Don’t Forget These 3 Best Practices for Your Back-to-Dance Marketing

In these unpredictable times, getting the three C’s of marketing right will multiply the effect of all your dance business’ promotion efforts. And you don’t have to be Don Draper to master them.

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It’s going to be a back-to-dance season like no other. Most people are done with the pandemic. They’re rushing back to their regular activities. But what about those new variants? The economy has rebounded. What about inflation? Or recession?

Despite these turbulent times, you can still win big. More than ever, solid marketing is what will move your dance business ahead of your competitors. Fumble your marketing, and you’ll fall behind.

Like a pirouette, great marketing comes from getting the fundamentals right. And like a pirouette, if you don’t nail the core elements, you’ll be spinning around like a mad top. It won’t be pretty. And it won’t be effective.

The good news is that the basics of effective marketing aren’t complicated. You don’t need Don Draper–level creativity. You just need knowledge of your customer (which you have), time to think it through (you’ll make the time) and discipline (OK, this one’s harder, but you’ll manage).

Solid, effective marketing relies on these best practices: connection, consistency and campaigns.

Connection With Customers

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your ads are; if your message doesn’t resonate with your customer, your marketing will fall flat. But if you speak to people’s concerns and address their pain point, your marketing will connect and be effective.

“Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind.” Ad copywriter Robert Collier wrote these words decades ago, but they’re still relevant today.

The conversation in your customer’s mind is probably not what you assume it is. And it’s probably not about price. We think we know what our customers are thinking, but we only hear from a fraction of them. We aren’t hearing from the people who decide not to buy from us. So we have a skewed perspective.

You can get a better idea of your customers’ thinking by sending them a survey. (Read how to create an excellent survey here.)

You should also do a little online research to discover what’s on people’s minds these days. Here’s how:

1. Go to AnswerThePublic and enter your topic; you’ll see what questions people have searched for on that topic.

2. Enter the questions in the Google search bar with + “forum” or “discussion.”

3. In the discussions, look for the external and internal needs. Look for the emotion behind their question. That will reveal the deeper, internal need. Speak to that deeper need, and your marketing will connect. And be effective. (Use these tips to create your marketing message.)

Here’s an example to show how it could play out:

External need: “Where can I find a ballet class/shoe for my child?”
Internal need: “I’m worried that my kid won’t fit in/you won’t have their size.”
How you can address this: If your marketing talks about how you are inclusive and will take care of their child, no matter their size, you will connect with this parent, and they will want to support you.

Consistency in Design

Seven. That’s how many times a consumer needs to see your message before they take action. But most small businesses mess this up.

Blame it on Canva, the DIY graphic design app, but when I look at my consulting clients’ marketing, every piece looks different. How can you get to seven impressions when each marketing piece restarts the clock?

Each marketing piece needs to have the same look and feel as the previous pieces—that way, they build on each other. That’s how you get those seven impressions—and have customers buy from you.

Creating the same look and feel is not hard. It just takes discipline. You need to have brand guidelines that specify your colors and fonts. If you already have a brand guide, great; stick to it. If not, hire a designer and have them create it. You can find designers on freelancer sites like Upwork, Toptal or Fiverr.

Better yet, run a design contest on DesignCrowd. You’ll get dozens of submissions, each with a different approach. Ask for tweaks, pick your favorite, and only pay for the one you like.

Your colors and fonts in the brand guides are the visual representation of your company. Don’t let your designer pick them based on the latest design trend, or because you like them. Your colors and fonts will create a feeling about your brand—and that feeling needs to match who your company is.

Fun and whimsical is a different choice of colors and fonts than serious and hardcore. Paint a clear picture for your designer to get the right look and feel. Is your brand Betty or Veronica? Is it silly or serene? Cake or kale?

Go wild with the words. Describe your brand from every angle. Just avoid telling the designer that you want your brand to look like this or that other company. They may be tempted to just copy that brand. It will look good, but it won’t represent who you are.

Campaigns to Build Impact

As independent businesses, we tend to think of our marketing as a series of unique pieces. There’s this poster, that flyer, this event. But campaigns are what separate the pros from the amateurs. Marketing agency pros think in terms of campaigns. They know that each marketing piece will be more effective if grouped in a campaign.

Pieces in a campaign share the same objective. They share the same message. Every piece reinforces the other. The cumulative effect is far more potent than a series of stand-alone pieces.

So take that great message you’ve crafted and make it the message of all your fall marketing. Make it the message of your flyers, your Facebook ads and your events. Each piece says the same thing but in a different format. Each builds on the other. That’s how you’ll get your message to register. That’s how you’ll get your seven impressions. That’s how you’ll get people to do business with you.

Back-to-dance this year is going to be challenging. But if you create a great campaign where all the pieces are consistent and have a message that connects, you will win. And have your best fall ever.

Gilbert Russell is president of Brio Bodywear, which has two brick-and-mortar dancewear stores in Ottawa, Canada. Through his consulting firm, No Qualms Retail, he shares his experience and knowledge with other independent retailers.