Home/Articles/Stand Out in the Sea of Belly Dance: How to Differentiate Yourself in the Market Place By Raksanna

Stand Out in the Sea of Belly Dance: How to Differentiate Yourself in the Market Place By Raksanna

With the vast number of belly dance instructors, workshop instructors and performers, customers have plenty of options from which to choose. Whether you’re looking to increase class enrollment, book your next gig or become a recognized name in the marketplace, one of the most important things you can do is differentiate yourself and your brand as part of your strategic marketing efforts.

Here’s how.

  1. Answer the question – who are you?

While you may personally enjoy all genres within belly dance, it’s important to create an identity that doesn’t confuse people. What is your specialty? What makes you different? Why should students spend time (and money) to train with you? What does your audience get with you that they don’t get with other entertainers?

To illustrate, my specialty is Egyptian. What differentiates me from other teachers is a solid foundation of nearly two decades of training in Egypt with top teachers and choreographers. I offer both Oriental and Egyptian folklore dance training. Students get a full curriculum designed for beginners who want to belly dance for fun and fitness through professionals who want to tour and perform. Audiences can choose from birthday or retirement shows to girls-night-in to wedding zeffas to full two hour theatrical productions with the hallmark Egyptian zest and passion for music and interactive connection.

  1. Look past the surface of products and service, and outline meaning and values.

Currently, belly dance has become a commodity. There’s incredible access to information on the Internet and the marketplace is filled with numerous teachers whose credentials range from the ‘one hour of class wonder’ to artists who’ve dedicated their life and invested substantial time and money to perfecting the art.

It’s easy to copy the features and benefits of a belly dance class. Burn calories, feel sexy, have fun. How many times have you heard or seen these virtues of belly dance touted? Yes, these headlines on your advertising will draw people in – but they won’t make them stay.

What’s harder to reproduce – and what makes people stick around – is meaning and values. It’s not the what and how of your program; it’s the why. Why do you do what you do to serve your customers? What do you mean to the market place? What is your world view? Why are your values and meaning better than those of your competitors?

As an example, I serve my dancers by committing myself to providing them with coaching, training, choreography and performance opportunities to develop them as dancers and artists. My vision is to surround myself with a team of like-minded artists who share the common values of a strong work ethic, commitment to excellence and pursuit of lifelong learning and growth. This means that I watch my dancers develop, give them open and honest feedback designed to help them improve and constantly investing in my own training so I can continue to give fresh inspiration and ideas. My world view is my mission statement … Our trophies are not made of metal and glass. Our trophies are living, breathing people – who dance out their dreams and reach and exceed their goals. I connect with each person as an individual and as a dancer, and create exciting opportunities to be part of something big (like full length theatrical productions, published books, festival shows and more) they won’t get anywhere else.

  1. Tie it all together

Articulate your values and meaning and then extend it to who you are as a teacher, entertainer or workshop presenter. What are your values? What do you stand for? What is your brand? How does it differentiate you from your many competitors? How do you create value for your customers? How does this answer the question your current and potential customers are asking: Why should I buy from you?

I firmly believe that for me, there is no difference between my values as a person and my values as an artist. I think artists live their lives very publically, leaving them vulnerable and exposed – but very authentic. My values are honesty, integrity, commitment to excellence and an overwhelming desire to succeed – to be better each day than I was before. These attributes extend themselves to my classes and my shows. I try to make each class I teach better than the one before, take each choreography to the next level of creative expression and make each performance genuinely authentic. I connect my students with my teachers and those artists who inspire me, so they can also grow and reach higher levels of artistry.

You either love me or hate me; but I stand before the world as who I am and offer my heart and soul to you. My brand is one of high standards and the exhilarating experience of becoming an artist in and to yourself. My value is that I genuinely care and serve my customers to the absolute best of my ability.

This differentiates me from my competition because I travel to Egypt to immerse myself in the culture and the art form. I study the music, the culture, the language, the current political landscape and the history to understand the dance – and I give this knowledge freely to my students. I do not hold back. I spend money on elevating the art – not just for belly dancers, but to the community as a whole – so that the average person in the city has a working knowledge that Raksanna’s belly dance program is first class, family friendly and offered with deep respect for the Egyptian and Middle Eastern culture.

As I create my marketing pieces, I use this information to answer the question: Why should students buy from me?

Bonus: Build strategic alliances

What? You ask incredibly. Build strategic alliances? But this is the dog-eat-dog world of belly dance! Competition is fierce and knives in the back are everywhere.

Yes. It’s one of the secret weapons to success. You cannot be everything to everyone. I hope you can see by the information above that making everyone happy by offering every style, every prop, ever musical genre of belly dance is the exact opposite of differentiating yourself.

So, accept it. Who are you? Why are you different? And who in the marketplace complements you or offers the exact opposite? Build relationships with these artists and create a network of trusted allies. Refer potential business from people looking for something you do not offer to someone who does offer what they are seeking. Consider having an artist in your network from each genre – Tribal, Cabaret, Fusion, etc. It builds good will in the industry and ultimately serves the customer in the best way possible.

In closing, I’ve learned over many years in the business that success in belly dance is largely dependent on the ability to stand out in a crowded, wild sea of sequins. More important, though, is the ability to differentiate your program and who you are as an artist so that you can attract and keep customers.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at Raksanna@Raksanna.com or Facebook message me at Raksanna Raks Sharqi.

And, if there’s interest, I’ll tackle the tough marketing topic of pricing in the next article!

About Raksanna:

Raksanna is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning performing artist specializing in Oriental dance. She is the artistic director of Raksanna’s Near East Dance Ensemble, the author of the series Confessions of a Belly Dancer © and the executive producer and director its’ touring theatrical adaption.

Raksanna was invited to represent the United States as a faculty member of Randa Kamel’s festival, Raqs of Course, in Cairo. She taught at Raqia Hassan’s Ahlan Wa Salan for four years, is featured in DVDs and videos as a solo artist and is sought around the world as a workshop presenter and performer.

For more information about Raksanna, visit www.raksanna.com or send her an email at raksanna@raksanna.com. She loves meeting dancers from around the world and sharing the passion for dance! You can purchase any of the books in the series of Confessions of a Belly Dancer © at www.lulu.com and you can learn more about the show at www.confessionsofabellydancer.com.

By Published On: April 30, 2022Categories: Articles0 Comments

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