I took a salsa class even though I wasn’t interested or familiar with it.
From what I’ve observed, their integrated digital marketing strategy is the backbone of their success. The Salsa Foundation marketing strategy should be the blueprint that other dance schools follow, especially because they have implemented it successfully. Before jumping on the strategy, I’ll discuss the company’s background and business model using The Business Model Canvas.
The Salsa Foundation (TSF) is a dance school in Melbourne’s city centre (CBD). Since 2008, the dance school has had over 60,000 students attending the Beginner Salsa Class, and over 1,000 students attending classes each week. They are the biggest dance school in Australia, offering both group and individual dance classes for salsa (their specialization) and bachata.
TSF Business Model Canvas
- Instructor: Being the first face that new customers see when walking in, the instructors play a big part in the students’ experience. Most people that come to the free beginners’ class don’t have previous knowledge, therefore the instructors will be the first exposure to dancing. The best teachers will help the students feel encouraged while pushing them to be better. As a result, the students would want to take more classes.
- Customers: Customers are crucial to the success of TSF and the vibrancy of its classes. The majority of the customers are working adults and university students, although age doesn’t matter with salsa. The dance primarily relies on rhythm and groove instead of athleticism.
- Building owner: Securing an excellent location is vital, especially when TSF is relying on their free trials to gain customers. The school’s strategic location in the CBD helps attract more people because of the accessibility it offers.
- Group classes: TSF’s primary product is the salsa and bachata dance classes, which run from Monday to Thursday and Sunday. Every class has around 100-200 students in attendance every week. For salsa, they have the Salsa Level 1.5, Level 2, Level 3, Solo, and private lessons. They offer the same classes for bachata, except for the Solo option. Online classes are also available.
- Free trials: The Salsa Foundation has free beginner lessons for both salsa and bachata that people can attend without limit, which is their main way of attracting new people. Free trials remove the risk on the customer’s side and as a result make it easier to convert visitors to customers. The classes give basic introductory moves, which are fundamental to learning salsa. However, those moves alone aren’t enough to impress, so the visitors will have to upgrade to paid classes to improve.
- Employees: The most important employees are the instructors, which I talked about in the Key Partners section.
- Social Media: TSF has more than 14,000 people following their Instagram and Facebook accounts. These are a very valuable resource especially when they are relying on social media to promote their classes which I will discuss more on the Cost Structure section.
- Beginner friendly: First-timers are welcomed and encouraged because TSF knows that most people don’t have dance experience and are afraid to show up to dance classes, but they want to be able to dance. At TSF, instructors explain the moves step-by-step and in simple terms so that it caters for beginners.
- Fun and healthy: Salsa is a fun alternative in order to get fit compared to other workouts such as going to the gym.
- Friends: You can come by yourself if you don’t have a partner, and there are plenty of opportunities to make friends in the community.
- Accessibility: Located in the CBD, it’s convenient for attendees to come after work or university.
- Community: Once you step into the studio, you’ll immediately know that TSF is a community. The staff were welcoming and friendly, which was contagious to everyone who attended. Plus, an immediate connection is formed by the combination of physical touch from dancing and learning something together. I came alone without knowing anyone and left with some friends and the experience of dancing with at least five different people. Fun fact: Some students who met in the classes have since gotten married!
- Social media: The Salsa Foundation has great social media presence with Facebook and Instagram. Besides getting social proof, they also use the accounts to advertise their free beginner classes.
- Organic: Since salsa is better known as partner dance, some people would bring their friends or significant other to the classes. This is organic marketing because TSF gains customers from word of mouth instead of paying for advertisements.
- Working adult: Most of the school’s classes happen after working hours, which is ideal for people to drop by after getting off from office. This customer group has the budget, and the class presents opportunities to meet new people.
- University students: Since Melbourne is home to eight universities that teach approximately 300,000 students, university students are a prime target. Although their spending power is smaller than working adults, younger customers increase the chance of higher lifetime value.
- Wages: I observed four employees present during the free trial class. Two of them were instructors and the other two were administrative officers. Every class needs one to two instructors, therefore staffing is one of the school’s major expenses.
- Rent: Most of the classes are conducted offline, and the classes run 5 days a week so rent is a significant part of their expenses.
- Ads: The school’s polished digital marketing and advertising strategy are their main way of getting awareness and customers. They run advertising on both Facebook and Instagram, which is appropriate given those are Australian preferred social media.
- Classes: The first course after the Free Beginner Salsa Class is Salsa 1.5. which costs $59. The classes run weekly for four weeks. Instead of the conventional pricing of dance class that charge per class or per term, Salsa Level 2 and 3 use four class passes for their 24 week’s course. Online, solo, and private lessons are also offered.
- Merchandise: Beside classes, the school also sells Latin dance shoes under the brand ‘Obsesion’. Currently, they are only selling a limited range of the models, making up for a small portion of their revenue.
My next article will break down the outstanding customer experience I’ve had in during my interaction with TSF. Subscribe below so I can let you know when part 2 drops!
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