Written by & under Marketing.

Growing a studio can be challenging

GraphPhoto_1This post is the first of two covering creative thoughts to help build your studio. Perhaps they’ll get your own creative juices going on marketing ideas. Studio Helper can help you manage the studio as it grows so all aspects stay under control. Controlled growth is always a good thing, right?

The traditional method for studio growth was to let students find you… by word of mouth from former students, satisfied parents, teachers and other personal contacts.

There’s one built-in challenge with this approach:

Any growth originates from outside, it’s not under your control.

Let’s think for a bit about ways to make changes and put actions to work for you. New approaches equal new visibility. Increased visibility translates to new students. Here are some specific ideas to help you.

Community involvement

  • Find an event where your teachers and students can give to others.

Being involved provides a very positive outlet for your studio’s energy and lets students’ hard work and progress be displayed in a very positive atmosphere. You can get extra mileage by having matching shirts , logo materials, and signs as appropriate (Music provided by students from ProTeach Studio).

amphitheatreVolunteering doesn’t have to be in the area of study, of course. Hand out materials at an event registration table, participate in a community parade — look to any available local opportunities. It’s ideal to tie in with established organizations (United Way, Red Cross, Breast Cancer Awareness) or a personal cause (fund raiser for a family who lost their home or to help a critically ill child).

The important thing is to get out there with a positive message:

“We care about our community.”

Not all volunteers need to be students and teachers… parents are welcome too, right? This can give them a sense of ownership and connection to the studio community that’s priceless.

Tips:

Remember to follow common sense in arranging for any event. Thinking points can include: Chaperones, transportation planning (which may include parking information), keeping time involvement to a reasonable length (which might mean multiple “shifts” of volunteers), tracking weather and making alternate plans if it’s an outdoor activity, knowing any “rain date” or reschedule policy, making sure there’s shelter if needed.

Are there physical equipment needs? Amplification? Table and chairs? Risers for a choir? Flooring requirements? Stage/presentation size?

A lesson I learned the hard way: If you have handouts for an outdoor event, don’t forget to take something to hold them down in a breeze plus plastic or some way to keep them dry! The same thing applies for signs and displays… anchoring is a good thing.

Visibility

  • This is a bit different from community involvement. Here’s how:

Studios often have performances, concerts, competitions and other events. These are typically attended mostly by parents and relatives, right?

Mall_2Anything you can do to broaden exposure for your students can inspire them to feel a sense of pride and lead them to “be up to the challenge” of learning more. For less accomplished students, this may mean group rather than solo activities — providing the same sort of visibility but without the pressure.

Think for a moment about places your studio’s students might perform outside of traditional recitals. Play in the mall during the holidays, even on a weekend afternoon when there will be a crowd. Stage a special event on your own: How about “Easter Bunny Trumpet Festival?” On the one hand, it seems a bit, well, cheesy. Then again, “OcTuba Fest” and “Merry Tuba Christmas” are hugely popular annual events in some towns.

Participate in local venues

One example: There is an Asian Festival in my town where karate demonstrations are often presented by local studios. So are ethnic dancing and music.

Parents will “burst their buttons” over seeing Suzy and Chris perform for a crowd, your studio gets visibility, many more people have the chance to watch and get joy they weren’t expecting. Again, the value for your studio is priceless and wide-ranging.

Branding

  • Make sure your logo and short marketing phrase are clear. karate_logo1

There are many ways to incorporate this. We’ve all seen those bumper stickers, “My child is a mediocre discipline problem student at West Middle School.” (well, not that one, I suppose). Why not a sticker for your studio? Go for marketing clothing. T-shirts? It’s not unreasonable to think they’ll show up at school sometimes. These can also be worn at community events where your studio is involved, whether performing or volunteering.

Any logo needs to look professional and represent your business effectively. Paying a graphics designer to draft several possibilities is well worth it if you end up with a logo that can be used for years to come.

An important tip: When buying printed materials, always get competitive bids (from the exact same specifications). Printers hate to have equipment sitting idle and will often put in a low bid for that reason.  I’ve seen low bids at half the price of the highest one. That’s a little known fact about the printing business.

Another tip: Printers charge more for multiple colors. The logo above would be less expensive than a full color image. It can be printed with red and black (a two-color press run). Save even more by making the red shape all black, the kicking figure white. Then you’ve got a single color run. Perhaps not as “spiffy,” but more affordable.

Marketing phrases need to be 2-5 words.We Kick It,” “Swim With The Best,” “Top Notch Players,” “Dance Your Heart Out,” “Color Us Bright.” Those stick in people’s minds, fit on marketing materials and establish a recognizable brand in combination with your logo.

Choose to include some items from: logo, studio name, URL, Marketing Phrase. Not all are needed on each piece… a bumper sticker won’t hold all and be readable, for example. Look at materials that get your attention for clues on what’s best for your business.

It’s actually not a bad idea to sketch out a lot of ideas and ask for thoughts from others. Perhaps involve your teachers and students in the creative process. A student competition for your “catch phrase” might just yield something unexpected that would resonate with their peers.

Final Thoughts

  • Invite a lot of ideas, then filter them to select what matches your thoughts and “studio style.”

Visit us again to get more ideas in the next blog posting, including tips for effective web marketing. If you have things that have worked for you, please share them with others through the blog comments section!

The team at Studio Helper is here to help you in as many ways as possible. That includes providing some fresh ideas!