May-June 2013 | Mindful Marketing | Guerrilla Strategies

Mindful Marketing
By Julie Holt Lucia

Warning! Reading this story may inspire outrageous marketing ideas. Your imagination may begin to take your studio marketing beyond your wildest dreams. I take no responsibility for the increase in business you may receive as a result.

What you just read is a touch of guerrilla marketing, the attention-grabbing strategy that’s rooted in creativity. If you’ve been looking for a way to jazz up your studio’s image, then why not approach your marketing with a different perspective?

Guerrilla marketing is defined by its unconventional (and often inexpensive) way of piquing people’s interest in a product or services.

Guerrilla marketing is defined by its unconventional (and often inexpensive) way of piquing people’s interest in a product or services. Non-traditional marketing can help you gain new customers without blowing your budget. To get the most out of these tactics, take a positive, imaginative, and interactive approach to ensure that potential customers have a great feeling about your school and want to learn more.

To get you started, here are some ideas you can adapt to your studio’s needs and budget.

Tutu drop

Enlist the help of your staff, students, or students’ parents. Purchase some inexpensive tulle and ribbon at a craft store and create tutus in your studio’s colors. (There are some great no-sew tutu tutorials online.)

Attach a tag with your logo to each tutu that reads: “Found: one tutu. Please return to ABC Dance School in exchange for one free dance lesson.” Then drop the tutus in obvious places at busy neighborhood areas or events, such as the library or a farmer’s market. (No matter where you target your drops, even if it’s public, remember to seek permission first.)

Statues

Public parks are great places to attract new customers, but this idea could work on the sidewalk outside your school or even in your parking lot. Dress a handful of dancers in costume and stage makeup and place them in busy areas to act as living statues. Identify them as dancers from your school by having them hold a stack of brochures (or place them nearby). The dancers should stay silent and change positions infrequently. To truly get into the act, have someone carry the dancers to their places and remove them afterward.

Dance jam

Find an open, grassy area and stage a casual dance contest among your staff or dancers (decked out in studio T-shirts), inviting observers to join in. As you “judge” during the contest, hand out dance class coupons or promotional tokens as prizes (you could even make mini-tutus to give away; see tutu drop). Keep the focus on enjoying fun music and interacting with potential customers.

Dance-ade stand

Create a studio “lemonade” stand where, in exchange for a penny (or just a smile), your staff or dancers will demonstrate various dance styles or teach a simple dance move. Bring your own chairs and table, or set up at a park bench. Call it a “Dance-ade” stand and provide free lemonade as a fun twist.

Glow-getter

If your studio has windows that face a major street or parking lot, consider painting words or a phrase on them (outside or inside) with glow-in-the-dark paint. Choose something simple like “We dance. Do you?” or “Enjoy. Dance. Here.” If you don’t have permission to use paint on your windows, try the same idea on poster board attached to the windows.

Waiting game

This idea works best during the busy holiday shopping season. Find places that are likely to have long lines—stores that open particularly early, movie theaters, restaurants—and have a group of teachers or dancers perform for the people waiting in line. The more costumed and dressed up the dancers are, the better, and they should perform as full-out as possible. (Option: ask observers to join in.) Use traditional Nutcracker music or holiday tunes to keep the mood light.

With guerrilla marketing, creativity is key (as is being considerate of locations and people). The goal is to leave onlookers feeling entertained, curious, and amused—and attracted to what you’re offering. Use these marketing opportunities to raise your studio’s profile in a thought-provoking and exciting way, and you’ll likely see an upswing in business. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.