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

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 Cheerleaders
Build a team of supporters for your business—friends, family members and colleagues 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 nonprofits 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!), 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
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 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!