Jay “Hart” Stanley and Alex St. Cin are living their dream. As the owners of an emerging recording studio in Alton, IL, they help up-and-coming musicians immortalize their sound. They’ve recorded dozens of albums and tracks for local artists. And the duo makes a great team: St. Cin brings the musical chops and Stanley provides the business support. But as Lighthouse Sounds prepares to expand, the owners realize they can no longer play it by ear.
The studio has a solid client base, but is not yet profitable. The owners hope that moving to a new, larger space will boost their revenue opportunities.
“We spent $100,000 investing in a new building and the business could all go to nothing if it doesn’t work out,” says Stanley.
The Revolution takes center stage
Lighthouse Sounds was one of six businesses selected by Small Business Revolution — Main Street to receive a complete revitalization. A team of small business marketers and music industry experts made recommendations to help these burgeoning entrepreneurs build a profitable business.
- Position the business to better compete with recording studios in nearby St. Louis, MO.
- Improve Lighthouse Sounds’ chances of getting found by musicians and podcasters seeking a studio.
- Minimize the owners’ time spent on operating the business, empowering them to focus on what they’re good at.
With a plan in hand, the team from Deluxe got to work on a new branding and marketing strategy.
Getting found by new clients
When Small Business Revolution arrived, Lighthouse Sounds was in the midst of a big move to a larger space. To cover the increased expenses, it was crucial to boost the revenue coming into the business.
The market for recording studios is narrow: There are a limited number of bands in the area seeking a recording space. And traditional forms of marketing tend to be ineffective at reaching this audience. So the team from Deluxe rebuilt the studio’s website to better connect with new clients and capture a bigger piece of the limited market.
“Our old website was lacking a lot of things and now our new site looks phenomenal! It’s definitely going to take us to a new level,” St. Cin says.
With a new website and comprehensive search engine optimization plan in place, people searching online are discovering Lighthouse Sounds more than ever before. The website persuades those new visitors to schedule a tour of the studio, and ultimately book a time to record.
The imagery conveys the relaxed vibe of the studio and invites artists of all experience levels to learn more.
The staff information and equipment list reassure artists that Lighthouse Sounds offers the best-quality gear and expertise. Visitors can imagine recording their best work at this studio.
The website makes it easy for potential clients to take the first step by touring the space.
Joining the conversation on social media
Lighthouse Sounds had established accounts on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. But Juanita Copeland, general manager of Sound Emporium, recommended that St. Cin and Stanley start using their business social media accounts to interact with other music industry leaders and musicians — which increases word of mouth.
Deluxe helped St. Cin and Stanley develop a plan for what to post and when, and made a few improvements to their accounts.
Tuning up the brand
To build their reputation as a legit studio, Lighthouse Sounds needed a brand to match. A strong brand can help small businesses attract customers, build credibility, get remembered and more. And the cornerstone of a powerful brand is a slick logo.
The designers from Deluxe preserved elements from Lighthouse Sounds’ existing logo, and created a more upscale identity. The new logo conveys the uniqueness of the business and stands out among bigger-name competitors.
Old logo v. new logo
Spreading the word
The team from Deluxe encouraged St. Cin and Stanley to use their logo everywhere. Promotional products and print marketing are a great way to promote a brand, build goodwill, increase repeat business and create new opportunities for revenue.
Coasters and guitar picks make for great giveaways that encourage clients to remember their experience and inspire them to return. Business cards and postcards help St. Cin and Stanley connect with the community.
Reclaiming the hours in the day
Much like a hotel, recording studios make money when the spaces are booked. Because time was their most valuable asset, St. Cin and Stanley needed to offload time-consuming tasks, and focus on booking and serving more clients.
The biggest game-changer has been to outsource payroll — especially as the employee base grows. Deluxe Payroll processes everything from start to finish, which frees Stanley from a huge administrative burden.
“Now that we have more engineers, I’m thankful Deluxe set us up with payroll services and took care of all that red tape, giving me more time to focus on the business,” Stanley says.
St. Cin and Stanley also established a formalized agreement about who would do what for the business. Now that they both know their roles and responsibilities, the occasional friendship tension has eased.
Entrepreneurs overcome growing pains
Since Small Business Revolution came to Alton, IL, Lighthouse Sounds has thoroughly prepared to expand the business. They have a marketing plan that rivals national competitors and positions them to connect with new artists. The business now employs six people, and the owners are spending less time on tedious tasks, and more of their time on cultivating the business.