Marketing is a scary word to some – it’s inherently linked to business and with so many endless options on where to spend your hard earned cash, it can be overwhelming to decide how to best use your available resources to reach the right people.
Marketing, in its purest definition, is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of your ideas, goods or services to satisfy the needs of individual consumers or organisations.
In terms of how this applies to us bellydancers, we are trying to come up with ideas on how to reach people who might want to either hire us for a performance, or who might want to take our classes. So in other words, marketing is coming up with and executing ideas or “strategies” to meet the needs of the customer.
The process of communicating this to potential customers is what we call advertising, which can be paid or unpaid. But before we can delve into how to advertise (ie, reach your audience) we need to unpack a few specifics about who you are and who you are trying to reach, and what you want to communicate.
This is where the importance of branding comes in. You need to really know who you are and what your brand is (this sounds obvious I know, but can be challenging once you sit down and think about it!) because this will inform how you approach your marketing activity and influence which kind of customers you are targeting.
For example, if you are launching pre or post natal specific bellydance classes, your branding will want to reflect how safe and beneficial the movement is for the health of the mother and baby, how experienced you are as a teacher and how the community you are building is a safe and accepting place for mum-to-be’s and new mums. Your core marketing activity will revolve around the key benefits of bellydance as a holistic way to incorporate movement, rather than emphasizing the entertainment or fitness value.
If your current branding is all about entertainment, and performance and selling yourself as a performer rather than as a teacher/facilitator, then this will ultimately reflect in the trust a mum-to-be may or may not put into allowing you to teach her, regardless of any skills or qualifications you might have as a teacher.
So in this instance, how your present yourself both on your social media channels and on your website may influence the decision a person might make based on how they perceive your brand.
Creating engaging and relevant advertising is the key to transforming your brand perception – your advertising and content targeting pre and post natal women for classes may be vastly different to the content advertising your professional performance troupe. It’s likely that as bellydancers we have many different facets to the services we offer – so the way we advertise and who we reach will determine success, depending on the messaging we choose. So don’t be afraid to experiment, and recognize that public perception is important when establishing the type of dancer you are and the kind of audience you wish to reach.