Think you don’t have the time—let alone the energy—to overhaul your dance studio’s marketing strategy? Think again, says Chantelle Bruinsma, the CEO and founder of Studio Expansion, an education company that helps studio owners grow and strengthen their businesses. (She’s also a veteran performing-arts studio owner in her own right, having had over a thousand students and six locations across Sydney, Australia).
“This is when parents are looking for classes,” Bruinsma says. By focusing on marketing during these summer months, you’ll be, as Bruinsma calls it, “meeting the market where it’s at.” That means this might just be the most efficient time of the year to use your marketing dollars and hours. So what are you waiting for? Try one of these immediately actionable tips today.
1. Make Your Website Do the Work
Bruinsma says that your first action item should be, well, making sure that your studio’s website features a clear action item on each and every page. “I can’t tell you how many program pages have photos and descriptions of ballet or modern or tap, but there’s no enrollment button on the page,” Bruinsma. If your site isn’t set up to make sign-ups as easy and seamless as possible—or, worse, if you don’t offer online registration at all—you’re missing out on customers.
2. Take a Bite Out of the Apple
As dance educators, we tend to operate as if everyone else already feels the way we do about dance: namely, that dance training is valuable and should be a part of every child’s life. The problem with taking this idea for granted, according to Bruinsma, arises in marketing language. Imagine you’re trying to sell an apple. It wouldn’t work to simply say “Buy this apple!” Instead, Bruinsma advises “telling the whole story of the whole apple. ‘Here’s what you’re going to love about this apple: It’s crisp, sweet, juicy and delicious. It’s got nutrients and vitamins to make you healthy.’” And so on. Simply repeating a call to action won’t bring potential dancers into the fold. Getting folks clear on what value you’re offering will. “Stop selling just the fact that you have dance lessons,” Bruinsma says, “and focus on explaining ‘Why your child will love dancing with US.'”
3. Cut the Cookie-Cutter
Getting your marketing strategy to a clearer and more compelling place will mean ditching generic information in favor of distinctiveness. The most common culprit, according to Bruinsma? The phrase “fun and friendly.” “If there are six studios in your area, they’re all doing the same thing,” Bruinsma says. “And that serves no one. As a parent, how do you choose?” Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, figure out and focus on your studio’s specialties. Maybe you offer uncommon classes, like flamenco or Broadway tap. Maybe your recital costumes always dazzle. Maybe there’s a playroom on site for younger siblings. Highlight those strengths on your website, through social media posts and in any ads you place.
4. Shorter Is Sweeter
Raise your hand if your studio’s emails and other mass communications tend to run on the long side. Everyone? No shame! But, of course, shorter is better. Bruinsma says the sweet spot of approachability and readability (and a higher response rate, to boot) hovers at just nine words. “The shorter and more casual you can make it, the more it feels like a friendly text that’s just checking in,” Bruinsma says. “It’s kind of unbelievable when you put this into practice, because it works instantly.”
5. Enjoy. Don’t Endure.
For a long time, the dominant narrative around being a studio owner has gone a little like this: It’s exhausting and you’ll never make a lot of money, but you do it because of your passion for dance. But what if there was a way to run your studio (including your marketing plan) that keeps you and your staff working smarter but not harder? What if you could take a vacation, secure in the knowledge that the studio’s social media and marketing strategy run as a well-oiled machine? What if being a studio owner was a little more fun and a lot less headache? Every year, Bruinsma and the Studio Expansion team help studio owners like you meet and exceed their business goals in a motivating and encouraging atmosphere. Click here to download a PDF with even more marketing tips from Bruinsma, and apply to join the next Masterclass cohort.