As the days become shorter and the cold weather brings ice and snow to us it is hard to think about what is going to happen in the summer. Now is the time, however, to start putting your plans together to get the word out about your summer programs. People really do plan ahead and if you can get all of your information into the hands of not only your current customers but also other families in your area before your competitors do, you will definitely have an advantage. Many people start to plan their summers in January and February because they want to be sure of vacations and that everyone has something positive to do.

As the days become shorter and the cold weather brings ice and snow to us it is hard to think about what is going to happen in the summer. Now is the time, however, to start putting your plans together to get the word out about your summer programs. People really do plan ahead and if you can get all of your information into the hands of not only your current customers but also other families in your area before your competitors do, you will definitely have an advantage. Many people start to plan their summers in January and February because they want to be sure of vacations and that everyone has something positive to do.

First of all you need to decide what kind of programs you would like to run. Pre-School programs usually generate good income and they are a great way to introduce new dancers to your school. Usually a two hour program, five days a week is plenty for the summer and it is a good idea to have a different theme for each week as this will encourage parents to sign their child up for more than one week. It also gives them the flexibility of being able to go away on vacation and then perhaps do another week or two when they return. Offering regular classes of 45 minutes during the week is usually worth doing too. Finding ways to build up your pre-school program is not only going to help you out financially for the summer but for the entire year. If those young dancers enjoy the classes you have to offer there is a good chance that they will stay with you for years.

The next age group is the 6-8 year olds. This age group generally enjoys a mixture of styles of dance. You could offer Ballet, Jazz or Hip Hop and Tap. They also like to dress up so having some costumes available to them and a show for them and their parents at the end of each program will give them a chance to show off their new found skills. Children and parents will be equally delighted!

For children of 8 and up Musical Theater programs, Ballet and Hip Hop programs are usually popular. The Musical Theater programs are good because even children who have no previous dance experience can feel that they are really doing something productive and do not feel so intimidated when they are also acting and singing and learning how to put costumes and props together. We all need those recreational dancers to continue on to take even one class a week during our regular sessions. This also applies to Hip Hop. Many children who see Hip Hop dancers on T.V. feel comfortable dancing to that beat. Adding Video content to the program and presenting them with a DVD of their work during the program will be a big hit! Then you have your serious dancers, it is important to be able to offer them some type of program during the summer. The availability of your students during the summer will depend upon the location and the school system in your area. We have tried many different programs with our more serious students and in our area the one that has had the best results is a 2 week intensive in August. I like to encourage the dedicated students to audition for different summer programs away from our area as I feel that it broadens their experience and certainly helps to open their eyes as to what is out there. We also like to do our intensive in August because we start our new session in September and we have found that it really prepares our students to be ready for what we have in store for them during the year. What is most important is that you look at what is really going to work for you.

How to market your programs

There are a number of different ways to get the word out about your summer events.

1)    Hard copy brochure

2)    Online advertising

3)    Door hangers

4)    Newspaper advertising

5)    Flyers

Hard copy brochure

Designing an attractive brochure will help you to get customers signed up for your programs. If you do not have the capability to do it yourself then it is worth investing in a professional to do it for you. Put everything on the brochure including a registration form so that is easy to fill in and deliver to you in person or put in the mail. Make sure that all of your terms are clearly spelled out in the brochure and that there is an insurance waiver for the parent to sign at the bottom of the registration form.

Online advertising

There are a few different approaches to take with your online advertising. Make sure that all of the information is on your own website and send out a series of emails to all of your current customers regarding your summer programs. People need constant reminders of the programs that you have to offer. Online registration for this type of program will make it even easier for your customers to sign up. You can also advertise online with your local newspapers, often this is more effective than doing it in hard copy although a combination of the two can work also. Connecting with local online parent’s groups can be something that can help you all year round but very often you can pay for a dedicated email that will go out to all their members and these are generally fairly inexpensive and get your message out to a targeted audience. Everyone uses the internet nowadays, especially young mothers and everyone wants the easy solution.

Door Hangers

This method of advertising does work. You need enough manpower to put them on front doors but you can make it a fun outing with friends or older students. Mainly go to areas in the vicinity of your studio where they are predominately family areas. It is a little time consuming but we have had really good results from door hangers. The piece itself is inexpensive and you can find many online printing companies that will print them quickly and efficiently. Google for door hangers or just printers and you will have a variety of companies to choose from.

Newspaper ads

 

Although people are not reading as many newspapers these days they will often read their local paper. Sometimes these are free and others are by subscription. Weekly or bi-weekly newspapers usually work the best because they are more likely to be looked at than a daily. Work with your ad representative to place your ad with a press release about your business and what you have to offer the local community.

Flyers

Flyers can be put up all over the place and are very helpful to informing the general public about your studio and your programs. Make them colorful and not too cluttered. The information should be easy to read at a glance and there needs to be a call to action. You can do this by putting a deadline on there or perhaps offering a prize to the first twenty people who sign up or a coupon that can be torn off the bottom of the flyer. People need a reason to respond quickly. Put up flyers in local stores that cater to children, in supermarkets, libraries and pre-schools, anywhere where children or their parents are likely to go. See if local doctors and dentists will allow you to put your flyer up on their board, gyms are another great place to get visibility. The idea is for as many people as possible to see your flyer.

Good luck with marketing your summer programs, instead of 'Christmas in July' it is, ' Summer in December'!