Whether you have a bunch of open spots or just need to add to your studio’s waiting list, you always need to be marketing your studio in some way. In this episode, I’ll talk you through the most common marketing methods for music teachers and which I have found to be most effective.
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This is episode 15 of the vibrant music teaching podcast. I’m Nicola Cantan and today we’re talking about how why where and when to market your studio
So let’s talk about why you want to market your studio first. Now this might seem pretty obvious to get students right. But I want to touch on those because it’s even important to market your studio if you’re full. If you have all your spots filled it might feel like you don’t need to do anything but actually a little touches here and there are important for every teacher every studio owner because if you have gaps in your schedule because a student drops out that costs you money and you need to be able to fill those gaps. So whether it’s to build up a waiting list or to fill your studio for the first time or just have the reassurance of new inquiries coming in and knowing that you’re in demand everybody needs to do some little touches of marketing. Some of us will be doing a large amount of marketing to try and fill our studios at the beginning of a New Year or we’re just starting up in a new location or for the first time. But some of us just need to do little bits and pieces so we’ll talk about all the full range of levels of marketing your studio today. So the next important question to answer of course is when do we actually market our studios the busiest periods for receiving new inquiries if you’re in this hemisphere here up here with me in Europe or in the States. Then it’s going to be September probably or August before the school year starts and maybe around January. In some areas Christmas would be a popular time too because people get them as gifts and things like that.
So you do vouchers Christmas is a good time. And January I find where I am is when a lot of adult students actually get in touch with me. So I get more inquiries in August leading into September. And then a few more adult inquiries in January those are my busiest seasons but I get all sorts of inquiries all year round as well. Now just because those are the busiest times doesn’t mean we necessarily should be marketing the most then because they’re also the busiest for all different sorts of things like soccer classes and dance classes and art events. And all of this stuff is being marketed at kids especially if you’re primarily a teacher of children then you’re competing with a huge amount of noise at those times of year. You know in August everybody knows that this is when parents think about what activities their kids are going to do that year. So a huge amount of marketing goes on from the school itself and from outside schools and studios and things like us right. So that’s not necessarily the best time to add your voice into the mix but you want to have some kind of a presence and it can be a good time to pick up new students. Other good times are actually the off season so that January period I mentioned that is another peak time is actually a less popular advertising or marketing period for many of these other activities either because it just doesn’t occur to them or there isn’t as good a pick up.
So they don’t tend to think of it but it’s another time when there’s a school break. Two weeks here parents start thinking about new activities. A lot of them I think start thinking Oh well I think we should have actually started piano this year maybe we can pick it up now. It seems like a natural starting point to them and with the adults students that get in touch with me. I think there’s a lot of new year’s resolutions going on there too. So around December January especially early January you might be able to do things like paid advertising cheaper than you can at other times of the year because it’s not quite as popular and it isn’t occurring to many of the other activities and schools and things like that. So really I suggest doing some form of marketing all year round that can be very light if you’re full or it can be serious marketing efforts every single month. If you are in need of building up your studio. Either way something should be happening all the time even if it’s just in the background. So then the bigger question the one people usually start with how and where do I market my studio. Where is the best place to advertise for new students. Where do I find them. And the answer when this is asked and Facebook groups and around various forums is often well word of mouth is my best marketing. Well that’s true. And the answers are coming from experienced teachers who it absolutely is their best form of marketing and I’m not disputing that.
And they are trying to be helpful but it’s not so helpful when you’re a new teacher. And I want to recognize that because those answers that come from years and years of being in the same community are often a little bit irrelevant to the new teacher because they don’t have those connections. They don’t have lots of other students to refer new students from. Maybe they don’t have kids of their own so they’re not connected to a school. Maybe they just don’t have a lot of community ties because they’re new in an area. All these kinds of factors mean that you really do need to look into other things than just talking. Up or word of mouth or people passing on your name especially in bigger cities and things like that where there isn’t the strong community ties that word just naturally gets around town that you’re available as a teacher of whatever instrument you teach now the specific marketing efforts that work in your community will totally depend on where you are and how people look for things and how they generally start up with things. So I recommend you try out one thing at a time. Start with things that seem the most appropriate to you. Try it and track very carefully what results you’re getting from it. That’s the most important part of marketing in my opinion is tracking it’s actually.
What happened after the marketing because if you don’t know where these students came from that you do get and which marketing efforts are making the biggest difference for getting new students then you’re still left floundering around trying everything. But if you know exactly what’s working then you can focus your efforts in on that and really achieve great things and get your studio filled up and expanding and whatever else you want to do with it. So some ideas for you to try then because you need to pick something to get started. So we’ve got flyers. Probably the most obvious and in fact the way I built my first students up was through just dropping leaflets through doors. Now in some areas this isn’t allowed to do check if it is allowed where you are. But putting up posters or flyers and going around and dropping them through doors is certainly a tried and tested method. But I think it’s coming less and less effective. I have to say and even when I was a teenager starting off with my first piano student it wasn’t all that effective. It was just the only option available. So it certainly is a way you can get students but it will vary greatly depending on where you actually are putting up posters can be allowed in libraries and community centres and some supermarkets. That’s generally where you can put them up here in some areas you can put them up wherever you like in some areas you might just have music store bulletin boards or various things but ask around and see where actually allows people might have noticed your friends and family might have noticed bulletin boards or community boards around the place that are open to flyers.
It’s certainly worth a try. Especially when you’re just starting out and you really are in need of students and just people being aware of you. Another thing you might like to try is some form of swag or Mirch. So having your studio’s logo or perhaps some funny catchphrase or interesting tagline on bags or t shirts or anything else you can think of pencils music notebooks manuscript paper have various things you might like to try. Normally the most affordable are going to be the pencils but really do they have that big of an impact. I’m not sure I think something that’s a bit more visible like a bag or a T-shirt that you can give to your students and they can wear around the place is more likely to be a conversation starter and get parents to ask each other you know where those lessons how are you finding it. Do you enjoy that teacher and ask the kid about it too. So I think things that are a bit more visible are going to be more worth your time and money but of course they are that little bit more expensive. I have teachers in my studio.
I got a big batch of them a few years ago and I’m still giving the same batch so it’s probably something where you can invest in you know not a huge batch. I think I got 70 or so and give them that over time and then you know three four or five years down the line you get another batch. So it’s not something that you have to pay out year after year month after month but it’s an a bit of an investment that you make up and in making your studio that little bit more visible in the community. Another thing you might like to try along the same lines of getting things printed is some kind of car decal or magnets for your car. I have magnets on my own car and while I don’t think students necessarily come directly from them I think it all makes a difference. And those magnets are so affordable that even just as a way for students to know that they’re in the right place at my home studio is actually really handy because my car is parked out front and they can immediately see the studio name and that they’re at the right place on their first lesson. So that’s a good enough reason to get them for me. But it can lead to certain may new students as you drive around town. I have had a couple of times people asked me to roll down my window so they can ask where I am and where I’m located and whether I have any available spots and handed cards through the windows at the traffic lights which is an interesting thing.
I’m not sure if it’s actually against the rules but I don’t think it’s the safest practice anyway. So things like that little touches like that that make your studio that bit more visible in the community are certainly a great thing to try. But don’t so for everything all at once don’t design a whole bag of studio swag with pencils and rubbers and notebooks and everything all together. Try one thing at a time see how it goes. And setting aside a small budget to spend on that kind of stuff. If it’s something you think might help in your community. Another way to advertise your studio is at events whether it’s that you’re performing. I know a lot of teachers who perform regularly you know in church or gigs or whatever. They’ll just have a little stack of cards sitting there letting people know that they also do lessons and that can be a great way to pick up new students either through referral or directly because people can see that you know what you’re doing that you can play and you know they can aspire to play just like you while they’re listening. So that’s a great way. If you are performing musician to pick up a few students along the way too another thing is the more traditional media so getting ads or featured articles in newspapers or local magazines now I honestly wouldn’t suggest paying for an ad.
I think if you are really looking to ramp up your studio numbers then looking for free publicity quote unquote free it’s going to take your time right. But submitting press releases over something interesting that’s happening like if you put together a big student concert or play-a-thon for charity maybe you would submit a press release on that and if it’s a local paper they might pick that up. You know they’re hunting for stories about the community so that could be a great thing to try. If you just really need that push or you’re looking to expand it wouldn’t be my first choice for what to look for as just a single teacher setting up and needing a few more students. Something I was offered just a couple of years ago was actually to do an ad as part of a local schools journal. So they give out a homework journal every year. It depends on the school whether they do that or parents buy their own. But this particular school was giving out a homework journal with the important dates written and they get it printed themselves and they were looking for sponsors for that from local businesses that were relevant to the school. So it’s not something I picked up at the time because I didn’t need new students at the time and it would have been a little bit overkill for me.
But if I had been looking for new students I think that would be an interesting one to try because it wasn’t a huge ask it was just a local school. They weren’t looking for a huge sponsorship fee and it could be very effective because it’s going to the right people. So stuff like that if you can sponsor something in a local school or local kids club or anything like that that could be a great thing to give a go. So so far I’ve talked about real life quote unquote real life advertising and marketing methods. But the other way of course that you might want to advertise and where I get most of my new non referral students and inquiries is online your home online and where you probably want to put the most effort is your own studio website. Now if you don’t have one don’t worry it doesn’t have to be tricky to set up. It really doesn’t. I recommend setting it up with WordPress which is maybe ever so slightly less user friendly but more search engine friendly than the other options that are out there like Wix weebly. Any of those those are a little bit more drag and drop which leads to some extra code which isn’t the best for Google. But if that’s the only way you’re going to do it then do that. Absolutely. It’s better than nothing.
Far better than nothing. I think every teacher should have some kind of Website to represent their studio even if it’s super simple. And even if you don’t need a ton of students I actually think it makes a difference to your perceived quality and just how parents think of you. I think it’s a great thing to have in any community but especially if you’re in a big city like me. People do not ask other people they just Google ads. They find things. Well I say that I do get a lot of referrals but people don’t really pay attention to flyers or posters or anything like that. They know they’re just going to google it. So that’s what they do and they find the most suitable one for them from there. So my Website is really my key marketing effort. And when you consider it like that the small cost to set it up you know to be a hosting fee each month of say five or ten dollars it really doesn’t have to be expensive. I use Siteground by the way if you’re looking for good hosting and then to set it up. Yes a little bit of learning in the beginning if you’re going to do it yourself but it’s totally worth it because it is your storefront on the Internet. And it’s becoming increasingly important to have one now other online stuff you might want to do the next most important thing for me would be a Facebook page.
And again even if you’re not going to do a lot with it I think it’s just good to have one. I kind of expect businesses who take themselves seriously to have a Facebook page. I would find it odd if I searched on Facebook for a local business and they didn’t have one. Now it wouldn’t necessarily be a deciding factor but it does colour my opinion of them a little bit. If they don’t have any kind of representation on Facebook because it’s so simple to set up and if you don’t have one when you go to set it up you’re going to see how easy it is. So you just if you have a Facebook account you just go create a page and you fill in your info and that can be it or you can post regularly and try to market there as well. But even just having it as a storefront that looks you know presentable and respectable is totally fine as well. Now there are other places of course to market yourself online. The next one I would really recommend is Google places the only consideration here is that if you don’t want to show your address that’s going to be a little bit tricky and you’re going to have to do some working around it. But if you are happy to show your address especially if you’re at a commercial location or you just like me and you just don’t mind then it’s a great listing to have and it shows up at the top of google searches.
There’ll be a few listings for local businesses when people are searching for things where Google thinks local businesses are relevant. So if you search for hairdresser in Rathmines for example which is an area of Dublin it’s going to show you some Google Places i.e. maps results up the top and it’s such an easy way to get to the top of Google without requiring any technical know how it all began. Setting up your Google Places or Google My Business they keep changing the name so I can’t follow it but it’s called one of those things and it’s basically that pinpoint on the map that says where you are and what your business does. After that I think everything is pretty optional and depends on your preferences of what you use online. The next most relevant social media for a local business a local music studio would be Instagram. But anything beyond that. I don’t think is really relevant at all. And even Instagram is more of a brand awareness. Building up your studio profile then a direct student referral. It can be great for building community within your studio too but its not really one where students are go to go searching for you there and sign up through Instagram or anything like that and social media beyond those that Facebook and Instagram is not really designed to market your studio use it for your own pleasure.
Absolutely. But like you’re not going to get students from Twitter. In my opinion and experience or Pinterest or anywhere else for that matter the most likely ones are people Googling you. In which case showing up with your own website and with that Google My Business result that maps result are the most important and they might do a search on Facebook or see your posts on Facebook as well. So the only other online thing that you might consider is online directories. Now this could be specific music lesson directories such as we have one here called music lessons. Or it could be you know the golden pages the Yellow Pages gum tree or Craigslist. Those kind of directories my thoughts on those are basically do them if they’re free but have a serious question mark and ask the opinions of some other teachers. You can ask in my Facebook group vibrant music studio teachers on Facebook ask there if it’s paid especially because it’s often not worth your while. I won’t say always. Sometimes people have great results with things like thumbtack and all of these but the results may vary. So it’s going to be a big investment. Maybe just ask around and see whether it’s really worth a shot. And if you really are struggling for students it might be but it depends on the particular service and how people use the things in your area so you’ll know how people search within your locality as well.
So that’s it for the how why where and when to market your studio. But there’s a key part that’s missing. As you may have noticed and that’s what you actually say. What wording do you use what pictures do you use. What does it look like. And that’s what we’re going to talk about next week. In the second part of this marketing equation because we’re going to talk about what you might call your USP your unique selling proposition I have another name for it which I’ll share with you next week. But it’s really about what makes you different and that’s the most important thing when it comes to deciding what actually goes on your poster or in your ad or anything like that. I also haven’t talked about Facebook advertising here or any other paid advertising that costs a good bit of money. I think I’ll leave that for future possible episode or maybe even an interview where I bring someone on who knows a bit more about that side of things than I do. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and that it’s given you some ideas of what to try if you’re struggling for new students. Tune in next week and I’ll teach you all about how to find your unique what makes you different as a teacher and how it can be applied to your marketing. I’ll catch you then.
Vibrant music teaching members can now find the recital program and poster templates in the library. If you’re not a member yet you might want to check out the membership at VMT ninja or you might want to hop along to my webinars where I’m going to teach you all about how to make recitals. Absolutely amazing. Go to Vibrant music teaching dot com slash o m g to sign up for that webinars. Totally free and I hope to see you there.
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