Growing Pains: How to Build Enrollment with School-Aged Dancers

A Dance Advantage reader asked specifically how to attract more senior level dance students to her school, which has been open for three years. She said she has success with younger ages but “it’s a real problem filling classes above age 8”.

Can you relate to any of these statements?
  • “We live in a sports town, so once the kids are in school, they lose interest and pick soccer over dance”
  • “We’re not a competition studio, so our kids just take dance for fun and they lose interest and don’t stick with it.”
  • “Our students’ schedules are packed with activities Monday through Friday and on weekends, there’s just no time for dance.”

Here are some ways to kick those issues to the curb and grow enrollment with dancers aged 8-18.

#1. Get them excited about something beyond their weekly dance class. Bring in a master class, guest instructor or choreographer more than once a year.

In addition to knowing what age group you want to build enrollment, it’s important to know what style of dance you want to encourage more participation around. Focus on that style when planning your guest instructor’s visit. Target beginners and dancers of all ages. You can break up a day to have classes for 6-8 year olds, 8-12 year olds, teen/adult, and more.

School-aged dancers thrive on new challenges and crave inspiration. Share the benefits with parents of having their children exposed to a variety of teaching methods and styles. Master class opportunities energize and encourage dancers to stay motivated and committed to their dance training.

From a marketing perspective, it’s easy to promote on social media, your website, and within your current student base. You can also reach out to other area studios and invite them to come or bring some students (we do this every time we bring in a master teacher!) Doing so gets your name out in the community as a resource who brings in programs beyond your own.

Bringing in a guest instructor or master class teacher really doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Investing $300 – $500 into a guest teacher for a day can pay off well in returns measured by students choosing to further their dance training in a particular style or trying a new class from that inspiration.

We just held a master class at Kathy Blake Dance Studios. Everyone had a great time and two other studios came with dancers! How cool is that?

Here are a few resources for booking a guest teacher or master class(es). [Read more…]

Four Ways to Make an Impact with Low Cost Marketing

Stand out and shine in the new year with low cost marketing at your dance studio.

Recently I hosted a free teleseminar event, “Beyond Bring a Friend: How to Get More Students with Effective Low Cost Marketing at Your Dance Studio.” If you missed it, not to worry you can sign up to get the free replay of the event here.

Consistently, studio owners who listened emailed and said that it helped them think about their low cost marketing in a new way. That’s terrific news! We ARE in a new economy, it’s time to break the mold of the old marketing mix.

John Jantsch’s 4 C’s of marketing from the Referral Engine are the jumping off point for this post. I’ve mapped them onto the dance studio business.  Feel free to use any or all of it, and let me know how it goes!

[image] A drop creates ripples in the water. [image]Make your marketing relevant. Give it context.

You might think that your biggest competition is the dance studio down the street.

Your biggest competition is really the gymnastics, karate, music, ice skating, music and art studios that are all vying for the attention of your target market. Not to mention all the sports!

You are competing with the demands of other activities available for kids and adults today.

Rather than worrying about what time Sally’s studio down the street offers her tap and ballet combo class for four year olds, instead ask yourself:

  • Why dance? Go further than your sprung floor and air conditioned studio. Why should people choose dance at your studio?
  • How do you over deliver and wow your students and parents? What do you do to put people first? They are the ones talking about your studio at the pool, at the playground, and at the grocery store.
  • Why would a parent want their child to experience dance education with your faculty and staff? You invested in well trained instructors, they stay current. Now, what difference does that make? Let your potential students know!
Make your marketing relevant for dancers at any age or ability.

Make your marketing useful. Provide good content.

People need more than a brochure or a visit to your website to make a decision.

Potential students are at various stages of the decision making process when it comes to dance. Some are just thinking about a class, some know exactly what day they have free, others have a specific style in mind.

In today’s economy, it helps to go beyond the old model of a static website or one-sided brochure.

  • People want interaction and information. Assess your marketing strategy to make sure you’re educating, answering questions and sharing great information at each stage in the decision process along the way.
  • People want details. Write informative class descriptions, give details on what happens during a class, share photos, offer a FAQ, post up to date schedules, clearly explain your policies and procedures.

Your content needn’t always be created by you.

There are so many great dance blogs to incorporate into your good content strategy! You can easily share posts with your current and potential students on social media, in newsletters, by email and in your waiting rooms. Just remember that according to copyright and common courtesy, it is proper to share excerpts with a link back to the original content. Someone took the time to create and provide that content, it’s only right that they receive full credit!

Position your expertise and share good content.

Make your marketing meaningful. Build your community.

WHERE do your current and potential students spend their time when they are not dancing?

People have the freedom and choice to come and go to whatever dance studio they prefer. Now is the time and opportunity to develop a strong sense of community, relatedness and interest around your dance studio business and brand.

  • What makes being a part of what you’re creating special? Using social media and other low cost marketing methods, you can link to your local theater company, the small businesses of parents of your dancers, fundraising causes, concerts, and special events in your community.
  • Go beyond your four walls. Acknowledge your dancers various interests and cross promote – it’s a win-win for everyone involved and it makes your marketing meaningful.
  • What moments and memories do you create for your dancers? You can answer this through the rave reviews your current students share with you. Get at the emotions you invoke with your students. People want experiences that are positive and fun.
See yourself as the thread woven into your community.

Make your marketing memorable. Inspire a connection.

Sure, you can spend money on saturation mailings, door hangers, flyering cars, sending postcards, or buying a billboard ad. That might feel like the solution to getting more students.

I don’t know about you, but I sort my mail over the trash. On a good day, there might be two pieces of mail or papers that I receive that are worth saving or taking action on.

Is your marketing message memorable?

  • Does it inspire a connection?
  • Is there a call to action? Give people a reason to pick up the phone, send an email, visit your website, like you on Facebook, or come to your open house. Make it fun! It doesn’t always have to be a discount or free class, you can get creative with your marketing.
Give people a reason to make a connection.

Students will always be coming and going. Now is your opportunity to grow your dance studio business using relevant, useful, meaningful, and memorable marketing methods. You can make an impact with low cost marketing.

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If the above makes sense to you but you are still uncertain how to proceed…

Or, if you have been applying the 4Cs but want specific ways to get more students now, we at DanceStudioOwner.com just launched a guide to low-cost marketing to fill your classes all year long.

It’s an instant download, you can refer to it right from your computer or print it and take notes.

The information in this 75-page e-book is based on real world, applicable experience that you can take advantage of to make your dance studio business as successful as possible.

You can win a copy!

All you need to do is add your comment below. We want to know:

What low cost marketing strategy have you found to be most effective at your dance studio?

You have only until Wednesday (12/15) at midnight (EST) to give us your answer. A winner will be chosen randomly from commenters and contacted via e-mail on Friday.

Click here to learn more about the Get More Students Now! Guide or grab yours today.

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