Marketing your studio - What works

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:23 am

I thought I might revive this topic slightly with one comment: This is the season when families begin to look for pianos (and lessons) as family Christmas presents. Basically, from now through the end of January is a good time to think about and do some marketing of your studio, if you want more students.
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Postby Stretto » Tue Nov 07, 2006 3:02 pm

Since you mentioned it, I'm trying to gain some new students currently but I've been slow at getting info. out places.

I have a question, however in regards to this that would I'm sure work especially well around this time of year with Christmas coming up. I was thinking of running some kind of promotional special as I read somewhere on PEP of this suggestion. Any recommendations on how to discount lessons temporarily to new students? For example, one month's free, a certain percentage off the first semester, what else?

Should one provided a deadline to get people to "act fast" and not put it off such as, start lessons by Jan. 1 of '07 and receive X% off your first semester?

Can anyone help me brainstorm some ideas?
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Postby Mins Music » Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:35 pm

... sorry Stretto,wasn't going to answer your question straight away. Have just read the entire thread and wanted to contribute two things:

I'M GUILTY!! Pick me! The girl who has done BOTH things other people have said not to....

1. Place an ad in the classifieds. (This is some time back now...) I too looked into other types of advertising and was astounded at the price : and for someone first starting out with no capital yet the thought of spending hundreds of dollars was MOST disconcerting (I'd be in a different position now). So off I went, 3 lines, every week for 4 weeks, and it's cost me $16. I was inundated with calls - and managed to get students who were great and stayed with me for years! I did it again about five years ago and have three students still coming to lessons, have enrolled in exams, one in particular has excelled.

I'm not disregarding what others have said, but I also wanted to give you another perspective. I have spent a lot more on ads in papers, done the whole fancy pictures in parent newsletter and have got nothing from them. oh, and brochures left in public places.

That first classified add got me started - and yes, I got students who stayed for about three months, one year etc (i.e. weren't terribly 'serious' ) but I got STUDENTS, beginners, and those students who left, made way for others to come (which they did) and boy did I get good at teaching beginners! It was perfect training for me as a new teacher full of philosophies and ideals but little experience.

I don't advertise at all now. In fact, I've cut back (on how many sstudents I've had - 28 at one time) and need to cut back more. Word of mouth is still the best way for me - but as I've said, I'm now telling my students to please not recommend me anymore.

Second thing I'm guilty of:

2. Home job business cards. Did the design myself, printed them up STILL use them today with no embarrassment at all. So important to keep them with you at all times. I've had students from : 'so what do you do': One student has been with me for four years from just that very encounter (handed them a home made business card).

By no means am I contradicting what others have said, I just wanted you to know Stretto at least one person out there who has done these things and am very glad she did (me!).

Okay ... brainstorming... You could do package deals: (I've done them for singing - they work a treat!!). You charge on overall price which is purchased up front. eg 4/6 (whatever lessons), all source material provided (give them a method book which you include in your price), expert tips etc - whatever else you can include - brochure on practising, etc. State gift certificates available. Available only for Christmas (have a valid by date, or a use by date, or whatever you specify.) Flyers can be distributed along with local newspapers (for a fee - which aint cheap either!!! but you're hoping to make it back ... so ... sometimes we take risks...)

A lot of my package deals have been advertised internally (give flyers to students to give to their friends, give to their teachers to give to other students etc). But I've also put ads in school papers, pinned on public notice boards (don't think I had any direct response from this though).

I haven't done one for piano, I have to admit, but I've done about 3 for guitar, and goodness knows how many for group singing - day workshops and 8 week courses. GREAT way to make a heap of money all at once :D

I make it very clear that this is a once off opportunity, not something that will be continued once the course is over - although private lessons are available upon request.

I think it would be important whatever "deal" you offer, to make sure your potential customers know things aren't like this always - it usually costs THIS much!!

You may only get people wanting the 'great' discount price and then leave. It doesn't really matter. You've gained great experience and believe me - if those people have enjoyed what they did even for a short time, they WILL talk, and in my experience this is by far the best form of advertising.

(I might play around with the attachment files and see if I can show you some of my attempts at advertising)
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Postby Mins Music » Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:58 pm

Nope: 'error: cannot upload this type of file'. Probably exceeded the file size limit. Sorry.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:06 am

Mins Music wrote:1. Place an ad in the classifieds. (This is some time back now...) I too looked into other types of advertising and was astounded at the price : and for someone first starting out with no capital yet the thought of spending hundreds of dollars was MOST disconcerting (I'd be in a different position now). So off I went, 3 lines, every week for 4 weeks, and it's cost me $16. I was inundated with calls - and managed to get students who were great and stayed with me for years! I did it again about five years ago and have three students still coming to lessons, have enrolled in exams, one in particular has excelled.

This is a good example of what one might want to do around the holidays, because it targets the relevant time span and is inexpensive. Such limited-time, limited-content ads are available around here in the Southwest U.S., too, though they are a bit (about 3-5 times as much) more expensive than in Australia, where Mins hails from. I don't know how much these ads cost in other parts of the world. I've used these sorts of ads myself to sell stuff that was too expensive for garage sales,etc. They are very cost-effective. It has always surprised me that so many people take the time to read classifieds! :)
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Postby Stretto » Wed Nov 08, 2006 11:18 am

I've considered an ad in the classified although it's been mentioned before on threads that a nice ad elsewhere in the paper other than classified's will do well for a teacher in comparison. The reason I considered the classified's, however, outside of being cheaper is that when people are looking to buy a used piano, they will probably be looking in the classified's for used pianos. I've seen under "instruments" in the classified's lessons offered in that section for guitar and piano on occasion. Those looking to buy a piano would see a listing for a teacher and they would be ones to need a teacher when they found a piano.

I am trying various cheap routes first. I'm hitting the advertising from a variety of angles. I'm getting it done slowly but surely is the problem. I have considered that this is a good time of year to be trying to get students during Christmas as I've read that somewhere before on PEP too!

So far:
This fall at the beginning of the school year, I gave information in the form of flyers and business cards to the music teacher of the school right down the street emphasizing the convenient location from the school. I'm going to also try to get information out to other local music teachers at schools asking if they would hand out my info.

I took flyers to post at the libraries, although I found out someone has to look at it and approve of it first so it could sit on someone's desk in a pile of papers and take a month or more to get hung that way.

I hung a flyer at Borders book store a couple months ago - no response.

Just last week I hung a flyer at Mardel's (a Christian bookstore that sells a huge amount of homeschooling materials and supplies).

I am in the middle of contacting area homeschooling groups asking if they would be willing to pass out my information at homeschooling meetings. I've got one packet sent off to a homeschooling group whereby my information will be put in "newcomers" packets for those coming to once a month homeschooling meeting for those just getting started in homeschooling. I'm planning to contact others.

I plan to contact my piano tech. who said long ago he would pass out my info. if interested (at the time I didn't want more students).

I'm also joining a local piano teachers community forum and hoping other teachers get to know me might send students my way if they are full.

My teacher said today when discussing it with her she could give my info. out if asked because she is full of students and the music school where she works is often full. If people ask her personally, she can refer them to whoever she wishes. If they inquire via the school, then of course they try to keep them with a teacher at the school.

I plan to see what the prices are in the paper.

I'm trying to hit it from as many angles as I can but never realized how much work and time it would take.




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Postby Stretto » Wed Nov 08, 2006 1:03 pm

p.s. I had to sign off and come back. I meant to just finish by saying that I am trying as many inexpensive ways to advertise as I can think of first, although I know it's been written on PEP that these forms of advertising I'm doing don't typically work as well. I guess I'll have to learn the hard way by trying it anyway. If I get little or no response through these avenues after about a year of trying, I will probably break down and try some of the other more expensive forms of advertising such as the phone book and local family magazines that advertise such things as gymnastics, dance, and other activities and events geared for families with kids.

It seems the more expensive forms of advertising I checked into are all about $200 to get started. I think I listed some of the prices on these earlier in the thread. I wouldn't have a problem even taking a whole month or two's worth of lesson fees and put it into advertising but I am down to so few students as to not even be generating enough for that. If I could get at least 3 more students, then, yes, I would have enough coming in to be able to use a month or two of the lesson fees toward more costly advertising. Perhaps if I even pick up a small handful from the cheap routes, I will then be generating enough to do a little bigger advertising.

Mins,
I meant to say as well, thank you so much for taking the time for such a lengthy reply. I have been getting a little discouraged as I've hit more brick walls trying to get going on advertising than expected. Also, two students who are siblings I just found out last night plan to quit (both I and their mother have tried really hard this whole past year to keep them going and interested but the mother is ready to give up trying), so Mins, your post was very timely and encouraging. I read it right after I found out of the 2 students quitting and felt quite encouraged by your post!


I thought of something else I might add in general about the Christmas season marketing. If anyone is planning to get some ads placed for this time of year, I would suggest getting on it immediately. I discovered that when I first checked into placing ads this spring that the local magazines usually took 2 months from the time one initiated the process to the time a person's ad came out. The lady in charge of one of the magazines said most people new to advertising aren't aware of the time lapse between initiating an order and getting it out. Of course, with the phone book, you have to wait quite a while until the new phone book comes out for your ad to appear.

The newspaper might be the best way to fit the bill for Christmas advertising. Any other ideas for temporarily advertising during the Holiday season?
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Postby Mins Music » Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:21 pm

Also, two students who are siblings I just found out last night plan to quit (both I and their mother have tried really hard this whole past year to keep them going and interested but the mother is ready to give up trying),


Wow!! Coincidence again! One of my favourite students I've had for years (the one who was doing the Twinkle Twinkle variations) told me yesterday she wouldn't be coming back to lessons next year. (I only have four more lessons this year, and then I start again late January - our terms run differently than in US - as you probably already know).

It didn't come as a surprise - we'd been talking about her growing lack of interest (compared to what she was previously), but it's always a little sad to be told "Nope! Piano isn't the love of my life!!" - her new interest is drums :D She just wanted to have "Fun" - not progress further. So she'll learn easy 'pop' music on her own. One day, she may return as a serious piano student. I'll miss her personality and friendship - but I know how disheartening it can be when you're trying to build up a studio and WHAM! another student says goodbye ... suddenly you're short quite a bit of income.
Being a private piano teacher can be a bit like being on a rollercoaster - up and down and scarey as ####, but afterwards a huge adrenaline rush!! :p only to be scarey again ... (if you keep on it.)

Stretto I 've come up with crazy ideas - a lot of which I haven't implemented. Here's one: (if anybody else has tried this I'd love to hear about how successful it was).

In my area we have 'markets' held once a month in varying places. You can hire a stall for the entire day. I once thought of doing that, setting up my keyboard and getting some of my students to play - almost like busking. Flyers/brochures could be handed out. I was even thinking of having 'demonstration' classes - where people could sign up that very day for an introduction to piano (on the keyboard) and have a lesson at the market. (I was also thinking of group workshops for singing - which would be easier to do than piano).

I've heard of people setting up performance areas in shopping centres etc (arrangement with the manager and of course you hire the area) - schools do it in my town all the time. They play to draw the crowd, then other kids hand out flyers.

Of course another avenue for advertising is TV!!!!!! okay - that's just hyperbole. ( :p )

I think you've just about covered all your bases Stretto. Keep trying those cheaper options and don't be scared to try even the bad ideas (cheap liners in free papers) - you WILL get responses and then the fun bit of the rollercoaster can start.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Nov 10, 2006 9:30 am

Thanks, Mins and Stretto, for the time you've invested in reporting all these good ideas. I think they will be of help to lots of people.

Although I've mentioned it elsewhere on the Board briefly, though I can't find it now, let me mention one other idea that should have general applicability. If you're a member of a local music teachers organization, try to talk the membership into supporting and financing a small display ad in the Yellow Pages, for a free music teacher locator service, prominently bearing the organization's name. The organization chooses one teacher to act as the head of the service and handle the phone calls. That teacher then distributes the calls to the service to the members of the organization for follow-up. This allows pre-qualification and sorting of requests (young children to those teachers who specialize in children, adult students to those who like to teach adults, no time-wasting referrals to those with full studios, and so forth), and costs practically nothing per member (around $10 per member for a typically-sized organization). It provides good publicity in the community for the group and, if run properly and honestly, benefits for everyone in the group. The only trick is to have people running the service who you feel will really be unbiased and honest in distributing contacts to the members. It's also a great member benefit!

Our experience here was that, after referrals, this was the single most cost-effective thing teachers could do to build studio numbers. If you're in a teacher organization, try to get your fellow members to agree to do this. It works really well. :)
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Postby Stretto » Sat Dec 09, 2006 9:08 am

This week I checked on putting an ad in the paper. I was going to compare the difference in cost between the classified's or a small nice ad elsewhere in the paper. I first checked on the classified ad price. For 7 days, which included an ad in the classified section of the paper and also in Penny Power, the lowest cost ad was $45 and for $67 you could get more words and a little larger ad. I was very suprised, shocked more like it by how much it costs.

It makes the cost of a yellow page ad and some of the other family publications around town not sound so bad afterall. There is a monthly publication called "Parent and Family" that circulates around town and is sent home with every child in the school system as well as private preschools and can be found in racks at various businesses around town and also at the library. For a full color ad that is slightly larger than a business card, the cost is $99 for one month. I haven't tried it but may considering what the newspaper cost is for 1 week.

All, I can say is I am very suprised at how much advertising costs are. Even to make one's own flyers or brochures of some kind adds up in paper and ink. Kinkos wanted 89 cents a copy for a color copy. I had contacted a homeschooling organization about putting my information in their newcomers packets that they give out at once a month meetings. They get up to 25 people at each meeting. That adds up at 89 cents a copy so for bulk copies, I will have to make a black and white flyer or brochure because of the cost. I did print some initially on my home computer. An ink cartridge for a home computer printer is not cheap either. We did find a place for now that will refill the toner in the cartridge at a very low price but who knows how long they will be allowed to do that as we checked around town and not many places refill the printer ink cartridges.

For a teacher just starting out without a lot of initial income from lessons at first, I think it would be hard to be able to pay for the advertising costs when trying to get going initially.




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Postby Mins Music » Sat Dec 09, 2006 10:46 am

One of my favourite students I've had for years (the one who was doing the Twinkle Twinkle variations) told me yesterday she wouldn't be coming back to lessons next year.


Update: (sorry it's kind of irrelevant to the topic, but I posted this here so....)

The student changed her mind. Her mother said she began to freak out at the thought of not coming back, so decided to keep going! Good for her.

Wow Stretto, I agree with those classified ads, $67 is quite a lot.

Perhpas you'll need to take solice somehow in the saying: "It takes money to make money."
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Postby socksrock » Sat Dec 09, 2006 7:37 pm

I don't think i'll be teaching. but from a buyers point of view.
If or more like when i get a piano teacher i think i would rather have some one that look professional. but then again you wouldn't wanna make it look too professional cuz you might scare away some people thinking that you look so professional you would have to be very expensive. so you have to look at it from all ways. (or maybe you are very expensive :p)
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Postby Stretto » Sun Dec 10, 2006 4:20 pm

socksrock wrote:I don't think i'll be teaching. but from a buyers point of view.
If or more like when i get a piano teacher i think i would rather have some one that look professional. but then again you wouldn't wanna make it look too professional cuz you might scare away some people thinking that you look so professional you would have to be very expensive. so you have to look at it from all ways. (or maybe you are very expensive :p)

That's a good point about appearing too professional may scare some people away. It would be sort of like walking into a really expensive clothing store, restaurant, or hotel and turning around and walking back out. Thanks for the perspective.

No, I'm not real expensive. I sort of like to be a "middle of the road" kind of person. :)




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Postby socksrock » Sun Dec 10, 2006 7:51 pm

Just glad if i could be of any use :)
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Mon Dec 11, 2006 10:07 am

Guys, I don't like to disagree, but I have to say that it makes absolutely no sense to me for any teacher, at any level, to try and look unprofessional in order not to scare people away. It's perfectly possible to "look professional" without looking scary or forbidding. Any parent with any sense is going to investigate the teacher and the studio situation before investing time and money in it, and the more professional we are, the better. It's all part of building respect and confidence on the part of prospective students and parents.

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