In a marketing class I once took, the professor talked about a "Marketing Mantra:"
Marketing comes first.
- Marketing drives the product.
- Marketing drives the process.
- Marketing is king.
We've talked a lot on this blog about marketing crossover contra events to contra dancers, and some of the challenges that come with that. In fact, sometimes to get funding, crossover contra organizers have to frame it as an outreach project. This is all well and good (and generally seems to work), but what is the crossover contra community doing to actually make this an outreach opportunity to welcome more people into the fold?
talked some about how they did just that for last fall's Deca-dance event in Spokane, Washington, and it was apparently effective. On the other hand, I mentioned that to a would-be techno contra organizer while I was in Tennessee and she replied, "You mean advertise it to the gen pop [the general population]?!" while looking at me like I'd just sprouted an extra head and possibly a prehensile tail.
and Saratoga Springs
had the right idea, setting their events in taverns and (smokeless
, at least in Florida) bars. Relocating the Contra Sonic
series to Artisphere (a local arts facility) from Glen Echo Park did attract some
new dancers. Having dances in churches and colleges and granges has attracted many people; could there be an untapped (and possibly underappreciated) market in taverns and clubs?
One of the main tenets of modern marketing is to go to your target and bring them to you, rather than just waiting for them to stumble upon you. To do that, you convince the target that you offer a product that is either original, or is better than the one that already exists. Right now, the movement is focused on marketing itself as an alternative to contra. I think we need to go the other way, too, and present techno contra as an alternative to the club -- that is, somewhere to dance in a different way to the same music, rather than somewhere to dance the same way to different music, as you advertise it to contra dancers. Perhaps the folks in
_Some of the more informative interviews I've conducted about the "new" evolutions of contra dance have actually shown me that the ideas of using recorded music and the like are actually not that new at all. I ran across Miami, FL techno contra dance series organizer Louis Dow, who started a monthly techno contra series at the historic Tobacco Road Saloon in Miami last month, and I asked him about his contra experiences -- both before and after he started the series.
"Someone sent me a link to a techno contra video," explains Louis. "I was impressed -– impressed because the kids were actually contra dancing but dancing the way the dance worked when I first started dancing. We had really hot dances, lots of improvising, heavy flirting, really pushing the energy level up. The dances I go to now have lost some of that, I think in part just because the dancers tend to be older. I want to get back to what I think of as 'real' contra dance. I actually started calling it 'roots contra dancing' but ended up going with 'techno' just because that’s the more common parlance."