Everything I know about marketing I learned in dance class

My four-year-old daughter recently had a year-end dance recital for the dance school she goes to and, in addition to the over-priced pictures, I also took away an example of a smart experiential marketing execution. Those of you with children probably know what I’m talking about – especially those of you with little girls. For the rest of you, let me explain the whole scenario in brief.

Basically, at the end of a term of classes, the school puts on a big recital production. And I’m not talking parents jammed into the regular dance studio. Oh, no, they go big; renting out the local auditorium, choreography, lights, smoke machine. This is off-Broadway, my friends. It seems to be a bit of a money grab for them. First, you have to buy the costume: $40. Then the tickets (yes, you have to buy tickets to the show): $25 each (limit of two); then the photos: basic package: $25; finally, the CD $50. Oh, and in case you thought you could take your own photos and video, sorry, no cameras allowed in the venue.

So, after paying out our $115 (we split the CD with another couple) I’m sitting in the audience trying to forget the cost and get ready to be amazed by my daughter. It was fun, I have to admit. She did pretty well, for four. Lots of getting distracted and doing her own thing, but hey, my baby on stage. But wait, the big lesson is still coming.

It’s no just my daughter’s class at this recital, this is the whole school (or a portion of them) and it encompasses kids from four to 17. Some of those older kids were phenomenal, and looked like they had at least good amateur choreography behind them. I found myself picturing my little Ella in five, 10, 12 years, making some of those moves (albeit with more conservative clothing). My wife had the same thoughts. We talked to a few other couples afterwards and the conversation was the same. They had us.

“Weren’t those older kids amazing?” “Oh, yes. I am so keeping little so-and-so in classes now.” Do you see what they did? They showed us what our kids could become. They managed to get a bunch of somewhat bitter, but excited parents, who had just over paid to watch a dance class with lights to forget about the money they just spent and mentally commit to spending more money. Outstanding.

And they did it by helping us imagine the possibilities. To visualize success and see our children getting there. Those dance teachers (or likely their bosses) are smart marketers. I may just start going to more dance classes to see what else I can learn.

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