Last week, I reached a new low in marketing efforts - OR - you could just say I'm really eco-conscious. In lieu of a legit business card, I wrote my class information on the back of a dog food receipt. Grrrrrrrreat job. My student friends were strangely impressed with my lack of enterprise.
Now, I've never been accused of trying too hard, and there's some sick pride in that. However, I have spent way too much time on business cards for various ventures. Wasted effort with letterpress designs with special rounded corners, as well as the affordably unspecial kind from the local print shop. Just another piece of paper that gets mangled at the bottom of someone's purse or pocket. I've got a few acceptable designs up in another window now, so I'll do something about it, I promise...
So, how do I find people to take my classes? They found me through the interwebz, or they knew me already, or my students bring in a friend. Sometimes they've seen my class at a studio event - and they give me their e-mail address or Facebook info (on the back of a dog food receipt or the like...) I have done open house events, and it does not really grab new students. Most of them are there because it's free, not because they want to take the class. But, it's part of the business and we all do it. I have had business cards here and there, by the way. Ehh. Maybe I am just not compelling enough, because there's that thing about me not wanting to be that way. "Hi, I teach belly dance - if you want to join us, that's cool...the class is a great bunch." See what I did there? I didn't even talk about myself and how long I've taught or how many dance classes I take, or how giant my dance costume closet is...because ewww, this is not about me, it's about YOU, and your needs. I just don't take myself seriously to keep a straight face when it's time to tell you how I'm about to change your life, big time.
Yes, I know it's a weak strategy to lurk in the background, popping out here and there. No, I do not behave this way when I market anything or anyone else. For my troupe, Amaranth, I made sure to ask a professional graphic designer friend to design the logo. I used my office's promotional company to make the best t-shirts. We completed all kinds of strategy exercises to define the troupe's brand - and I maintain a ridiculously urgent need to stay consistent with it. No logo or image will appear pixel-y!
So what about the Paula Brand? It's totally there, with this kitchen talk and all the flavors of dance. I legitimately dance in the kitchen and use the french doors as my mirrors, filming class drill video/choreo samples in the doorway between the kitchen and dining room. My teaching persona is really that quirky and unconventional. As a first time flamenco student at Clinard Dance, I realized that the smaller classes were better for me. I had no idea what I was getting into, so I wanted/needed that extra supervision. This class was a multi-level class, so I also appreciated how Wendy taught it effortlessly. I was not teaching at the time, but it made an impression on me on how much goes on in a small, multi-level class.
After 2 years of dedicating myself to 'less-is-more', I discontinued one of my classes so I could have a day off. It's down to two classes a week, with students moving away as a new ones arrive. It always stays small - six people at the most in one class. I put my two classes together for student performances, so that makes for a manageable amount of dancing for each student. In my fits of "what am I trying to DO here?" doubts, I wonder how my students feel about their dance journeys as they have many choices on what to study. Does my class setting do right by them? I just got my answer: one of my first students told me that she wants to go for General Skills certification next year. I didn't even think anyone would consider the time and expense of certification after a few years of my teaching 'experiments'. Somehow, I helped make belly dance a practical thing for her? Yessss! And upon that announcement...a second student asked me to help her work towards General Skills as well. This is my kind of low-key, crazy-exciting success.
Still, I'll work on promoting myself more. Part of that training regimen includes solo performances and business cards.