of your studio.
Follow this checklist to on how to start a dance studio and get started on the right foot.
When I started my business, I started dance studio registration in June of each year and closed it in early November because that was when we measured students and ordered recital costumes. After that time we were technically closed to new students until summer brochures came out in March of the following year—a registration flow that left me unable to accept new students for three months out of the year.
Considering that my regular season was only nine months long, and that we were only open for classes five hours out of any given weekday, losing three months of enrollment opportunity was not a sustainable plan. So I made one of the best decisions of my business career and extended my enrollment period until Jan. 31. Last year alone, we enrolled an additional 80+ students in the months of November, December and January; 46 of whom were registered in the month of January alone.
If you are interested in expanding YOUR enrollment season, keep reading for 4 Final Push for Dance Studio Registration Tips:
Remember when your high school math teacher told you that you’d need to understand algebra to get by later on in life? You probably scoffed, as many kids do. But we’re here again to go over more calculations that are essential to your dance studio’s success. Hang up your dance shoes and break out the calculator, and get ready for part two of our “Crunching the Numbers” series.
Any small business has to do a fair bit of marketing, and your studio is likely no exception. The fliers you print, the ads you run and the referral program you promote are all ways that you market your dance school in hopes of drumming up new business. But how are you supposed to know if your marketing efforts are working? That’s where metrics for marketing for dance studios come in. Read on to learn how you can calculate marketing return on investment, customer acquisition costs and more.
Marketing Return on Investment
First up is return on investment, commonly referred to as ROI. The concept is simple: You need to figure out how much business you’re gaining in relation to what you’re spending on marketing. For this calculation, you’re going to need your gross profit. You can refer back to part one of this series if you need a refresher on how to find this number.
To find marketing ROI, subtract your marketing investment – how much you spent on marketing services – from your gross profit. Then, you divide the answer by the marketing investment. So if your gross profit is $5,000 and you spent $1,000 on marketing, ROI would be $5,000 minus $1,000, then divided by $1,000. This gives you a marketing ROI of $4 – that means for every $1 you spent on marketing efforts, you got $4 worth of business.
This calculation is essential when you’re evaluating your marketing strategy season over season. It’s always good to try new campaigns – whether it’s direct mail, sale sites or something else – but you should evaluate the worth of a strategy after a given season. If your marketing ROI dips, chances are your new marketing efforts aren’t paying off.
Customer Acquisition Cost
Another important marketing metric is the customer acquisition cost, also called CAC. This is essentially how much money you have to spend on marketing in order to get one new student. The calculation is a simple one.
To find your CAC, set a defined time period. A good measure might be over the course of one dance season. Take the total amount you spent on marketing and divide it by the number of new students you acquired. So if you spent $1,000 on marketing and 20 new students signed up, your CAC is $50.
This metric by itself just tells you that you need to spend $50 to get one new student in the door. However, you can use CAC to calculate other more revealing numbers that will help you adjust your marketing and prices.
Time to Pay Back CAC
One way to use CAC to your advantage is to calculate how long it takes you to make back the money spent on acquiring each customer. You can calculate this in terms of seasons or months, whichever works for you.
To calculate time to pay back CAC, start buy subtracting your seasonal cost per student from the revenue per student. Divide your CAC by this number for time to pay back. So working off the example above, if you earn $500 per student per season and spend $300 per student, you’ll need to divide $50 by $200. This leaves you with an answer of 0.25, meaning you break even on a student’s acquisition cost after 1/4 of a season. Easy right?
In the first part of this series, we discussed the benefits of starting a blog for your studio, as well as the considerations you should take into account before jumping into the blog-o-sphere. If you’ve decided to go ahead and launch a dance blog for your studio, this article will help you create compelling content from day one.
Arguably the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re blogging for your small business is that your goal is to attract readers. This may seem obvious, but many bloggers forget to write for their audience. Your studio’s blog needs to populated with content that dance students, parents and teachers want to read, as this type of traffic is what will make the effort worthwhile for your readers. Here are some tips that will help you pick engaging dance blog topics and craft readable articles.
“Make a list of questions that dance students and parents ask you.”
Picking Article Topics
It’s often a good idea to keep a running list of article topics what you want to publish on your studio’s blog. This will be helpful when it comes to writing consistently – on those days when you’re feeling less-than-motivated, it will make the blogging process easier if you have a topic ready to go.
But how do you come up with ideas that will engage and inspire your audience? It’s easier than you might think. One of the best ways to come up with topics for your studio’s blog is to make a list of questions you get asked on a regular basis. Chances are that the questions parents and students ask you are also topics they’re searching for online. So if you can’t go a day without someone asking about the proper age to switch to pointe, it would likely make an engaging dance blog topic.
Another way to come up with interesting article ideas is to look at other dance blogs for inspiration. See what posts on your favorite dance websites get a lot of attention – but be sure not to copy these articles. You can use other people’s work for inspiration, but you should always make sure your posts have a unique spin to avoid upsetting other bloggers.
The Blogging ‘Formula’
Got a topic and ready to write your first post? The video below outlines a basic formula that will help you create visually attractive, engaging posts for your studio’s blog.
One good point that Beate Chelette makes is the importance of linking. You should aim to link to one external webpage and one internal webpage in each post. This isn’t a firm rule though – you can link to more or fewer, depending on what you’re writing. When you include links in your posts, it will encourage readers to move around your site, and it will also improve your blog’s search engine optimization.
Building Your Readership
Once you have a few blog posts live on your site, you should help people find the content by strategically promoting it. This guide from QuickSprout on building a blog audience is a great free resource that outlines all the different ways you can get your content in front of the right people. It’s definitely worth a read!
In general, make sure you’re taking advantage of social media when promoting your dance blog. Share your best posts with your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers for a bit of free traffic. Once people know that you’re writing good content, they’ll be more likely to visit your site without prompting. This is how your readership will grow and your blog will become one of your best marketing tools!