In my last post Market Segmentation for Swing Dancing I promised I would write a future post going into a few venues and events that I think are good examples of businesses that have properly segmented their market.
Located in Southern California, Atomic Ballroom clearly defines it’s market segment in it’s mission statement on their website,
ATOMIC Ballroom’s mission is to create a dance community of all ages in Orange County by providing affordable, high-quality social dance instruction and events, where people will feel welcome and safe to learn the skill of dancing and to socialize with others who also value that skill.
It’s easy to infer from that statement that they have created a segment of individuals who prefer a family friendly and welcoming atmosphere in the Orange County area. This is important because they have zeroed in on a reasonable geographic location to draw their customer base for a local venue. In addition they have appealed to the type of customer that wants a safe place that they can bring their entire family along whether that be their children or mother/father.
Located in the lovely town known as Charm City a.k.a. Baltimore, Mobtown Ballroom takes a decidedly different approach in defining it’s market segment. Here is a snippet of their manifesto from their website,
WE LIKE OUR FUN TO BE ADULT.
This isn’t as dirty as it sounds. People spend most of their time in censorious environments (like work or school), trying to appear well-mannered and bland. That’s what the day is for. Come to our evening programming and you can hoot and hollar at sexy performances, dance dirtier than Patrick Swayze, have an incredibly strong drink at the Calypso Cafe down the road, or contemplate our stained-glass windows and pray. It’s grown up time, and a dash of benign anarchy helps take the edge off the work week.
In contrast to the previous business takes the contrasting approach of segmenting their market to target individuals who want to let loose and have fun in a non-judgmental environment. A dash of excitement from the monotony of normal life is what they are trying to provide. In addition they write,
We don’t care about your politics, your race, your sexual orientation, your religion, or anything else, and we don’t tolerate any kind of harassment. Whoever you are or wherever you’re from, if you want to dance, you’re in the right place.
Mobtown also segments their market by promoting they are a safe and welcome environment for all walks of life and will not tolerate any individuals who attempt to endanger that. As an aside, kudos for doing this Baltimore and I wish more venues would make this information public and crystal clear.
Located in Rochester, New York the event known as Stompology segments their market by providing a service that addresses a niche part of the swing dancing community. As their website has listed,
Stompology, approaching its eighth year, is the first dance weekend devoted entirely to authentic jazz, Charleston, and solo movement.
Back in 2006, Groove Juice Swing saw that many workshops and camps were beginning to add solo-style material to their curriculum, and figured a weekend dedicated to just that type of thing would be right up the alleys of Lindy Hoppers and any students of historical jazz dance.
And we were right… eight years later, Stompology is still going strong! We’re more excited than ever about this year’s event and we’re looking forward to having you join us.
They saw a need that was not addressed in the swing dance community and created an event to provide a service to address it. If this isn’t an example of segmenting within the swing dance community, I don’t know what is.
In addition while they may not officially promote this but Stompology has a reputation for being a fun event. This allows the event to attract customers in the swing dance community who are looking for a fun time. As this video by Alain Wong shows, they do indeed deliver on that.
NOLA Girl Jam
Based out of New Orleans, Louisiana the event NOLA Girl Jam in a similar vein to Stompology segments their market by targeting a certain portion of the swing dancing community. As written on the event website,
Girl Jam celebrates women’s artistic achievements in traditional jazz music and dance with the intention of inspiring today’s jazz-loving female artists in a supportive, collective learning environment.
The focus on communication between jazz musicians and jazz dancers is a fundamental aspect of the jazz tradition, and this is what Girl Jam aims to foster in a welcoming, communal atmosphere for women of all ages and ability levels.
The 3 day festival is packed full of community activities for both men and women to explore the the history of the female voice in American jazz culture and to interact with and be entertained by those continuing the traditions today.
While I personally believe in the last four years the way teachers approach classes have been getting more toward giving follows better guidance besides “simply follow”, I would argue that many classes are taught with a lead-centric view. This event like other Girl Jam events provides the service of offering follow-centric classes which are a rarity in the swing dance community.
In short good market segmentation is finding a need within the community (in this case swing dancing) is not being addressed and figure out a feasible way to be the business that provides it. All the scenes and events above I believe do an excellent job at this. If you know any scenes or events who fit this bill, I encourage you to post about it in the comments below!
One of the biggest mistakes I read about, hear about, or personally witness is swing dance events and venues attempting to target the entire market of possible customers who would attend their business or even worse not having a target audience at all.
I can confidently say that there is no organizer/venue/event in the swing dance community has the resources to supply the demand for the entire market. Even the events with massive amount of dancers such as Lindy Focus or Herräng targets a segment of the market.
What I define as the term market for the swing dance community is; every person who currently has swing dancing as a hobby/profession or is physically/mentally able to have swing dancing as a hobby/profession but does not.
What this means for you as an organizer of an event is you need to segment your market or find a niche of target customers that you can provide value to as a business. For a more technical business world definition of market segmenting you can find it here. If you look online, talk to marketing professionals, talk to marketing professors, or read books on marketing there are a variety of ways to how to go about segmenting a market. What I am going to do here is give a simple layout that is applicable for an individual who is running a weekly venue or hosting a one time/yearly recurring swing dance event.
1. Decide A Target Geographic Location
The first thing is to decide upon target geographic location. If you are running a swing dance venue for a college town your potential customers are going to be considerably different then if you lived in a big city or a rural area. A recurring weekly dance is going to have a smaller target geographic location in comparison to an international camp such as Herräng where the entire world is fair game. Speaking of distance, the further away you attempt to attract dancers you will need to have match that with increased value such as; quality instructors, dancers, DJs or live bands.
2. Decide The Type Of Customer
The second thing is to decide upon the type of customer you are trying to attract to your business in terms of dance experience, dance background, and lifestyle.
Dance experience is simply how long have your target customers been dancing. This is important because a random person off the street who has never danced in their life has fairly different needs then a seasoned dancer who is a regular on the competition circuit. It is a reality that when you start to cater to one end of the spectrum you will likely alienate the other and it is a choice as an organizer you have to make.
Dance background is the dances your customer identifies with. For example when people press for specifics I say I dance Lindy Hop, Balboa, and Collegiate Shag. For every dance under the umbrella term of swing dancing there is a specific culture attached to each dance. These various cultures have values and preferences that are sometimes complimentary and other times conflict with other dance communities. It is essential as an organizer to aware of the specific values and preferences with a particular dance’s community in order to provide a high-value experience for your target audience.
Lifestyle covers a variety of things such as personal values or personality types. Essentially what it comes down to is; where is this person in their life and what preferences do they have because of it. As someone running an event or venue this is important because a college student who participates the usual Lindy/Blues dance exchange circuits is going to have different needs then a married full time professional who occasionally takes time off work a few times a year to compete at Balboa events.
3. Check Feasibility
You now have your target market segment clearly written out and described. Now the thing to check is if you and any collaborators have the resources to make your business feasible for your target market. An excellent article written by Bill Speidel, an experienced event organizer is titled So You Want To Be A Lindy Hop Event Organizer and a great reality check/resource for any person intending to get into the business of running a swing dance event/venue.
What I define as the term resources for the swing dance community is; a commodity service or other asset that is required to run a swing dance venue/event. This is not limited to physical assets such as money but can be; also trained staff, volunteers, an established reputation among traveling dancers, established in the network of neighboring dances/events, positive Yelp reviews, and et cetera.
Throughly checking if these resources are available is important responsibility as an organizer. You can organize an amazing event but if you neglect to check on the resource of availability of date and conflict with an established event in the region you are fighting and uphill battle.
In the case that your target segment is simply unfeasible within your current time frame you have the options of postponing until it is possible or choosing a new segment that is feasible.
4. Apply Your Market Segment
You have your detailed market segment and you have asked the questions and done the research to determine it is feasible, great! The only thing you have to do now is use that knowledge appropriately.
This can be done in a multitude of ways, a common one is advertising. If you are trying to attract customers who have never danced before Groupon and newspaper ads would be an effective marketing campaign compared to Facebook Events and fliers sent to dance venues which is traditionally used for established dancers.
Another one is the choice of staff such as instructors and DJs. Customers who have not danced before or have limited experience will be much less selective in comparison to dancers who have been dancing longer or are at a higher skill level.
The thing to take from all of this the importance of having a clearly defined market segment. The most common mistake I see in newer events is often they try to cater to too large of a market segment. In result their resources get spread thin and they are unable to deliver a quality experience for any of the dancers that attend.
I plan to write a future post going into a few venues and events that I think are great examples businesses that properly segmented their market. However if you have any stories or opinions I would love to hear them in the comment box below!