Monday Mailbag – Advertising for New Students

How do you advertise for more students?  What works for you?

Here are the things that I have personally found to be most effective:

1. Become a member of one or more local music teachers associations. We have two excellent associations in our area that provide a referral service for members. We’ve had new members fill their studios within the first year through the assistance of our referral program. Check to see if there is an MTNA local affiliate in your area and find out if they provide a referral service. Even if they don’t, there are many other benefits to belonging to such an organization!

2. Brand yourself. What is distinctive about your studio? What sets you apart from other teachers? Capitalize on that image, then, in everything you do – in your literature, personal correspondence, website, etc. For example, the approach will look significantly different for a teacher who specializes in preparing students for competitions than a teacher who specializes in teaching hymn improvisation or keyboarding skills. Know what your goals and objectives are and what kind of students you want to attract; then develop specific strategies to target your niche market. (Always put yourself in the shoes of a potential student and ask where you would look to find a teacher, or what type of advertising would grab your attention…)

3. Build your on-line presence. There are numerous teacher searches, yellow page listings, and website and blog platforms that you can use to market your business. Even teachers with full studios should be doing this in order to present a professional image and keep their name in front of the public eye. This is where many people look first anymore when they are searching for a music teacher, so it’s good to have your information easily accessible.

4. One of the things I learned in a business study that I did was that you should strive to be first…first in the minds of your clients (or potential clients). You want to build your own identity in such a way that whenever anyone is talking with a friend and hears that they are considering taking piano lessons, they think of you first. Speak easily, readily, and often about your vocation – in casual conversations, in formal speaking engagements, in articles, in by-lines, etc. Be enthusiastic about your studio and your teaching, and look continually for opportunities to draw others in and encourage them to study music.

5. Give generously of your own skills and talents to serve and bless others. Whether it is accompanying soloists, playing for church services, providing background music for special events, or playing for weddings and funerals, there are so many opportunities to invest in others through music. The more people hear beautiful live music, the more they are inclined to pursue study themselves. And naturally, they tend to look first to one who inspired them to receive instruction. You never know what connections and blessings will come from such opportunities!

6. Be a teacher that your students and families love and will eagerly recommend to their friends and acquaintances. Word-of-mouth will probably always be the best advertising. If your students love taking piano lessons from you, they will spread the word. Don’t underestimate the far-reaching effect of your impact on every student who sits on your piano bench and every parent with whom you visit in person or talk on the phone. Be professional but personable at all times. One of my overarching life goals is to always show respect to every individual and to never burn bridges behind me, no matter how much pride I have to swallow in the process!

Most of these ideas are more abstract than they are practical, but this stems from the fact that I’ve lived in the same city for almost 22 years and have pretty well-established social networks. I get calls or e-mails almost weekly from people inquiring about lessons and have a waiting list of 20+ students. I’m sure it’s a whole different ball game when you’re trying to establish a studio in a new area. In that case, I’d highly encourage you to take a look at Laura Lowe’s blog. She has been doing a series called Minute for Marketing and shares some great thoughts from her experience starting a studio in 5 different cities.

Does anyone else have some great marketing strategies that have proven effective in acquiring students?

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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