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.
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.
A viral video can do wonders for any brand. However, even if you don’t film the next YouTube sensation, you should still be using clips of life at your dance studio to engage your social media followers and reel in new customers. Video Brewery estimated that website visitors are 64 percent more likely to purchase services or products after they watch a branded video, and many marketers tout video marketing as one of the best ways to engage viewers. That’s all great in theory, but the truth is that some people are all thumbs when it comes to filming videos. If you’re struggling to capture clips that reflect well on your studio and capture the interest of online viewers, use these five tips to produce better dance studio videos.
1. Quality is King
A video that is unfocused, pixelated and shaky isn’t going to be enjoyable for viewers to watch. You don’t need to have professional video equipment, but try your best to shoot high-quality clips. The latest generations of smartphones have impressive video capabilities, so be sure to focus the lens and frame your subject when capturing video. If you’re working with a camera, you may want to pick up an inexpensive tripod to help stabilize your shots.
Que Publishing noted that shooting the right size video can also make a big difference in your results. YouTube’s default size is 320 pixels wide and 240 pixels tall, so this should be your minimum constraint. Whenever possible, shoot clips horizontally so you’re filling up a viewer’s entire screen.
2. Aim for Short and Sweet
10-minute dance studio videos of rehearsal might be enjoyable for parents, but that’s probably the only people who will watch it. Video Brewery noted that you’ll quickly lose viewers after your videos hit the one-minute mark. Short, impactful videos are also shared more frequently. Try to cut your clips down and frame only the highlights for viewers. This will help deliver your message with a powerful punch.
3. Shoot Often
You’ve probably told your students that practice makes perfect, and the same holds true for your video skills. The more frequently you work with your recorder, the more comfortable you’ll become and the more great shots you’ll capture. Try to pick up your camera or phone at least once a day and shoot a few frames. You’ll quickly build up a library of great clips that showcase the best parts of your studio. These are valuable to have stored away if you ever decide to compile in-depth marketing videos.
4. Show, Don’t Tell
The best videos capture some sentiment or activity that wouldn’t be adequately explained in words or pictures. One Market Media explained that you shouldn’t use videos to simply dictate information to viewers. The content should be instrumental in giving people insight into your studio’s culture or services. Some good examples might be a particularly well-executed combination or a great client testimonial. However, be sure that testimonials aren’t overly scripted, or else they may come across as phony.
5. Be Sure to Share
The ways your promote your dance studio videos are as important as the quality and content of the film. Don’t expect people to find your YouTube account – instead, share videos on social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you create longer films, you may want to imbed them in your website’s landing pages to supplement your promotional material. When more people see your videos, they’ll be more likely to share with friends and family, thereby optimizing the impact of the clip. However, don’t forget to have students and their parents sign release waivers so you can use your videos for promotional purposes.
Social media sites – especially Facebook – are useful tools for dance studios, as they can aid in marketing and communication with students. However, there have also been many instances where teenagers and sometimes parents abuse the sites, using them to hurt other people or businesses. Because of the potential harm that can be done on Facebook and other social platforms, many studio owners choose to create social media policies for their businesses. These guidelines can be beneficial, but there are a few considerations to take into account when creating dance studio policies that regulate social media use.
Focus Social Efforts Through a Main Page
The first factor that you’ll want to take into account is who will be authorized to post news and announcements on behalf of the studio. Sometimes businesses can get into sticky situations when instructors post unauthorized information on their personal pages regarding the studio. Dance Teacher magazine recommended that you establish expectations that all student and parent communications occur through the main studio page. If teachers have something they want to share, have them forward you the information before posting it live. This way you’ll be able to monitor and approve all posts.
Establish Criteria for Acceptable Posts
One of the benefits of social media is that your followers can chime into conversations with their own thoughts and ideas. This is a great way to get students and their parents engaged with the studio, but sometimes people will post mean or derogatory comments on a public page. To address this issue, you’ll want to explain to students your expectations for posts on the studio main page. Any remarks, photos or videos should be appropriate and reflect well on the studio. Be sure to explain that you reserve the right to delete any harmful or unnecessary comments.
Be Careful Regulating Personal Posts
While you can control what third-parties are posting on your studio’s social media pages, it’s important to realize that what gets said on private accounts is a different matter altogether. Some studios include stipulations in their dance studio policies that bar students from defaming the school on their personal social media accounts. However, Dance Studio Life explained that there have been lawsuits filed to keep businesses from enforcing these types of regulations, as they are often construed as limiting freedom of speech. Be careful how you word expectations about posts on personal accounts. It’s generally best to phrase these rules as suggestions instead of hard policies.
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.
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 dance studio owner, the responsibility of marketing classes and events probably falls on you. It’s a big task and much more complicated than some people realize, especially if you want to do a great job. To make the most of the time you spend on marketing, you should use any and all resources available, especially when you can find free marketing tools to lower your budgeting needs. These five free marketing tools can be extremely helpful to your marketing strategy, and the best part is that they’re free!
If you want to get feedback from your students and parents, you can go the traditional route of handing out questionnaires. However, then you have to print them out, distribute them, hound people to fill them out, and manually record the results. It’s a time-consuming process to say the least.
Enter SurveyMonkey. This free tool lets you create questionnaires and surveys online that can be easily shared with your customers. You can include multiple choice, open-ended and optional questions, and respondents can be anonymous if you choose. Once you’ve gotten responses, the program generates graphics to help you easily understand the results.
Blog Topic Generator
If you have a blog set up for your studio, you should try to post content regularly. Some days it will be easy to come up with topics, but other times you might be stumped. On those tough days, BufferApp recommended using Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator to get yourself writing. All you do with this tool is enter two or three words that pertain to your topic. For example, you might enter “dance” and “techniques.” The program will then provide you with five potential story ideas, such as “10 Quick Tips About Dance.” Use these titles for inspiration, and you’ll be writing in no time. It’s a convenient way to brainstorm new content ideas when you’re in a rut.
Of the available free marketing tools online, MailChimp is a must-have for any studio owner who wants to start a newsletter. This program stores all your contacts, helps you build custom emails and provides detailed analytics on each campaign you send. There are pre-made templates available that are great for beginners. It’s short work to send out a professional newsletter to your parents and students. Once you get more comfortable with the software, you can build your own personalized template from scratch. You can also integrate your MailChimp account with your Twitter and Facebook profiles so people can easily sign up for the newsletter and read the latest updates.
If you can’t find time every day to update social media, HootSuite will be your best friend. It allows you to create Facebook posts and Twitter updates ahead of time and schedule them to go live at a later date. You can easily curate a week’s worth of content on Sunday and not worry about posting anything during the week! HootSuite also brings all your social profiles together on your dashboard. This allows you to reply to commenters from one place, instead of bouncing back and forth between social media sites.
Finally, make Pixlr your go-to site for photo editing. There’s really no need to purchase expensive editing programs when you have this tool in your belt. There are different versions of the software to choose from: Editor, the most comprehensive program; Express, which provides the most basic tools; or O-Matic, which allows you to add fun effects and borders. These different programs will prove invaluable when you need to crop, rotate or remove blemishes from pictures. It will ensure that all the photos you include on your website, in newsletters and in marketing materials are high quality.