One of my favorite articles in the MTNA American Music Teacher Magazine is “It’s
None of all Your Business”e 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) 😉
In the current August/September 2016 issue, her article “Re-Defining Word-Of-Mouth” mentioned (with permission) some of my findings I presented in my 2016 MTNA conference session The Wild West of Marketing: How do you know what really works?
“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 and registered, 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.
Natalie Weber’s Review
Melody Payne’s Review
You can also follow The Piano Bench Mag on Facebook.
A few years ago I implemented the “One-Minute Club” in my studio. The idea, first made famous by Jane Bastien, has been continued and further developed by Susan Paradis. Susan has a wealth of free downloadable materials which she redesigns each year.
Read about it on her blog.
There are downloadable charts, flashcards, and full-size and business-card size certificates available. See more here.
The first year I did this, it was ongoing throughout the year. For me, this didn’t work, however, because I often forgot and wasn’t consistent. The following year I started doing monthly challenges with my students and decided to make this the challenge for April-May, approximately 6-7 weeks leading up to the Spring Recital. I love doing it this way as the whole studio is focused and I do it at every single lesson.
I put together a permanent portable board from an old cork board I had laying around. I covered it in white cardboard, bought cute letters from Target, posted the levels, winners from each year, and guidelines (so I remember my rules from year to year(!). I keep plastic lanyards inside a plastic holder made by cutting off the bottom of a plastic sleeve cover (more on the lanyards below). Color-coded copies of each level of notes are available so students can practice while waiting before or after lessons or even during their lab time.
Using a larger chart (purchased from United Arts and Education) helps me see each student’s progress from year to year.
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.
View their video here.
I open up the piano, and we explore and learn all the parts.
Download my Piano Parts Cards
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!) 🙂
The classes are broken down into ages:
I’m excited to announce that I will be hosting a free webinar with Tim Topham this coming weekend!
(Don’t be confused by the date on the image as that’s Australia time. It’s Saturday evening June 4 here in the US. See below to find out when it is for your time zone.)
I’ve been listening to his podcast from the start and we met for the first time at MTNA 2016. This webinar is the session I gave in San Antonio, hence the “Wild West” theme of course! 🙂
what Tim has to say
I’m very pleased to give you front-row access to my free webinar next weekend with Amy Chaplin called “The Wild West of Studio Marketing“.
It’s a live 1-hour online training on Sunday 5 June at 8am AEST.
What time is that for me?
What’s it about?
If you’ve ever wondered about the best way to market you studio, create buzz and build student numbers, you’re going to love hearing about what Amy has achieved in 4 years of starting a studio from scratch.
Most importantly, not only does she have a great story and fantastic marketing ideas, she’s researched, analysed and graphed the outcomes of more than ten different specific marketing strategies, so that you can save time and money learning which ones work the best.
I was completely blown away by Amy’s presentation at the MTNA conference this year.
Not only is she a fantastic, genuine and knowledgeable speaker, she has the research and analytics to back up what she says.
Just wait until you see the graphs!!
How do I register?
Just click the button:
I hope to see you all there, yee-haw!
I am so excited to see an excellent review of my San Antonio session featured on the popular 88 Piano Keys Website! Thanks, Leila Viss and Marie Lee!
View the post on 88 Piano Keys:
Wild West of Marketing: Marie’s MTNA 2016 Report Part 3