Merchant: Riot Circus Arts
Location: Forty Fort, Pennsylvania
Platforms: Instagram, Facebook, BookSteam
Bottom Line: Online booking offers instant gratification to late night web surfers and helps businesses capitalize on customers who might otherwise drop out of the sales funnel.
As an interactive aerial dancer, who also does hoop dancing, fire performances and teaches a number of circus arts classes, Kayla Dyches has no trouble attracting attention from curious onlookers. She’s been able to capitalize on her personal backstory and unique line of work to get free press in local publications, but still says the best way to promote her upcoming classes is still with paid online advertising.
Dyches runs paid ads on Facebook and Instagram every two to three months to promote her circus arts classes, and she says that learning how to properly budget is the most important thing she’s done to improve her marketing practices in the past few years.
“Always set a goal to put a percentage of earnings aside for marketing purposes. So your marketing will match your income, and it seems less overwhelming that way,” Dyches says.
Through conversations with her business partner, Dyches has come to settle on a percentage of profits to set aside. She now keeps 5% to 10% of gross profit to put into online advertising. Of that, she spends 50% on Facebook and 50% on Instagram.
“Facebook has a big audience, but Instagram seems to be a more popular platform at the moment,” she says.
Mobile advertising has also been huge for Dyches. When she looks at the insights on her social media ads, she sees that fewer than 10% of views come from desktop computers. Seeing that data has led her to focus more heavily on mobile Facebook and Instagram ads.
Targeting and selectivity are important to Dyches as she plans her ad spending, as well. In order to be effective, her ads need to be seen by a very specific group of people.
“It’s not always about [getting] the most eyes on my business, but a very select audience,” she says. “I need clients that are driven, motivated, adventurous, and like a challenge. While most people, I think, would describe themselves as one of those qualities, not as many actually possess it.”
As many as 90% of Dyches’s clients now book their classes online. Dyches has also made the strategic decision to “insist” that her customers use her online booking page, which is powered by a vendor called BookSteam, to schedule and pay for classes. She’s also added a “Book Now” button to her Facebook page, to make it easier for people who find her business on the social media site to schedule their classes right away.
“I travel to perform, instruct, keep up with my own training, and I’m a single mom. I really don’t have time to sit down with people to walk them through booking and scheduling,” she says. “Before I started online scheduling, I would spend my morning and breaks in the day messaging people back and forth to set schedules. It also [required] me to keep the calendar in my phone updated as well as a hard copy calendar in case there’s a glitch that erases my phone’s calendar. It was just a pain.”
Dyches says she opted to work with BookSteam over other online scheduling vendors because of the company’s straightforward pricing and how easy it was to use the platform. The option to book classes from any smartphone or tablet has been important for Riot Circus Arts, as well, because of the type of clientele that Dyches’s business attracts.
“I get the customers who are impulsive. Mobile booking gives them that instant gratification to sign up for their lessons,” she says. “If left to walk-in and sign up, most people forget and never make it to the door of my business. Mobile booking is huge for me. I see a lot of registrations happen after I’ve gone to bed. So, you’re [up at] 11pm or later, late night online surfing turns into booking opportunities for me.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.