More Than Just Great Dancing Lesson #4

More Than Just Great Dancing Lesson #4

Welcome back to #4 in the #marketingmonday series! Today’s lesson from our 2017 More Than Just Great Dancing #roadtriptorally is all about perspective.


If case you missed the first three installments, you can check them out here:

#marketingmondays #1

#marketingmondays #2

#marketingmondays #3


One of the things I adore most about traveling is gaining new perspective and challenging my current thoughts and beliefs. While travel experiences can be similar to ones that might be had at home, the difference in surroundings, people, and circumstances, make them feel different somehow.

  • A meeting with a staff member from a hotel room or airport feels different than a phone call from a home office or studio.
  • Recording a live video from the road feels different than recording a live video from the studio.
  • Enjoying a meal while traveling feels very different than a meal around a kitchen table.


These are just some of the examples of the many experiences in our everyday lives that can start to feel “stale” at home. When traveling, these same experiences take on a new vibrancy and excitement (at least for me). 


Yong Pratt - Marketing Mondays - Perspective

By changing my surroundings, I gained new perspective on business.

This is one of the reasons I’m so keen on changing up things in the studio several times each season.


  • moving pictures around during breaks.
  • adding a new splash of color here or there
  • changing up the furniture arrangement in the lobby
  • creating a new display, etc.


When I give my students (and their parents) new perspective, here are some of the things I’ve witnessed:


  • Engagement in class increases;
  • Focus is more intense;
  • Skills they may have been struggling with become easier;
  • They start to NOTICE things they overlooked previously; and
  • They show up with renewed vigor


Have you experienced this when you’ve made changes in your physical spaces?


Throughout our 11 days trek to and from the 2017 More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally, I experienced some profound paradigm shifts simply. These shifts may have happened had I not been on the road, though probably not as profoundly. Simply by changing the lens through which I saw my life and my business, these shifts are informing my business and I head into Season 17. 


Shift #1: You cannot copy someone else’s success.


If there’s anything I’ve learned these past 16 years as a business owner it’s this: there is no shortage of ideas you can implement into your business. In fact, there are often too many ideas that it can be overwhelming. Within the More Than Just Great Dancing Tribe, for example, there are so many brilliant and uber creative studio owners that inspire and amaze me EVERY day. There would be absolutely no way that I could implement on even half of those amazing ideas (even though I may want to do so).


With that being said, even the best ideas shared between peers and mentors, may or may not work for you at this time. Be inspired by those ideas, programs, promotions, etc. and then make them your own. Take these ideas (with permission, of course) and put your own spin to them.


  • Give them your unique voice.
  • Create your own story around these ideas.
  • Be authentic during implementation.


Remember this next time the studio down the street copies your latest program or company names (yes, it happens to us all). This is easier said than done, of course (I’ve experienced just this more times than I care to count). While they may be able to copy what you’re showing on Social Media or your website, they cannot copy you, your perspective, your heart, or your motivations.


With our growing digital economy, it’s easy to start comparing ourselves (and our businesses) to others in our same town or on the other side of the country. Here’s a video I made for you on this very topic


So my challenge for you today is to celebrate YOU and your studio. Celebrate your accomplishments. Celebrate what makes your studio unique. Be inspired by others and then put your own spin on everything.


Don’t just copy. Create and celebrate!


I want to hear from YOU! Comment below what experiences you create to change the perspective at your studio and in your life. Comment below and then join the conversation over at The Tech Savvy Insider. See you there!


Yong Pratt - The Tech Savvy Insider


Next Monday, I’ll be diving into Shift #2: Rock the boat more. Piss people off more. Go boldly into the world more.


P.S. Do you have too much on your plate with the new season quickly approaching? A Virtual Assistant is a Staffer I believe EVERY Studio Owner needs. Find out what a VA is and what one can do for your business!  Grab my FREE Guide Below.


Get More Stuff OFF Your Plate – Hire a Virtual Assistant Today!
More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally #3

More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally #3

For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been sharing lessons learned from our #roadtriptorally. It was a 3100+ mile, 11-day adventure to attend the 2017 More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally in La Crosse, WI. Today’s blog is installment #3 for our new series dedicated to Marketing, #marketingmondays.


If case you missed the first two installments, you can check them out here:

#marketingmondays #1

#marketingmondays #2


Today’s lesson is all about first impressions and why they are way more important than we may realize.


Over the span of 11 days, we interacted with dozens or businesses. And it’s truly fascinating to watch how businesses are run from the other side of the “front desk.”


Lesson #1: It matters who answers the phone


Before embarking on our trip, we didn’t make any hotel reservations. I know, I know.  This fact alone probably stresses some of you out beyond belief, but here’s my rationale:


We had lots of miles to cover and while we had planned some of the bigger attractions we wanted to experience. Our list included Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Mall of America, Wall Drug, and Yellowstone. There were so many little roadside attractions that I didn’t run across in research that I’m glad we stopped to enjoy. For instance, here’s a picture from the world’s biggest buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota. While the stop was not planned, we saw the attraction from road and couldn’t resist. It proved to be an excellent spot to meet up with an amazing former family that moved away last year.


#marketingmonday - Yong Pratt - World's Largest Buffalo


Traveling can be a bit stressful in and of itself. I didn’t want to add the stress of  making it to a certain hotel in a particular city by a certain day. If we wanted to spend an extra few hours (or a whole day) doing or seeing someone interesting we could. If I felt like driving more or less in a given day, I wanted to leave that option open, thus no hotel reservations.


With that being said, my oldest, Sophie did a preliminary search on hotels. As we entered into cities in which we would overnight, she’s look at the ratings, reviews, and pictures.  This was a GREAT use of her cell phone privileges! By the end of the trip, Sophie was far more comfortable being on the other end of the phone asking questions of hotel staff. Decisions on where to stay were a direct result of those conversations.


When we hit Billings, MT, we chose not to stay at a particular hotel simply on the fact that the person on the other end of the phone was, well, wishy-washy. She sounded rather young, inexperienced, and didn’t really seem to know much about the business for which she was working. When asked seemingly simple questions such as: whether/not they offered breakfast; are senior or AAA discounts offered; do you have a room on the top floor, the answer was always “I think so.”


I literally cringed just listening to this phone conversation. It made me think about all the people that have answered my phones in the past 16 years. All were great people with many, many talents. Some though, did not have a the skill to be engaging on the phone. 


Questions to ponder:

  • Who do you have answering your phones?
  • Are your admin staff amazing at engaging by asking the right questions? Are they listening and asking questions not just answering?

Not sure?

Call your studio from another phone and learn what your customers experience when calling.


Lesson #2: Missing out on opportunities to serve & connect


On our way to Yellowstone, we stopped at a convenience store in Montana that had a Subway attached (it’s Sophie’s fav place to eat these days). When we stepped up to order, the young man behind the counter let us know it would be about 10 minutes as the computer was rebooting.




We walked next store to use the restroom and fill the 10 minutes “window shopping.” We looked at the knick-knacks, the t-shirts, gifts and were enjoying our time out of the car.


When the 10 minutes passed, we walked back into Subway and were told that the computer still wasn’t working so he couldn’t sell us anything. Being a problem-solver by nature, I suggested that he keep a tally of what we purchased, add up the price for each which was super easy as there’s no sales tax in Montana, and then enter the purchases when the computer came back online.


He looked at me very confused as I went on to state that it would be unfortunate for the owner to miss out on the opportunity to sell any sandwiches just because the computer wasn’t working.


The young may proceeded to call the owner who told him not to sell anything until the computer was working properly. It was a bummer for us as we had to seek out a lunch alternative.


It was a much bigger bummer for the business who lost out on not only our sale, but who knows how many others that day AND still had to pay their employees to turn people away for who knows how long…All because they couldn’t think outside the box and creatively solve the problem. AND they didn’t offer a way to connect with them again…a special coupon or discount code for a future visit (when leaving Yellowstone). They could have done any number of things to get me to come back in to visit. In a few brief moments, our relationship was over and done.


Has this ever happened to you?


Below are some photos of interesting ways businesses created to serve us during our visits. Now we have great memories (and photos) to share with friends and family. From the outside, they look like us enjoying our vacation (and we are). In reality, I learned tons of marketing lessons and questions to ask of my businesses. Each of these businesses presented multiple opportunities for us to talk about the experiences (AKA refer) we had with them and showcase them online – SUPER smart!


#marketingmonday - Yong Pratt - Opportunities to Serve


As a society, we’ve become reliant upon the internet and when it’s down, it can literally be disastrous, especially in terms of serving our families.


Questions to ponder:

  • Do you have a process in place to enroll students, look up classes, etc. for those time when the internet is down?
  • Are you missing out on opportunities to serve and engage clients before, during, or after registration?


Lesson #3: Appearances Matter


When I first started my studio 16 years ago, I didn’t pay much attention to how my studio looked and felt to those visiting or coming to classes. I liked purple and that’s the color we used in our 2nd building (which I thought would be my last).


The walls were a lovely lavender and that was accented with a deeper shade of purple on the “columns” that jutted out every 8 feet or so. At the time, I didn’t have the cash to build a wall to separate the very small entryway/lobby from the classroom spaces. Instead, I hung a curtain the length of the wall (in a 3rd shade of purple). The building had huge floor to ceiling windows which I thought would be great for displays (which I have no knack for creating). To counter this deficit, I made curtains to keep out the heat in the summer and retain heat in the winter.


What color did I choose?


You guessed it…another shade of purple.


About a year or two of being in the space, I found my first mentor. He often used Starbucks as an example of creating warm and inviting spaces. Their walls are usually rich “coffee” shades with accent colors for the furniture.


As soon as I returned from my very first “business” conference, I promptly went down to our local paint store. Home Depot had not made it to our town yet.  I boldly chose a warm, creamy coffee color for the walls and a burgundy color as my accent. I knew nothing of branding at the time. I didn’t realize the mismatch in brand consistency I was creating, BUT the compliments came pouring in!  


I could not believe that something as simple and as cheap as paint could have such a profound impact. This impact went far deeper than appearances. It affected how people felt and experienced my studio when entering its doors. The new color scheme created a much better First Impression. 


After making this change, we experienced significant growth in our programs and enrollment. I believe it mostly due to the processes I was putting in place, but the look and feel of the studio certainly played a roll.


Questions to Ponder:

  • Are there any small “fixes” you could do to make your studio more inviting?
  • Is your studio easy to navigate? Do you have signage up directing people to locations such as the restroom or different studio spaces?
  • Have you done a walk through of your studio inside and out to perform a sensory assessment?
    It’s basically an assessment where you use all your senses to evaluate your physical space. You ask yourself questions relating to your senses (how does the space look, feel, smell)? This is a concept I learned from one of my mentors, Dave Crenshaw. Sensory assessments can be done by you or your staff. You could even enlist a group of parents or community members to do one for you. It’s truly an enlightening experience to say the least.

When it comes to appearances, things such as overlooked repairs, chipping paint, bad lighting, or rips in the upholstery can create a not so good first impression. In fact, the appearance of your studio could overshadow the care you take of your students and the value you provide.


As we head into the new season, take stock of how you studio looks and feels versus the experience you wish to create. If there’s a mismatch, what can you do to remedy the situation? If the two are in alignment, you’re ready to make the 2017-2018 Season the BEST ever!


The pictures below are of the C’Mon Inn Lodge in Casper, WY. From the name, I thought it was going to be pretty cheesy. The reality is that it was one of the most stunning hotels at which I’ve ever stayed. It was a gorgeous lodge with so much attention to detail. So much thought went into making it feel like a hunting cabin out in the woods but on a much grander scale. From the floor to ceiling fireplace in the entry, to the outdoorsy feeling foyer, to the stunning pool room, this hotel did not fail to delight. Even our room had it’s own private balcony which overlooked the pool.

#marketingmonday - Yong Pratt - Appearances Matter

This whole #marketingmonday series was created to get you as a business owner to consider different parts of your business. The three lessons I learned on our #roadtriptorally for the 2017 More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally this week are:

(1) It matters who answers the phone

(2) Missing on on opportunities to serve

(3) Appearances Matter

Now it’s YOUR turn…

How can you take the info you’ve read and apply it in your studio?




P.S. Do you have too much on your plate with the new season quickly approaching? A Virtual Assistant is a Staffer I believe EVERY Studio Owner needs. Find out what a VA is and what one can do for your business!  Grab my FREE Guide Below.

Get More Stuff OFF Your Plate – Hire a Virtual Assistant Today!
More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally 2017 #2

More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally 2017 #2

Last week, I started a NEW Series here on the Blog, #marketingmondays #mondaymusings, where I’m sharing #lessonslearned throughout our 11-day, 3100+ mile #roadtriptorally to attend the 2017 More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally. It’s amazing what happens when you step away for the day to day of your business and your routine and head out to the open road (even when we don’t want to or feel like it’s the right thing to do).

More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally 2017 - Yong Pratt

If you missed last week’s post, READ it first you get a sense of whys of this new series. You can also click on the image to the right to read the article, too 🙂  ——->


Marketing Lessons from a Visit to American Girl 


Today I want to share some tremendous marketing lessons learned at the American Girl Store at the Mall of America in Minnesota. I did a FB Live on the Road, in Dickinson, ND to be specific, where I talked a little about this experience. Catch it here.

Marketing at American Girl

First visit to American Girl

When I first spotted the American Girl Store, I felt a bit guilty. Why? I had never bought either of my girls a “real” American Girl Doll though the requests have been many over the years and many a sleepover has been attended where friends had multiple “real” AG dolls. As a mom, I’d have to say I’m a bit on the frugal side and often look for sales or lower cost alternatives for just about everything (which is why I LOVE amazon…but that’s a story for another time). Maybe you can relate?

I honestly didn’t want to go in for fear that my youngest (Daphne, 11) would ask for or want to spend the money she’d saved for the trip on a new doll or the many, many, many accessories. While she still had plenty of money left, I didn’t want her to get frustrated or angry with herself (or me) thinking she couldn’t “afford” to get something she wanted or experience any heartache by having to watch others buy dolls or accessories with faces full of smiles while leaving empty-handed.

As soon as we walked in, we came face to face with thousands of items to purchase and with some pretty hefty price tags.  Everywhere we looked, there were displays of the dolls in a different scenarios complete with attire and accessories (at the beach, in the garden, on the stage, etc.). 

For girls who love horses, there was a doll displayed in a horse stall, AG sized horses dolls could ride, saddles, cowgirl boots – just about any accessory you could think of plus more that I didn’t even know existed, were there and boldly on display. The same went for dance, music, karate, gymnastics, and the list of activities goes on from there.

Not only were the regular 18” dolls on display in all the different custom “looks” (hair, eye and skin color, freckles, no freckles and more), but there were mini dolls, pets, and even a hair salon where one could make an appointment for a custom “do” by the hair professional on duty…and this was just downstairs. We still had another full floor to explore.

As I imagined, this floor represented a lot of items Daphne desperately wanted to spend her money on, but was scared off by the price tag (and getting a bit grumpy about it).


Lesson #1: People afford what they want to afford.

The AG store opened my eyes to a product that seems like so many others, however, they managed to turn the buying  and caring of dolls into a boutique experience with a distinct culture.

Life Sized Displays at American Girl

Enjoying a Life Sized Display at American Girl

As a studio owner, I’ve been guilty of thinking that my prices are too high and that people just cannot “afford” what I what I was selling. By second-guessing my pricing and people’s ability to pay for my services (which I’ve offered now for 16 years in my community), I was basically coming from a mindset of LACK.

The reality is that if people don’t buy what I’m selling (raising smARTer kids through the arts), I’ve either:

  1. Not expressed what we do well enough, in a compelling enough manner or haven’t painted the vision of the benefit and outcomes or
  2. I’m pitching our services to the wrong audience.

In the last 6 months in particular, I’ve really come to understand that I need to work more on both of these issues.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Do you have a scarcity (lack) or growth mindset?
  • What can you do to make a shift to the latter?
  • Do you believe people can afford your services?


As we headed up the escalator, I was becoming more fascinated with the brand and started questioning how I could do this in my studio and in helping all of you with your Technology.

What we found upstairs really solidified the brand and the experiences I want to created in business — the American Girl Cafe.

The American Girl Cafe

Picking a doll to lunch at American Girl Cafe

When you walk up the cafe, there’s a lot to be seen. There are stools to belly up to an old-timey looking (pink) soda fountain/ice cream parlor and to the right, there number of dolls which I thought were for sale.

When we crossed the threshold into the cafe, were greeted by a lovely teenaged hostess (with a great smile and eye contact), who asked Daphne is she brought her doll for lunch. Responding in the negative (and a bit sad as we left her doll in the car), our hostess proceeded to inform Daphne that she was welcome to pick out any doll she wanted to dine with us and made sure that we grabbed a chair that we could attach to our table. WOW which leads to Lesson 2.


Lesson #2: Setting the stage for the experience and offering and unexpected surprise

When someone comes in for the first time, are you setting up the experience with your studio and offering an unexpected surprise?

I for one, and not so consistent in setting the stage and painting a picture of what my clients will be experiencing with me.  Sure we talk about specifics such as cost, time, classes, etc., but what I don’t often relate is the why the studio exists and how we can help them raise smarter kids through the arts. I often find myself addressing questions but not talking about the benefits of our classes for the child and for their family (which are the real reasons why they might want to come to us each week).

What about you?

Brand Consistency at American Girl

Decked out for lunch at AG – Check out the high chair – nice touch!

I wasn’t expecting Daphne could borrow a doll for lunch and she delighted to do so! Is there something you could offer someone when they come in to your studio that’s unexpected and has a bit of WOW (worthy of words) factor? I’ve been thinking about this very topic a ton lately and would love to know what you do to WOW your clients. Comment Below…

With doll and high chair in hand, we were seated at colorful table with a high backed chair. Daphne happily took a seat (and I got a great picture). Our hostess helped to secure the high chair to the table and we were handed menus. I thought we might just have a quick snack then go someone else in the Mall for a proper lunch.

I was happy to discover, however, that not only were the prices super reasonable (which came as a surprise), there were a number of healthier selections for both kids and adults.

Questions to ponder:

  • How can you set the tone for every interaction with clients (new and old)? 
  • Could you incorporate a little surprise in your first or 10th interaction? It doesn’t have to cost a ton..what do you already have that you can repurpose for a surprise?


Lesson #3: Brand consistency (AKA Attention to Detail)

When asked for our drink and meal orders, the waitress included the doll’s selections, too. A cup of tea, a meal, and dessert.

Lunch for 2 at American Girl

DIY cupcake decorating dessert for 2

Key point. AG knows its audience and the lunching experience wouldn’t be complete without including the doll. The doll gets treated like a human, not an inanimate object which is at the heart of the entire brand. A doll is family with interests as unique as its owners and it deserves to be treated as such.

Each touchpoint (the look and feel of the cafe, the interactive nature of the displays, the hair band wrapped around our silverwave as a gift to diners, the 2 ‘hangers’ to hang a doll in the bathroom stall) offered another reason to fall in love with the brand and spend more money doing so. The AG messaging is consistent throughout each of these touchpoints

Questions to Ponder:

  • Can you say the same about your studio brand?
  • How can you take this lesson and apply it into your studio?


Well there you have it. Three lessons learned by visiting the American Girl Store after leaving the 2017 More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally. Two weeks later and I’m still pondering the experience and questioning how I can implement these lessons in my own businesses.

Was this blog helpful? Did it make you think of ways to make your business even better?

If so, let me know tomorrow. I’ll be going LIVE at the Tech Savvy Studio Owner at 10 AM Pacific Time for another #techtiptuesday and would love to give you a shout out and celebrate your ah-has!

P.S. The push to fall registration is happening now. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your to-do list with the new season about to begin, find out more about onboarding a Virtual Assistant into your business today. Just click the button below to start your VA adventure!


Get More Stuff Done In Less Time – Hire a Virtual Assistant Today!
More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally 2017

More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally 2017

MTJGD Member Rally 2017 Road Trip

Three thousand one hundred sixty eight point nine miles to and from the 2017 More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Like so many programs and services we put into action in our businesses, our second annual #roadtriptorally started as an idea. Of course, ideas bring forth lots of questions.

Was is possible to drive over three thousand miles with a teen, a tween, and my mom? My longest drive prior to this road trip was 12 hours for last year’s rally in Colorado Springs. My hubby is usually the driver for our road trips. Since he had to stay home and work, it was up to me to do the driving.

Did I really want to spend a week and a half in the car and in hotel rooms or would it be better to just fly and get back home quickly?

How could I balance long hours in the car with fun activities to keep ensure the kids weren’t constantly asking, “Are we there yet…”?

Can I “afford” to be on vacation for so long without working?

What would it be like to spend so many days away from my hubby? This trip would represent the longest we’ve been apart for more than 15 years.

Our epic 11 day journey was one of self-discovery, learning, inspiration, and a renewed vigor for business. This trip made me realize just how much I love being an entrepreneur and the lens through which I’m privileged to see the world.

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get a bit myopic. We’re so immersed in the doing, we often forget about the experiences we’re creating for those we serve.

It was truly enlightening to step away from and look at the businesses and experiences others entrepreneurs have created – some good, some not so good. All provided real world take aways that made me think of my own business and whether or not their strategies would work for me. One striking example was our visit to the American Girl Store at the Mall of America.

The attention to detail, the boutique culture they’ve created around a commodity (a doll), and the how they’ve distanced themselves from the competition with respect to pricing was enlightening, to say the least. You can check out the Q& A Thursday FB Live Video for a recount of this experience. If you haven’t been to one of their stores, I highly recommend it, one business owner to another. At the very least, it will get you thinking about every interaction you have with your clients.

In the month of August, I’ll be sharing some key takeaways from our epic journey to the 2017 More Than Just Great Dancing Member Rally on Mondays. Catch you tomorrow for our #techtiptuesday at the Tech Savvy Studio Owner.

Cheers Tech Tamers!

P.S. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your to-do list with the new season about to begin, find out more about onboarding a Virtual Assistant into your business today. Just click the button below to start your VA adventure!

 Get More Stuff Done In Less Time – Hire a Virtual Assistant Today!