+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 26 of 26
Like Tree51Likes
  • 10 Post By *Shira*
  • 2 Post By taaj
  • 4 Post By SamiraShuruk
  • 8 Post By Lauren_
  • 3 Post By Lauren_
  • 5 Post By yameyameyame
  • 3 Post By Lauren_
  • 6 Post By Lauren_
  • 3 Post By SamiraShuruk
  • 1 Post By sabrinabellydancer
  • 1 Post By tahiradancer
  • 1 Post By dima
  • 2 Post By Samira_dncr
  • 2 Post By Samira_dncr

Thread: What the GP thinks we charge




  1. #1
    Master BHUZzer dima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,270

    What the GP thinks we charge

    So every now & then I like to ask a group of people about what they would expect to pay for a bellydance performance & how they came up with that number. I did this a few years ago with some coworkers & the results were a tad grim.

    What the GP thinks we cost (poll results)

    Well I'm tweaking my rates since moving to a new area, and I decided to pose the question again but this time to my Facebook wall. So far the general consensus is better than last time, probably because many of the people I friend are entertainers or in a similar field themselves or know a bellydancer. However, so far the average seems to be $50 - $100. One person I asked even dated a bellydancer and knew the going rate, but felt it was too high. He is in the finance industry and very level headed so his argument was interesting to me. He felt that at $50 a gig a pro dancer should be able to get around 14 gigs a week & make enough to cover her costs and make a profit. He admitted he may not have a full understanding of the costs and time involved to be a dancer gigging 14 times a week but to him he didn't see why a pro dancer can't make enough money this way. He compared it to hiring a clown (kind of like we do) but he also thought clowns charge $100 per party (I think they charge more, right?) but he also argued we only dance for 15 minutes and the prep time is probably similar. It's an interesting argument, so I thought I should pose the idea here on Bhuz for discussion.

    One thing from my previous post that really sticks in my head is when someone said "well I can understand why it's expensive, but I still think it's too much" and this seems to be the main thought. They understand, if not in great detail but in some way, that it's expensive to be a dancer. But they still don't see why they should pay so much.

    So how do you make the GP understand why we are worth what we charge if so many people seem convinced we should charge half or 1/3rd (or less) of our actual rate? Obviously WE understand and we an justify it to ourselves, but how to do justify it to our customers without lecturing them?

    I know if I were gigging 14 times a week making $700 I wouldn't have time for another job and wouldn't be able to afford to cover my expenses, taxes, and make a profit suitable enough to live on. If I want to make $2,000 a month take home (what I can make at a regular job now) I would need to only spend $200 of my $700 a week on business expenses before I start eating into my take home. If I'm gigging that often I can easily spend a big chunk of that on just my wardrobe and that's if I'm thrifty. But how do I make the GP understand or even care?


  2. #2
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Posts
    7,689

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by dima View Post
    So how do you make the GP understand why we are worth what we charge if so many people seem convinced we should charge half or 1/3rd (or less) of our actual rate? Obviously WE understand and we an justify it to ourselves, but how to do justify it to our customers without lecturing them?
    Do the companies who make Lexus, Mercedes, Corvettes, and Cadillac cars try to talk about their expenses to justify why people should pay more for those?


  3. #3
    Official BHUZzer taaj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    205

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    I think the GP doesn't know what we charge because they rarely hire entertainers. If they have a party, it's usually family and friends. When it's a big party, it's a wedding or graduation that may not have dancers there. I don't know of a way to get them to care about something they don't really care about except the once in a lifetime that they want to do something big.

    My suggestion is to focus on the people who do care. Think of that 80/20 rule. 20% of the population will give you 80% of the work. I think that the GP is the 20% that is worth ditching. If you get some paying customers there, great! If not, focus on the restaurants, Arabs, friends, schools, other dancers, and party planners who do get it.

    Hope that's helpful,
    Taaj
    Lauren_ and KDizzle like this.


  4. #4
    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    4,028

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by dima View Post
    ...One person I asked even dated a bellydancer and knew the going rate, but felt it was too high. He is in the finance industry and very level headed so his argument was interesting to me. He felt that at $50 a gig a pro dancer should be able to get around 14 gigs a week & make enough to cover her costs and make a profit. He admitted he may not have a full understanding of the costs and time involved to be a dancer gigging 14 times a week but to him he didn't see why a pro dancer can't make enough money this way. He compared it to hiring a clown (kind of like we do) but he also thought clowns charge $100 per party (I think they charge more, right?) but he also argued we only dance for 15 minutes and the prep time is probably similar. It's an interesting argument, so I thought I should pose the idea here on Bhuz for discussion.
    He clearly doesn't see the whole picture. Does he have any idea of what it's like to do 14 full shows in a week? For several years I averaged between 7 and 14 full shows a week... it's TOUGH. We have to take into consideration what out bodies are made to do (and pace it for the long-haul... we are not gymnasts who retire at 19). We have to take into consideration the actual TIMING of things.
    14 shows a week sounds like 2 shows a day. Ha! everyone wants their entertainment at the same times on the same days. It's impossible. Sure last week I has 8 shows... three Friday and 5 Saturday. I'll have him do the driving and do exercise like that and see how he handles it. ;)
    THEN... the education to be THAT marketable that you're getting that many gigs... he has no clue.

    Quote Originally Posted by dima View Post
    .....If I'm gigging that often I can easily spend a big chunk of that on just my wardrobe and that's if I'm thrifty. But how do I make the GP understand or even care?
    We don't.
    We charge what we charge. We do our very best in the region we are in. We focus on creating the most value we can- so that we are seen to be OF VALUE to our clients. To me focusing on our own value (being the best dancer/entertainer we can be) is entirely different from focusing on trying to convince the client of something.


  5. #5
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    Posts
    14,550

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    I'm not surprised by your results. I think most people, when surveyed about things they've never bought, would underestimate the costs of those things. In my area, a clown cost $150-200, a magician for a children's party started at $200, and a singing telegram (LESS than 15 minutes of performance time) cost $125 back in about 2004, last time I surveyed.

    I can only say that a lot of members of the GP -- even the majority? -- will probably never hire a professional entertainer of any kind for a party.

    I'm pretty certain I never would. I'm cheap. I think jeans should cost about $20 and t-shirts about $6. A plumber should be about $30/hour and health insurance should be about $45 a month. What I think things should cost and what they REALLY cost are often at odds, needless to say. I suspect most people are used to encountering sticker shock when they venture into a new purchasing arena.

    Some people organize a lot of parties and are used to paying these rates. The last party I worked for hired several dancers to drive in from a neighboring state and paid about $500 for our performance. The hostess had also hired a bartender, magician, games lady & caterer who brought a whole roasted pig and three cakes. It was a 10 year old's birthday party. These people don't live on the same planet I do, and they measure money differently.

    This woman obviously has a LOT of parties. Some families will only host a big blow-out party once or twice in their lives, but they'll be having sticker shock over the cost of renting the hall, hiring a caterer, etc. The cost of the performer will be no further outside their expectations than any of the other costs they're encountering for the first time.

    I publish my rates on my website specifically to prevent phone calls from people who think it should cost $50. Saves them some embarrassment, saves me some time.

    One more thing -- your friend who thinks I should be able to support my kid on $700 a week has clearly NEVER been self-employed. Does he understand that self-employment taxes take 25% off the top of that? Does he know that I need a business license & liability insurance? That we bear the full cost of health insurance for ourselves & our dependents and we don't have a 401K or other retirement fund? That we need to provide our own cushionr to buy pay our bills in case of emergency because we have no unemployment or disability protection?

    We probably need double the figure he's talking about to survive, before we EVER buy a costume or pay an advertising expense. (and of course, we can't make a dime if we don't spend money on those things!)


  6. #6
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    Posts
    14,550

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by dima View Post
    So how do you make the GP understand why we are worth what we charge if so many people seem convinced we should charge half or 1/3rd (or less) of our actual rate? Obviously WE understand and we an justify it to ourselves, but how to do justify it to our customers without lecturing them?
    I've never been asked by a customer to justify my rates. I've been asked what my rates are, and people either hire me or don't. I get hit all the time with things I think are more expensive than they should be ($153 just to come LOOK at my AC unit? $95 to spend less than 90 seconds with my doctor?) But I don't ask the service providers to break it down for me. That would be kind of an response in my book. I either pay or don't, depending on my needs & whether I can get the same service cheaper or not.

    But how do I make the GP understand or even care?
    You don't. Do you care how much your friends charge for their work, and why? I don't. The GP isn't really our target market, hiring a dancer is a luxury item and those who can afford it don't quibble much about price usually. They'll bargain hunt, and it's a problem if another dancer in your area doesn't understand how pricing needs to work! But the customers don't need to understand it. They just need to know that this is the going rate, or that you get slightly higher than the going rate because you are the _____________ est dancer in town!


  7. #7
    Master BHUZzer dima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,270

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by Shira View Post
    Do the companies who make Lexus, Mercedes, Corvettes, and Cadillac cars try to talk about their expenses to justify why people should pay more for those?
    Exactly. Why do people get that those things cost more, but when they want unique entertainment from a trained professional in a beautiful costume they don't get why it costs what it does. How do we make them understand the cost without sounding like oversensitive divas? How do you show them the value and make it seem worth it to them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    One more thing -- your friend who thinks I should be able to support my kid on $700 a week has clearly NEVER been self-employed. Does he understand that self-employment taxes take 25% off the top of that? Does he know that I need a business license & liability insurance? That we bear the full cost of health insurance for ourselves & our dependents and we don't have a 401K or other retirement fund? That we need to provide our own cushionr to buy pay our bills in case of emergency because we have no unemployment or disability protection?
    See that's what I found so interesting, he's pretty level headed and doesn't usually underestimate things. And he knows what the going rate is and what goes into it. But still, to him, the value isn't there and he feels it's still possible to make money working at a rate that is closer to what people expect a dancer to costs. Granted, if I lowered my Bellygram price from $175 to $50 I probably would have booked at least 2 of the 4 gig inquiries I recently received. But it would take more than 3 $50 gigs to equal the rate I charge now. So does it even out? I think so. I'm not running all over town for $50 a pop and when I do get a gig I make a fair wage from it.

    The restaurant rate in my area is $100 a set, so if I get two restaurant gigs a week and let's be crazy and say I get 3 bellygrams a week at $175. Now I'm making $725 on 5 gigs a week instead of exhausting myself doing 14 gigs a week for a measly $50. Add in the occasional standard or multi set show, a double set at a restaurant, some tips here and there and some income from teaching and we're getting a bit closer to a livable income, but it's still going to be tight. At least with less shows per week my costumes are not wearing out as fast! Costumes are a major expense directly related to performing and their wear and tear needs to be factored in!


  8. #8
    Master BHUZzer dima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,270

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    I've never been asked by a customer to justify my rates. I've been asked what my rates are, and people either hire me or don't.
    I'm not saying we should go around justifying our rates to everyone who asks. WE know why they are what they are.Obviously there is always going to be people who won't pay the rate for whatever reason and will never see it as fair. But it seems like a large percentage of people don't agree that our prices are reasonable and they aren't all cheap or ignorant. We can't convert them all, but how can we make it a little more reasonable in their eyes without charging less? How can we show them the value of what we offer so that they say "Well it's certainly more expensive than I expected, but I can see why it is worth it. This service is way better than what I originally had in mind!"

    I find it amusing that people will call with all kinds of questions, worries and needs that they think are unique to them and a dancer can dash them all away in one quick phone call and have the perfect entertainment all ready for them. They think it sounds great, they love the suggestions, the dancer can color coordinate her costume, the prop suggested is a perfect fit, a bollywood song can be thrown in because the crowd is mostly Indian, Jimmy will even get pulled up to dance and get a hip scarf as a moment, it will be a night to remember, etc. but then their jaw hits the floor when it comes time to discuss price. All this work I put into making sure you get the perfect show and you think it's only worth $50? I'm a little perplexed.

    By the way I love this blog post for putting things into perspective. If only I could do my prices this way: Would You Like to Hire a Free Belly Dancer? | Carrara Nour | Belly Dancer for Weddings and Events in Orlando

    Bellydancer base price: FREE!
    Please check off the "extras" you require for your event:
    __ The dancer comes to you to dance. Otherwise we can video it on a smart phone and upload it to Youtube for your enjoyment (+$50)
    __ Professional Dancer Guarantee (also known as "don't get embarrassed by a really poor and tasteless dancer insurance"!) (+$25)
    __ Audience participation & acknowledgement. The dancer will not only dance, she will acknowledge your guests existence and dance FOR them! (+$25)
    __ Add use of a professional costume instead of the standard workout gear or sweat pants (+$25)
    __ Add dramatic makeup, styled hair, manicured nails, and sparkly jewelry (+$25)
    __ Add Middle Eastern music appropriate for your event (instead of the standard radio or whatever CDs you have available) (+$15)
    __ Add props such as veil, finger cymbals, sword, Isis Wings, etc. to add variety and drama to the show (+$25)
    __Want ALL the extras? Get everything and save $15! (+$175)
    Would you like to book your FREE bellydancer now?


  9. #9
    Advanced BHUZzer yameyameyame's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    1,659

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by dima View Post
    So how do you make the GP understand why we are worth what we charge if so many people seem convinced we should charge half or 1/3rd (or less) of our actual rate? Obviously WE understand and we an justify it to ourselves, but how to do justify it to our customers without lecturing them?
    For me the answer is: I don't. My prices are what they are, and my customers don't need to "understand" why. If you want to hire me, you pay what I charge. If you don't think it's worth it, then you don't, and I don't work for you. I don't feel the need to explain anything, nor do I feel like I should be hired by every single person who contacts me. I completely understand if someone can't afford what I charge or decides to spend their money elsewhere. It doesn't offend or bother me.

    It's perfectly legitimate to think it's too much to pay somebody $250+ to dance at your party for 20 minutes. I know I sure as hell wouldn't. And I know that if I wasn't a dancer, I'd have no idea this is how much they cost, and would find it extremely expensive. $250 can be better spent on a lot of other things... who am I to sit there and try to convince somebody this is the best way for them to spend their money?

    At least we are a luxury. I feel pretty good about the fact that when a customer realizes they can't afford what I charge, they are just missing out on a little bit of entertainment and not something more essencial in their life, like health care. I'd feel a lot worse if I was a doctor, charging $300 to take someone's x-ray just to come a little closer to finding out what's wrong with them. I'd feel a lot worse if the service I provided was something people could lose their lives or live in constant pain over not being able to afford. I'm not losing sleep over what the GP thinks I should charge for a party gig.


  10. #10
    Master BHUZzer dima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,270

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by yameyameyame View Post
    For me the answer is: I don't. My prices are what they are, and my customers don't need to "understand" why. If you want to hire me, you pay what I charge. If you don't think it's worth it, then you don't, and I don't work for you. I don't feel the need to explain anything, nor do I feel like I should be hired by every single person who contacts me. I completely understand if someone can't afford what I charge or decides to spend their money elsewhere. It doesn't offend or bother me.
    Let's say someone calls you up (or emails, whatever) to ask the price for a Bellygram (or whatever you offer that is similar) and you give them a price. They say something like "Wow, that's more than I expected. I don't really know a lot about belly dance. I've never seen one, and certainly never hired one before. What should I expect from your show that will give me my money's worth?" How do you educate that client so that they can get past the initial sticker shock and see that your show is worth what you charge? You don't have to list all your expenses or talk about how long it takes you to get ready for the gig because those things really don't matter to the person hiring you. It's like that person said to me once "well I can understand why it's expensive, but I still think it's too much" because no doubt in her head she just sees a woman in a sparkly costume shaking for 15 minutes and thinks "why would I pay more than $50 for that?" how do you make the client really see what a great show you can give them? How do you show them the value of what you have to offer so that they can justify to themselves why they should pay your fee?


  11. #11
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    Posts
    14,550

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Given the hypothetical situation, I think I would say " My performance provides lots of smiles and Kodak moments for your guests and creates a memorable event for everyone involved. My rates may seem high if you've never hired live entertainment before, but I assure you, I'm in line with hiring a clown, magician, singing telegram, or musician to entertain your guests."

    But I've never, in 10 years, had anyone ask me that. And I've never, in 47 years of life, had a conversation like that as a customer of any provider of service OR goods.

    Here's the thing -- the people who call us have already given some thought to hiring a bellydancer. They're already convinced it's a good idea, otherwise they wouldn't be calling us.

    The disconnect, as I see it, is that in your survey, you are asking people who AREN'T interested in hiring a bellydancer how much they think it should cost. How much would you pay for a thing you've never thought about and aren't interested in? Not much! If I'm not interested in hiring a bellydancer, there is NOTHING you can say to me that's going to make me pay $150-200 for one.

    It's wise to let go of the idea of justifying your rate to the GP and instead focus on getting your service in front of the people who have interest in it & are willing to pay for it.


  12. #12
    Established BHUZzer rachelw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    760

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by dima View Post



    See that's what I found so interesting, he's pretty level headed and doesn't usually underestimate things. And he knows what the going rate is and what goes into it. But still, to him, the value isn't there and he feels it's still possible to make money working at a rate that is closer to what people expect a dancer to costs.
    I think the key is that there isn't value in it TO HIM. He might not see the value in it, just as you might not see the value in something that he values. There are plenty of things that people spend money on that mean nothing to me. If he were a bellydance enthusiast, then he would likely see the value in it. Likewise, I'd rather watch paint dry than golf, or watch golf, or talk about golf, so I do not see the value for myself in joining a country club.

    To the person who would find value in a performance, but just has a bit of sticker shock or a limited budget, I think that you need to come up with your own reasons why you are a dancer who is worth it. You give examples about how you have made connections with audience members at parties in the past and how that enhanced the event--did the guests dance the night away after you got it all started? Is the bride still hearing about how great that bellydancer was years after the wedding?

    I work in communications for a non-profit association, and that includes producing membership recruitment materials. The materials that are successful are not the ones where we brag about how long we've been around or how many members we have. It's where we focus on the service that we can offer the people interested in joining.

    I think the same applies in any marketing field: If you're focused on the customer/client and not on yourself, you're more likely to get that person as a customer/client.
    Last edited by rachelw; 11-07-2011 at 04:45 PM.


  13. #13
    Master BHUZzer dima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,270

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    But I've never, in 10 years, had anyone ask me that. And I've never, in 47 years of life, had a conversation like that as a customer of any provider of service OR goods.

    Here's the thing -- the people who call us have already given some thought to hiring a bellydancer. They're already convinced it's a good idea, otherwise they wouldn't be calling us.
    And you probably never will have someone call and say that to you. But when you are considering how to market to people you need to consider how to answer this question for them. Just because someone calls you up to get a price doesn't mean they already know everything you have to offer them. They may be thinking you will just show up and shimmy for an hour. How many times do people call with requests for things that make no sense and we have to steer them to something that is a better fit? Maybe once they see that it's more than that and all the other things you have to offer they will reconsider their thoughts about the price.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    The disconnect, as I see it, is that in your survey, you are asking people who AREN'T interested in hiring a bellydancer how much they think it should cost. How much would you pay for a thing you've never thought about and aren't interested in? Not much! If I'm not interested in hiring a bellydancer, there is NOTHING you can say to me that's going to make me pay $150-200 for one.
    Just because someone wants something doesn't mean they will understand why you charge higher than what they expected to pay for it, and will agree to pay it. They know they want a bellydancer, they probably don't have a clear idea of why and sticker shock is going to make them ditch the idea without another thought. UNLESS you can show them that they do indeed want to hire you because of all these other reasons they never considered and maybe your fee isn't too much after all. If someone is going to inquire with me and I am going to take the time to respond I want to be able to take their initial interest and make them MORE interested and hopefully take away the knee jerk reaction to their sticker shock. It would be different if sticker shock were less common, but we all know it isn't. So why not try to ease it a bit and see if it yields a few more gigs?


  14. #14
    Master BHUZzer dima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,270

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by rachelw View Post
    To the person who would find value in a performance, but just has a bit of sticker shock or a limited budget, I think that you need to come up with your own reasons why you are a dancer who is worth it. You give examples about how you have made connections with audience members at parties in the past and how that enhanced the event--did the guests dance the night away after you got it all started? Is the bride still hearing about how great that bellydancer was years after the wedding?

    I work in communications for a non-profit association, and that includes producing membership recruitment materials. The materials that are successful are not the ones where we brag about how long we've been around or how many members we have. It's where we focus on the service that we can offer the people interested in joining.

    I think the same applies in any marketing field: If you're focused on the customer/client and not on yourself, you're more likely to get that person as a customer/client.
    This is closer to what I'm getting at. How do you take that person who has an initial interest and make them want the service enough to get over their sticker shock? Of course it won't work for everyone, that's not the point. The point is to make the most of that initial interest and try to get a few more gigs out of it.

    I realize I talked a lot about rates and expenses and such in my first post so it's probably thrown people off a bit, but I really meant for that to back up the discussion behind how to get past the "$150 for 15 minutes? That's way too much, nevermind!" reaction that is so common. I don't mean to start a discussion on why we shouldn't care of the GP thinks our rates are too high, because I think we should really be thinking more in terms of "Ok so they think it's expensive, but how do I make them see that it's worth the expense?"

    I think we are used to thinking of what we can offer in terms of how long we've been dancing, what styles we know, who we studied with, etc. and to other dancers that is interesting. But if someone calls up wanting to book me for a birthday party that stuff doesn't mean a thing to them. They want to know I can give them a good show, make it fun and memorable for them, etc. so how can we take that idea of what they are really interested in and play to that so that when they consider if we're worth what we charge they are more likely to say "Well it's more expensive than I thought it would be, but man it sounds like such a great show I really want it!"

    Do you show lots of pictures of fun looking parties you danced at on your site? Do you outline what the show will be like and what emotional response it will trigger in the guests? Do you discuss specific dances or props you can do that seem to get people's attention? Etc...


  15. #15
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    Posts
    14,550

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    I don't lose many inquiries over pricing (maybe because my rates are on my site?) I book about 80-90% of the people who call (except for Gig Salad inquiries for some reason - we talked about that on another thread).

    My method (which comes from other businesses I've had where I made large-ticket sales) involves taking the caller through a simple needs analysis. I do, as you're describing above, give people a little mental picture of what will happen at their party.

    Long before I quote a price, I ask for lots of details. Where will the event be held? What kind of event is it? How many guests are expected? Will there be children present? etc etc etc

    Then I make my proposal -- which, 9 times out of 10, goes "For your event I recommend a mini-show, or Bellygram. This is the solution that works best for my clients in your situation. We'll have someone start the music and I'll burst into the room with a big colorful silk veil and perform for your birthday boy [or whatever] and all your guests. Give them a chance to take in the costume, get their cameras out. Then I do a sword dance, and I bring a balloon and a plastic sword for the [birthday boy] to try to balance. I do a lot of hamming with the birthday boy and all the guests here, lots of Kodak moments. (blah blah blah describe the rest of my show, especially audience participation!!)

    The price for that show is $1XX plus mileage of 55˘ a mile if you're more than 30 minutes from me. I'm still available on the date you have in mind, but that weekend is really filling up. Would you like me to reserve a time for you? [she says yes] I just need a deposit of $50 to reserve the time, and I'll send you a contract...



    So yes, I do give them a visual blow-by-blow (it's on my website in very brief form, too). I think you're right, that really helps them picture having a bellydancer at their party and how fun it will be for everyone. I never thought of it as 'justifying my price,' but I guess you could think of it that way.

    I also make them feel like they're in the hands of a pro by gathering their information and 'recommending' the right show for their situation (usually bellygram, but sometimes 2 dancers or a shimmy party). Sounds silly, but when I had to hire a public speaker, I talked on the phone with several and the one who asked me lots of questions and then proposed a solution to my needs got my business, because I felt like she totally knew what she was doing and could take charge of my situation.

    My rates are in line with other dancers in my area, but it's been so long since I heard "That's way too much" that I'm thinking of raising them. I think part of it, though, is sounding very confident about your rates and the other part is putting lots of words around the price and clearly asking for the close at the end. I think if they said 'how much for a party' and I just answered with a price and then was quiet and let them respond, it would invite a lot more discussion of the price.


  16. #16
    Master BHUZzer dima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,270

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    "Needs analysis" now we are talking my language! This is the method we would use during my dark days of telemarketing (shudder) in order to call someone up out of the blue and try to get them interested in something they previously had no interest in or possibly didn't know even existed. I suppose it makes sense that it would work on what we call "warm leads" where there is already an initial interest. I have taken this approach when quoting for gigs and people do seem to like it when I ask questions about their event and then can tell them what type of show fits it and make specific suggestions. I think it makes me sound more like I do this all the time and puts them at ease. Kind of like when people have lots of questions and will say something like "I'm sorry for all the questions, I've never hired a bellydancer before" and I will laugh and say "Not at all, most people haven't! Ask away!" and even better when I can tell what they are going to ask and answer the question before they can ask it. We used to call that "anticipate and exceed" because it makes people feel like you've had that talk so many times you MUST know your stuff! Plus you sound more like you actually care about their party and want it to be great. If you can make people feel like you're a seasoned pro who cares about their party they will be more likely to feel like you're worth something.

    I wonder how people would react if it was more like...

    Client: "I want to hire a bellydancer"
    Dancer "OK, that's $50."
    Client: "It's for a wedding."
    Dancer: "Yup. $50. When do I show up?"
    Client: "Well I only plan to get married once and this is really important to me... there will be children and our grandparents in the audience. What exactly will the show be like?"
    Dancer: "Well I show up when you want, then I dance for like I dunno 20 minutes, then you pay me and I go home."
    Client: "That sounds about right I guess. What about your music? What's it like."
    Dancer: "Yeah I will bring music. It's Middle Eastern."
    Client: "Uh... OK... Oh and the color theme for my wedding is white and red..."
    Dancer: "White and red sounds pretty." crickets
    Client: "...and my husband is part Egyptian and his mom said something about this thing with a candelabra on the head?"
    Dancer: "Hahaha those crazy Egyptians!"
    Client: "Oh and we'd like something for the guests to enjoy with dinner, but we also want to encourage dancing later in the evening."
    Dancer: "Ok so... you want me to dance during dinner?"

    Think they would still get hired over someone who charges more but knew exactly how to respond to all of the bride's needs? I would be interested to see who would get the gig.


  17. #17
    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    4,028

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Yes yes yes! to what Lauren said.
    Don't just say "it's a 20 minute show and the cost is $300."
    NOOOO... ask a lot of questions including the ones to help you know what kind of music you'll be using and what props you'll choose. THEN say "what I would do for your wedding is blah blah blah (describe your show)... this is between 20 and 25 minutes and the cost is $300."
    By finding out their needs you are showing you provide something OF VALUE to them. Paint a picture with words for how you will enhance their event and provide an exciting and unique experience.
    The "level headed financial guy"... I bet he spends big bucks on things that HAVE NO VALUE to me... this doesn't make me blind to the fact that they have value to some people. I might think it's hysterical that people pay $700 for a pair of jeans... but they still do. I'm not going to poo poo the jeans designer and say "they should cut the price in because it has no value to ME."
    Work smarter, not harder, ladies (we still work REALLY hard, though).


  18. #18
    Ultimate BHUZzer tahiradancer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    9,652

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    I believe that we, as belly dancers, are a luxury item. And like any luxury items, there are going to be people who automatically understand the value and there are people who don't. Personally, I wouldn't buy a car based on the sticker or the sticker price. I want to know more about it. As a young mother, I started looking at Mercedes Benz because of their safety rating. I could care less that it was a luxury brand. Once I got into one, I then appreciated the additional thought, work and touches which made it a "luxury" brand. I did need a sales man to walk me through some of the features which were invisible to me, but once I understood how they would benefit me as a young mother, it made more sense and it made the car more desirable. So, early on, I was interested in the idea of the car, and the extras, for me justified the price tag. (I haven't owned a Benz. Yet.)

    So, we receive inquiries which are already a little gun shy. (I am like Lauren, I have my prices on my website with a small blurb about what each is.) It is up to us to find out what the Client wants and see if we can fulfill their needs while maintaining our pricing.

    If you want more info on how to do this, I would suggest reading the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Oldie but goody.

    {{HUGS}}}


  19. #19
    Master BHUZzer sabrinabellydancer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    3,751

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Part of the problem is we now live in a world where you can download an app for 99 cents, that took $45,000 and many people to build. We can buy cheap goods at BigBoxMart that were made in factory prisons of other countries and look the other way. It has skewed the value of goods and services.

    Some people will see the value in live artistic performances and some people will not. We can't change people's value systems, only provide a vivid description of our show services and let them decide if they want us or an extra controller for the video game system.
    Lauren_ likes this.
    Sabrina Bellydancer, San Diego, California. Available worldwide. Workshops. Shows.


  20. #20
    Master BHUZzer dima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,270

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by tahiradancer View Post
    So, we receive inquiries which are already a little gun shy. (I am like Lauren, I have my prices on my website with a small blurb about what each is.) It is up to us to find out what the Client wants and see if we can fulfill their needs while maintaining our pricing.
    Do you have any specific things you do to put the client at ease and more likely to book you? Do you tell them about certain things you do that you feel add value to them?


  21. #21
    Advanced BHUZzer yameyameyame's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    1,659

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by dima View Post
    Let's say someone calls you up (or emails, whatever) to ask the price for a Bellygram (or whatever you offer that is similar) and you give them a price. They say something like "Wow, that's more than I expected. I don't really know a lot about belly dance. I've never seen one, and certainly never hired one before. What should I expect from your show that will give me my money's worth?" How do you educate that client so that they can get past the initial sticker shock and see that your show is worth what you charge? You don't have to list all your expenses or talk about how long it takes you to get ready for the gig because those things really don't matter to the person hiring you. It's like that person said to me once "well I can understand why it's expensive, but I still think it's too much" because no doubt in her head she just sees a woman in a sparkly costume shaking for 15 minutes and thinks "why would I pay more than $50 for that?" how do you make the client really see what a great show you can give them? How do you show them the value of what you have to offer so that they can justify to themselves why they should pay your fee?
    Lauren has already given an answer that I agree with. For the sake of argument, if presented with such a question, I would say "If you were to hire me to dance at your event, this is what you would get [paint a picture of the show as we had decided based on previous discussions]. My photos and videos are available here [direct them to where they are available]. If you decide that you can include me in your budget, I'll be happy to work for you."

    Like others here, I tend to quote my price only after discussing the details of the event, mostly because I can't know exactly how much I will charge without knowing the details. In some occasions I have quoted them in the beginning of the discussion because I was asked right away, in which case I just ask the most basic questions and say "starting at [insert start price for that type of event here]. Either way, it's very unlikely that anyone would ask me that hypothetical question, and it has never happened yet.

    I've gotten no replies, I've gotten "I am sure you are worth every penny, but we just can't afford that" and I've gotten "Wow! That much just for n minutes!???" With the first sort of reply, they don't try to negotiate because they respect what I'm worth. With the second, they might try to negotiate my price down and give excuses. In neither scenario I feel the need to explain my prices in any more detail.


  22. #22
    Ultimate BHUZzer tahiradancer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    9,652

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by dima View Post
    Do you have any specific things you do to put the client at ease and more likely to book you? Do you tell them about certain things you do that you feel add value to them?

    In a word, no. But that's kind of like asking me what exactly i say to potential Coaching Clients to get them to sign the check. I don't have a set script. every situation adn every client is different.

    The main thing which sells is my willingness to work with the client to be sure that what they want is what they get. And my willingness to communicate when something can't be done. The biggest part of this is really listening to the client, helping them to feel that you are hearing what they are really saying and then showing them how you can execute it or not.

    But the other issue, as I mentioned before, is that I have my pricing on my website. If people have even taken a cursory look, they are not in shock about my pricing.

    {{{HUGS}}}
    Samira_dncr likes this.


  23. #23
    Mega BHUZzer Samira_dncr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Las Vegas, BABY!
    Posts
    2,850

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    In the dance industry, we used to hear "Sell the Sizzle" all the time. The product you are selling is intangible, so you have to help create the visualization for the potential client. Make it exciting. Make it sizzle.
    Samira Tu'Ala, Producer of the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive® & Festival


  24. #24
    Master BHUZzer dima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,270

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by Samira_dncr View Post
    In the dance industry, we used to hear "Sell the Sizzle" all the time. The product you are selling is intangible, so you have to help create the visualization for the potential client. Make it exciting. Make it sizzle.
    I love it! So how do I sell sizzle?


  25. #25
    Mega BHUZzer Samira_dncr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Las Vegas, BABY!
    Posts
    2,850

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    Quote Originally Posted by dima View Post
    I love it! So how do I sell sizzle?
    In the studio I worked in, we gave a complimentary lesson and then we sat them down to show them the packages. During that initial session, we'd take them on a tour, introduce them to people, and teach them a few basic steps. Part of that whole process was getting to know their needs. This is key. You can't really sell anyone anything unless you know what they are looking for. This is true for everything. The best "salespeople" aren't pushy. They are actively trying to tune into their clients and meet their needs.

    That's what these other dancers are doing when a potential client calls them on the phone. They ask a ton of questions to figure out what the client wants. This serves multiple purposes. It also establishes credibility and shows the client that you are genuinely interested in meeting their needs.

    When you are able to describe what you offer in a way that entices the client, then you have sold the sizzle. If the client wants "fun", that's what you demonstrate in the phone call. You joke with them and are playful and fun. If the client wants "exotic" (right or wrong, don't slam me), then you meet that expectation with the words you use when you describe what you are offering. If a client speaks fast, you meet them with that speed. If a client speaks slowly, you slow things down.

    Truly, there are a million psychological little tricks and things you can do to improve your sales, but the bottom line is that you are there to provide a service that meets the needs of the client to the best of your ability. If you can walk into any conversation with that perspective, then you are ahead of the game.

    Yes, dancers need to respect themselves to charge what they are worth and create appropriate boundaries; however, so often I see people forget that we are there to provide a service.

    Ok, I rambled off on a tangent, but I hope that helps clarify a bit.
    *Shira* and rachelw like this.
    Samira Tu'Ala, Producer of the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive® & Festival


  26. #26
    Mega BHUZzer Samira_dncr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Las Vegas, BABY!
    Posts
    2,850

    Re: What the GP thinks we charge

    I probably could have given you some more specific examples, but it's late and most of what comes to mind are things that I did when selling ballroom dance classes. If someone wanted to learn to dance for fitness, then we would talk about all the health benefits. If someone wanted to learn to they had better confidence, we would give them examples of students who have had positive experiences with building their self esteem. They they want to learn to dance to meet other people, then we'd talk about how dancing can help you socially (I've actually introduced people and watched them date, get married, and have babies...all because of dance).

    For belly dancing gigs, you really just need to pinpoint their emotional reason for hiring you and then sell THAT.
    tahiradancer and *Shira* like this.
    Samira Tu'Ala, Producer of the Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive® & Festival


Similar Threads

  1. How much to charge?
    By Lauren_ in forum Business of Belly Dance
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 02-23-2010, 12:58 AM
  2. am i the only one who thinks this is priced kind of low?
    By ZanaRaqs in forum Business of Belly Dance
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 07-18-2009, 05:05 PM
  3. What to charge for this . .
    By zafirah in forum Business of Belly Dance
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 09-28-2007, 05:33 AM
  4. What the GP thinks we cost (poll results)
    By dima in forum Business of Belly Dance
    Replies: 340
    Last Post: 08-12-2007, 07:39 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Statistics
  • Threads 41,078
  • Posts 593,984
  • Members 38,118
  • Welcome to our newest member, angie-revele


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53