Ryan Hunter Masters is a Colorado-based musician who loves to dance. In 2015 he launched Show Her Off to teach swing dancing online. The business sells video courses — streaming and DVD — to booming success.
I first interviewed Hunter Masters for the podcast in 2019. In this second conversation, we addressed the origins of Show Her Off, customer acquisition channels, and his internal litmus test for starting any new company.
The entire audio of our conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for length and clarity.
Eric Bandholz: Give us a recap of what you do.
Ryan Hunter Masters: I have a company called Show Her Off. I sell video courses that teach couples how to dance. I won’t turn you into a professional dancer or get you on Dancing with the Stars, but I will teach you in less than 60 minutes how to dance with your partner and have her smiling and laughing. More importantly, couples feel closer and more connected compared to spending time looking at screens or watching Netflix and not engaging.
I teach entry-level social swing dancing. Many couples use it for their first dance. We have hip-hop, pop, classic rock, and country. You can dance to any music genre with this style, which is why it’s so popular and accessible.
Many couples who’ve never danced will start with this program. Some catch the dance fever, the dance bug, and they’re like, oh, wow, this is a lot of fun. Some take it to a local studio and learn professional dancing one-on-one with an instructor. The goal of what I teach is to have fun and give couples the confidence to step out on the dance floor and look good.
I do things that excite me. I love to learn and try new adventures. That’s how I got into this business. I ran a marketing firm managing Facebook and Google ads campaigns. I moved to Colorado, learned swing dance, and thought, “Gosh, this is so fun.” I already had the infrastructure to make videos because I had a fitness YouTube channel called Sparta Strength. I realized I could make videos teaching folks to dance. No business intention. It was purely organic and fun.
Someone told me I should throw the YouTube videos onto Instagram. Those posts got a lot of response and engagement. I made more and then decided to do a full-on shoot. I hired a videographer and a photographer, gathered friends, and found a romantic background for a cinematic shoot in the mountains of Colorado. That content did well. Show Her Off is a romance brand. I look for romantic cinematic landscapes in the background to add that extra emotion.
The business wasn’t making any money for a couple of years. But it was fun. Folks liked it, and I was having a good time. My marketing agency paid the bills. We eventually turned a corner. The business started to blow up. On the side, I’ve been exploring making music and singing.
Bandholz: You seem to follow your passion.
Hunter Masters: My litmus test is, “Would I do this for free because it’s so fun?” Sometimes, you don’t know until you start doing it.
That’s something that traps many entrepreneurs who are starting. They don’t know how an idea will make money. There are so many options, but an alternative way to think about it is there’s something you can do or are willing to do for free because it’s fun. Can you build an engaged audience of 10,000 to 20,000? Somewhere in there, as long as you’re paying attention and listening, there will be an opportunity to make money. You have followers who like you and your products or services. You can solve a problem for them and provide value.
Bandholz: How is the online course set up?
Hunter Masters: We have an online date night program. It began as an in-person romance tour where my friends and I would go around the country to wedding venues. We’d sell tickets, couples would come, and we’d teach three dance moves they could mix and match. I would have a photographer on-site with a lovely backdrop for the couples to get their own selfie photo, and we’d pose them in a dance photo so they had something to remember by, and then we’d have open dancing for the rest of the night.
We always sold those events out. A couple from California traveled to an event outside of Dallas. Our tickets were $35, so they spent 10 times that to get there. Another couple drove eight hours. I realized if folks are investing this kind of time to attend, maybe I could turn it into something else. That’s when I decided to offer digital instruction.
Bandholz: What are your busiest times of the year?
Hunter Masters: The week before Valentine’s and the week before Christmas we have a 400% increase in business. It’s a huge surge in customer support, ad management, and paid traffic. During those periods, I’m up at 7:00 a.m. and go to bed at midnight; for the most part, I’m on the computer all day. I call it my day trading hours.
For the busy weeks, I use a bid cap strategy for Facebook ads. It’s very technical, but it’s basically manual bidding inside Facebook. I bid way more than I would pay, and that pushes out other advertisers. I know from tracking my historical data this is the time I can do that.
It’s still a gamble. I stand all day and refresh analytics, monitor Facebook ads, check Stripe, and ensure everything’s trending up. If an ad starts to drop, I’ll immediately pull it down. Experienced advertisers advise bidding one and a half times your cost per acquisition. If your CPA is $100, bid $150. I might do three, four, five times my CPA. I’ll start with $500 to get it rolling.
Bandholz: Where can listeners buy your program?