Business

Marketing from A to Z

Mike Collins is president of The Perfect Workday Company and a certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach.

 

 

As a studio owner, the most important question to ask right now is: “What do dollars have to do with dance?”

In the midst of today’s economic turmoil, it’s critical to take the time and effort to prove the value of your business to customers. “If you look broadly across our society, in tough economic times the arts are the first things to go,” says Bryan Steele, co-founder of the Academy of Performing Arts in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

 

 

Tori Melby, owner of Dancer’s Workshop in Sanford, North Carolina, agrees: “Dance can easily be seen as a luxury for many individuals and families.” To combat this mentality, Steele recommends forging strong relationships with students and their families. “Parents take care of their children first,” she says. “By staying in touch and making sure that dance is important in their lives, you create a stronger link to dance and your studio.”

 

 

Whether through word of mouth or more nontraditional methods, marketing the benefits of your business should remain a top priority, especially during slow times. Such initiatives don’t have to be costly. For instance, Amanda Armetta-Gring, owner of Armetta Grand Jete Studio of Dance in Macungie, Pennsylvania, plans to implement creative postcards, brochures and flyers to grab the attention of new and returning students. Read on as we take a look at some inexpensive and easy-to-implement techniques to evaluate your business and position yourself in the best light.


Advertising. Before you initiate new strategies, measure the success of your past methods. One easy way is to simply ask new or prospective students, “How did you find out about us?”


Brochures. A crucial yet often overlooked step is the placement of these marketing tools. Don’t just lay them down in a location for people to pick up or walk past. Take an active approach: Hand them out everywhere you go—the bank, the grocery store, the doctor’s office.


Calendars. With little time and money to spend, it becomes even more important to create a good marketing plan. Having a timeline will help you determine when to implement your advertising and promotions and make your efforts more focused.


Discounts. Used too frequently, they can cheapen your service, but used judiciously—five lessons for the price of four during summer months, for example—discounts can help maintain cash flow.


E-mail. Keep your studio front-and-center in customers’ minds with this easy form of communication. Demonstrate your commitment to dance education by sending weekly tips, exercises and quizzes to students.


Family. Stay connected with parents by conducting periodic chats about their child’s progress, as well as sharing exciting studio news. This is key to maintaining enrollment.


Greetings. Make it a studio policy for staff to provide a warm welcome to each and every person who walks through your door. These interactions will help forge a personal connection.


Help. Remember, you don’t have to experience tough times alone. Create a small “mastermind group” (four or five members from different professions) that meets regularly to discuss cross-pollination ideas.


Imagination. A little can go a long way during lean times. Look outside the dance world to find inspiration and ideas that can be adapted for your business. Nonprofit organizations, for instance, notoriously contend with tight budgets.


Join. Expanding your network of colleagues will help you connect better with your target market. Seek out organizations and conferences where you can get new ideas and insights about the dance community.


Kill the devil’s advocate. The phrase “let me play the devil’s advocate” is a thought inhibitor, meaning it stops an idea before it has time to bloom. To grow your marketing, create an environment in which you and staff members have the freedom to generate as many new ideas as possible.


Listen. Wondering how to sell customers on the benefits of your business? Listen closely to your students. The words they use to describe what dance does for their bodies, minds and hearts are exactly the terms you should use in marketing materials.


Mischief marketing. Do something wild to grab the attention of prospective students. For example, check out www.cartoonlink.com and try using cartoons as marketing tools.


Newsletters. Online or via mail, newsletters can be effective tools for staying in touch with dancers. Include success stories, a “what’s happening” column and monthly class schedules.

Open up. Tell everyone you meet about your business. Develop an “elevator speech” or 15-second spiel that sums up the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of your studio.


Positive attitude. Remaining optimistic won’t necessarily replace dollars in the bank, but a negative attitude is guaranteed to be contagious and may negatively affect enrollment.


Questions. Asking the right ones is key to great marketing in good and bad times. Statements may inform, but questions engage. Remember Bugs Bunny’s “What’s Up, Doc?” Ask that question of students and families to connect.


Referrals. This simple but powerful marketing technique can make or break your business. Ask dancers to tell their friends about you, and give them a reason or reward for helping you find new students.


Signage. The next time you walk or drive past your studio, take notice of your signage. Is it visible? Can you change words or add a more compelling message? Will placing balloons or flying a flag nearby attract more attention?


Teach. As instructors, you’re well aware of dance’s positive influence on test scores and overall academic success. Spread the word and educate nondance families and adults about the far-reaching benefits of this artform.


Understand. To impart the value of your business to others, you must first understand why people enroll. Again, ask questions and use this information to remind parents why they joined your family of dance.


Voicemail. Call your own phone number and be critical. Ask yourself, “Would I visit this studio after listening to this message?” Better yet, ask your most outspoken friend to call the number and give her opinion.


Websites. By now you’ve most likely spent a great deal of time and money on your website, but do customers know about it? Print your URL on every brochure, business card and receipt.


X marks the spot. When people visit your studio, what do they see? Do they enter an inviting source of inspiration or a stale space in need of an upgrade? A little paint cures a lot of ills.


Yes. Don’t underestimate the powerful effects of this word. Saying “yes” to customer requests, within reason of course, will demonstrate your willingness to please and further prove how easy you are to work with.


Zzzs. As always, it’s important to get enough sleep. Adequate rest helps you maintain energy levels and will positively impact your teaching and ability to handle stress. DT





























How-To

Introducing and teaching rhythm can seem easy, but in reality it can prove to be a complicated concept—especially for younger dancers to grasp. At Ballet Hispánico's School of Dance in New York City, Los Explorers for 3- to 5-year-olds uses classic salsa and tango music to help kids acquire rhythmic awareness.

Here Rebecca Tsivkin, early childhood programs associate, and Kiri Avelar, associate school director, offer exercises to help youngsters feel the beat.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Buzz
Panelists (left to right): Emily Nusbaum, Eric Kupers, Judith Smith, Deborah Karp and Suzanna Curtis. Photo by Aiano Nakagawa, courtesy of Luna Dance Institute

This past Saturday, I visited Luna Dance Institute in Berkeley, California, to attend the Dance & Disability Discourse & Panel—a discussion with five artists, educators and researchers about access and equity for disabled students in dance education. Here are three statements from the discussion that I found eye-opening.

Keep reading... Show less
How-To
Todd Rosenlieb, left, of The Governor's School for the Arts. Photo by Victor Frailing, courtesy of Todd Rosenlieb

You're setting choreography on your class and most of the students are picking it up. One dancer, though, is having difficulty remembering the steps. You review the material several times, but you fear that this is starting to hold back your more advanced students. Still, you're worried the struggling dancer will be left behind. What is the best way to proceed?

Memorizing choreography is an essential skill for dancers. Fast learners have more time to work on the technique and artistry within a combination, and they are often the first to catch the eyes of directors. Like most skills, learning pace can be improved. Encouraging students to develop their own memorization methods will help them approach choreography with confidence.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Neuromuscular expert Deborah Vogel with Jordan Lazan, right. Photo by Jim Lafferty

By strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot and ankle, a dancer can help prevent or correct existing pronation. Having strong intrinsic foot muscles keeps the arches aligned, preventing them from dropping inward.

Here, Vogel shares three strengthening exercises to help correct and prevent pronation. She advises dancers to include these in their cross-training regimen.

Mobilize your ankles. (Step 1)

For this ankle mobilization exercise, having a TheraBand wrapped around your ankles puts pressure on your feet to pronate. By resisting that action and keeping your feet centered through the relevé, you're essentially training the ankle where center is.

  • Sitting up straight in a chair, with your feet planted on the floor a few inches apart, tie a TheraBand in a loop around your ankles. You can place a yoga block vertically in between your knees to maintain space between your legs.

Next Page
How-To
Photo courtesy of New York Live Arts

Ellen Robbins' modern dance classes for kids and teens are legendary in New York City. Robbins, who has been teaching kids how to dance since the 1970s (and whose pupils included the actresses Claire Danes and Julia Stiles), takes the standard recital model and turns it on its head. Her students—ranging in age from 8 to 18—are the choreographers for the annual concert she produces at esteemed NYC venue New York Live Arts.

If that approach sounds borderline insane to you (we know you're all deep in the throes of recital season right now), consider Robbins' unique teaching philosophy: Improvisation is present in every aspect of class, for every age group. Here are four ways she shapes her youngest dancers into choreographers—almost without their realizing it!

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
Former students of Kelley gather around a cardboard cutout made in his honor at the recent tribute. Photo courtesy of Merritt

Every dancer has a teacher who makes an impression. The kind of impression that makes you want to become a dancer or a teacher in the first place. For Mara Merritt, owner of Merritt Dance Center in Schenectady, NY, and countless others, that teacher was Charles Kelley.

Known as "Chuck" to most, Kelley was born December 4, 1936. He was a master teacher in tap, jazz and acrobatics, who wrote syllabuses for national dance conventions like Dance Masters of America. Growing up in upstate New York, Merritt's parents, both dance teachers, took her into Manhattan every Friday to study with Kelley. First at the old Ed Sullivan Theater and the New York Center of Dance in Times Square, then years later at Broadway Dance Center.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored