Parades: A Double-Marketing Whammy

Last week my studio families and I walked in our 5th annual parade since I opened in 2011. A 5-year anniversary is a perfect time for celebration, so I wanted to share a little more about it with you today.

Not only are you going to see photos from the last five years (including my three different hairstyles!), but I’m going to share a little bit of the logistics, and why you should consider doing something like this in your studio.

 

2011 – Year 1 (For the parade & my business!)

This is before I had my logo designed. I cut a sign out of black poster board (yes I cut out the logo!) and put clear plastic sleeve covers behind the poster board so I could stick down the inside pieces such as those on the 8’s.

Yes, it was cheap and homemade all the way! 10-15 students were supporting me at this point!

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I made the keyboards out of foam-core poster board I bought at Wal-Mart.

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Aren’t they cute?

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This is the umbrella I made as one of my first marketing efforts through our local Creative Arts Council. They host an umbrella contest every July, and I had an artist friend decorate it for me.

 

2012 – Year 2

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Thought to note: The big Studio 88 Piano Lessons sign catches your eye – all of the signs leave no question in your mind what business we’re a part of!

The large sign on the right is also made out of foam-core poster board. The sign itself is printed from FedEx Office on a wide-format black and white printer. It’s the cheapest way I know to have signs made! The print was then glued or taped to the foam-core board.

 

2013 – Year 3

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We added some more signs this year! The large one clear to your right as well as the three Studio 88 Piano Lesson signs we made from our vinyl cutter and placed on Coroplast board I bought at Lowes. The sign in the back is also made of coroplast – I had a little fun decorating it with music notes.

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Love it. These girls are showin’ ’em how it’s done!

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2014 – Year 4

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It’s nice to have friends and family with nice cars! Every car we’ve used including the 2002 Metalic Turquois Thunderbird, this black Crossfire, and the upcoming 1968 Corvair, was loaned to us in good faith! 🙂

Plus, they’re a lot more fun to look at and catch people’s attention with than Drew’s 2003 Ford Focus or my 2007 Ford Focus. Yes, we both have Focus’, so does that make them a set of Foci? 🙂

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We decided to get smart this year and attach all our small keyboard posters together to make a full 88-key piano!

 

 2015 (No-Go)

I had to leave the evening of the parade this year for our State Conference.

 

2016 – Year 5

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This year was a bit light on those walking, but our enthusiasm was still high thanks to my husband. Gotta love that man! I’m also blessed to be able to teach my two nephews who are standing directly in front of me. Aren’t they adorable? (Sorry to the hidden mama!)

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Pretty sweet, I know!

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Oh, these boys…ornery as ever, every last one of ’em!

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Some cool shots by one of my parents from the Court House. I’m holding my 5-year old nephew’s hand. 🙂

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The Boring Stuff We Still Want to Know

It costs me between $120-$150 per year to do this. It’s $60 to register, I usually spend $50-$60 on candy, and if any parents or friends walk that don’t have t-shirts, I simply give them a t-shirt. I usually have around $20-$30 in extra shirts.

The candy goes into 3 or 4 reusable shopping bags (the kind we get for free from publishers at conferences!), and I make the parents hand it out. Hehehe! I’m so mean – I hate handing it out! LOL.

I think I may have determined that candy will get cut out in the future. Why? First, it’s expensive and doesn’t add anything to the “benefit.” Second, you’re not allowed to throw it. Lastly, parents have a hard time getting rid of it because of #2 and because everyone just sits there with their bag open for you to walk up to and place candy in.

Handing out candy doesn’t make us any more visible, liked, or noticed. I think I’ll save my money in the future.

This particular parade happens in September during our annual Street Fair which shuts down the streets of Bluffton. It’s a community event that many have a love-hate relationship with. Most of the hate comes from the inconvenience of driving around it!

 

What’s the Benefit – why I Do It

Marketing, I strongly believe, isn’t just about active, direct campaigns. A strong portion of it is about continually keeping visibility in your community even when you’ve had a waiting list for years.

Walking in a parade is simple, has low overhead, doesn’t require a lot of time or effort, and on top of all that, it’s a double whammy. Not only are you keeping visibility in the community, but you’re also presenting an opportunity to build community within your studio.

One of the greatest reasons music often loses to sports has to do with this word – “community.” Kids love being a part of something – a team – a group. Be that group.

This parade is perfect timing for the start of the school year. Especially if you’re looking to build your studio. In my experience, peak times for inquiries is always September and January.

Not all communities have parades in September but even so, keep your eye out for any kind of community events you can be a part of. Every community has a parade at some point in the year whether it’s a Winter light parade, a harvest parade, or a summer 4th of July parade.

Marketing doesn’t always have to be hard, elaborate, or even unique. Sometimes it just has to be.

Be there.

Be visible.

Be present.

Be the one – the one kids want to be a part of.


Have you ever walked in a parade with your studio? What’s your experience?

 

4 Comments

  • Hey Amy,
    Great post. I haven’t done any parades yet, but I have done street festivals. One question, where do you order your shirts from and about how much are they per shirt?

    • Hi Christie, there’s a local print shop in my town that does all kinds of things like shirts, trophies, blankets, etc. The cost per shirt depends on a couple different things including type/brand of shirt, how many colors of print, and quantity ordered. I think I pay anywhere from $6.50-$7.75 per shirt.

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