Over the summer it is a great time to get out of the studio and mingle with people in your community. As a studio owner it is very easy to get stuck in the studio and never have an opportunity to get to know other business owners. As each new season approaches, September is a good time to make plans to get out into your community during the year. It is so easy to get bogged down in teaching, choreographing, managing staff, faculty, students and parents and running the business that you never get around to actually following through with your plan. Next thing you know it is May and you are getting ready for your year end show and wondering how the year went by so fast.
Each year there are plenty of opportunities for you to get out into your community and get to know other business owners, parents, grandparents and to help organizations that will in turn help to get your name out there. Plus, you will be able to give to some good causes at the same time. This is a great way to build relationships with probable purchasers of your goods and services. Even if you have to get a sub for a class, it will be worth it because some of these activities are a great way for you to connect with people and let them know not just about your business but also about you. Most of us would much rather go to a business with someone running it that we know or with someone that has been highly recommended to us. This is a stronger form of marketing than any add we create.
The best way to start is to go out into the community in the morning and go to several businesses near and around your studio. Dont focus on just kid friendly ones, remember a lot of business owners have kids too! Dont try to sell them on anything, just get to know them and what there business is all about. Once you get a handle on what they offer you can then let them know about your business and perhaps you can explore ideas on cross marketing. It is a good idea to leave a business card with them and try to get an e-mail address. You can follow your meeting up with a card letting them know you enjoyed talking with them. You could then send them an e-mail to further explore opportunities for both of your businesses. Make sure you always angle it in a way that they can see that both parties will benefit from any joint efforts. Keep the lines of communication open. Here are some ways we have connected more with our community.
Start a kids activity club with other business owners. Choose businesses that provide a product or service for children. You could then do joint venture marketing with them. They can send your mailings to their clients and recommend you and you will do the same for them. For example, we have teamed up with a dentist, a craft store where they offer art classes, a kids clothing store, a karate studio and a dance wear store. We are currently working on having a kids day where all of the different businesses will be on hand to give out literature, coupons, demonstrations and more.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce. This one may seem obvious but I am surprised how many dance schools are not a part of this organization. Again, if you join you need to be active in it. Go to some of their events, see if your dancers can participate in a fundraising event or think about offering to give a talk about the importance of arts in the community. Anything to become involved.
Create a fund raising event for a local charity. This is a great way to get to know more people in your community. Find a charity that you feel strongly about and help promote their fund raising efforts. We have done this with March of Dimes, Save the Children Foundation and our local Humane Society.
As you can see, you can build relationships with organizations, individuals or groups. The key is to get out and meet people in your community. The side benefit of this is that you will also build real friendships. After all, who would you rather do business with, a friend who you know and like or a stranger? So get out there and let them know who you are and what your business is about. The end result will be a ripple effect for your business that will definitely help it grow!