February 2013 | Mindful Marketing | 10 Marketing Ideas for Summer

p46_Mindful_MarketingBy Teri Mangiaratti

Need some promotional ideas to generate traffic to your school during the summer? Here are 10 test-driven tips to get you started.

1. Drop-in class cards. Set up a weekly schedule of classes with several style options for each age group. Students buy the cards (prepaid for 5 or 10 classes) and drop in to any class they choose. They can try different styles, double up on classes one week and skip the next, or take off for vacation at any time. Current dancers can stay active all summer and new students can explore dance with little commitment.

2. Free classes. Print some “free class” cards that are valid for any summer drop-in classes. Hand them out everywhere all spring—at beaches, parks, local businesses, and events.

3. Summer snippits. In the spring, offer a day of free “summer snippits,” mini-classes that are taught all day long. Kids can sample dance styles to help them decide which summer camp classes to take. Lots of press (social media, emails, handouts, posters) is needed to make this work, and it will cost you something (printing costs, paying staff), but if even just a few campers register, it’s worth it. Consider offering discounts and gifts too.

An early drop-off option could make a difference for a parent who is trying to get to work.

4. School vacation mini-camps. Use February school vacation as a testing ground for new ideas. My school offers one-day sessions of summer camp ideas, making the session the same length as the camp (for example, 9am to 12pm for a morning-only camp). We take note of which sessions filled, were easy to teach, felt too long or too short—in general, what worked and what didn’t. Based on that information, I finalize the summer schedule. We always get great feedback and it helps the teachers be prepared for summer.

5. Connect with the rec department. Offering classes this way can publicize your name and product to hundreds (or even thousands) of families. I work with one that offers a week of summer camps identical to those held at the studio. The rec department sells the camps at a discounted rate and the information goes out to the entire town; the school owner is paid either an hourly rate or a percentage of the profits. Working with a third party takes extra time, but the exposure is worth it.

6. School flyers. Every spring I print customized summer brochures offering discounts: “ABC Elementary School receives $10 off the registration fee. Mention your school’s name to claim your discount!” Find out the school districts’ rules regarding such handouts and be sure the flyers are attractive, clear, and professional.

7. Convenience. Make it easy for families to participate in summer programs. An early drop-off option (for example, 9am for a 9:30 camp) could make a difference for a parent who has children in various camps or is trying to get to work. For morning programs, offer a lunch option and delayed pickup. Since my staff arrives at the studio 30 minutes early and stays 30 minutes after camp to clean up, there’s no additional cost to me.

8. Siblings. If space permits, bring in extra staff to run simultaneous programs for boys and girls of various ages. Being able to drop off their children at one place at the same time can be a big draw for parents. We offer princess- and ballerina-themed camps along with pirate- and Jedi-themed ones, plus some that attract both girls and boys (circus, art, music, hip-hop, etc.).

9. Groupon or other coupon sites. Group coupons are a great way to get your name out there for summer. The profit margin is extremely low with these companies, but I consider them a form of advertising. My school registered hundreds of new students through an online coupon deal last summer.

10. Early-bird deals. Discounts are great motivators. We offer early registration before the April vacation week, along with a “no camp-change fee” policy. This allows families to get the discount even though they have no idea when their summer vacation will fall. Since they know they can switch to another week, they are happy to reap the benefits of registering early.