The #1 way to generate revenue for your dance studio is to keep as much of your revenue in-house as possible. While summertime is typically known as the “low-revenue season,” it doesn’t have to be that way.
With a little strategy and planning, you can reap the rewards of an excellent summer session that will likely (1) generate revenue, (2) introduce your programming to a number of new, prospective students, and (3) serve and affirm your current client base.
Below are some DOs and DON’Ts to help you rock your summer months!
Survey your community to understand their summer interests and needs.
Mix up themes and keep the vibe FUN!
Be flexible! Have a flexible make-up/ proration policy for people that may have advance, inflexible travel plans. Clients will appreciate it.
Follow-up with all summer program participants about enrolling for the main dance season.
Feel like you have to operate on a similar schedule to your regular season (e.g., close for a vacation week, take a break from weekend classes).
Stress about discounts/deals. With it being a recovery season, don’t neglect to focus on your financials.
Hesitate to cancel low enrollment programming. Set a required minimum, and if it isn’t met by 30 days out, offer to transfer students into something else (Note: never cancel programming last minute if it risks placing your clients in a bind.)
Wait until the last minute. Summer programming is much more enjoyable with advanced planning, communication, preparation, and strategy.
Looking for more great ideas from Chasta? Check out the following articles:
Chasta Hamilton is the Owner/Artistic Director of Stage Door Dance Productions in Raleigh, NC. She authored the best-selling book Trash The Trophies: How to Win Without Losing Your Soul. Later this spring, her TEDx talk “You Weren’t Built to Break” will debut, combining her passion for performance with the necessity of resilience.
We are still trucking through the COVID-19 crisis and salvaging our businesses. But we have more knowledge than ever and gain more with each and every day!
It’s 2021, and that means it is time to GET IT DONE.
One of my favorite quotes is:
“You can’t talk butterfly language with caterpillar people.”
This year, are you a butterfly, or are you a caterpillar? The choice is in your hands and will be based on the actions you take NOW.
The days of feeling defeated are over.
Now is the time to shift frustration, exhaustion, and discontent into strong and effective leadership tactics that will pay off in the long run. What contingencies are you setting in place to make sure your programs generate revenue and run creatively, safely, and in alignment with your brand?
Have you considered that:
Competitions may not happen
Recitals may not happen in their traditional sense
Travel opportunities may have to be postponed
Shipping and the supply chain may continue to face delays/disruptions (aka get those costume orders in ASAP!)
Instead of waiting and watching and having another off-the-rails spring semester, take this into your control, and create opportunities for your clientele to heighten the return on investment of your brand.
Prioritize YOU and align yourself with third-party vendors that help instead of hurt your cause.
It may be easy to say
“I don’t know what’s happening, so I can’t do that.”
“This is so out of my control.”
“I don’t have the energy to do what I used to do.”
These are all excuses, and they are excuses that will ultimately hurt your business.
Leave the excuses in 2020 and start figuring out how you CAN make things happen.
Set the Schedules
Use Project Timelines to Keep You On Track
Hit the Deadlines
Apply for the Funding
Meet With Your Staff
Keep Your Clients Looped In
Build Excitement for The Things That Are Coming
While it may not be identical to the way we’ve formerly operated, it is important to generate a confident, forward motion that embraces the resources and opportunities we have.
FIND YOUR MOTIVATION
If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, find some sources of inspiration.
You’ve probably been here before – hunched over your laptop late at night, playing the same four seconds of music over and over again on your editing software trying to get it exactly right. Maybe a transition is too clunky, a background instrument is too loud or the fade out is too sudden. No matter the issue, music editing is a recipe for stress and frustration. Music editing apps for your phone are designed to help reduce some of the stress so you can get back to focusing on your students. The apps have streamlined, easy-to-use interfaces that simplify the editing process and make it conveniently portable, so you can tackle any editing issues or make quick adjustments whenever and wherever you are.
Try any – or all – of these music editing apps for using on-the-go:
Audacity is one of the most popular music editing software programs that dance teachers use, and Audacity Portable, the mobile app, means that you can take advantage of all of its useful functionality anywhere. Audacity is an open source software program that means that any developer can use the code to create their own versions of the original program, which is how the mobile app was created. Its layout is easy to get a grasp on, allowing you to make basic adjustments to tracks or “zoom in” for more intricate editing, and best of all, it’s free!
One of the leading music production programs for Macs, also has an app version for iPhones and iPads. GarageBand allows you to create your own songs with a variety of realistic-sounding digital instruments, but you can also easily edit imported tracks and add effects in seconds. For those that are new to GarageBand, The Dance Buzz gave a great tutorial on using the program here.
Hokusai Audio Editor
While Audacity and GarageBand were originally created for desktops, Hokusai was designed with smartphones in mind. The interface is optimized for use on touchscreens, meaning you can make music edits with just a swipe. You can use tools to normalize volume levels and fade-in and fade-out, and can alter the resonance or echoes. The app also features a neat “scrubbing effect” that means you can hear what the music sounds like as you move your finger down a track. And you can edit without worrying about making mistakes, since any changes can be easily undone.
WavePad Audio Editor
WavePad is a free app that contains the basic features needed for editing music. You can record and edit your own sounds and songs, and the app also works with third-party tracks. Your tracks are clearly organized for easy access and it comes with tools like filters that will make sounds clearer. However, WavePad is best for short choreography, between 3-5 minutes, since it does not have a zoom function that allows you to make more minute edits.
Notetracks is not part of the collection of music editing apps, but it is incredibly useful for dance teachers working with choreography, and is recommended by Dance Teacher Connect. With the app, you can easily make notes anywhere in a song and can clearly see the notes marked on the track, making it very helpful for when you’re creating a new routine. Notetracks also makes it easy to share your notes and ideas with others.
Music editing tips
Your expertise is dance, not music mixing, though effective editing will help your dancers perform at their very best. Dance Advantage offered several helpful tips for great music editing. Make sure the volume level is consistent throughout the track, since any discrepancies – even subtle ones – are distracting to both the dancers and audience.
Cutting and pasting is a common way to edit tracks, but it’s not always suitable – the site noted that mixing tracks and adding effects are very noticeable in stripped-down musical pieces with few instruments, so the cut-and-paste method is most effective for acoustic songs.
A dance studio is a large, open space suitable for a variety of activities, so why not get the most out of it? Dance studio rental is a fantastic way to maximize revenue. But don’t hand over the keys just yet – read our guide below to get started.
Why Rent out Your Studio?
Renting out your dance studio is a great way to generate extra income, especially during the slower summer months. Once you secure trustworthy renters, the effort on your end is minimal – you make money simply from letting someone use your space. Renting is especially helpful if you need to travel to attend a conference, perform in a show or even just take that well-earned vacation you’ve been putting off for years – with other people using your space, you can rest easy knowing that the power won’t be shut off at your studio while you’re away.
Dance studio rental also generates additional income by exposing your classes and services to new clients. Everyone that attends events held by renters at your studio will see firsthand the programs you offer and the space’s atmosphere, which can lead to new students. This type of exposure can sometimes be more effective than traditional marketing methods.
Who Can You Rent To?
The versatile design of a dance studio makes it a great fit for a wide range of activities. You can rent out the space for children’s birthday parties, and, if you have the resources, parents can hire one of your instructors to lead the party. The wood floors, high ceilings, sound systems and mirrored walls make dance studios a great fit for hosting fitness classes, like pilates and yoga.
If there’s a gym located near your studio, ask if they need extra space to hold their classes. Community groups and children’s scout troops are always looking for open spaces where they can hold events and meetings, too, along with local small businesses searching for an open space for team-building activities, retreats and training seminars.
Another creative way you can rent out your studio is by using it as a theater. Hanging black curtains on rods, adding seat risers and installing a few extra lights on the ceiling can transform a practice space into one fitting for performance. Dance Studio Life interviewed one studio owner who made an area of her studio workable as both a teaching space and a theater on a budget.
“You don’t have to have a large pocketbook to do the things you want to do. You just have to have a mission and share it—if you build it, they will come,” said Jonna Maule of Company Ballet School and Performing Arts Center in Spokane, Washington, in an interview with the site.
Once you’ve equipped your space with the basic theater equipment, you can rent it out to local performance groups, schools, dance troupes and bands. An added bonus is that your dancers now have a performance space in their studio, too.
“Successful renting depends on preparation and research.”
Liabilities to Consider
Successful and profitable renting depends on adequate preparation and research. Your first step should be to check whether your lease agreement for your facility allows you to rent out the space to other people, according to Dance Teacher magazine.
Safety is also another important consideration. Read up on your existing insurance policies and what they cover for outside renters and create a rental agreement outlining the risks the renter is responsible for that you can share with each client. It’s also necessary for the renter to have their own liability insurance so that you are not held responsible if they injure themselves during their classes or events.
You’ve put together your class schedule and written your studio policies, but one of the most important tasks still has to be done: deciding how you will process payments. As using cash and checks has fallen by the wayside, credit cards have become the preferred form of payment. Her are some tips for secure credit card processing for your dance studio!
Why you Should Accept Credit Cards
Accepting credit cards helps ensure your studio generates as much revenue as possible. One way it does this is by making it convenient for parents to pay tuition and other fees. Paying with a credit card takes just seconds and, depending on your system, can take place almost anywhere, whether online or from a mobile phone. Parents are already using credit cards for their children’s other activities and expenses, and by accepting credit cards you make sure parents can pay the way they prefer and don’t see your studio as that one difficult business they have to deal with.
As more and more dance studios accept credit cards, it’s important that your business remains competitive. Jon Koerber, software expert for dance studios and gymnastics classes, cited that online credit card transactions increased from $2.8 billion to $4.8 billion between 2006 and 2012, and they are only set to grow even more. Credit card processing is no longer weighed down to a clunky machine – they’ve been released online and in mobile applications. As Koerber wrote in a blog post for Capterra:
“You’ll also be losing business to your competitors if you not are doing business around the clock … And all the more so if [parents] can go ahead and sign up for classes from their living room after dinner. If your competitors have online registration and payment processing but you don’t, guess which dance studio will get the new customer after hours.”
Beyond providing convenience for your clients, accepting credit cards also makes everything easier for you. All the payment information will be stored in one place, which makes it simple to view or print revenue reports and quickly access the payment history of certain customers. All the complicated tasks involved with handling and depositing funds is left to the credit card service, which leaves you more time to run your studio.
What You Need to Get Started
You first need to identify which credit card providers you want to accept. Most business accept Visa and MasterCard, while some choose to also accept American Express. Then, you need to select a merchant account service. DanceExec explained a merchant account as “a kind of bank account designed to enable your business to accept payments by debit cards or credit cards. Your merchant account establishes an agreement between you the merchant and the merchant account bank on how to settle money you receive in the form of payment card transactions.”
Make sure the merchant account service you select enables you to accept credit card payments in multiple ways – ideally in-studio, online, over the phone and via smartphones. This way, parents can have a variety of payment methods available to them and can choose the one that’s most convenient for them, wherever they are.
Once you have chosen a merchant account and bank and have been verified, you can begin accepting credit card payments. While you can track and manage credit card payments on a separate system, most major dance studio management software companies enable credit card transactions in their overall system. This is a great option because the credit card transaction program is already fully integrated into the rest of your studio’s systems, which saves you time and headaches!
If you’re accepting credit card payments, you’re dealing with sensitive financial and personal information. So, you need to make sure you’re following the highest measures for security and privacy. Make sure the merchant account service you select has a strong record of PCI, or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, compliance.
Another security consideration is where the credit card payment information is stored. The information should not be kept on your computer or on servers owned by credit card transaction software that you use – instead, the data should be stored securely on an independent server.
Costs to Be Aware Of
Accepting credit card payments comes with several fees. One is gateway fees, which are the fees that merchant accounts charge each month for verifying that the credit card used in each transaction is in good standing. Other merchant account fees include a monthly fixed management fee and PCI compliance fee.
Additionally, there are small fees placed on every individual credit card transaction. These include an interchange fee, which depends on the type of credit card used, discount fees and per-transaction fees. The specific fee amounts vary from provider to provider, so make sure you compare these figures when choosing a merchant account to get the best value for your money.
Though setting up secure credit card processing requires some initial research, the benefits for your dance studio make it well worth the time.
As a dance mom, you’re constantly running around with your dancers making sure they get to practice, are prepared for recitals and have all of the essentials they need to be at their best. In short, it can be exhausting and take up a lot of your time. It can also take up a lot of your money. Between studio fees, the cost of transportation and costume prices, things can add up quickly, and you might not have the money to spend on all these items. So what are dance moms to do? Budget, of course! Consider these five money-saving tips if you’re on a tight budget.
1. Lay out the Costs
The first thing you need to do as a dance mom is determine the cost of each necessary expense. For instance, you might want to lay out the monthly cost of studio tuition, as well as the average costs of shoes, costumes and hair and makeup products. Creating a monthly budget will help keep you on track in the long run and allow you to determine whether certain costs are worth it or need to be cut from the budget. Factor in other bills that you might have, including daily living and housing costs.
You don’t want to be short on your mortgage payment because you splurged somewhere else. Over time, you’ll become mindful of where you should and shouldn’t be spending money, helping you save money as you avoid spending on unnecessary items. With a firm budget in place, you might notice you’ll have money left over each month that can be added to your savings account.
2. Pay Yourself
At the end of the day, it’s important to pay yourself too, according to Dance Moms’ mom Melissa Gisoni. She noted in one money-saving video the importance of saving up when you first are given your paycheck. Her move? Envelopes.
Gisoni will stow away any extra money in envelopes, and then will hide them to avoid spending the money elsewhere. Eventually, the money will add up and can be used toward any extra expenses, such as a last-minute costume or a new pair of dance shoes. This is a good way to force yourself to save money, as you will not think – or see – the extra money you might have, preventing you from spending it.
3. Don’t Say ‘Yes’ to Your First Option
When shopping for dance, it’s important to not settle for the first item you find. This is especially crucial if you have to buy more expensive costumes through your studio. Look online and compare prices for dance shoes, leotards and other items you might need. Use websites such as RetailMeNot, which gives you the latest coupons and savings on websites.
If you’re really on a tight budget, consider getting gently used dance items from a local dance store, a consignment shop, dance community groups, Craigslist or EBay. You’d be surprised by the quality items you can find through these secondhand retailers. This way, you’ll save money by finding affordable, budget-friendly costumes that prevent you from spending money you might not have.
4. Pay up Front
Your budget may vary from month to month, especially when the holidays and recital week come around. If this is the case, it may be smarter to pay up front, especially when it comes to big payments such as monthly studio membership dues. Find out what financial plans are offered through the studio, and whether they would let you pay the full value up front.
Many dance studios will actually offer parents a discount if they choose to pay in advance. That way, each month is taken care of without you having to worry about late bills or trying to find the means to pay. Of course, make sure you have the means to cover this payment before going through with it.
5. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead can also help you save a lot of money on dance costs. For instance, if you know your dancer will need new shoes within a few months and you have a little extra money now, buy them and wait to give them to him or her down the road. The same goes for buying other items out of season, which can really help you cut costs as these items might be discounted or more affordable. Anticipating costs down the road can help you plan and make the right decisions now.
When beginning any new job, you’re bound to make a few mistakes. The same goes for new dance teachers. Even after years of dance practices, routines and recitals, being a teacher for other dancers isn’t easy, and it can definitely difficult at the beginning. If you’re a new dance teacher, you want to make the best impression possible for your new dance studio teacher and your students. While some mistakes are unavoidable, others can be easily stepped past. Here are some tips for dance teacher training and the lessons to be learned from your students!
1. Juggling Too Many Things at Once
When you first become a dance teacher, you may bite off more than you can chew, Discount Dance noted. In some instances, you want to impress your boss so you take on more classes than you can handle, leaving you tired, weary and mistake-prone. It’s important to realize that you can only volunteer for as many classes as you can realistically take on.
It may be smarter to only begin with one or two classes and then add on a few more as you get the hang of things. In other instances, you might be the studio owner and the dance teacher. You may also be the receptionist and the studio cleaner. Taking on too many roles can leave you overwhelmed and cause your business to crumble before it even gets off the ground. If you just opened a dance studio, look into hiring dance students from local colleges as teachers.
2. Short Attention Spans
Sure, there is a lot more to being a dance teacher than just dancing. Any talented dance teacher will tell you that you have to have a passion for teaching at heart. However, though you might have had lectures in school, it’s important to not bring those to dance classes.
Whether you’re teaching young students or an older, advanced class, all students will become bored if they’re listening to a teacher ramble on. After awhile, they might even stop listening, Adventure and Me stated. Though you want to impress your dance students and let them get to know you, talking too much isn’t the right move. Instead, let them get to know you through your dance style and instruction!
3. Different Tones for Different Students
When many dance teachers begin their careers, it can be hard to differentiate the dance levels of students. You may be asked to take on a beginner’s class for adults and an advanced class for children, and it can lead you to potentially talk down to a student. After taking years of dance courses yourself, you may have a hard time understanding what different levels need and what they already know.
From teaching an advanced dancer a commonly known move or expecting a beginner to pick up a routine with very little flaws, these actions can be discouraging for dancers and potentially cause them to leave the class. Every good dance teacher supports her students and knows their exact skill levels, so they never feel out of their league or underwhelmed, Dance Advantage stated.
4. Students Need Repetition
As a dance student, you may have been a skilled learner and had the ability to pick up routines very quickly. Without issue you could get the basic moves down and quickly execute them with precision and grace. As a result, that may be the only style of teaching you’re familiar with.
Some dance teachers tend to rush through a routine with dancers, causing them to be confused and unorganized. As a teacher, it’s important to realize that your dancers aren’t familiar with your style – and pace – of dancing. When going through a routine for the first time, take it slow – your dancers will appreciate it!
If you’re a new studio owner looking for some ideas on decorating your new space or just looking to refresh your current space, you might be seeking out a DIY way to create dance studio decor that won’t break the bank! Decorating can be so stressful, time consuming and expensive—especially when you’re doing DIY projects on the floors, walls and furniture. However, with some good tutorials and a long weekend you can transform your space in no time!
When starting up a new studio some of the essential items can be the most expensive to buy. A large cubby or shelving unit can be very expensive to buy brand new. This DIY project from a blogger on “My Love 2 Create” suggests a way to take a cubby shelving unit from the dumpster to a dance studio! This blogger found her cubby unit abandoned by the side of a dumpster, but you could also check various re-stores or the local dump. Once you have your unit, let the fixing begin!! She shows you how easy it is to transform a piece of furniture from shab to fab!
Top Hat Light Fixtures
Lighting can be one of the hardest projects to do on a tight budget! Especially something as fancy as a ceiling fixture. However, this DIY tutorial on top hat light fixtures shows you how to brighten up your studio or lobby space (with a twist!). The best part is that you only need 3 simple (and cheap) materials to get the project done! If you have more room and want to create some additional desk lamps to match your fixtures for your studio or lobby, all you have to do is use a lamp base and screw top with the hat as a shade. The linked blog has the details of the project, including a step by step tutorial on creating both the ceiling and the desk top hat fixtures.
Polka Dot Wall
Tackling a wall decoration project can seem like one of the most overwhelming and expensive projects to tackle from the kind of paint, to all of the professional supplies involved to make your wall a work of art. But what could be easier, cuter and more fun than a polka dot wall, made with sweet potatoes!? This tutorial shows you how to create your own fun and colorful polka dot wall with acrylic paint, sweet potatoes, and materials that you can find around the house. It’s an easy project to do by yourself, or you can grab a friend or even the kids! The best part is that this project saves you a day full of headaches and frustration at the home improvement store looking at paint chips and the tutorial writer even suggests mixing some of your own colors with the acrylic paints. The blog post linked gives you the step-by-step instructions to creating this fun work of art!
Paper Bag Lobby Floors
Flooring in the lobby can be such a hassle to figure out! There is constantly traffic coming in and out, moms with their coffee, little siblings with snacks, and not to mention those rainy days where keeping the floor clean can seem impossible. This tutorial shows you how to transform your wood or concrete lobby floors into a durable floor that will take a little bit of a beating, with a few simple supplies. The feature of this project is that the look of the floors is so rustic and simple, it’s easy to clean and it hardly shows the wear and tear! The blogger that posted this DIY idea, even made a post linked to a year later to show how well the floors held up after much use.
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?
Digital marketing is a preferred method of advertising for many companies nowadays, but good old-fashioned snail mail still has its purposes. Studies have shown that consumers still enjoy going out to their mailboxes and sorting through letters, so why not take advantage of the nostalgia associated with direct mail when it comes to dance studio advertising?
Mix up your marketing strategy this year and incorporate a postcard or letter campaign. Here are some tips that will help you make the most of your marketing dollars while working with direct mail.
Pick a Specific Event
The first thing you’ll want to do is pick a specific event or promotion to promote via direct mail. It’s much better to send out postcards specific to your open house or tuition discount than just general promotional materials. A few good events to tailor your campaign around might include:
Summer workshops or classes
A seasonal recital
Your annual open house
A seasonal registration period
New classes schedules or genres.
Having a specific and time-sensitive topic to promote will help you to create a sense of urgency and encourage recipients to act immediately.
Design Your Card
Once you’ve decided on the purpose of your postcard or other direct mail piece, you’ll need to design it. You can do this yourself if you’re a whiz with Photoshop, or there’s likely a design professional in your community who can create a sleek, chic postcard for you.
When designing your postcard, you’ll want to include some sort of eye-catching graphic to grab the reader’s attention. Dance Studio Life recommended using a photo from your studio, whether it’s an adorable group of dancers or a wow-worthy action shot. Include a short and sweet statement about your event or promotion on the front of the card, and save the majority of the text for the back.
As you fill in the back of your postcard, don’t forget to include your contact information and website, as well as all the details about your event or promotion. Use actionable language to encourage readers to act soon, otherwise they’ll likely toss the postcard in a pile of mail and forget about it.
Compile a Mailing List
The next step is to figure out who you want to receive the postcard. There are two main groups of people you can market to: existing or prospective customers. Keep in mind that the average response rates for these two groups are 3.4 percent and 1.1 percent respectively, according to the Chief Marketing Officer Council. This factor is essential when figuring out return on investment – if you spend $100 on just 50 post cards, chances are that you won’t make your money back.
If you decide to target prospective customers, you can either buy a targeted mailing list from an online company or use the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail option.
Measure Your Success
After you’ve stamped all the postcards and shipped them off, you’ll want to devise a way to track the results of your campaign. If you’re promoting an event, you can ask people how they heard about it when they register. If you’re advertising a sale, have new customers bring in their postcards so you can see how many people you actually reached.
This type of data is essential when it comes to future marketing efforts. If you get a great response from your postcard, you may want to use the same strategy again in a few months. But if the results were less-than-stellar, you’ll have to revisit the drawing board to figure out how to better target your customers.
Nothing sells your dance studio to prospective students quite like a perfectly captured photograph. Maybe it’s all your dancers smiling during their final recital number or a great shot of a tumbler in action. Whatever your favorite pictures may be, they’re likely an essential part of your marketing strategy. But sometimes pictures need a little help before they can wow your audiences. Capturing action shots is tricky to begin with and even more difficult when you’re in a dark auditorium. That’s why it’s important for studio owners to learn how to artfully manipulate digital photographs with editing software. Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide with dance photography tips that will help you capture the best pictures and transform them into invaluable works of art.
How to Get the Best Pictures
Just like with choreography or any other work of art, the better your materials are, the more impressive the final product will be. You’re not going to create a breath-taking performance with lackluster tricks, and you probably won’t end up with an amazing photograph if you start out with a sub-par snapshot.
With that in mind, use this tips to get the best pictures possible:
Use a digital single-lens reflex camera, also called a DSLR, if possible. These cameras are easy to use and capture much clearer pictures than point-and-shoot cameras.
You’ll want to put your camera on the highest ISO setting, which will make the camera more sensitive to light and therefore better able to capture quick snapshots of moving subjects.
Try to take photos in quick bursts so you have a number of action shots to choose from. A fast shutter speed will improve the clarity of these pictures.
Don’t get stuck in one spot. Move around to capture different angles so you have pictures from every side.
Try to take pictures both close up and far away. To accomplish this, you can either use the zoom function or simply move closer to the stage.
Choosing an Editing Program
Before you can start digitally altering your photographs, you’ll need to find editing software. There are many great programs available, and there are options to fit just about every budget. Software like Apple’s Photos is free for Mac users, as are online programs like Pixlr and Photobucket. If you’re willing to spend some money for a more high-tech option, look into Adobe Photoshop Elements or Pixelmator, both of which have low one-time fees.
Whatever program you choose, you’ll need a few key feature editing capabilities. Look for software that offers the following tools:
Shadow and highlight adjustment
White balance adjustment
Sharpen and blurring
“Photo editing is often learned through trial and error.”
How to Edit a Photograph Step-by-Step
Now that you have a host of pictures and editing software, it’s time to start learning the ropes. For many amateurs, editing pictures is a trial-and-error style process. You have to figure out the flow that works for you! Here are a few guidelines to get you started.
1. Upload and Store Your Images
You’ll need to transfer your pictures from the camera onto the computer, whether it’s through a USB cord or the Cloud. Once they’re uploaded to the computer, create a file for the original images and label the folder clearly so you can quickly find them later on.
2. Pick Out Superior Snapshots
If you have dozens of images to chose from, you can make your job a little easier by doing an initial run-through of all the pictures. Find five or six photos that are clear and focused, and separate them into a new folder. These will be the images that you edit.
3. Crop and Straighten
Start by using the cropping tool to cut off any empty space in the picture. It’s often better to have a close-up view of your subjects than to have them get lost in a big background. You’ll also want to use a straightening tool to level the horizons of your photo. If the picture is on a slant, tilt it so the dancers are standing tall.
4. Adjust the Levels
Now comes the tricky part. There are many different levels that you can adjust in a photograph, including exposure, brightness, white balance, sharpness, shadows, highlights and more. Some pictures may not need adjustment in these departments, but you can fool around with the aspects to see how you can improve the photo.
In general, you may want to tinker with the white balance so that any white objects appear clearly and aren’t tinted by the stage or studio lights. You can also sharpen the image a bit if it’s unclear or blurry. This is also a good time to remove red eye from any of your subjects and smooth out blemishes on any close-up shots.
5. Save or Scrap Your Edits
The great thing about digital photo editing is that it’s easy to revert back to the original picture if your edits don’t come out right. Keep working at your editing skills, and soon you’ll discover that with a few quick tweaks, your photos look as if they were shot by a professional.
After the curtain closes on your seasonal rehearsal, there’s only one essential event left for your dance students: the end of year party! It’s common for many dance teams (sports teams, too) to finish off a successful season with a big party. Students usually bring their parents and siblings, and everyone gets to relax, have fun and reminisce about the past year.
This year, use one of these four fun end-of-season ideas to host a bash that no one will forget.
1. Partner with a Local Venue
If there’s a small business in your community that would be a fun venue for your event, see if they’re willing to partner with you to make it happen. It could be a recreational facility, a pizza parlor, ice cream shop, trampoline park or something else. Many times local businesses will be happy to support your students with a discounted rate or in exchange for in-kind services. You never know until you ask, so put reach out to a few companies. You may be surprised at the generosity that you receive!
2. Hold a Parents vs. Students Game
Get everyone on their feet by organizing a parents versus students sporting event. You can all head over to a local sports field for a friendly game of kickball, soccer or basketball. If you have enough students, you can even make it into a studio-wide tournament. The best part about this idea is that you can have a picnic or barbeque going on at the same time. No one will get bored, and you’ll be able to enjoy the great outdoors.
3. Invite a Guest Speaker
You can bring any party to the next level by having a guest speaker give the end-of-year toast. Some good options for people to invite might include local celebrities, past students who have become professional dancers or even members of a local dance troupe. These people often have lots of advice for your budding dancers, and it will make the event that much more memorable.
4. Have a Pinterest Party
Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can kick your gathering up a notch with some fun party ideas courtesy of Pinterest. Simply search for “dance studio party ideas” and you’ll find lots of great options for decorations, food, games and awards. The best part is that most ideas are do-it-yourself, so you can keep the cost of the party reasonable.
No matter what you do, take the opportunity during your end of year event to invite students back for the following year. Make sure parents have information about upcoming events and camps, and give them the opportunity to sign up during the event.It’s a great opportunity to capture registrations from the folks who haven’t yet committed to the coming dance year!
Chances are that, like most dance studios around the country, your cash flow drops during the summer. You may host dance camps and a few summer classes, but you won’t be as busy as you are during the school year. Just because your studio has hit its seasonal lull doesn’t mean you can’t continue to market your business and services. In fact, summer is the perfect time to hone in on some of your marketing tactics and see how you can revamp them for the seasons to come. Here are five dance studio marketing ideas for specific areas that you may want to focus on while you have a little extra time this summer.
1. Work on SEO
Search engine optimization best practices are always changing and evolving. The strategies that may have boosted your website in search last year may actually be hurting it this year. That’s why you should take time this summer to read up on SEO and how you can improve your studio’s site. Here are some of our SEO tips for beginners, but you may also want to look into mobile optimization, keyword strategies and best landing page structures.
2. Set Up a Referral Program
If you don’t have a student referral program, set one up this summer! The Dallas Chronicle explained that referrals are one of the most cost-efficient ways to bring in new students without shelling out a ton of money for advertisements. Think about what you could offer students who refer friends to your studio – discounted tuition? Free merchandise? Free recital tickets? Whatever you choose, just make sure that it’s valuable enough to be appealing to your dancers, but not so generous that you’ll wind up regretting it.
3. Create Testimonial Videos
You probably have some great videos stored on your phone or computer from seasons past, so why not put them to good use? Gather your videos together in one place and work to compile short films that you can display on your website. You may also want to see if a few of your long-time dancers are willing to sit down and talk about their experiences at your studio. A compelling testimonial video will likely perform well on your website and social media pages.
4. Work on Your Brand
Small businesses are always growing and evolving, and it’s essential that you keep your brand consistent across all forms of communication. If you haven’t had the time to upload your new logo onto your email newsletter or are still using outdated class prices on your website, take time this summer to update all these little inconsistencies. It may not seem like such a big deal, but potential customers are more apt to trust your business if they receive consistent messages about who you are and what you do.
5. Keep Up Your Newsletter
Your summertime marketing should ideally grab the attention of prospective students, but you also want to keep your current dancers engaged. That’s why it’s crucial to keep up your studio newsletter during the summer. Send out updates about what’s going on in the classroom during the warmer months, changes that you’ll be making for coming seasons, what other dancers are doing at summer intensives or even just tips on how dancers can stay in shape over break.
Don’t have a newsletter? Create one soon! There’s no excuse not to take advantage of this easy marketing strategy, as free platforms like MailChimp provide you with all the tools you need to put together a professional, polished email blast.
Zero time? Yes. That’s what I call the period after recital. In my world, it looks something like this:
From eating out every day at rehearsals to ZERO food in the fridge at home the next week.
From 800 students on the day of the last recital to ZERO students the next day.
From performance adrenaline to ZERO energy the morning after recital.
From hundreds of people telling you how great you are at the show to seemingly making ZERO people happy after fall placements come out.
It may feel like zero time to those of us in the trenches of dance studio ownership, but to quote YouTube sensation ‘Sweet Brown,’ “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
It’s dance registration time, people! So kick off the recital dust and “zero time” blues and get ready for 5 Tips for Dance Registration that Rocks:
Amp the excitement with a new program. Last year I felt like our registration buzz was a little low, so we added Acro, Leaps & Turns and Modern to the roster. Every one of those classes was full with a waiting list in 9 MINUTES after online registration opened. While that was exciting, the real win for us was that the people who rushed to register for the new and exciting classes also registered for the standards like ballet, tap and jazz at the same time.
Tie accepting a performance company placement to registration. At our studio we hold our auditions for performing groups the week after recital. Audition results go out at the same time as registration info. To accept a placement, a student must register for fall (and summer) classes. This is a great way to firm up involvement for fall, especially with teen students who may lose motivation for returning classes as the summer wears on.
Race to Registration. Last year we launched a “Race to Registration” contest that was very successful. Here’s how the contest worked: At the end of each week of the contest we drew a name from those who had enrolled over the course of the week. The winner could choose from a $100 studio gift card, a studio jacket or a studio birthday party. To claim the prize, they would need to come with a parent to the studio and have their picture taken, which was then promoted on Facebook and Instagram, and ultimately shared by the winning family to their social circles. We ran this promotion for the four weeks leading up to fall classes and captured more than 50 additional students in the process.
Make FB actually work for you. Gone are the days of counting on FB posts alone to drive action from your fan base. FB has changed its algorithm so that less than 10% of people who like your page will ever see a post from you. The new power of FB belongs to paid promotions to targeted audiences, boosted posts and getting people to share posts, which puts your message into the news feed of people who already know and love you. If FB advertising isn’t already in your budget, make room for it this year. Even a small budget of $5/day for a week on a specific call to action can make a big difference.
Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Do you know what the least expensive way to get enrollment is? DON’T LOSE YOUR CURRENT STUDENTS! This should be obvious, but based on the number of calls I get from people wanting to know how to attract new students, it isn’t. My first piece of advice is to do whatever you can to get the current students to return. Do you have a system to measure who returns and who doesn’t? What do you do to reach out to previous students? No, they won’t all come back. Some move on, some age out and some just weren’t your cup of tea. Many, however, probably had a great experience and just have not gotten around to re-registering. If too much time passes after recital time they might figure it’s just too late. Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Even if they don’t re-register, they will appreciate the care you showed in reaching out to them and likely refer future families to your studio.
If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen a friend or acquaintance trying to raise money through crowdfunding. People use these newly popular platforms to collect donations for trips, creative projects, business startups, tuition and really anything else you could imagine. Because crowdfunding has proven lucrative for many small-business owners, many dance studios try fundraising with KickStarter dance campaigns or other crowdfunding resources when they’re in need of new facilities, recital venues, transportation to competitions, studio upgrades and more.
Some studio owners might be skeptical of this method of collecting donations, but with the right platform and marketing, the results can be impressive. Dance Studio Life explained that one former professional dancer in Virginia managed to raise $2,500 to open her own studio and provide attire for less fortunate students.
If you’re thinking about giving crowdfunding a try, here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your campaign.
The Appeal of Crowdfunding
The reason that crowdfunding has really taken off is simply because it’s a simpler way for people to raise money. Most studio owners know how hard it is to raise a significant sum through car washes or bake sales, and online fundraising gets rid of all that hassle.
The new way to raise money has become especially useful for artists, including those in the dance community. According to Dance Teacher magazine, the Kickstarter dance category actually has one of the highest success rates.
“One of the reasons dancers have been so successful is that they tend to ask for more modest sums, which makes the campaign more manageable and likely to be funded,” Dianne Debicella of Fractured Atlas explained to Dance Teacher magazine. “Dancers also have strong communities and are able to get the word out to their circles.”
Best Practices for Studios
Once you’ve decided to launch a campaign on a crowdfunding site, the first step is to choose which platform suits your needs. Some of the most popular options are Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe, but these choices all come with stipulations and parameters that may or may not work with your goals. Take time to research each site, read through their frequently asked questions and see how well similar campaigns are performing. One big decision you’ll need to make is whether to choose an all-or-nothing approach, where projects that don’t meet their goals get none of the pledges.
You’ll also want to do the bulk of your planning well before you launch the campaign. Entrepreneur magazine recommended that you start spreading the word about your goals to your patrons and supporter six months before you go live on a crowdfunding site.
Another best practice is to offer more than just a thank-you email to your donors. You can encourage parents and students to contribute by offering a discount on next season’s tuition or on studio merchandise. This is also a good way to ensure your re-enrollment rates will be high!
Tips for Success
After your launched your campaign, it’s important to stay on top of managing it. After all, you probably won’t meet your goals if you set up the account, then forget about it. Here are some tips to keep in mind as your promote your fundraiser.
Post your crowdfunding page to social media accounts, and encourage dedicated patrons to share the link.
Don’t be afraid to share the campaign with local arts groups who could generate interest in your cause.
People respond well to visuals, so include pictures and videos in your campaign.
Find out what promotional tactics work, then adjust your strategy accordingly.
Collect donor emails and give them updates after your campaign is complete. Many people will be happy to see what they helped create.