Love it or hate it, if you are a dance performer or teacher you will need to market yourself. I know a lot of bellydancers who also work, or have worked in marketing, and it’s not a coincidence, as you need to be highly creative in both occupations. But even those who know ‘marketing’ may not necessarily know how to market themselves. Pushing a product can feel very different to selling ‘you’, but it’s in fact very similar. So if you worry being too pushy or not having the resources to do what’s needed, then here are 10 tips to get you on your way.
Don’t think just because you’re a small business (or even if you do it in your spare time), that you are much worse off than others, and therefore haven’t got time to invest in marketing. Even big companies, like for example DHL, only have a very small marketing team. But they make sure they use their resources in a clever way, so that what they do, also has a big impact.
It all comes down to brand and branding. Yes, you will need this too even if you’re a one-man-band. It won’t just help you look professional and consistent, but it will also help you save a lot of time in the long run. Spending a little time keeping up to date with marketing developments and tools is worth it, because it can make you more efficient.
Brand development is a big topic, but its basically all about deciding how you want to appear and be perceived. Will you have a logo? What will your brand colours be? Most have one primary, and then a handful of secondary colours in their pallet, that they will use consistently over and over again. What is your font? What is your style? Big ,bold and colourful or stylish and minimalist?
Think of your own personality and take it from there. What is your favorite colour? What’s your dance style? How do you dress, whether in class or when performing? This will all give you an idea about how your brand will be, because YOU are your brand!
You can evolve and re-brand, but you don’t want to do so every few months. It’s all about keeping things consistent, so that people start recognising you and your business. Having it all set up, so that you know what colours, fonts and images to use, will also save you a lot of time in the long run. Consistency is essential to building a brand, and it even goes down to wording and very importantly visuals…
A key part of your branding are your visuals – or images. If you mainly teach, then make sure to have some great photos of yourself doing so in class wear. If you perform, then have some glamorous photos of yourself in costume. Getting a professional photo shoot done can really pay off, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Get a friend, who knows how to use a camera and take instructions from you on what you’re looking for, and you’ll be well on your way.
All you need is a handful of great photos, that you can use. You may get feed up with looking at them, but your audience won’t see them nearly as often as you, so it can be a great way to keep your communications consistent. Again, think about the style of your photos and what you want to convey. Are you a serious teacher? Do your students have fun? Are they happy to be in the photo? If so, please get their permission and tell them what you plan to do with the photo! Are you a serious performer? Have you got studio as well as location photos? You will also need visuals of yourself performing at a venue.
In this day and age it’s essential to use videos, especially if you’re a performer. Photos taken at a club are not likely to show how great you are, but a semi-decent video will really help show people what they can expect when booking you. Set up a YouTube channel and link to videos when and where appropriate. Short is good! People’s attention spam is rather limited nowadays, but even 1 minute of a performance will convey your style and ability to perform.
If you’re a teacher you may also want to share videos of your classes or of choreographies that you’re teaching, so students know what to expect when turning up for class. If you are teaching mainly beginners or a community class, this is a lot less vital, than if you’re teaching at a higher and more advanced level.
So you have your brand sorted and now need to secure customers. Knowing where to get the word out will depend on your audience. If you’re a restaurant dancer, you’ll need to put the legwork in and go see the restaurant managers. If you’re a teacher, you need to decide who you will be teaching. If you’ve booked a community hall, it’s probably a local/community class, which means you need to source your students from the local area. If you’re in or near a big town, and in a mirrored studio, you may also be teaching at a higher level, and your students may travel to come see you? I’m making generalisations here, but I hope you get the picture. Once you know your audience you can start targeting them.
With the decline of the local community noticeboards, it’s getting increasingly hard to get the word out locally, but it’s not impossible. There are still a few noticeboards around, or you can get creative about where to hang up posters and banners (within the legal bounds of doing so). Speaking to local business owners and maybe offering a discount voucher for their staff or customers (if female) is an option, but you will need to put on your best walking shoes and your biggest smile!
Advertising in local publications is also an option, but tends to be expensive, with low return. However, some local newspapers have free listings, and if you can spin yourself a news story, then it’ll help you create some PR, as well as gain free advertising. So get create, and start contacting your local editors.
Facebook has very much replaced many local community boards, so check whether your local area has a group, and start engaging with it. It’s not enough to just post lost of stuff about your classes. Make sure you follow what’s going on, so people get to know you. That way you create a trustworthy relationship which is also likely to help make your advertising less intrusive.
Getting involved in local events is also an easy way to get publicity. Secure yourself a performance slot at a local fete, and make sure you have someone on hand to hand out leaflets whilst you perform, so you can capture potential new students.
If you know your audience you’ll also know which social medium to use. There is no point in trying to do them all (unless you really enjoy doing so) if your customers aren’t on there. If you’re are hoping to reach in particular women between 30 and 60, then Facebook is your medium. It’s also great if you’re targeting higher level dancers, who may already be performing, as they tend to have a profile on here. If you’re a performer then Instagram may be more your thing, although Facebook could also work for you. The two are now being integrated; sharing across will there become a lot easier. If you’re establishing yourself as a dance personality, and you’re happy to share little and often, then do make sure you’re on Twitter!
The key thing to remember about all social media is that it’s not a broadcasting medium; it’s all about connections and conversations. So as already mention, make sure you engage in what’s already going on, and not just post your own stuff all the time. Keep it friendly and pitch in with your knowledge where you can to solve problems or add to conversation.
Use the opportunity to show people who you are; your humor, what you get up to, your personality, likes and dislikes. But DO keep it professional at all times, and DO keep yourself safe! Don’t give out your private landline, tell people where you live and so on…If you’re a responsible adult, I’m sure you know what I mean. If not, please find someone who is before getting too carried away.
If you’ve got a great and not least public social media profile you may not even need a website, as you’ll still be searchable online. The website topic is so big that I’ll cover it in more detail in a separate post, but the basics are this: if you’ve already got your branding and visuals sorted, and know your audience, then building a website is easy. What it will look like will depend on you, and what you want people to do. If you want to fill a class, then that information needs to be on there – with visuals and potentially videos. If you want to showcase your performer crediantials, then you’ll need some great visual and videos, as well as clear booking informations. No matter what, make sure your contact details are clear, and that all information is up to date. There’s noting worse than coming across a website advertising what you want, only to discover that the latest blog up date or event listing is 5 years old!
There are some great free resources out there like Wix, WordPress Squarespace etc., and with a little time and very little (or even no money) you will be able to build a webpage, or an entire site, marking your online presence.
When you’re posting, whether in person bringing your posters to the local nail bar, or on social media, do make sure you keep it fresh at all times. It’s considered spam if you’re blindly share exactly the same message over and over again. Update your wording, change the photo. Whether you’re selling a class, workshop, hafla or similar, link to videos, post at different times, keep it current and do keep it relevant. Don’t post to pages or groups that aren’t for advertising whatever it is you want people to know about.
I could keep going, but these are just some of the basics of how to market yourself. If you want to make sure you get my next article on marketing, then you can sign up to my email updates here. Now that’s great marketing in action for you right there 🙂 But seriosuly, do feel free to sign up, if you’re interested in more information like this.
What do you find especially useful to market yourself and events? Do you find it difficult to ‘sell’ yourself? Have you got your brand sorted and is it a good and clear reflection of you and your business? Please let me know by leaving me a comment below, and let’s keep the knowledge sharing going.
Happy and successful marketing as well as dancing 🙂
Did you miss my last post? Read it here: How to advance your hagalla