Building a business can be tough! Especially when it may start as a side hustle…
Check out some ideas below to increase your pole studio membership and merchandise sales while building a thriving and supportive community.
Promotions to Try:
- Bring a friend! Pole is super social. Encourage your existing clientele to bring a friend to your studio through special workshops and deals. Run a “couples class” or a “bring your best friend class” where they pay one price for two people and get the significant other or friend introduced to the fun in a non-threatening way full of other newbies also attending with their supportive buddy. Offer a discounted rate on memberships, class packs, or on your awesome merch to encourage the not-yet-a-client part of the duo to come back and take more classes. If discounts aren’t appropriate for your business model, then don’t offer a discount off regular services and instead try a special rate for an intro class. Do what works best for your business.
- Offer discounted memberships, offers or class times/structures for special populations: Near a college, military base, or hospital? Offer special discounts or classes at times appropriate to students, military, first responders, nurses or any other group nearby your studio who could use some stress relief and fun!
- Create themed classes for your special populations: Maybe you offer specific daytime classes available only to new moms or a special class for “pole pumas (40+)” only. Adult students are busy and if they don’t feel like your studio is meeting their needs or helping them find their “tribe” then they might move on. Put like-minded people together and they’ll be part of your crew for life! This is particularly helpful for students who aren’t comfortable in class with your “general” student population. While all pole classes should be inclusive, consider creating ultra-beginner classes for folks that need extra time, plus-size classes, transitioning classes for those going through a gender transition, a class for deaf-only students, or any other group of students that might need more time or more confidence. Representation and inclusion matters! Ask your teachers who they are seeing—and not seeing—in classes to see what themed classes or class series might be best for your studio.
- Feature a student of the month! Everyone likes to be recognized. Start a student of the month program and highlight what your student loves about your studio. This helps build community through genuine recognition and also provides you with awesome testimonials you can use in your marketing such as on your website or a newsletter. Consider having your student sign a Model Release before using their image in marketing.
- Bribery: Have one bad Yelp or Google review dragging down your score? Offer discounts on memberships, classes, or merchandise to actual students who publicly share why they love your studio in a public way (on GroupOn, Google, Yelp, your Facebook page, etc.). Sure they say it in class but who takes the time to write a glowing review? Most people only take the time when they have a bad experience. Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch! Not so keen on bribery? Simply asking is a great way to start! Do you have a regular who is always in your Monday night class? Ask them to write a review. Not comfortable asking? Many software tools offer automated emails that can be sent after classes (every class, after a period of time — there are many settings depending on the tool!) that encourage students to write reviews. Remind your teachers and your front desk to ask students too!
- Corporate Challenges: In a busy, metro area? Ask your students about their day jobs. Many corporations do fitness challenges to get people up out of their desks. Your studio could organize those challenges and offer instruction before the workday starts or during a lunch session! Or offer group discounts for employees of corporations to use your studio as a location to participate in their intraoffice challenge. Sell these discounts as bulk memberships directly to the corporation’s human resources department. No corporations around? No problem! Make friend with any local business and see how you can support each other through joint, official referrals and discounts or simply having fliers in each other’s store/studio.
- Be involved: Being involved in your local community such as participating in city/county fairs, charity events, parades, etc. will help you get new potential customers who likely have never poled before. While some studios have received push back from being a part of local events like parades, it doesn’t hurt to research and ask. Be involved in the larger pole community too – online and in person. Encourage your teachers and students to compete or perform and then go cheer them on! Attend major pole events and network in person when you can. Participate in conversations, events, forums and other online or virtual spaces. Being a positive force in the community will attract existing pole dancers to your studio when they move to your area or if they are just visiting.
Promotions not to do (or perhaps to review with more thought):
- Don’t do promotions too frequently: running promotions or deeply discounted sales too often can condition your clientele to only buy at those deeply discounted prices. You may also be accidentally devaluing your services or even confusing your clients. If you have several competitors in the area and your classes are selling at $2/class and theirs are consistently selling at $10/class, people will start to wonder how you can sell your classes so low? Is there a quality difference? A student to teacher ratio difference? Don’t make them guess! Discounts and promotions are not for everyone. Some studios run these very effectively, and some never do them. Do what is best for your business! Make sure not to undercut your value and understand all your costs before proposing a discount. Discounting too far can cost you money.
- Vary your promotion schedule: running a specific-timed sale or challenge like around a certain holiday is great! Running it every single holiday without a specific reason can be a detriment. If you always run a “spring cleaning” sale right before you’re about to get new product in then that might be a great way to encourage your clients to buy and make room for new merchandise. If there isn’t a specific benefit to you for slashing your prices but rather you’re doing it because “you always have” then think twice about the real value it’s bringing to your business. The key here is to find the tips that make sense for your business.
- Beware of unintentional exclusion: if you believe you run a warm, inclusive environment take a hard look at your marketing materials. Does your website, your printed fliers, and your social media reflecting the diversity in the students you currently have AND the students you want to have? If it doesn’t – take immediate steps to fix it. Representation matters. The same student always posting and hashtagging? Ask to take a photo of one of your more shy students when they learn something awesome or achieve a goal. Make sure they know you’re going to share it on social media first. Most people don’t believe they are “share-worthy” – make sure they know they matter! Some people also can’t share how much they love your studio publicly due to work or personal concerns, be considerate and specific when sharing any user-generated content on any public platform.
Test and Track
Whatever promotions you decide to do, make sure you are tracking their effectiveness and their cost to you. It’s getting easier and easier to target specific demographics using modern marketing through social media and search engine optimization techniques (both paid and free). Only want the moms to see your discount? Great! You can only sell their discount to them. Track what you’re doing to notice trends. Perhaps your ad for a bachelorette party deal gets the most attention on the weekends – then you should probably just run those ads on the weekends!
Not doing a lot of digital advertising? Consistently asking new clients how they heard about you will give you insights on where to continue marketing or possible new areas to grow into. There are new tools coming out every day to make marketing both easier and harder to reach new customers. Ask your customers how they found you and try to improve that route first. You do not need to advertise everywhere to everyone to be a successful business!
Always Test. Test. Test. Then adapt and change as needed to keep your interactions fresh and attracting new people to your studio.