This week we have a returning guest, Olga Nesterova owner of DANCECLASS, who was one of the first guests on this show. If you want to hear her origin story, check out Episode 6: World Champion Dancer Olga Nesterova, from the UN to the NBA Playoffs Halftime Show.
Listeners of this show can get 50% off of Olga’s most popular 2 For 1 Deal Group Class by going to www.danceclass.today/deals and using the code THEMENTORS.
In this episode we discuss a major change that she made in her business this past summer after running it for almost 4 years. Olga talks about how she identified a more lucrative opportunity, selling dance classes to other corporations, and how she learned how to sell to big companies in New York City. In less than 6 months, this part of her business is already generating half of her revenues.
She also talks about why companies find these classes so valuable, helping her provide a differentiated offering. Many corporations care about the wellness of their employees, providing activities like yoga classes, but learning how to dance at work is still a novel idea. Turns out it’s not only fun for employees, but acts as a great social activity that helps employees get to know each other better, and makes them more productive at their jobs.
0:20 Today on the show we have World Champion Dancer Olga Nesterova; some of our listeners might remember her story from the episode 6. You can catch up and listen to it here: https://thementors.co/podcast/episode-6-world-champion-dancer-olga-nesterova-from-the-un-to-the-nba-playoffs-halftime-show/
We wanted to have Olga back to the show because we’ve been following her and the changes to her business.
Vadim: Olga – you post a lot of inspirational content on your social channels. Do you do this for your business?
01:15 Olga: I am posting inspiring and motivational messages on Instagram because, in general, everybody needs a little kick and a boost to get up and make a change in their life. I don’t post anything that I read from someone or someone else’s thoughts. Maybe that’s why my posts are incoherent: I am writing about pretty much everything that sparks my interest, or motivates me..
02:50 Sergei: You have 33K followers on your personal Instagram page and 10K on your company’s Instagram page. Is it about the volume of content or is there a strategy around what you post?
Olga: @DanceClass.today is purely dance-related. I post feedback from students, something that can resonate with potential students, quotes for and from fellow teachers, entrepreneurs, and other members of the dance community. Also, posts related to a history of dance.
04:18 I also post promos in live-stories, not in the main feed because I don’t want followers to feel pushed and pressured to buy something.
05:35 My own account (@olgadanceclass) is for to people making decisions in fitness or dance worlds and also for those needing motivation.
We started doing social events for dancing: there is a free class, drinks and snacks, and then social dancing. I also want to connect it together with a lecture or Q&A that’s directed to a topic, for example: how dancing can change your life and give you more confidence? Motivational posts are related to this project, but it’s a long-term goal: you have to build your audience first.
06:36 Vadim: How many years have you been running your company?
Olga: In 2014 I opened the ProAm Dance Team by the invitation from Madison Square Garden to perform at half-time: I did that for 4 years and expended to Miami and Washington DC. At that time, I was offering performance-oriented classes where anybody could join the class, learn choreography, and perform alongside professional dancers at the halftime shows.
Through this, I’ve built a great relationship with NBA teams. But I was also seeking growth. Ask yourself a question: what is my intention? What is the mark you want to leave in the professional field?
08:01 Dancing changed my life: I was a truly shy kid. My parents pushed me into dancing so I could gain confidence and perform on stage. That’s what I want to show people: dancing can change your life, too. It’s not just something pretty; it has more to it.
09:34 What I thought would be wise for me is to approach this idea in 3 different fields. First thing was to rebrand and rename the ProAm Dance Team to DanceClass to make sure that there is no confusion: we do not compete when we dance. And nobody actually trademarked “DanceClass”!
There are 3 components to the company. First, there are regular dance classes with a fitness aspect. If you can modernize the Latin or Ballroom dancing, it can attract more people.
12:10 Another component is corporate programs. It’s a real trend for big corporations to invest in wellness and team building: it is almost a rule to allocate up to 15% of your turnover. My company has a program — we host latin dance, social dance or fit dance at corporate headquarters either after work or during the lunch break.
Yes, people are excited about wellness, but sometimes all they can offer is yoga classes. If you sit in front of your computer for 9 hours, meditation-based yoga classes will not provide you with the kind of energy and boost you can get by actively moving and dancing.
13:27 Sergei: Who buys the service? B2B.
Olga: I contact HR specialists or marketing departments — it depends on a company but ultimately the CEO will make a decision. I started the B2B component of my business in July-August, and at this point, it’s 50% of my revenue.
14:12 Sergei: How do you figure out how to price this service since you’ve never done it before?
Olga: You ask how many people are there, if you need equipment, and you ask the companies what they are ready to pay. I offer packages for 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months: you can choose 1 time weekly, 2 times weekly or more.
It also usually comes with a free introductory service, and I strongly recommend the management to participate. Before you book someone, see them in action! I also encourage them to organize Q&A so we can explain why are we doing what we’re doing. What’s our thought behind this, what are the goals?
17:10 Vadim: When you started this off, you didn’t have B2B sales experience. How did you approach it in the very beginning?
Olga: I did one mistake: I was writing cold emails. “Hi, my name is Olga, I am the world champion, I have this great company, everybody loves what I do”. Nobody replied.
Then I realized: imagine you are the one getting these emails. What would make you to actually proceed? What will make them hire you? What value will you bring to their company? So now it goes like “Hi, my name is Olga, I have a company that offers a variety of dance training programs that will improve your employees’ engagement, productivity, and will unite your workforce”.
18:44 There’s a price strategy. Different packages, depending on how many classes they want per week. We also take organizational costs into consideration. Helping companies with Internal marketing is also very important to improve attendance.
People need to understand that if you go the B2B road, it’s a long-term process. It takes up to 6 months to make a deal. So if you are writing to someone and they don’t reply for months, don’t push every week. Instead, keep working.
Don’t lower prices if someone says it’s too costly. Ask EVERYBODY first, and if the majority says it’s too much, then maybe you should.
20:17 Vadim: So what is your process of approaching new potential customers? How often do you following up?
Olga: First, I write an email. If there’s no response for 2 weeks, I call the company, main number, and ask for somebody who is in charge of employee wellness or team-building. If they don’t reply, I try LinkedIn, Facebook ads that target HR people directly — but it’s costly.
I work on this every day. I structure my schedule in the way that I spend 3 hours per day on just contacting prospective clients. If you want to approach people, you just have to approach people. I do this in the morning, 9 to 11 or 9 to 12 because I feel like after lunch people are less responsive.
22:03 I also started producing on-demand content. There was a trend of training via FaceTime, but I am doing that through Google Hangouts. There are also semi-private and private sessions. It’s targeting everybody outside of New York City.
It will be a monthly subscription for about $15-20 but for now, anybody can sing up for limited free access. You can exercise using your phone, computer or stream it on TV. At this point, I don’t see it as a revenue maker but more of a test for the market to see what people like. What can I shape in terms of content? Will it help me with my app?
24:00 2 points of why online training makes sense. First, it saves time. You want to do it on your terms. Second, we should be aware of the current economic situation. It seems that people won’t be paying $30 an hour to take a class but they will be able to spend $30 a month to take whatever they want.
27:12 I don’t offer the opportunity for amateurs to perform at halftime shows for the general public anymore. I do it for corporate. Once employees learn something and there is an event, we can build the team, learn the choreography and then why not.
28:10 “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life” is such a cliche. We all hate what we do sometimes. But you can actually get inspired by pretty much anything: museums, tv shows, etc.
29:29 Social dance events allows me to unite all three components of my business: I invite people who get my classes on-demand, corporate and regular clients.
30:24 Sergei: How do you decide which idea you pursue?
Olga: I am not sure if I will be working on all 3 branches of my business in a year. Most probably, I will keep pursuing on-demand and corporate classes: it’s just a matter of time.
You can’t just hire an assistant for private classes as well because people will come to your classes because they like you, your delivery. It’s different with corporate clients — you can teach someone your methods; it has the potential to grow.
With on-demand classes it’s important to hire people who don’t look like you — clients have to have an opportunity to choose a teacher they can relate to. Variety is the key here.
33:54 I would not hire someone right now for marketing and approaching corporations purposes because I am still figuring it out myself. You want to refine your process before you bring someone; once you figure it all out, they can help you scale and replicate.
35:45 The advice I have for everyone out there — don’t take the free help as something you would rely on business-wise. Hire somebody who can bring you value. Even those who genuinely want to help and root for you might not be qualified enough to help you grow.
37:05 Olga: If you are starting up and sharing your ideas, people can steal them from you. Do build genuine relationships with partners and be confident in your talent and expertise. You can’t control the environment, all you can do is work hard.
39:56 Vadim: And even if people want to copy your idea, you will still work much harder than all of them because this is your idea. You can’t replicate the workload and the relationships one builds on the way.