Keep Your Studio Marketing Fresh with New Branding

This past month, we’ve been talking about celebrating teaching milestones – or teaching “anniversaries”.

If you missed any of the previous posts you can find them here:

Teaching Anniversaries: Celebrating on Social Media and Beyond

Teaching Anniversaries: An Important but Hard Celebration

Teaching Anniversaries: A Time for Reflection

In this fourth and final post in the series, I’ll share how I’m keeping my studio fresh by re-branding and why this is something you should consider for your own studio!

 

Out With the Old – In With the New

When I first opened my studio, like many teachers, money was tight. I knew branding was important though and I wanted to have a logo right away.

Luckily, we had a friend who was artistic and was gracious enough to do one as a favor. I remember sitting at her kitchen table looking over her laptop as we tweaked the shape and style.

I wanted something simple, subtle, and sophisticated. I kind of hate to use that last term because it wasn’t that I wanted to portray my studio as “snooty” or anything, just professional. More specifically, I didn’t want it to be too kiddie-looking with lots of music notes and colors.

I have absolutely adored this logo. It was perfect.

Change is something I thrive on personally so with the move to my new studio two years ago and the turnover of a new decade of running my full-time studio this year, it felt like the perfect time to freshen up my branding for a new start.

This time, I worked with a designer a self-employed small-business owner whom I connected with when I spearheaded a new logo for our state MTACarson Sprunger with Sprunger Design.

 

 

For social media purposes, I also requested that whatever logo we came up with was easy to translate into a small favicon-size version.

 

 

I absolutely love both of them and am thrilled with the results.

Interestingly enough, my goals were the same as the first time around: simple, subtle, and not kiddie-music looking. A few things that I particularly love about it this new logo:

  1. It was a complete font change feel from the previous logo.
  2. The design went from flowy and elegant to a little edgier.
  3. The new splash of color.
  4. The fresh take on using the piano lid rather than the profile from above.

 

Is Re-Branding Really That Important?

Now, you may be thinking this is a nice idea but is it really necessary?

I would say it depends.

What does your logo say about your business? Does it portray it properly? Are you having a hard time attracting adult students? Does your logo look like it’s geared toward preschool children or any type of student?

It’s important that our branding match how we want people to see us and our studios.

Most clients in your studio may not think much about a change in your logo (similar to what Janelle was talking about in the second post on how it’s hard for them to celebrate teaching anniversaries with you).

What they will notice though is your attention to detail in how you present yourself and your business. Consider investing in branding that represents what you want your customers to know about you before they ever meet you.

 

How to Use Your Branding

Logos and branding aren’t just about the logo that goes on your policies document, social media header, or website. Our branding should be part of everything we put out there, most especially on social media.

As soon as I got my new logo, I created a series of social media images in Canva highlighting student and parent testimonials. These will be posted using a scheduling tool for the whole year (I’m currently using Tailwind).

Would you believe me when I say I’m not looking for any new students? I’m full with a waiting list but I still continue to market. Why?

Building a thriving business is not something you do once a year when you need students, it’s something that should be continuous so your brand is at the forefront of your community’s minds.

I’m pretty excited about how these social media testimonials turned out this year. Here are a few examples:

 

 

Every year, in my year-end parent/student questionnaires, I always request (but don’t require) testimonials so I have fresh ones from current students and families every year.

I have to brag a little that my students and parents rocked the testimonials this year!

(If you want to see all of them, they’re in a slide format on my studio’s testimonials page.)

If anything, it can definitely give you a little mental boost once a year. 🙂

 


Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list to keep up to date!

Besides regular communication on what’s going on here at Piano Pantry, you’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, and more. You will also have the option to have new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.

 

Student Birthday Cards with a Surprise Twist!

Ever since I opened my full-time studio, I’ve been sending a birthday postcard to students every year – you know, kind of like when you get birthday postcards from your dentist, eye doctor, or auto-dealership? Not all businesses do this of course, but it’s a nice gesture and a great way to keep in touch with customers.

Prior to doing postcards, I would give them their favorite candy bar but I got tired of having to go out and buy individual candy bars and remember to do so throughout the year.

My reason for sending postcards has actually been more intentional than just doing something nice for students (not that that isn’t a good reason in and of itself, of course! 🙂 )

To me, it’s a way of creating great rapport with your families and I wrote a little more details on this in this post: Marketing with Postcards (it’s not what you think!).

Each year I find a new postcard with the goal of sending something unique, fun, and visually inspiring. (Get some ideas here: Fun Postcards for Student Birthdays and Unique Student Birthday Cards on Etsy.)

Today I want to share how my (almost) burnout on this annual studio project propelled me to take a fresh approach with a little twist this year.

This will also include details on how to organize this project so you don’t have to continually attend to it throughout the year.

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3 Ways to Look at Your Studio Website With Fresh Eyes

Plus, my studio website overhaul!

Over Summer, one of my big tasks is to overhaul my studio website.

Summer lessons are optional in my studio and I am lucky to have the freedom to be able to take a lighter load. The extra time – while reserved most importantly for a bit of R&R – is also an open window for us to give a little attention to bigger projects like this!

Our websites will often be the first opportunity to make a good impression on prospective students. Not only that but if you’re anything like me, your studio is continually evolving. Our studio websites should reflect these changes and always feel fresh.

Today I want to share with you three ways to look at your website with a fresh perspective and in turn, make a positive impression on your studio.

First, I have a confession to make along with a little back history and evolution of my own studio website.

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Unique Student Birthday Cards on Etsy

If you’ve been here a while, you might already be aware I’m a big advocate of sending students cards (or postcards) for their birthdays.


Marketing with Postcards (it’s not what you think!)


After spending a few years using generic “Happy Birthday” card packs, I realized I could use this opportunity to inspire my students a little more.

I started with Susan Hong’s Mandala postcards. (Get the link along with several other fun ideas from the post: Fun Postcards for Student Birthdays.)

Today I wanted to share with you the super fun abstract piano art ones I chose for this year.

The past two year’s I’ve purchased from Etsy and have a feeling this may be my go-to place for several years to come. As long as I get them for under $1 per postcard, I consider that worth it.

Aren’t they cool?

Find them at Brian Moss Art on Etsy.

 


09/21/2021 Update – Unfortunately it looks like his shop is no longer available, but I would encourage you to search Etsy for more fun music-themed birthday card finds!

 


Want to keep more up-to-date with all things on Piano Pantry?

Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list!

You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, and more. You will also have the option to have new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.

Instagram for Independent Music Teachers

The #1 Reason You Should Be There

With so many social media apps out there, many teachers are hesitant to put the time and effort into trying a new platform. Believe it or not, though, Instagram isn’t new – it’s been out for almost 10 years!

As a fellow skeptic, I want to share with you today the biggest reason why any music teacher who is running an independent music studio needs to be on Instagram.

My own personal journey to Instagram is a big part of this story, so let me start there.

 

Entering Instagram

In July 2015, I opened my account and posted my first photo.

Since it was August, the month for fresh produce and canning (and you all know I love food), I had a little fun posting a lot of food photos.

Then it was pretty much crickets until October 2016 – more than a year later. Eek!

Bam!!

I’m suddenly back in and using Instagram even more than Facebook.

 

What happened?

Inspiration finally set in from a session I attended earlier that year at the 2016 MTNA Conference in San Antonio. The session was actually put on by a friend and colleague of mine and was called The Varsity Musician’s Playbook.: Commitment-Building Strategies from Team Sports to the Studio.

I was so inspired by her session, that I asked her to write a 3-part series here on Piano Pantry.

Part 1: Studio Interdependence
Part 2: Studio “Locker Room”
Part 3: Community Presence

Part 3 is where the conviction to start using Instagram again set in. Granted, it took me almost 7 months to gear up to start using Instagram again, but once I did, I haven’t looked back and there’s one big reason why.

 

Student-Studio Connection

Instagram is (one place) where my students go to connect. Every single one of my high school students is on Instagram as well as a few younger students.

Students can see what’s going on in the studio outside of just their lesson. Most of my students go to different schools, so it’s fun for them to see the life of their piano peer’s outside of piano studio life as well as inside our piano studio life.

They can celebrate each other’s achievements and connect with each other outside of group classes. I witness students “loving” (as it goes on Instagram) and commenting on each other’s photos as well as the studio.

I always like to imagine that if I had social media like this growing up, and I saw a photo of a fellow student who has finished a book that I was struggling through, it would have been great motivation to work hard to also complete the book.

 

My Instagram Focus

Instagram is such an important part of my studio that I try to keep it focused on just that – my studio. Do I share personal things? Of course. Do I share a few Piano Pantry things once in a while? Yep.

If you follow me on Instagram though, you’ll see that I am 95% focused on my students.

Can we use Instagram as a way to market our studios? Absolutely! My mindset, however, is less on “outward” marketing and more “inward” marketing. That is, developing a community within your studio which then seems to radiate outward on its own.

P.S. Just a tip that in order to actually allow outward marketing to also occur, don’t keep your Instagram account private. That is, when you create an account, don’t set it up so people have to “request” to follow you. Let it be a public account anyone can follow. You want the public to see all the wonderful things you do in your studio!

 

Fun Accounts to Follow

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to get on the Instagram bandwagon, here are 5 really fun accounts for piano teachers to follow.

 

Find me on Instagram!

Follow me on Instagram @amystudio88

Hope to see you there!

 

Creating a Studio Legacy with Student Photo Boards

A Canva Tutorial [Video]

This is my current student photo board.

Students are not displayed from oldest to youngest, but by how long they’ve been studying with me – moving from left to right and top to bottom.

Every photo includes the student’s picture, their first name, and the month and year they started taking piano lessons at Studio 88.

The white spaces are inspiring quotes. I could have filled them all up individually if I had included my adults, but I assumed they would want anonymity. (After one of them asked why they weren’t on the photo board, I realized next time I should just ask if I could include them rather than assume!)

Today I want to show you how you can create a photo board like this using an online design studio called Canva.

First, I want to briefly share what got me started on having a student photo board.

 

Who’s the Team?

One of the hottest series here on Piano Pantry is called the Varsity Musician’s Playbook. Written by a good friend of mine, the series focuses on how we can develop thriving studios and students who are deeply committed using principles from team sports.

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Fun Postcards for Student Birthday’s

Do you do anything special for your student’s birthdays?

I’ve always felt like recognizing student’s birthdays is something that takes little effort and yet can really show a student – and their family – that you care.

While there are a variety of things you could do, I’m a big advocate for the simple act of sending a card via snail mail.

I mean, how many kids ever get much – if anything – in the US mail?

Very few, I’m sure.

Heck, who doesn’t love getting something besides bills and junk mail hits my mailbox? Personal cards with little hand-written notes are the best.

I first advocated for student birthday cards and why they are a great way to build rapport within your studio in the post Marketing with Postcards (it’s not what you think!)

Today, I want to share some really fun postcards I came across recently that you may want to use for your own student’s birthdays!

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A Picture (and) a Number are Worth a Thousand Words

Studio Retention-Rate Marketing

It was happening – that moment independent music teachers (generally) dread…

It was nearing the end of the semester and a mom came in after the lesson to get her kids. As we were chatting, she brought up that they were thinking about going to another teacher next year – not because of this dissatisfaction with me, but because this teacher was a traveling teacher who would come to their home. With four kiddos under the age of 8, home life was feeling hectic and the thought of having piano come to them was highly appealing at the moment.

As she’s talking, my mind is simultaneously whirling.

“Oh no,” I think. “I don’t want to lose this family – I can’t lose this family! I love working with their kids and it would be a major loss of a good students. OK, Amy this is it – you have to convince them why you’re worth it.”

So, I pour my heart into the variety of reasons why they should stay with me, bid them a good weekend, then wait patiently.

Will I be able to retain them?

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The Varsity Musician’s Playbook 

Part 3: Community Presence

This post is the third and final installment of The Varsity Musician’s Playbook written by my good friend and colleague, Christina Whitlock, NCTM. I asked her to write this series for you since, of all the conference sessions I attended last year,  it was the one that impacted me the most.

If you missed the first two posts in this series, I would recommend reading them first.

Part 1 – Studio Interdependence
Part 2 – Studio “Locker Room”

 

 

Be “The Piano Teacher.”

Consider this:  If a young man introduces himself and says he plays football, the next question is almost guaranteed to be, “for what team?”.

When I mention the fact that my daughter takes gymnastics, I can almost always count on the next question to be, “at which gym?”.

Why should our studios be any different?  Our communities should know us by name!

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The Varsity Musician’s Playbook 

Part 2: Studio “Locker Room”

This post second in a three-part series written by my good friend and colleague, Christina Whitlock, NCTM. I asked her to write this series for you since, of all the conference sessions I attended last year,  it was the one that impacted me the most.

If you missed the first posts in this series, I would recommend reading it first.

Part 1 – Studio Interdependence

 

In part 1, we looked at a few ways to incorporate a sense of interdependence in your studio.  Today’s post is going to focus on your studio environment, or, in keeping with the theme of this series, your Studio “Locker Room!”

I realize we all have varying degrees of control over the physical space we teach in, but I hope this post will inspire you to seek out similar applications that work for you.

 

Creating Studio Legacy – Tradition

Let’s consider this picture of the Hofstra Ladies’ Lacrosse Team locker room.

The first thing I notice is the statement, “Tradition Never Graduates.”  Friends, we all know, sports are ALL about legacy!  Why should your studio be any different?

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