The priceless recommendations are more important than any other marketing you do.

Even in today's media-driven world, there is no better form of advertising than word-of-mouth, a personal referral from someone whose opinions others trust and respect. Dance school owners are among the biggest beneficiaries of word-of-mouth referrals, as they require no advertising and marketing budget. The key is how do you get your students and their parents talking?

Create WOW moments at your school. When you have an unexpected event or special "give away" it will create a buzz that will get people talking about you!

While you cannot always control how and when referrals come about, there are many ways to start and sustain a positive buzz about your school.  Here are some helpful tips on how to attract high-value, low-cost word-of-mouth referrals.

Recruit Cheerleader: Build a team of supporters for your business; friends, family members, colleagues and your best customers who routinely talk up your business to their friends and acquaintances. Make sure that they know enough about your qualifications and capabilities to make an accurate and convincing case to others. Make sure that, at the very least, you send them a thank-you note or give them a phone call to let them know how much you appreciate their kind words.

Network, Network, Network: Get involved with professional associations related to your industry or field. You'll get to know experts and colleagues in your specific market. They may know of immediate or potential opportunities for your business. Other good networking opportunities include local or regional business associations, Chambers of Commerce and local clubs and associations. 

Capitalize On Your Current Customers: Once someone signs up for lessons at your school, thank your customers for their support and express your interest in having them have an enjoyable experience at your studio. Also encourage them to pass along your name to others. If your operating budget can handle it, consider offering discounts for customer referrals.

Become A Knowledge Source: Take advantage of opportunities to show what you know by offering free presentations or articles on timely issues to business, professional and community organizations and publications. Make sure that your presentation/article is relevant to listeners interests, not a thinly veiled commercial for your business. 

Keep In Touch: Don't wait for customers to call you. Contact them from time to time to see how they are, personally and professionally, what issues or trends they're dealing with and perhaps alert them to an event, article or website that may be of interest. Also consider creating a newsletter to current and prospective clients with relevant news, tips and other information that can help their business, make them feel connected within the community or simply brighten their day.

Give As Well As Receive: Every small business should have a network of businesses, colleagues and associates to call on to handle excess workload or provide services or experience you may not have. These relationships almost always result in 'reciprocal referrals' to you. 

Do A Good Job: There's no better source for a positive referral than a happy customer. And remember that the quality of your service says as much about you as the quality of your work. Responsiveness, the ability to quickly resolve student issues and a willingness to do those all-important 'little things' builds goodwill and a good reputation for your business.

Maintain Visibility At The Local Level: Be an active member of your local business community. Volunteer for select non-profits aligned with your field, attend Chamber of Commerce mixers and participate in local activities as your schedule allows. The personal bonds you create can fuel new business opportunities.

Put Technology To Work: Stay connected to your market and accessible to your customers by leveraging your time and reach with technology. Everything from voice mail (yes, if your studio still doesn't have answering machine or voice mailbox system, you need one immediately! Please make sure your message is updated and current!!!), cell phones and desktop publishing to the instant communication via email and the Internet can help you.

Share Your Knowledge Freely: Consider giving presentations at no charge for your local Chamber of Commerce or another association in which you participate. Volunteer to have one of your ensembles or classes perform at a fundraiser or donate a block of classes to be raffled off. Volunteer to write articles for smaller publications that reach your target audience. All these activities serve to increase your visibility while giving you an opportunity to showcase your expertise and generate good will.

Remember that word of mouth is the best form of advertising. If you spend your money on making sure your current clients are having a great time at your school it will be well worth the cost because there's no better way to market your school than to have clients who give you testimonials. People will believe their friends and will try a business based on their recommendation. So if you are looking to grow your school, work to make WOW moments for your current clients!

BONUS ACTION PLAN!

Most studio owners will agree that their best form of advertising is referral!

Many studio owners have no set policy or plan to use those referrals and reward their customers. They just let it happen. Do you regularly ask and receive testimonials? Your customers love you and are eager to tell their story so ask and you will receive. The key is to think of ways to connect to your current customers and let them be your raving fans that help you spread the word. Educate them on what you are doing, and invite them to bring their friends in to the studio for a visit. Have a set plan for giving them a reward and remind them about it on a regular basis that you appreciate their patronage and their loyalty to YOU!

Do you market to your current customers? If you do, I would be willing to bet that you do not do it enough. After all, the best customers are the ones you already have! Use this three-step plan to help you build a better, long-lasting relationship with your customers!

1.      Keep in contact with your current customers. This means e-mails, newsletters, surveys, a blog, customer events, and anything else you can think of. The reality is that everyone is busy, and you are low on their radar! If you lose contact, then you risk losing business. Most people stop coming to a business because they think you don’t even know they exist. Don’t worry about being a pest. Just keep giving them useful information and special offers that they will love to receive.

2.     Keep marketing to your current customers. Most businesses focus on attracting new clients and marketing to them. But think about this: if you are doing business with a company you like, you are more apt to buy more of the same—a lot more! Find out what your customers love about your studio, and then give them more—a lot more! When you have this kind of a devoted client, you can ask them to give you testimonials so you can then promote what they love about you, so that you can get more customers like them—a lot more!

3.    Create WOW moments for your customers. Make plans to have special events that are both publicized and unannounced at your school. Think of ways to surprise your students and their families. Ideas such as special student of the month, free giveaways for students who work hard, special projects where everyone wins something and just random acts of kindness will make you the talk of the town.

TRY THIS...

Create a 50/50 referral program where you offer your current customers $50 off and the new customer $50 off when they bring in a referral coupon. You don't pay until you get paid! We used this method and the results were terrific! See below:

Promotion from 2018 Campaign

47 new customers x $799 per class and $25 registration fee=

$38,728.00 income - $4700.00 expenses = $34,028.00 net

BUT, there is more… A lot of these students didn't sign up just for one class but for several!

Additional classes added $17,980 + $34,028.00=

$52,008.00 Profit

Good luck and I wish you an abundance of success!

 

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