First of all, you gotta start with an entry point. You want to make sure that people who are considering taking Irish dancing lessons know what levels they can come in at. Does it require any experience? Most of the time, the answer is yes, but that’s up to you.
Then, you need to give them additional levels they can aspire to. It’s a lot like karate–someone can come in with zero karate experience but know that what they ultimately want is to be a black belt. When you set up levels, you ensure that the person isn’t going to just sign up for one round of lessons and then hit the road. If they enjoy it or even just feel driven to reach that next level, they’ll be back again and again hoping to progress.
I would recommend breaking it down even further to get as many people in the door for lessons as possible, no matter how new or advanced they are. It could look something like this:
Pre-Competition Beginner: For people with NO dance experience. — You could even offer this one for free to get ‘em hooked.
Pre-Competition Novice: For people who have danced before, but not specifically Irish dance.
Novice: For those with less than 1 year of Irish dance experience — this would be when they start competing. This is where it really gets good.
Intermediate: For those with over 1 year of Irish dance experience, but not quite expert level yet.
Expert: The instructor would determine who goes into these classes–might be a pretty small bunch, but you can charge more at this level.
Whether you’re working with adults or kids, setting up a level system that you can share with participants or parents right when the person starts will get them on track to stick with the practice over time.
That’s where marketing materials become really important. You need videos that tease the lessons–giving those away for free will get people in the door like you wouldn’t believe.
You need flyers that explain the levels and really dig into the reasons why Irish dancing is such a great activity to pursue. When you’re working with kids–and even adults, to a degree–you’re selling kids being active, fighting obesity, not playing video games, social interaction with other kids…that’s the stuff that’s important right now to parents. Include success stories about past participants who have crushed it in competition. Help people see that they can also become an advanced and accomplished Irish dancer if they take your classes.
Once they’re indoctrinated into the dream you’ve established, you won’t have to re-sign them every 4 weeks–they’ll come to you. Once someone makes it to a competitive skill level, they aren’t there just for fun…they’re there to win. So they’ll keep showing up and wanting more.