Marketing your studio - What works

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Postby 108-1121887355 » Fri Feb 03, 2006 10:16 am

Hummm - a sign in the yard?
We have a freeby paper that comes out once a week and is very reasonable for ads. Most papers do seem to charge a lot. There are more reasonable ways . You can probably make up a brochure on your computer, or find a friend who would so it for you (maybe a student). I took a college course in marketing and we worked on brochures. I can pass on some ideas if you want. I do not know the cost of printing if you do not have a printer, but I imagine it is less than an ad.
Also you could just print up a single sheet with your basic information on it - yellow paper, maybe a picture (people at a piano) and some notes or other on it, and ask to put it in your library (there is a place for these in ours) and the senior centers and other, as town hall, and some local stores.
Offering a free interview, which I always do, or some special will often catch a person's interest. You could list the variety of music you teach as some peopel want popular or church music and think most teachers just teach classical. Have you ever tried group lessons as with four or more 4-6 year olds. I used to and it was fun and many contunue as private later. I did singing with high and low noted, marching and clapping to rhythms, playing instruments, active songs, finding notes and making up songs at the piano - the 3 bears is great for high and low but there is alot you can offer. Refreshments were offered. One year, each one learned all the notes on the piano, played one hand to a piece from Hansel and Gretel. sang all the songs from there and put on the play for parents and friends. My daughter and her friend helped with the scenery. They had everything ready and the children came of an hour one Saturday morning to help. It was great!
This age group is not yet so busy with outside activities, so it is a good time to start them with music. I was a nursery school teacher, so had a captive audience, but you can tap into nursery schools (day care) also.
Other groups were also good - the children can all learn the notes and to play some songs and the experience with general music is valuable.
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Postby Cy Shuster » Tue Feb 07, 2006 5:53 am

Business cards are the most effective advertising for me, because they are given out in some personal context (rather than, say, just in a newspaper).

One easy way to get cards is through "free" sites like Vistaprint:
www.vistaprint.com

You can indeed get free cards, but they tantalize you with 21-day shipping at that price. You wind up paying around $30 for faster shipping. The big advantage is that they help you with the graphic layout.

Any good printer should be able to help you, too. The printing cost is generally around $100 for 1000 cards.

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Postby pianoannie » Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:14 am

Cy Shuster wrote:Business cards are the most effective advertising for me, because they are given out in some personal context (rather than, say, just in a newspaper).

One easy way to get cards is through "free" sites like Vistaprint:
www.vistaprint.com

You can indeed get free cards, but they tantalize you with 21-day shipping at that price. You wind up paying around $30 for faster shipping. The big advantage is that they help you with the graphic layout.

Any good printer should be able to help you, too. The printing cost is generally around $100 for 1000 cards.

--Cy--

I love Vista Print!! I have ordered TONS of things from them.

I haven't found the shipping to be as much as Cy said though. I've placed 2 orders from Vista in the last couple weeks, and I did the "14 day shipping" which was $13. (it's never actually that slow though). And that was for several items: 50 2-sided full color glossy brochures ($30 since it was a custom design), 20 magnets (free), 10 notecards (free), and 100 postcards (free). So my total order incl shipping was $43. I had previously checked at a local print shop for brochures, and the design and set-up alone would have been $600. The actual brochures would have been a few hundred on top of that.

For business cards from Vista, it's worth the upgrade to do a customized card and to order the glossy coating. They will look great and still be very inexpensive.

Vista does "free" specials ALL the time. You can even re-order your same designs when they run their next freebie offer (which is likely to be just around the corner). I just ordered 25 more brochures earlier tonight (plus several other things) for a grand total of $10.25.

BTW, just last week I was thinking that I'd love to have a "for deposit only" stamp for my checks, to avoid having to hand-sign all of my piano student checks. Vista is currently offering a free stamper (up to 3 lines), so that's another thing I ordered tonight!




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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:15 am

Stretto wrote:Today I finally got around to checking on placing an ad. There is a local little parenting and family "newspaper" targeted for families with children 12 and under. It is pretty popular and I'm fairly sure widely read. It circulates in the schools, local businesses, libraries, and also goes out in the city's Sun. newspaper once a month in neighborhoods that have a larger concentration of families with school-aged children.

I will check a few other places, perhaps the city newspaper and phone book, a similar little newspaper targeted for local seniors, and some other "flyers" that circulate around town to get a comparison.

It's funny I have lived here over 15 years, although I don't read the classified all the time, I've only seen one piano teacher advertise in the classified ad of the paper.

Has anyone ever put a sign in the yard? Seriously, there are several people in town that put signs in their yard advertising various things such as Daycares, repairs, etc. Someone told me that it is against city ordinance but I never see anyone's signs coming down. I guess I'd have to call and check.

Without wishing to criticize or tout any particular medium, per se, our experience here is that the first place people go when looking for a teacher is the Yellow Pages. I guess this is because it's fast and everybody has one. The problem with ads in newspapers is that they're expensive (as you noted) and the response depends entirely on whether busy people will take the time to read the classifieds, whether they can find your ad mixed in with all the others and whether the "right" people see it during its run.

The Yellow Pages aren't cheap either, but once you've paid the fee, you're good for a whole year. A business card sized display ad in the Yellow Pages runs around $300 a year here.

You're right that signs in the yard violate the ordinances of most cities (as well as irritating your neighbors). You're also right that those ordinances are often not enforced. However, keep in mind that, if you run your studio out of your home, that you have to have neighbors willing to tolerate the traffic, parking, etc. If you put up a yard sign, that might push one of them to complain about the other aspects of your business. The resulting hassle probably isn't worth the effort to put the sign up.

Interestingly, while we've have said several times that targeted ads are best, there are some things that don't work well. For example, you might think that a free ad posted at a music store would be a good idea. We did, too. After it generated literally nothing, we realized that essentially all the people in a music store are either teachers or have teachers already. Live and learn! :)
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby Stretto » Wed Feb 08, 2006 2:30 pm

:) I checked with the Yellow Pages. I didn't check the cost of the business card size or larger size ad. I just asked about the 2 least expensive ways to advertise in the Yellow Pages. The least expensive way to advertise in the Yellow Pages is to have a "one-liner" which includes the name of one's business, address and phone number which here would run $264 per year. The next size up is a half-inch in which one could fit some words that describe one's business for $624 per year for the SBC phone book in my area. The deadline to place the ad is March 28 and the ad would not be available until the new issue came out in June of this year.



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Postby Cy Shuster » Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:22 pm

In some areas, you have to have a "business" phone line in order to advertise in the YP... Yet another silly charge...

Some towns require a license in order to run a home-based business, and/or permission from your neighbors. That even applies to me as a tuner, even though customers never come to my home. (I've tried offering a drive-through discount, but no one has taken me up on it!). It's worth checking out, to avoid hassles later on.

Many tuners find that people calling from YP ads are price-shopping. I don't know if that applies to teachers (I guess not, Dr. Zeigler). We get most of our business by referrals from piano retailers and customers.

One of the ways I like to build business both for teachers and myself is to hold a class at the teacher's place of business on how pianos work. I'll take out the action, and describe just the parts of escapement and repetition that pianists are most interested in, and also cover the function of the pedals. I feel that knowing about the instrument helps everyone. Many tuners are happy to do this kind of class (although some of us are more outgoing than others).

--Cy--

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:44 pm

Cy Shuster wrote:Many tuners find that people calling from YP ads are price-shopping. I don't know if that applies to teachers (I guess not, Dr. Zeigler). We get most of our business by referrals from piano retailers and customers.

Price-shopping is endemic to just about any business, including piano teaching. I advise teachers never to downplay their lesson rates, as people who only care about lesson price are rarely good students. it's better that the teacher find that out early, before she has invested time, money and effort in the student.

Of course, this thread is not about how to pre-qualify potential clients (a topic we've dealt with elsewhere on the site), but about how to publicize a teaching studio. Referrals are important in piano teaching, too, though other teachers and current or former students are the source for most of those for teachers.
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Postby Stretto » Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:19 pm

I'm not opposed to advertising in the Yellow Pages, or a nicer ad elsewhere in the newspaper other than the classified. I may end up going that route. One of my concerns is that I wondered if one would get more prank calls. Another thought and a couple other business owners of other types of businesses that offer activities for kids have confirmed this is that many people who call by getting one's number out of the Yellow Pages are thinking in terms of really low prices. The reason I was thinking in terms of the "parenting" flyers that circulate around is because they are popular among families here and widely used by parents to find quality activities for kids to be involved in. Most of the families or parents I've heard mention businesses they have heard about in these papers wouldn't blink an eye at the what activities and lessons cost. Families I know of who read these flyers have their kids in the best preschools, many private schools, have their kids birthday parties at the businesses that advertise in these, have their kids in the gymnastics programs, the art programs, dance programs all that they've found in the advertisements in these flyers. So I would think these types of papers would target a more specific segment of families again who are looking for quality activities for their kids.



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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:34 pm

Stretto wrote:I'm not opposed to advertising in the Yellow Pages, or a nicer ad elsewhere in the newspaper other than the classified. I may end up going that route. One of my concerns is that I wondered if one would get more prank calls. Another thought and a couple other business owners of other types of businesses that offer activities for kids have confirmed this is that many people who call by getting one's number out of the Yellow Pages are thinking in terms of really low prices. The reason I was thinking in terms of the "parenting" flyers that circulate around is because they are popular among families here and widely used by parents to find quality activities for kids to be involved in. Most of the families or parents I've heard mention businesses they have heard about in these papers wouldn't blink an eye at the what activities and lessons cost. Families I know of who read these flyers have their kids in the best preschools, many private schools, have their kids birthday parties at the businesses that advertise in these, have their kids in the gymnastics programs, the art programs, dance programs all that they've found in the advertisements in these flyers. So I would think these types of papers would target a more specific segment of families again who are looking for quality activities for their kids.

I'm sure you know best what works where you live. I was relaying our experience here. I know of no examples of getting "crank calls" from a Yellow Pages ad, though I suppose it's possible, just as it's possible if you have a listed white pages number. One thing I can guarantee you: if you use any form of advertising, you will get some calls from people "kicking tires." You must do what you feel is best where you teach.
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Postby minorkey » Wed Feb 08, 2006 7:18 pm

Stretto, you mentioned awhile ago that you were looking to aquire adult students; I'm curious, have you gotten any yet? If so, how is it going? :O
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Postby Stretto » Wed Feb 08, 2006 11:06 pm

minorkey wrote:Stretto, you mentioned awhile ago that you were looking to aquire adult students; I'm curious, have you gotten any yet? If so, how is it going? :O

:D Thanks for asking. I haven't gotten to it yet. I'm just now starting to look into advertising and getting my info. out there more. I'm kind of slow moving getting to these sorts of things.

So far I've checked on advertising in the phone book and two such little newspapers I mentioned and it looks like if I were to go with one of those it would be May or June before an ad I placed now would appear. I have until the end of March on one and the end of April on another if I were to advertise in one of these. One place said those who aren't used to advertising don't realize this that one's ad doesn't necessarily appear until farther out. I may try some other routes such as the one's mentioned by others already on this thread first and include some sort of blurb targeting adults as well.




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Postby 108-1121887355 » Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:05 pm

Still think a well done flyer is a good way to go. I might do up two - one for children and one for adults as the goals and ideas might be different. I have one adult who wants to learn to play for her first graders, so just playing melody and chords. I have another one who just wants hynms and religious music. I have another who is beginning after the snow! I have a student, age 11, who is teaching her Mom. We take a little lesson time, 45 min. for her, to see how Mom is doing. I may take over this summer, but she is getting a good start.
:)
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Postby Stretto » Tue Feb 14, 2006 1:26 pm

Perhaps here's an example of "what not to do" in marketing one's studio:

On the way home today from the store I saw a piece of paper attached to a power pole at a busy intersection. The sign was written in large letters drawn with a marker which read: "PIANO AND VIOLIN LESSONS FOR BEGINNERS, Call . . . "

Just as a side-note, it is illegal in most if perhaps not all areas to attach signs to power poles and light posts even if just a garage sale sign.
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Wed Feb 15, 2006 9:57 am

Here, if you get permission, you are able to put up signs - mostly yard sales. I have never seen a service offered! A person must really need students and does not want to pay!
With a little knowledge, you can write up your own brochure or flyer on the computer and print it out. Only cost - paper, ink and your time.
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Postby Stretto » Wed May 17, 2006 1:18 pm

Just an udate on the checking I've done on advertising:

I started checking around in Feb. on options/prices. I can't remember exact pricing as I didn't keep the figures but here's the approximates. The Yellow Pages for the local city and outlying towns was a minimum of around $22.00 per month that would get a teacher a one liner of simply your studio's name, phone number, address, and zip code. However because the phone book covers you for the full-year, one was required to pay for the full-year up front which would for me be a little over $250. One was not allowed to pay for the fee monthly or quarterly, etc. over the year. The cost would be much higher for a nice ad that goes beyond a single line.

The two local free parent/family magazines that are popular and circulate around schools and businesses in town would have both been a minimum of $60 per month with a 3 month commitment for a business card size ad. The total for the 3 months was due up front meaning $180 up front.

I had not yet checked the local paper for cost of placing a nice ad that would appear somewhere other than the classifieds.

I suppose advertising at these prices wouldn't be too bad for cost if I were to be wanting larger numbers of students but as I am only looking to add 5-7 students total, I thought I would try some lower cost routes first and try one of the ads if I don't get anywhere.

If any of you reading does try to advertise, I might mention again as I did earlier in this thread that it can take 2 or more months from the time you place an ad until it actually appears. One of the local family newspapers I checked on said a lot of people new to advertising don't realize the lag in time. Also, if I would have placed an ad in the phone book in Feb., naturally it wouldn't appear until June when the new phone books came out so it wouldn't do one much good if hoping to gain some students sooner. So if one is checking into placing ads be sure to get on it a few months in advance.

Today, I went to Kinko's and put in an order for business cards. For 100 cards, with a custom black and white design including a logo will cost me just under $30. I choose one of their logos (a piano) out of a huge book of choices. They had several pianos, notes, and other music related logos to choose from. They had several choices of color for card stock at no extra charge. I'm not sure how this compares to using software and making your own cards or using one of the websites mentioned earlier in the thread, but I just had to draw out a rough draft of what I wanted them to look like and they do all the work.

I have several people who have already offered in the past to refer people to me if I would just get them some cards or information including my piano tech., a piano professor I had in college, the music teacher at my child's school, and a few friends, one of whose child was a former student who has been begging for business cards to hand out and where I got most of my other students from her referrals.

The brochure idea sounds also like a good inexpensive approach I might try also.




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