To grow your business you must have a strong marketing plan in place. Build a budget you can live with and then proceed and stick with it!
Here’s the good news:
Marketing your dance studio business does not have to be expensive. Because you have a localized market that is targeted, it is easier to identify who you are going after and the best way to connect with your potential customers. I would be willing to bet that over the years you have accumulated many names and contacts that you could and should send offers out to. You don’t always have to go mining for new prospect. Some of them are right under your nose! You may already have their names, but have just never contacted them. Also, don’t stop marketing to your existing or past clients. I know this has been a major focus in the other articles I have written, but this really is the key to what has helped us grow our business over the years. This can be done with a newsletter, postcards, phone calls, personal letters and special offers. Once you get them, try to find ways to stay connected and create WOW moments. WOW moments are anything that will get your customers to think and talk about you!
A simple idea to create a WOW moment:
After someone new registers, send them a handwritten personal note from you saying thank you. It doesn’t have to be long—just a few lines:
Dear (insert name),
I want to personally thank you for registering (child or children’s first name) to the (your studio name). We know you have choices when it comes to your child’s dance education and we are thrilled that you have chosen us! If you have any concerns or need further information, our staff is always eager to assist you. And, of course, if you need to discuss anything about your child’s classes, please do not hesitate to let me know. Happy students, parents and staff are how we measure our success.
Here’s to a great school year!
(hand signed by you)
For returning customers, adapt to this way:
Dear (insert name),
I want to personally thank you for registering (child or children’s first name) to the (your studio name). We appreciate the fact that you trust us with the continued dance education of your child. Our number one priority is to keep our valued returning students happy. If you have any concerns or need additional information, our staff is eager to assist you. And, of course, if you need to discuss your child’s classes please do not hesitate to let me know. Happy students, parents and staff are how we measure our success.
Here’s to a great school year!
(hand signed by you)
OK, that was easy enough, but how will this get you more students?
It will simply create an opportunity for your customers to talk about you. The more they talk, the more word of mouth advertising is at play. We all know that word of mouth is the best—though not the only—form of advertising. The key here is to create an opportunity for them to do that. The more WOW moments you can create for your customers, the more chances you have that they will tell that experience to someone else they know. Think about this, when was the last time someone wrote you a handwritten note thanking you for doing business with them? Not very often, if at all, right? How would you feel if someone took the time to do it? Do you think you might recommend that business, especially if you are already happy with their products or services? The answer has to be YES!!! I know that it involves a little more work on your part, but it really is also one of the least expensive forms of advertising. The key is it works!
Reaching out to past customers:
I can never understand why a business that I have used and then stopped using would not reach out to me to say 'Hey, we miss you and would like to see you back. Here is a special offer just for you.' Why wouldn’t this business try to keep me as a customer just for the simple reason that I bought from them once? After all, if I bought from them at any time there are plenty of reasons why I might again.
You can reach out to past customers either digitally or through a postcard or letter. Most times I stop doing business with someone it’s just because I forget about them, not because of some unpleasant situation. The fact is that the reason most students stop taking your classes generally has nothing to do with you. Maybe they wanted to try something else, maybe it didn’t fit their time slot last year, maybe they were tight on cash or had a family crisis.
Let’s say that you go over your student roster from the last 2 years and you see x number of students that did not return. You could send them a series of simple postcards to let them know you miss them and that they can call you to see what time slots fit into their busy time schedule. You can also let them know about new classes you have added and a special offer you have, just for them. I know students who came back after a hiatus because they received one of these mailings and the mom asked the child, 'Would you like to take dance lessons again?' If we didn’t push the idea maybe they would have asked or maybe they wouldn’t have asked, but I like to know that I am planting the seeds.
This marketing plan can be sent out in a series that includes one letter and 3 postcards. Let’s use an example of a list of 200 students that did not return. The postage, producing the letter and postcards, sticking on labels and sending it out will cost you somewhere between $500 and $600 dollars for the entire project. Depending on what your fees are, you will need somewhere between 2 to 4 students to re-register to cover expenses. That is only a 2% return on 200 students. When we do one of these campaigns, we usually get between 5 to 10 percent return.
Advertise with an online service for moms:
This concept is growing in leaps and bounds. There are mom oriented web service sites with names like SuzySaid.com that work as a very strong marketing tool for us. They reach an online community of local moms who relay information on the site about events, products and services that they use and recommend. Here is the best part: you can buy ad space on the site. Even better you can be one of the featured businesses for the week if you offer their members a special deal or special event at your studio. These types of sites are sweeping the nation and I recommend that you do a local Google search in your area for mom online resources. The ad space is very inexpensive and it works. We have developed a great relationship with this network and host morning parties at our studio every couple of months where preschoolers can try a free class while the moms enjoy coffee and pastry provided by us. We get new clients every time we host these events.
So there you have it. Marketing doesn’t always have to be done in the conventional way. As a matter of fact, the more you can stay out of the typical formats of advertising, the better chance you have of being noticed! The point is not to just put one ad in the paper and see what happens. Develop a solid plan that includes multiple mediums of advertising and watch your business GROW!