In line with my Bellymogul theme for the new year and with last week’s post, I’m going to continue to to touch on a topic that may make some dancers uncomfortable. Your competition. Now you might say, why do I care about what my competitors are doing? Why do I need to know who my competitors are? It is always important for a small business to identify their competitors. I am not saying this so that you can find your competitors and then put them out of business. What I am saying is that It is never a bad idea to know who your competitors are and learn from them. You can learn from their victories and their shortcomings- if you find any.

Now, to be clear, I am not advocating copying a competitor; please be original! What I am simply advocating for is research. Do the research for your business. Put in the work to make your business successful. And any marketing rep will tell you- researching your competition is a part of it. So, let’s dive in, shall we?

1. Go beyond. A standard google search and looking at their website is great. But how about you check out google trends and things like spyfu. What keywords are your competitors using to bring them to the top of the search?

2.Create a report. Make a report of what they are doing. Are they posting a lot? A little what are they posting. What seems to get the most amount of views? What services are they offering? This will allow you to come up with your own strategy.

3. Ties into number 2- Watch the social stats. See how your competitors are handling their social media presence. What platforms are they active on? This may be a clue as to how they are finding business opportunities that you may be missing. Also, is there a platform that they aren’t using that YOU can be the first on?

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4. Customers. Use your customers for your research as well. Don’t just thank them for hiring you. See if you can gain some more insight. When a client contacts you, ask them who they’ve used before. Why aren’t they using them again? Why they chose you? If/When they leave you a review, what do they highlight? What do they specifically say about your services?

5. Attend events and conferences. This may seem like a no-brainer but it can be difficult to schedule. If you want to do the right research- make the time. At these events, check out what your competitors are doing. What do their ads in the program look like or their booth? What performance are they putting on the stage that is attracting attention?

6. Check your vendors. While vendors may not tell you exactly what someone bought maybe they can give you an idea. perhaps this dancer is investing in scarves for her students or some other alternate form of offering that you hadn’t thought of. Or perhaps you can partner with that vendor to offer your own items or on a wholesale deal.

7. SO, this one is sticky. There are marketing sites that will encourage you to hire your competition. This may be easier for someone who is a designer to do so than a dancer. I have seen this turn into cold calling dancers to see what they are charging clients. I wouldnot recommend going this route. If you have a party coming up, why not hire a fellow dancer? I am sure they would love to perform for an event where they know they will be appreciated. If you want an alternative- hire them for a private lesson. You can see how they teach and learn from that. One of the things you should be doing at workshops is not just learning the movements but learning how they teach. What stuck out to you that you really liked? What didn’t you like? You can use this to help develop and expand your own teaching style.

8. Associates. Watch who THEY hire and associate with. Perhaps sift through their network and see who they are advocating. Who are they promoting? Maybe you shoudl be assocating with those same people. These might allow for more fruitful conenctions than you have now. It’s all about working cooperatively, not competitively. And yes I realize that this is about researching your competition but it doesn’t have to be in a negative way. It’s OK to do business with another dancer. I am not saying you should ditch all your dance friends but it’s not a bad idea to find some business partners too!

9. Survey. Conduct a survey. Email your dance friends and heck, your competitors if you like and see how they market. Online polls are all the rage right now so create your own. You might get no responses or you might get 100. It doesn’t hurt to ask what the opinion is of a certain form of advertising or customer service promotion. The worse someone can say is no!

So there you have it, a very general method, a start if you will, on how to research your bellydance competition. Is there more? Of course! There will be more posts coming but if you want the nitty gritty or if you want some help, me and the BellyMogul program are always here to help!