Why You Need a USMT

The Generic Is a Hard Sell

You could label yourself simply as a music teacher. But putting yourself in a plain unmarked box like that comes with a few problems because the generic is hard to sell, and even those that buy it don’t really care about it.

When you give your studio a generic stamp, you’re trying to sell to everyone. When you try to sell to everyone it’s very hard to get anyone to buy it – and even harder to get them to love it enough to spread the word.

Consider milk. When you go to buy milk, which one do you choose? Chances are you either go for:

  • The cheapest one (or maybe second from the cheapest)
  • The one you know

If you’re in the second camp, there’s a reason you know the one you know. That brand has a whopping budget dedicated to showing you hundreds if not thousands of ads and making sure it’s available in almost every shop so that when it comes time for you to choose, theirs will be the most familiar.

For most small businesses, including music studios, this is not an effective strategy because we simply do not have the budget or the potential scale of customer base. We also don’t want to try to be the cheapest out there, as that’s a recipe for a race to the bottom. 

Instead, we have to be the best. Not just the best for someone but the best for the right person.

Stand for Something

Your unique superpower as a music teacher (USMT) is just that: Unique. If you try to copy someone else’s messaging it will fall flat and be inconsistent because it needs to come from you.

Think about the difference between these two ads, for example. 

The Pringles ad is all about flavour. Yes, that’s in their tagline, but it also shows through in the colours and presentation. They hit you in the face with colour and a giant crisp to say this will be a taste explosion like no other. 

The botaniq ad knows its customer is after more than flavour, their food choices are part of their identity. They show the carrot as if it were a butcher’s diagram to say “we’re changing norms” and they nod slightly to an artistic sentiment with the watercolour style illustration.

Imagine we swapped the messaging of these ads. They would look something like this:

They both look like fine ads at first glance (if I do say so myself…please don’t look too closely!) but they’re talking to the wrong people. There’s a mismatch.

The people who do want Pringles don’t care about them being artsy or using wholesome ingredients, but the people who do care about those things aren’t going to be tricked into thinking Pringles fit that bill. Similarly, the botaniq falls completely flat by appealing to the vegetarian’s taste buds. The non-vegetarian seeing that is going to be thinking: “Pfft, yeah right! Like I could get my fix for deliciousness from veggies alone!”

Let’s look at 2 don’t ads next. 

Moo stands for millenial, creative and quirky and they’ve encapsulated all three of those characteristics in this simple ad. Their use of the phrase “don’t be a what’s-her-face” would probably make serious business CEO types roll their eyes and scoff…and that’s exactly what they want to happen. They can’t sell premium, beautiful business cards with interesting details to him, nor should they try. 

The Patagonia ad urges you not to buy its jacket because of the negative environmental impact it causes. Now, many might write this off as a marketing gimmick but it’s actually much more than that and true Patagonia fans know it. The brand is genuinely at the forefront of the eco-friendly clothing movement. If the eco-concious customer sees their ad and does their due diligence and research, (and they’re the type of people who would,) then they’ll discover this ethos runs through to the core of the company. That’s the value of your marketing coming from your superpower.

And you can stand for something too.

This type of marketing isn’t just for big brands on billboards. In fact, this is precisely how we can compete with bigger music schools or other things vying for our potential students time and their parents’ money. 

When we understand our USMT and stand for something more than just another music teacher we can tell a story that captivates and spreads music further into our community.

More to Explore

If you want to dive deeper on the ideas in this lesson, I suggest exploring the work of Seth Godin. The TED Talk below or his book ‘This is Marketing’ would be a great place to start.