Meet Dancer A–Let’s call her Miz Diva. She’s all about the money, isn’t she? Her web site is just over the top, full of exaggerated claims about her classes (become a pro in 3 easy lessons!) and her experience–”I’ve been teaching for 47 years” (oh really, so why does your photo look like you’re in your 20′s–either the photo is reaaally old, or you haven’t been teaching that long.) Miz Diva doesn’t like competing with other teachers or other styles. She posts flyers all over town, even in places that make no sense. She is constantly name dropping all the famous dancers she knows. Her bio lists every show she’s performed in since 1967 (okay, maybe she has been teaching that long. Time for a new photo, sweetie!) She undercuts other performers in the area and basically treats people like dirt.
No one wants to be like that. In an effort to NOT appear Diva-esque, many dancers subconsciously opt for the opposite extreme.
Dancer B–Let’s call her Miss Shrinking Violet. She doesn’t advertise her classes, even though she’s an excellent teacher. She is afraid to tell people what she does because she thinks people will get the wrong idea. When she’s asked for a bio at a workshop performance, she downplays all her accomplishments. She has no website because people might see it and (gasp) actually contact her. Then what would she do? There are no deep-seated self esteem or confidence issues, really. She is a beautiful dancer, and she knows it. But she’s been brought up to be modest. Don’t brag. Don’t call attention to yourself. (I think most of us can relate to that.)
Okay, these are both exaggerations, but do they sound at all familiar? And how’s this for unfair? Miz Diva uses obnoxious tactics. She reminds everyone of a stereotypical used car salesman–but her classes are full and her side businesses thrive. Not because they are better than Miss Violet’s…but because no one knows there’s anything else out there.
Imagine for a moment you’ve never had a belly dance class in your life, but you are curious and would like to take a beginner’s lesson. Who are you going to go to? Miz Diva, of course, because her flyers are everywhere. You don’t know any better. Wouldn’t you be happier if you had a choice of several classes to try out? Maybe Miss Violet’s class would be a better fit for you. Maybe her studio is on your side of town, and she offers a lunchtime class.
By not advertising your business, by not marketing, you’re depriving people of choice.
If you’re a vendor and you don’t have a web site, you’re depriving someone halfway across the country from getting that perfect costume they’ve been searching for.
If you’re a performer and you don’t market yourself, you’re depriving a restaurant owner of the opportunity to hire you and bring in more business for himself.
So, what if there were another way? What if there were some middle ground in marketing?
Meet Dancer C–Miss Dependable, Miss Excellence in Dance, Miss Confident in Her Own Abilities. She posts flyers in appropriate places. She has business cards available at her restaurant gigs. She has a web site with links to her eBay store. She runs a special Tribe page for dancers in her local area. In other words, she markets herself–but she does so with dignity. Unlike the pushy Miz Diva, she advertises in appropriate places (where her target market is likely to be.) She isn’t obnoxious. She doesn’t exaggerate her claims. She doesn’t badmouth other dancers or prevent her students from taking classes away from her school. She is well-loved in the community and around the region.
In order to be successful in this (or any) business, you have to get over the idea that marketing and sales are sleazy or underhanded or undesirable. If you have a good product or service, you are doing the public harm by not getting the word out. You’re also doing the industry harm, because we all become better in the face of competition.
Most people know they need to market. They know it’s important. They even know it can be done without the hype and bluster. But they put it off.
It’s a mindset issue that every business owner has to overcome if she’s going to succeed.
So how about you? Do you struggle with marketing because it’s uncomfortable in some way? Or have you figured out how to get over it? Leave a comment and share with the rest of us!