April 2011

Happy Easter!

I mentioned in previous articles that advertising was
TOO BIG a topic to address in those particular columns. Advertising needs its own article or articles. Let’s start by defining some of the terms that we throw around when we talk about sharing square dancing with the public and when we share information with other clubs in Square Dance Land. Since the majority of us are not marketing/advertising experts, we tend to use the different terms to mean the same thing. But they are different.

Marketing (noun): the business activity of presenting products or services to potential customers in such a way as to make them eager to buy. Wikipedia says in part that marketing is the process of performing market research, selling products or services to customers and promoting them via advertising to further enhance sales.

Advertising (noun): the promotion through public announcements in newspapers or on the radio, television, or Internet of something such as a service or event in order to attract or increase interest in it. Wikipedia says in part that advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience to purchase or take some action upon products or services.

Promotion (noun): something designed to promote or advertise a product or organization; encouragement for the growth or development of something. Wikipedia says in part that promotion is the communication link between sellers and buyers for the purpose of influencing, informing, or persuading a potential buyer’s purchasing decision.

Publicity (noun): something such as advertising designed to increase public interest or awareness in something; information used to attract public attention. Wikipedia says in part publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public's perception of a subject.

Okay! As I see it, we have two very distinct groups that we are marketing to. The first group is within the square dance community, to other square dancers and other square dance clubs. We want them to come to our dances. The second group is the non-square dancing public, which we want to interest enough to come to square dance lessons. The first step for each is to come up with a
Marketing Plan. Let’s look at them one at a time.

Marketing to and within Square Dance Land
is the umbrella. It is the overall plan for letting everyone know what your club is doing and what a great club it is. One part of your plan is advertising. This is the physical part of the plan. This can be your club ad in your local square dance publication. It can also be the fliers that you take to your council or dancer association meetings. Another part of your plan should be promotion. This is the verbal communication part of your marketing plan. Promotion is announcing your club dances at other dances. It is also telling other dancers you meet about your club’s future dances. The final step is publicity. Publicity is what happens after the event. It is the word-of-mouth communication between dancers that attended your dance. Club A’s dance was so much fun! Don’t miss the next one! That’s good publicity. There can also be bad publicity. We went to Club B’s dance and no one from the club spoke to us.

How’s your club doing? Do you have a marketing plan that you have thought about? Or is it happening by accident?

From my observations through the years, where we, as a square dance community, frequently fail in
marketing to other square dancers is with the advertising and promotion steps. With the advertising, ads are either not placed or some information is wrong, is missing, or is misspelled. Computers have made it easier to communicate. But in many cases, it is easier to perpetuate mistakes. Information from one ad or flier is cut and pasted to use in the next ad or flier. If careful attention is not paid to the details, the date of the dance can be wrong or the name of the caller can be wrong, if your club uses guest callers. With promotion, the same thing often happens. The club member making the announcements at a dance forgets to share the date or the time or the place or other special details. If you are in charge of the written advertising, proofread. And then proofread again. Or have someone else proofread it too. If you are tasked with making announcements make sure you have all the correct information. It is okay to have notes to refer to.

Advertising copy or the information on your fliers should closely follow what we learned in school about telling a story – Who, What, When, Where, Why, and in the case of square dancing, How Much. Announcements should cover the same points. The one thing that square dance clubs want is dancers to come to their dances. They want club members to attend and they want dancers from other clubs to attend too. If we are not giving them accurate information with our advertising and promotion efforts, it makes it hard.

Marketing to the Public
to the public also begins with a marketing plan. It is the umbrella over all your advertising and promotion activities. For the public, though, you need to have more detailed specifics. Who are you going to be marketing to? Everybody? To a specific age group? Is it going to be to the 20-30 year olds? Or is it going to be to the 45-60 year olds?

If your
advertising (remember this is the physical part) is the reader board in front of your hall, then you are limited to a few words giving the What (square dancing) and the When (day and time). This advertising is obviously for everyone who passes by your hall in the course of his or her day. Some will come and some will pass by.

If you want to target a specific group, then you will need to focus your
advertising to appeal to that group. If you want more 60+ year olds, I would suggest advertising in the local paper, or your company newsletter, or an announcement in the church bulletin. If you want more 30+ year olds, I would suggest advertising in the local online newspaper, or on social networking sites. In addition to placing your ads specific places to appeal to specific groups, you need to use words that will catch their attention so they read on. Brainstorm about what those might be.

Promotion (this is the verbal communication part) to the public happens every time we tell our friends about how much fun square dancing is. Are we sharing the fun and benefits or are we sharing the challenges? It is also participating in community events. Is there a local fair your club can participate in?

Publicity is the result of your promotion. If you danced at the local County Fair, you were promoting square dancing. Having that noted in the local newspaper is the publicity that results from your participation.

I am by no means an expert on marketing or advertising. But I have read some articles and books. I would encourage you to do the same. There are some excellent ones out there. I certainly know what works when I am deciding to go to this dance or that dance. I also know what makes me cringe when I see ads or fliers with missing or wrong information or misspelled words. Or listen to announcements with incomplete information for the audience.

As I said at the beginning, this is a
HUGE topic. I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg. My challenge to you this month is to talk about advertising and promotion in your club. Come up with a Marketing Plan. Don’t just do it blindly. Talk about the audience you want to reach.

"If you don't believe in your product, or if you're not consistent and regular in the way you promote it, the odds of succeeding go way down. The primary function of the marketing plan is to ensure that you have the resources and the wherewithal to do what it takes to make your product work." Jay Levinson

"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising."
Mark Twain

Happy dancing,
Susan and Larry