By Debra Gilbert
You have finally gained the experience and the financial backing it takes to run your own dance studio. Congratulations! Now comes one of the hard parts: marketing it to an audience to gain clientele. Here is an outline of ideas that one can use in starting up your dance studio and with the economic hardships of our time, some of these ideas are fairly inexpensive, if not free!
Word of mouth: Obviously you have the skills and possibly already have a few potential dancers lined up already, but it really is not enough. To start off, you need to create a snappy catch phrase that will have the dancers sashaying through those doors. The more creative, yet simplistic that you are with your catch phrase, the more buzz it will create. Once you have a catch phrase intact, ask your friends and fellow dancers to spread the word about your studio. Also, do not be afraid to make a scene! Enter your dancers into showcases and neighborhood shindigs so the audience will see the kind of training they should be looking for!
Hit the pavement: It is time to go old school. Design and make some fliers with all the info about your dance studio. This kind of advertising will be cheap, if not free, and shows dedication and creativity. Then, gather some friends and hit the streets. Hang up fliers in heavy foot-traffic areas, preferably outside and inside colleges and local businesses (where advertising is allowed) so potential dancers will be sure to notice the posting. Hand out fliers along the way to prospective students. In addition, to make business cards can be costly, but will make your studio appear and feel professional.
Go paperless: Another way this all can be done and environmentally friendly is sticking to the Internet, which in truth, is the probably the most effective way to draw attention. Spread your name across websites that offer free advertising (like the website that you are on right now). The more your name is out there, the more questions will arise as to who you are.
Build a website. This can be inexpensive to costly, depending on the website design. Even though you want an eye-catching display for your readers, keep in mind that it does not need to be an eyesore. Also, create MySpace and Facebook profiles for your studio. You want to get as much free advertising as you can get. Make your website and profiles fun! Take pictures of your studio, the dancers, and the instructors. Have all the info readily available for classes offered, times, dates, dance levels, costs, contact info and bios. Your site will benefit from mentioning awards that you, your instructors and/or your students have won.
Another sure way to have your studio booming is to make a video to market your dance space. Provide an introduction, a small tour and some dance pieces that include your work. Post it up on YouTube (and include the link or have it embedded onto your website if you decide to build one). Making the video can be rather expensive unless you have connections with a local filmmaker that will be willing to shoot your video for cheap or for free (it does not hurt to bargain either; offer them some free classes in exchange).
The main thing to keep into consideration is that you want to target new, semi-professional, and regional dancers. Although most students will be beginners, you want to focus on the styles that the studio offers at that level. Be available and hospitable to answer questions and offer to set up tours of your studio. Break a leg!