Once my piano students hit middle school, I often lose them to sports.
If this is a statement you’ve either said at least once in your career or heard a colleague say, raise your hand.
Me, me, me!
Yes, you over there, with your hand up – this post is for you!
At every conference I attend, while there are many excellent sessions, there are always one or two whose message sticks with me for good. At this past MTNA Conference (2016 San Antonio), my “sticky” session was by far:
The Varsity Musician’s Playbook: Commitment Building Strategies from Team Sports to the Studio.
Bam! Wow, the title hooked me. As someone who enjoys the business side of running my piano studio – this was my type of session.
Last week my studio families and I walked in our 5th annual parade since I opened in 2011. A 5-year anniversary is a perfect time for celebration, so I wanted to share a little more about it with you today.
Not only are you going to see photos from the last five years (including my three different hairstyles!), but I’m going to share a little bit of the logistics, and why you should consider doing something like this in your studio.
2011 – Year 1 (For the parade & my business!)
This is before I had my logo designed. I cut a sign out of black poster board (yes I cut out the logo!) and put clear plastic sleeve covers behind the poster board so I could stick down the inside pieces such as those on the 8’s.
Yes, it was cheap and homemade all the way! 10-15 students were supporting me at this point!
I made the keyboards out of foam-core poster board I bought at Wal-Mart.
A few days ago I had a Facebook private message from a fellow Indiana colleague with some questions regarding marketing.
I’ve heard you mention before that you had good luck meeting with school music teachers, letting them know about your services and asking them to refer students to you.
How did you find out which teachers to contact?
Did you call or email?
Did you meet with them in person?
What did you say to make them more likely to agree to the meeting, and what things did you bring up during the meeting?
“Aha!” I said to her, “This will make a perfect post for my readers, can you give me a few days?”
…and here we are.
She’s right. One of the many marketing tactics I took in the first two years I was open for business included contacting and preferably meeting in person all the school teachers in mine and even surrounding counties.
Psst…there’s a freebie at the end to help you organize your new marketing strategy so stick with me!
Why This is So Important
Who is it that parents go to when they look for lessons? They ask the kid’s music teacher.You should know who they are and what they look like so if you see them around town, especially if you’re in a small town, you can at least put a face with a name.
Building rapport with school music teachers is building your referral network.
Since I keep detailed records of every inquiry, conversation, and contact I have with potential students, I can announce for a fact, that 6% of my total inquiries thus far have come from school music teacher. This includes those who only inquired as well as those who ultimately registered. Even better, 8.7% of my total registrations have come from this marketing effort – nearly 1/11.
One of my favorite articles in the MTNA American Music Teacher Magazine is “It’s None of all Your Business” by fellow Indiana colleague Karen Thickstun.
Karen is not only an excellent teacher but she’s highly intelligent and business savvy. I am blessed to know and get to work with her on the Indiana MTA board of directors. (P.S. I also have to mention that she’s a nominee for President-Elect for MTNA in the upcoming election. Consider that my endorsement) 😉
“When Amy Chaplin opened her studio in a small Indiana town a few years ago, she implemented 40 different marketing strategies. Two years later, she had a full studio and waiting list. She meticulously tracked every inquiry, every registration. Of those who inquired, but did not register, 35 percent came from traditional marketing (location near an ice cream store, fliers, print ads); 20 percent came from personal marketing (referrals, networking, personal connections); and 13 percent came from online marketing. However, when she analyzed who inquired andregistered, she found that 54 percent of her students learned about her studio through personal marketing, 20 percent through traditional marketing and 6 percent through online marketing.
As evidenced by Amy’s research, word-of-mouth is a trusted, powerful method of sharing information and building a studio.”
It’s true. Word-of-mouth does still work, ESPECIALLY in a small community. (Just remember it can’t be your ONLY form of marketing – but that’s another topic!)
Lots of people inquire when they see you online, or they see your great location. When it comes down to making that commitment, however, it’s those who know you best–customers who refer you, teachers you network with who recommend you, and those you already have some connection or relationship with that ultimately drive your business.
So what does this mean for us? What else can we do besides be the best teacher we can be and hope people will recommend us to others?
I’m excited to share with you a wonderful informal performance I host for my students in the summer.
You’ll not only get all the nitty-gritty including repertoire used, and my preparation checklist, but I’m going to show you how this performance can be used as a marketing tool!
Until last year I didn’t do any kind of recitals during the summer. I believe in keeping summer commitments as light as possible, which is why I make summer optional for families. I usually have 60% of my students take summer lessons.
(Since you’re a piano teacher I know you’re wondering…yes my income drops in the summer. However, students who don’t take have to pay a $25 non-refundable holding fee. This amounts to several hundred dollars which helps a little with the reduced summer income.)
Last summer, however, I decided I wanted to do in informal picnic performance for students taking summer lessons.
I can’t remember the exact reason I decided to do this, but do recall seeing Irina Gorin posting on Facebook about a picnic with her studio families and I thought it was a lovely idea. I’m always looking for ways to build community within my studio and what better way than to have a meal together!
I wrote an article for the July edition of The Piano Bench Mag called…
“32 Ways to Market Your Studio.”
Below is a teaser excerpt, but to see all 32, you will have to visit The Piano Bench Mag in iTunes! The app is free to download and you can either purchase individual editions or pay for a yearly subscription.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Piano Bench Mag, you can catch past reviews by fellow piano bloggers.
Last week I held several classes for our city’s Parks and Recreation department including a class for 5-6-year-olds, 7-8-year-olds, and 9-10-year-olds. (The photos below are of the latter).
Holding these classes is just one way I try to continually market my business and keep my name in the community. If you missed my first post that included detailed information on the Tot Music Time for 3-4-year-olds, read it here.
I take from a variety of materials for these classes including Piano Fun for the Young, Celebrate Piano, and Faber’s My First Piano Adventures. Since it’s just one class, the students don’t receive any books; I mostly do improvisation activities, exploration of the piano, keyboard topography, and playing along to song tracks with a steady beat.
We start by playing the Piano Safari animal improvisation game. This game works great for a large range of ages.
In the summer of 2013, two years into my studio, I decided to start offering classes through our city’s Parks and Recreation Department to help grow and market my studio. Several people had mentioned it to me when I first opened but I pushed the idea aside – silly me. I don’t remember what made me decide to finally try it, but I haven’t regretted it since.
I’m going to share with you first a little about the logistics of holding these classes and then will share my lesson plan, materials, and photos from one of the classes, Tot Music Time.
Next week I will post information and photos on the other classes.
Our city’s Parks Department offers programming throughout the summer. Anyone can offer a class. All you have to do is send in the class title, description, date, time, and if there will be any charge. They do all the advertising, and registrations and simply send me a class list a few days prior. I send them the offerings in January so they are ready for the printing of publicity.
I run the classes either the week of Memorial Day (if I know schools will be out early), or the very first week of June to allow for student sign-ups for any summer classes I might hold. I hold two classes a day, 11:00 am and 10:00 am. (I have them fill up the 11:00 first in case there aren’t enough sigh-ups for the second class then I don’t have to come in as early!)
Each class has a set minimum and maximum. This is based on the “move-around” space in my studio, the number of keyboards I have, and lastly, the amount that I need to stay sane (I don’t do large groups well!) 🙂
If you’re following the Piano Pantry page on Facebook you may or may not have noticed that I’ve started a daily post called “Morning Marketing.” Around 10:30-11:00 each day I share short thought-provoking quotes from books, websites, and more that I’ve recently read.
In honor of my upcoming webinar on marketing with Tim Topham and because summer is a time where teachers should be marketing their studios like crazy going into fall, I hope this daily series will inspire you. It will run every day in June and July. That’s 60 days of marketing tips and inspiration!