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Mindful Marketing | Welcoming Websites

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By Rhee Gold

Do you want to become savvy at marketing your school? Welcome to our new department, which will present various marketing concepts and how to implement them.

Today’s marketing options are plentiful. Whether your budget is small or large (or nonexistent), you can get the word out about your school. In particular, the Internet offers many ways to use your creativity to successfully market your school to the world via websites, social networking pages, and discounted online printing resources. In this issue, we’ll talk about websites.

Most potential students (or their parents) who visit your website know little about dance education, so it’s important that your site doesn’t send the message that people have to be “in the know” to comprehend what’s presented. An example of a website that might discourage dance novices from contacting you would be one that focuses only on the advanced or competitive dancers, barely mentioning classes for beginner or recreational students.

Parents are typically in the market for classes for their 4- to 12-year-olds. Other visitors might be teens and adults who are seeking everything from adult tap classes to Zumba to hip-hop. When they arrive at your home page, they should be able to easily find the options available to them, whether they’re looking for recreational or combo classes, preschool programs, or beginner classes for adults and teens.

That means you need to put links to those classes (or to general categories that include them) on your home page. I suggest the following: preschool (age 6 and under), recreational and combination classes (age 7 to adult), teen classes, adult classes, and intensive options. If you offer such classes as Zumba or Mommy and Me, include direct links to them on your home page too.

It is important to make all curriculum descriptions equally thorough. I have seen many studio websites that feature several pages of information for their competitive programs but offer only one- or two-line descriptions of all other programs. If you go overboard on featuring your competitive dancers or trophies, visitors may think that your school focuses on only the most talented dancers. You want to convey that 4- to 12-year-olds, novice dancers, and people looking for Zumba classes are equally valued at your school.

When choosing videos and photos for your site, include the school’s general population. A video snippet of preschoolers looking like they are having the time of their lives in class will be far more attractive to potential clients than a video of last year’s competition winners would be.

Think business, not ego. Some school owners believe that marketing should tout that they produce the finest, most professional dancers, while others brag about awards and accolades in an attempt to pull students from other schools. The reality is that such boasting can intimidate many of your website’s visitors. Instead, show that your school is a place where everyone dances and has a blast. Show that you believe that dance is for everyone, from the 3-year-old fantasizing about being a fairy princess, to the teenager trying his first hip-hop class, to those dedicated adult tappers.

And finally, include the following information or pages on your website (as applicable): About us; school history; class schedules; contact info, including your mailing and email addresses and phone number (don’t make them fill out an online form to reach you; supply a one-click email link); faculty photos and bios; pictures; benefits of dance training; info on former students who own schools or are now teaching or performing; offerings for boys; birthday parties; testimonials; summer programs or camps; and a Facebook link or “like” button.

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July 2011
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