Now that you’re about to get started opening a dance studio, you have to begin planning your initial marketing strategies to let the public know that you now exist. How will you get the word out? How will people know that you are a credible institute of dance? Before mentioning any detailed strategies, the most important thing to realize is that the more time you have for planning and marketing your opening timeline, the more successful your efforts will prove.
SECTION 1: Opening Strategies
Here are some strategies that worked well for The Dance Exec’s Studio during its opening:
“Coming Soon” Sign
Placing a “Coming Soon…” banner over the doors at the soon-to-be studio site (which stresses importance of location, visibility, and neighboring businesses)
Set Up Tables Around Town
Set up tables at nearby locations to promote your coming location. When The Dance Exec’s Studio was opening, tables were set-up at a fun park (putt-putt, go-karts, arcade games, etc), nearby preschools, local swim clubs, nearby churches and local country clubs on a regular basis. The studio set up at any and every community festival and event possible. These events are frequently free, and you can create an extensive prospective client database by gathering emails and phone numbers with a raffle or give away (e.g. enter for a chance to win a free month of classes, just give us your email!).
Some places that may not work well for setting up a table (local schools), may be willing to put out flyers or business cards advertising your services. Our philosophy is that it never hurts to ask.
Free Demo Classes
Be prepared to give lots of free demo classes! You must be so confident in your service that everyone wants to buy-in. Visit as many places as possible and show them what you have to offer. Very few places will refuse an offer for a free demo class. If you do not ask to offer a sample class, it is unlikely they will ask you. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there.
SECTION 2: Logistical Preparation
Any time you are in the public, you must be prepared. Before beginning your marketing, follow-up information should be ready.
Prior to beginning your marketing / grand opening announcement efforts, make sure the following are fully functional and ready to go:
Class offerings/schedule information to give to people
Flyers & Information Sheets
Studio T-Shirts with Logo (not required, but encouraged)
It is incredibly important to remember that if people are contacting you, you need to be ready to respond. Be prepared to answer the phone and respond to emails in a prompt, efficient manner. Show your prospective clients that your level of customer service is exceptional from their initial interaction with you.
SECTION 3: Grand Opening Event
We also recommend planning a large Grand Opening event, which can be the centralized theme of your early marketing efforts.
At your Grand Opening event, this is your first time officially introducing yourself as a business entity to your community and prospective clients. The studio should be as close to completion as possible and should be clean and in neat order. Show people how organized you are from the very first day.
The Grand Opening event should include any of the following options:
Complimentary Sample Classes for a variety of ages, featuring a variety of your instructors
Facility Tours (we recommend having a tour script that highlights the studio and its best features so that everyone visiting the studio receives the same, standardized information)
Face Painting/ Balloon Animals/ Craft Stations / etc.
Separate Registration area, so interested clients can be efficiently and sufficiently addressed
Separate Shoe Fitting/Merchandise Purchasing area
At the end of The Dance Exec’s Studio’s Grand Opening, we had over 100 students registered. This number will vary significantly based on where you are opening and your marketing efforts. When the studio began, it began from scratch. There was no taking of half of a student base of a nearby studio, or any of the “ick factor” stories you often hear associated with the opening of a new studio.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If students choose The Dance Exec’s Studio, it is because we are building a reputation and are providing the best possible experience for each and every one of our clientele. As a Studio Owner, you have a huge responsibility—in the world of dance studios, there is not a quality control department or corporate headquarters where we can send dissatisfied clients; rather, dance studio owners are all-encompassing title holders.
Be ready for every scenario possible. One of The Dance Exec’s Studio’s greatest mentors and advisers gave us this initial advice,
“You are now a business owner first, and an artist second.”
Take that advice, and enjoy the ride that is opening a dance studio!
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.
To borrow a made up word by one of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Doyle Melton, Summer is a BRUTIFUL season at the dance studio.
BRUTIFUL? Yes. Beautiful + brutal = brutiful.
Summer at the dance studio is BEAUTIFUL for several reasons:
It’s a break from the marathon of weekly classes.
There is a more relaxed schedule with schools no longer in session.
It’s warm and sunny in Wisconsin for a couple of days; I mean months.
But, summer at the dance studio is BRUTAL for other reasons:
A break from classes means far less income to cover fixed expenses.
It can be hard to balance studio and home now that school’s out.
With only a few days of true summer to enjoy in Wisconsin, the last place I want to be is in the office.
If this sounds familiar to you, keep reading for 4 easy ways to fill your studio with summer dance camps and more and still carve out time for family.
Last year our Community Outreach Coordinator came up with an idea to offer an hour and a half long camp each month. At first I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in buying one lesson per month, but boy was I wrong! We had almost 200 students participate in our monthly community camps over the course of the school year. The short camps were so popular that we decided to offer eight of them for our summer session and I am pleased to say that we have had OVER 200 sign up this time. The lesson here is two-fold: 1) Be willing to try new things. My old summer programming had gotten tired and this was the perfect way to freshen it up; 2) Parents really appreciate a low commitment way to try out dance as an activity.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the first-time student who appreciates community camps are the intermediate and advanced students who appreciate private lessons. While private lessons in and of themselves are not new, they way we package them is. Consider selling your lessons in a 10-pack for a discount or connecting them to content specific themes such as choreography, flexibility, core strength or turns. Content-focused lessons are more attractive to students than generic ones.
Hosting guest artists has become a staple of summer programming at my studio over the past ten years. The visiting teachers allow us to fill camps and programs during the summer months when our own faculty is travelling as well as get access to fresh choreography for our students before the school year starts. If you haven’t hosted a guest artist before, start with something as simple as having an alumnus who is home for the summer guest teach some classes. If you are ready and able to do more, consider a source like Stage Door Connections to deliver ready-made workshops with professional dancers to your doorstep.
About ten years ago we started requiring our team to participate in our annual Dance Camp in August. It was a great opportunity to kick off the year with technique classes and choreography. Soon we added a Stay Strong All Summer series of weekly classes to the roster in order to keep kids moving in the weeks between the spring recital in May and the big camp in August. This helped to keep both the teachers and the students active in the months of June and July.
As our summer schedule grew at the studio, it became harder to carve out much needed time for family over the summer months. A few years ago, I decided to pull myself off the June schedule and spend some time driving across the country with my family for a reunion. I was nervous about how things would go while I was gone and even more worried about what families would think about my absence. But, then the most beautiful thing happened…the studio survived without my involvement for a few weeks and most of the families told me to have a great time on vacation. Win-win!
Friends, I want you to fill your studio with activity in the summer, but not at the expense of being able to take a break with your loved ones. So, fill those summer hours with community camps, private lessons, dance camp and team classes, but don’t forget to put your family on the schedule as well. You can always teach another class, but you never get a second chance to raise your kids.
Happy Summer, everyone!
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Check out more articles on summer dance camps and other summer programming here.
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.
Ensure your summer success by taking time to plan today.
Survey the families. Do you remember when you were a student and your English teacher told you to consider your audience before writing a word of that research paper? Turns out she was right. You have to know who you are speaking to before creating a single offering. Are your families looking for weekly classes in the summer or would they rather come every day for one week straight and then move on to other activities? Are they looking for theme-based camps or technique-based intensives? You’ll be surprised how much clarity you can get just by sending a simple survey to your families before the planning begins. Not ready to survey parents? Ask your students☺
Gather the troops. A successful summer program depends on having not just ENOUGH staff, but the RIGHT staff, to pull it off. If your parents want weekly summer ballet classes or the opportunity to get a jump-start on next season by setting solos in the summer, you are going to have to make sure you have the specialists around to serve those needs. Once you know what your clients want from your summer program, you can start confirming availability with teachers.
Study the landscape. As a mom of five kids I know that the competition for our summer spending is hot. There will be a night not too far from now when I sit at the kitchen table with ten brochures for summer camps for my kids in front of me. Your dance parents are no different. They are also trying to give their kids as many interesting and meaningful summer experiences as they can. Maximize your chance to be a part of their summer schedule by understanding what your programs will be competing against. In our community, the university, school district and parks district all have robust summer programs so I make sure my pricing and program packages are comparable. For example, if they are all offering weekly day camps, it doesn’t make sense for me to offer a program that meets once a week all summer. It simply wouldn’t line up with the other things kids are doing and would likely be passed overcome scheduling time.
Call in the experts. Summer is a great time to call in the experts. Start sending emails today to the guest teachers you know who might be willing to come in and share their knowledge with your students this summer. And, don’t forget about experts that are complementary to dance: nutritionists, photographers, boot camp instructors, sports psychologists, yoga instructors, chiropractors and more. Your community is likely bursting at the seams with people who have an expertise that would benefit your dancers, saving you the expense of flights and housing for guest teachers.
Brand the boring out of it. When my kids became school age I became a consumer of summer camps as a parent for the first time. I immediately noticed was how EXCITING the programs were. All of the sudden, my offering of “Summer Ballet Classes” looked pretty bland next to “Flip with the Ninjas Camp” that gymnastics was offering. Since that time, I’ve made a real effort to come up with attractive themes, catchy titles and compelling logos to capture the imagination of the reader. A generic “Jazz 1 Class” may be appropriate for the school year, but it just won’t cut on the summer camp circuit.
Publish and Promote. We may be in the digital age, but printed brochures still rule the summer camp world. Remember when I talked about sitting around the kitchen table with camp brochures and mapping my summer schedule out? That’s a real thing for parents. For as great as online everything is you still need to get your summer brochures into the hands of parents. Start with your existing clients and then work your way towards new families via community expos, local family publications and partnerships with other like-minded businesses.
Refine and Repeat. Monitor enrollment trends as you ramp up towards summer. Some of the programs you offer will be bursting at the seams and some might just be a bust. Decide early to increase offerings of summer classes and camps that are doing well and to cut program that will not have enough kids to make a go of it. This will give parents a chance to choose another class or camp to fit their schedule.
Summer success starts today. Are you ready to do the “winter work” now to have a great summer later?
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.
Remember this Broadway song? “Summertime….and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high.” Well, that may be true for Porgy and Bess, but in my world summer can be tough. If I were singing that song, the lyrics might go more like, “Summertime…and the livin’ ain’t easy. Students are jumping and the overhead’s high!”
Summer enrollment drop is a natural phenomenon as families try other activities, head out for vacation, or just plain take a break. As a mom, I totally get it. I have five kids and summer is the best time for us to decompress and get out the scheduling grind.
But, when I look at summer through the eyes of business ownership, there is no doubt about it—the show must go on!
If you are looking for ideas to take your summer from fizzle to sizzle, keep reading for Seven Summer Savers, including summer dance camp ideas and more!
Pre-Pay the Rent (or Mortgage) – Payroll and utilities may fluctuate by the season, but rent and mortgage obligations stay the same all year around. Save yourself summer stress by pre-paying all or part of your summer rental or mortgage over the course of the school year. By paying a little bit more each month when tuition is steady, you can step into summer with confidence even though cash flow may not be as strong.
Weekly Stay Strong Classes – Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best solutions, so read the following statement twice. “The best way to keep things going is to keep things going.” Sometimes we get so caught up in doing something “new” for the summer that we forget to work what already works. Weekly classes work for us all year long. To that end, we run a six week session of regular technique classes to keep our company kids in shape over the summer. No splash, no flash, just six weeks of solid technique classes. Last year we had over 100 kids participate in this program.
Themed Kid Camps – If you want to capture the hearts of kids, look no further than the toy aisle at Target. What are the hottest selling toys, movies and games for kids? Once you figure that out, you have a treasure trove of ideas for theme-based camps at your fingertips. We have had over 200 kids participate in Frozen-themed camps with no sign of slowing, and there are plenty more warm hugs with Olaf ahead on our summer roster.
Master Class Series – Once a month each summer we will bring in a master teacher for a series of classes. These two- to three-day workshops give students a chance to spread their wings technically and artistically without the expense of travel. Get more out of master classes by asking teachers to bring choreography selections that can be used for future community events or competitions.
Alumni Features – Summer is a time when graduates return home from college and are looking for work. Motivate your current students by letting them take class with alumni who are dancing in college or have established careers. Featuring alumni is also a great reminder to parents that dance lessons can add up to great things for students in the future.
Look Outside the Box – One of our best summer programs has been selling technique to local dance teams. These students may not have time to take weekly classes during the school year, but summer is a different story. Add value to your team class by bundling classes with choreography or complimentary cleaning sessions for competition later in the year.
Private Power – If you are looking for a way to not only strengthen your dancers, but to make use of studio space in the summer, nothing is more flexible than private lessons. Take the administrative hassle out of private lessons by using an app like SignUpGenius.com and put the power of private instruction to work for you this summer.