Dance Studio Marketing Strategies
How To Promote Your Dance School
Nowadays, dance studio owners many ways to promote their dance school. Results from Canada’s National Dance Studio Survey show that most dance studios struggle with their marketing and are interested to learn how to spend their marketing budget more efficiently. Also, many dance schools rely on a few marketing channels, making them vulnerable to competition and to changes in the rapidly changing dance industry. Here’s our take on the most efficient dance studio marketing strategies:
Marketing Strategies To Promote a Dance Studio
So what is the best way to promote your dance studio? Although differences between schools, competition and target audiences play a role, the following dance studio marketing strategies have been proven to be very effective.
This article covers the following topics:
- Getting the Basics Right
- Start with great dance studio logo
- How to create a dance studio website
- Online Dance School Marketing Strategies
- Quick win: how to appear in local media
- Search advertising: they are looking for you!
- Brand protection
- Affiliate marketing
- Social Media for Dance Studios
- Generate referrals for your Dance Studio
- Social media content is key
- Create social ambassadors
- Create once, post many
- Which social media should I use?
- Offline Dance School Marketing Strategies
- Show off your storefront
- Distribute flyers
- In-school promotion
- Local community events
- Birthday parties and camps
- Local press and PR
- How NOT to promote your dance studio
Dance Studio Marketing: Cover The Basics
Start with a great dance studio logo
A creative company needs a good logo that is recognizable and sets their studio apart from the competition. Getting a good dance school logo is now easier than ever. For a quick logo on a dime, check out The Logo Company, where you receive logo designs from different designers, starting at $199.
However, as your logo will be the front of your dance studio and you’ll be using it for a long time, I advise hiring a professional designer who can really capture the essence of your studio. The investment doesn’t have to be higher and you’ll probably be much happier with the result. Also, a professional designer will think with you to ensure that your new logo will work well on both online and print media and will provide you with all the formats you need, without hidden costs. We have a good experience with Envision Graphic Design, a creative studio that knows how to help small businesses with their design needs - for a fair price.
Check out Envision Graphic Design
Envision Graphic Design can provide you with a great, unique logo.
Create a professional dance studio website
A good website forms the base of many dance studio marketing strategies. Potential clients expect every trustworthy company to have a website. But more importantly, a good-looking website is a great way to show off your dance school‘s classes, classrooms, events, free trial lessons, and other important information that will convince readers that they should visit your dance school.
Even when prospects hear about your studio through word-of-mouth, they want to check out your website to get a feel for your dance studio. This is an important aspect of pre-selling: if they like what they’ll see, they might very well drop by or schedule a trial lesson. By then, the chances of the prospect signing up for a class are very high.
Also, your website will be the focal point of many other dance studio marketing strategies. That is especially important for local marketing and search marketing – two of the most potent marketing strategies for dance studios. You can’t achieve those results on a Facebook Business Page or with most free website builders.
How to create a dance studio website
Creating a dance studio website is now easier than ever. There’s a lot of easy web builders around (eg. Wix or Square Space), but they tend to be very pricy over time and have a lot of performance issues. I recommend the excellent (and free!) Wordpress website builder, as it is cheaper, more flexible and reliable, and offers advanced integration with your social media and back-office environments such as Studio Director or Jackrabbit.
(TIP: for a complete list of a website’s technical requirements, click here.)
One of the main advantages of WordPress is that you can use one of the many dance studio website design templates available. These look great and have all the functionalities you need. For example, have a look at this dance school in Hamilton - created by the dance studio using WordPress and a design template.
Premium Dance Studio Designs
There are hundreds of dance studio web design templates available. These are tried and tested and often come with high-quality images as well. Have a look, get inspired, and build or revamp your website.
Web Site Hosting
If you’re looking for a good web host (where you park your website), we recommend Bluehost. It’s reliable, relatively cheap, and supports all the functionalities that you would need.
Web Site Requirements
Remember that, besides design and content, a website also needs to be technically sound. Make sure that your website at least supports the following basics, as they are often forgotten. If you’re not sure that you have this, ask your marketing people:
- Responsive design:
A technical term that means that your site looks good on mobile phones, laptops and tablets. With over 50% of visitors viewing your website on a mobile device, it is important that they can easily read your pages and watch your images or videos.
- SSL certificate:
This is needed to keep your site secure and ensures that your site uses the https:// in front of the domain. Websites that are not fully on https:// show big, fat privacy warnings to viewers using Google Chrome (which are a LOT!). Also, in many countries, this is a legal prerequisite when asking for personal information in forms.
- Email with your own domain name:
Don’t use “firstname.lastname@example.org. Instead, use “email@example.com”.
- Backup strategy:
Your website needs an automated, off-site backup strategy – you’d be surprised at the number of requests we get from small business owners that had their site hacked and deleted. There are a lot of free backup solutions and only takes a few minutes to set up. Compare that to the time and effort that it took you to create your website. It’s a no-brainer, right?
- Proper technical implementation:
This ensures that your website performs well, that your clients and prospects have a good viewing experience, and that it will show up in Google.
- Automatic push to social media, email and/or notifications
Ideal for dance school owners who want to save time (are there any who don’t?). This means that whenever you update your website or create a new post, you have the option to push it automatically to email, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Create once, push to many – so your clients can easily keep up to date with costume fittings and comp practices.
(For a complete list of the functionalities that a website should have, click here.)
How To Promote Your Dance Studio Online
Be shown locally with local SEO
Local SEO is any kind of free online marketing that focuses on location - such as appearing on Google Maps. Apart from referrals, local SEO and claiming and optimizing local business listings is arguably one of the most important dance studio marketing strategies. It’s free, easy, and drives highly interested prospects to your website. It also boosts SEO.
It doesn’t take a lot of time to claim your most important business listings, and they will bring new dance school clients for years to come. Make sure you do at least show your dance school on:
Depending on the area you’re in, local media might vary. Think of which media people would use in your neighbourhood to find dance studios, and make sure that your dance studio is listed and you respond to questions and reviews.
Advertise to people looking for dance lessons
People who are actively looking for your services are the best leads you can get. Make sure that your dance school is shown on top of Google when people are looking for dance schools, ballet lessons, etc. This is low-hanging fruit and can easily be accomplished with paid search advertising (also known as SEM or PPC). Paid search advertising can drive tons of great traffic, but it comes at a price. Basically, you pay to show up on top in Google or Bing when people are looking for e.g. “dance schools near me” or “ballet lessons for kids”, but have to pay for each click.
Still, after local SEO, paid search advertising is the most profitable advertising strategy for dance studios. Make sure you use Google AdWords (high volume, but high cost) and Bing’s Ad Center (low volume, medium cost). The investment is minimal and once the campaign is set up, it can run for years – or only when you need to top up your classes.
Be careful though: in this competitive industry, paid search campaigns have to be highly optimized to be profitable. “Winging it” often results in big losses without much to show for results. Ask an agency to set up a small campaign to start – they can do it quickly and usually have lists of “bad” keywords and websites to block, so you won’t be paying for low-quality clicks.
BONUS: ad agencies usually get free credit coupons from Google and Bing. Ask for $75-$200 credit on your advertising spend.
Do You Want More Clients?
Searchify is experienced in dance studio marketing and can provide your with extremely efficient campaigns to win new dance studio customers.
Optimize your website for search engines
Search engine optimization is the art of optimizing web pages for search engines, so your website will show up when people are looking for your services. Make sure that you create different pages for each kind of dance class you offer (e.g. “ballet classes”, “hip hop classes”, and optimize these to earn free traffic from Google and Bing.
This usually is the marketing strategy with the highest return on investment, as you won’t need to pay for advertising and the optimized pages will provide highly interested prospects to your dance school for years to come.
Remarketing strategies for dance studios
Remarketing is an online marketing strategy that allows dance studios to show banners to people who have visited the website in the past. You can use this to reach out to people who have not yet signed up.
Negative remarketing is another marketing strategy, where you block existing clients and prospects from your paid marketing campaigns, so you don’t waste advertising money on people who have already signed up. These strategies can build on and strengthen other paid marketing campaigns, allowing you to minimize advertising waste and stay top-of-mind among potential clients.
Here are some examples of remarketing strategies that you can use to promote your dance studio.
Performance-based affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a marketing strategy where 3rd parties promote your dance school and get paid based on results. The only affiliate network that really works for dance studios is Groupon.
Groupon works with dance school owners to create an attractive offer, which Groupon actively promotes among subscribers in the area. The offer usually consists of a discount. Groupon tracks the number of leads from their campaigns (e.g. sign-up forms or calls to a unique phone number) and charges the dance school accordingly. Low risk, instant results. Easy, right?
There is a catch though. As a dance school owner, you have to be careful of what you want to promote. One-time events (e.g. workshops) are easy to promote, but the Groupon discount will eat into your net profits. Also, if these new clients were triggered by the discount, how likely is it that they’ll be willing to pay the full price? Groupon can work well, but be cautious. Make sure that you only pay for REAL sign-ups (not just website traffic) and see if these new prospects are worth it.
Amplify your messages with email and notifications
Email addresses from clients and prospects are marketing gold, as it allows you to reach out and inform interested people about new classes, workshops, and reminders to sign up for the new year. Although email marketing won’t win you new clients, it is extremely important to inform clients, increase retention, and create demand for new classes.
When you actively share information on your website, it might be a good idea to use push notifications. This works a lot like signing up for an email newsletter: visitors to your website click on a button, and – voilà – they have signed up automatically. Whenever you post a new article on your blog or update a schedule, you can push this automatically to your subscribers.
The advantages of push notifications are higher signup and click rates, and more results from all your dance studio marketing strategies. The downside is that you don’t actually build an email list that you can use in more versatile ways. For free use and easy implementation of push notifications, have a look at OneSignal.
Protect your brand online
This usually doesn’t apply, but when competition is fierce, some dance schools (or their marketing agencies) try to leech off other studio’s brands by showing their ads when someone’s looking for a competing school’s brand name. The idea is that they can bring their school to their attention first and ‘steal’ referrals.
Here’s an example of an advertisement where Yellow Pages was bidding on Yelp’s brand name, trying to lure in Yelp users:
If someone is profiting from your brand, make sure you protect those valuable referrals by starting a brand protection campaign in AdWords (which is also GREAT for upselling!). Make sure you combine this campaign with negative remarketing, to make sure that you won’t pay to be shown to existing clients.
Social Media for Dance Studios
Social media is one of the more important dance studio marketing strategies. They allow dance school owners to communicate with clients, inspire dancers, and send updates regarding events. Although social media is not very effective compared to paid search advertising or local SEO, it acts as a powerful platform to inspire existing clients and generate referrals.
Content is key
Make sure that you always share meaningful content on your social pages. Nobody is interested in spam, which will hurt your visibility. Ask yourself: would someone like to share your post with friends? If not, don’t post it - unless it’s to communicate practicalities.
Make sure that your web pages are shareable and encourage clients to Follow and Share. Clients (and their parents) can become your online ambassadors, as they are likely to share quality content with their friends and other parents. For example, suppose you have pictures from community events (Santa Claus parade), recitals, competitions, or costume fittings. Add them to an album on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, or – even better - in a gallery on your website.
Always ask people to share, and send individual links of the pictures to the client. Many clients will share these images online, which mean free publicity for you. The links pointing back to your site will not only act as referrals but also boost your site in Google’s rankings.
Create once, post many
Note that most websites support an automated push to social media: when you create or update a page, post, gallery, image or even video, it can automatically be sent to your social media accounts, for additional exposure and shares. This saves a lot of time.
Create accounts for at least the following media:
- YouTube (if you post videos)
- …and anything else your clients are using
- Branded inspirational quotes
- Performance showcases
- Teacher biographies
- Professional studio images
- Events (e.g. Bring Your Friend-week, workshops)
Also, if you want to be very active on social media, consider using a social media management tool, such as HootSuite (TIP: here’s a free 30-day trial).
Offline Dance Studio Marketing Strategies
Nurture your existing clients
Your loyal clients are probably your most valuable marketing channel. They probably love your dance school and are happy to spread the word to friends or other parents. Typically, word-of-mouth is a dance school’s best marketing channel. Prospects who have heard about you from a friend already have detailed information about your school, from someone with a good, and personal, experience. These prospects tend to sign up and stay longer with the studio. Make sure your clients are happy and enable them to spread the word. Ask them to leave reviews on Google, participate in events, or offer your dance studio for birthday parties. The more they talk about you, the better.
Flyers are a great way to generate demand for your dance classes and inform prospects of why they should sign up. Communicate what sets your dance school apart from the competition, highlight the benefits of dancing (as many prospects also consider other activities for their kid, such as gymnastics) and include a call to action, such as a free trial lesson. Good ways to distribute flyers are by handing them out door-to-door in the neighbourhood, at local events, or at local schools and businesses. More on that below.
Show off your dance studio
Walk-ins are a reliable source of clients. Make sure that your dance studio is visible: ensure that your studio’s name appears on signage, the building, and the front door. See if you can do some co-promotion with businesses near your studio. That 7/11 or butcher around the corner don’t have anything to do with dance, but they’ll be more than happy to have a steady stream of people showing up weekly at their doorstep. Ask if you can leave your flyers at their stores.
In-school dance promotion
Collaborating with local schools can be very beneficial. You’ll be able to reach hundreds of kids and inspire some of them to join your dance family. Offer to provide free workshops: these are great as a free school activity, but will also be a good way for kids to experience dance. Each school has different rules for working with 3rd parties, and often need to have activities approved by the school board. See if you can approach the principal directly and pitch your plan for a new and exciting school activity.
Participate in community events
Community events, such as the local Christmas Parade, charity events, or seasonal events are a great way to show off your dance school and your dancers. It’s also an excellent opportunity for students to bond, show off their skill and gain performance experience, and another selling point to parents. If you’re allowed to hand out treats, mention your free trial lessons.
Local press & PR
Local newsletters are often interested in promoting new dance studios or unique events. Drop a line to local journalists when you have something interesting to communicate to the community, and they can provide you with free PR. Many local news websites feature a local business directory, which can be helpful as well.
Make sure your message is unique and valuable: communicating low-interest or commercial topics (such as the start of the registration season) WILL get you blacklisted as journalists tend to be bombarded with requests and they are very picky.
Dance camps and birthday parties
These can be a source of income, but also a source of new clients as it allows kids to experience dance. Have inspiring and inviting themes (e.g. “Dance Like Beyonce”, “Frozen”) to stand out and make kids want to book YOUR birthday parties and dance camps.
How Not To Promote A Dance Studio
Avoid the following marketing strategies to promote your dance studio:
- Paid Twitter and Facebook ads generate a lot of cheap visitors, but the cost per sign-up is usually very high. Focus on people who have shown an interest in dance lessons, using SEO or SEM.
- Yellow Pages is great for a free listing, as they still provide an interested audience, but don’t use their paid services. It’s not worth the money.
- Local television has a high production cost and a limited and decreasing reach. Why focus on television when you can reach a more engaged audience on YouTube for less?
- Display advertising doesn’t do well for dance studios. There’s a lot of dance-related videos on there, but they are mostly videos from other dance studios or tutorials for people that want to learn dance moves but are not interested in paying for lessons.
- Anyone who guarantees first-page ranking on Google is a scam. Even if they provide refunds. Seriously.
- Anyone who promises traffic (instead of sign-ups), as it is easy to generate a lot of cheap traffic, but they are usually either fake or of a very low quality. Again, focus on people that have shown interest in dance.
I hope this article has inspired you with ideas for your dance studio’s marketing strategies. If you’d like some advice on how to market your dance school, please contact Searchify. For a more broader look at how to run or grow your dance studio, apply for a free consultation from Beyond Dance Consultancy.
Free Dance Studio Review
Are you interested in improving your dance studio’s results? Spend less time on management and more on the creative side of running a dance studio? Or improve client retention and get more sign-ups?
Beyond Dance Consulting specializes in dance studio management consultancy. Their director, Tracey Chamberlain, will be more than happy to review your dance studio and provide valuable advice to make your dance studio soar.
This article on dance studio marketing strategies has been co-written by:
Director at Beyond Dance Consultancy
Tracey Chamberlain is the director of Beyond Dance Consulting, an avid Canadian company committed to helping dance studio owners. In this role, she provides information and inspiration to create, define, and evolve dance studio’s business aspirations.