Advertising- Getting Started and Finding Students
I have to admit that I have been feeling a little overwhelmed by the lack of response (from my efforts) in starting my SM program. After advertising at the school (sign up sheets, posters and even flyers, that were sent home in the backpacks), and my WaterFront Activity, I have absolutely no students.
I haven’t given up! I know all I need is one family/student! I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out my next move. How can I reach and educate people? I was given a couple of ideas from other teachers, which I plan to follow up. I also know there are more great ideas out there. Since many of you already have experience, I’d like to know how you started. I would like (and I am sure I am not alone) to hear from teachers who started without the advantage of transferring traditional students to SM. My next move at the school is to corner the PTA members by giving them a FIS at their next meeting.
This is such an awesome program, I know it will be worth the wait, I also know this is the only way people should be learning to play the piano (music!). It is so much better than the way I learned. I have to also say that I am enjoying the info about “Piano Parties”, I’ll file those emails for future reference, because I plan to have my own “Piano Party”.
While I’m writing this, I just received an email inquiry about my availability to teach a boy (no age given) at 5:00pm! Do I write back and tell them I’m available for a private lesson (which I said I wouldn’t teach)? Do I try to meet up with them to do a private FIS? Or do I put them off and say I have a FIS coming up and suggest putting them on a list? I don’t want to lose my first opportunity, please help.
When I started my Simply Music studio, the few students I had were too advanced for me to bring them into the Simply Music program, since I’d only learned Foundation Level 1 myself. So I started from scratch.
Here are a few things that I did:
Put up flyers at local music stores and piano stores.
Put up flyers at local grocery stores and any other place I could find that had a bulletin board.
Put an ad on Craig’s List. (Do people use www.craigslist.com in where you live?)
Have T-shirts made (CafePress.com can do this for you relatively inexpensively) and wear them around town. (Mine included the Simply Music logo, my phone #, my website and “best piano method on the planet” – printed in large type on the back.)
Have a magnetic sign made for the side of your car.
I started two and a half years ago, and now my schedule’s so full that I’m putting people on a waiting list!
Once you get a few students on board, word of mouth will quickly fill your studio, and you won’t need the flyers, T-shirts, car signs, etc. But they’re a good way to get started.
Dixie C. Washington
If you need the income, I’d go ahead & accept private students. If you’re not dependant on your income, then I’d go ahead with an FIS, but let them know you only do shared lessons. Perhaps offer an incentive for them to recruit a student such as 1/2 off one month’s tuition. Or maybe the FIS will be incentive enough.
You sound so enthusiastic and positive about this wonderful new method! That is a great attitude to have, because just like Neil’s “Relationship Chart” in the home materials, and our stock market lately, our SM teaching will have its ups and downs and plateaus! I was fortunate to have started my studio with the 10 or so students who had been taking private lessons in my home, where I had reluctantly relocated from a commercial studio three years earlier, due to a downturn in the economy in the textile businesses in our area! My husband works in that declining industry, and we had had so many textile plants closing in our town and state, that my enrollments had really dropped off from both the group and private lessons that I was offering (with a “traditional” method) that I had to close my doors and go home to teach with no additional overhead! I was so discouraged with it all, and the lack of learning and progress of my students, that I was about ready to STOP teaching piano all together, just thinking that I was just not a very good teacher if they could not be learning to play better even with what I thought was the most exciting method I had been able to find up until that time: the Hal Leonard Method which used very musical little tunes and great graphics in their method books, and even had great background fully orchestrated accompaniments in both practice and performance tempos for each song on the CDs (or floppy discs) that came with each book and at each level! The problem was it was all READING-BASED and required five or more books (Lessons, Solos, Theory, Technique, etc.) and some students just took forever to learn to read well –IF at all! That’s when a few teachers introduced me to the SM method at our International Kindermusik Convention in Nashville, Tenn, and my life has never been the same! I will be forever grateful to them and Neil Moore, and the extraordinary method of SIMPLY MUSIC!
As many of you know my story, I came home after that week of July Fourth, 2005 and having seen the fireworks from the deck of the riverboat where we had a cruise and entertainment by some of Nashville’s greatest musicians, and I was really all fired up to start taking the training for SM! I have never regretted it, and thank the Good Lord and Neil for the most awesome opportunity of my entire piano teaching career! I did show my students’ families the Video Introductory Session, and they were so impressed with it all that they all wanted to start with SM immediately, which I did even in private lessons! I had a couple of partner lessons with siblings or good friends who would come together from the large neighborhood in which I live, but I had no room for more in my small living room studio, and no parking outside, as we live in a cul-de-sac and there just wasn’t space!
So why am I telling you all of this?! I want to encourage you and any other newly licensed SM educators to just “GO FOR IT!” as the famous ad says! Take that one student and start teaching SM, and he and his family may be your best advertisement you can imagine, as they will tell others and he will be playing at home, a friend’s house, school, church, the mall, a hospital, anywhere he can find a piano, because he is going to be SO EXCI-I-I-I-TED!!!!!!! (as my Texas friend used to say!) to share his piano playing with anyone he meets and where ever he can find a keyboard to start playing!
Then you can find two or more to come together for lessons and it will start to multiply and grow like you will not believe! Just have faith in yourself, this method and Neil and you WILL have it happen! Please feel free to email me personally or even call, and I will reply, though it may be very late or very early, so let me know what you studio hours are, and I wish you the very best on this exciting journey! By the way, where are you teaching your students?! That can have a huge impact on how your studio grows, as I found out when I moved to a small office space next door to my husband’s barber shop! There is a lot of activity in this business center, with an audiologist who fits hearing aids, a mortgage company, a Quick Loans business, the hair stylist for men and women and CHILDREN, then me, and finally an employment agency! This all makes for lots of cars and people coming and going all day and seeing my big (still temporary since I just moved last October) WHITE vinyl sign over my space that reads:
MS. SUSAN’S SCHOOL OF MUSIC & SHOPPE,
FAMILIES MAKING MUSIC, FAMILIES HAVING FUN!
KINDERMUSIK-Music & Movement for Newborns to 7 years
SIMPLY MUSIC-Group & Private Piano-Ages 5 to 105
It has been well worth the small monthly lease as my landlord, the barber next door, could not rent it out to anyone else! It had been a Pediatric Therapist’s office which had painted the walls a lovely lavender with pale lime on trim and woodwork in one larger room so no one else in the business world would have wanted it but me which is why it had sat there unoccupied for two years! Those were perfect colors for my Kindermusik studio, with smaller cubicles (set up with temporary partitions) in which I have my musical and educational gifts, toys, books, games, CDs, videos, sheet music, instruments for sale! The profits are going to help me set up the entire school as a non-profit music and arts center for our community! The other room is a small waiting room area, in which I put a used sofa and coffee table with magazines, flyers and info about concert series, the theatre, art museums, anything related to families and the arts which I love to promote! I even have flyers or business cards for other local businesses or services which I contacted like the new Pediatric Dentist whose child is now enrolled in my Kindermusik Family Time class on Thursday evenings, when both her mom and dad can attend after their work in their dental office! I try to co-market with anyone who will be willing to do so, and that has worked well, and is great for both of us, as it costs us only brochure or card printing expenses! Dance studios and gymnastics, doctors and dentists offices, local college or university, even local retail merchants like children’s clothing or toy stores are usually willing to work with you as they need the business, too! I always advertise with the Chamber of Commerce, and have become active in their meetings, before and after business hours socials and networking opportunities, flyers in their newsletters that go out to all members (cost was about $100, but will be recouped with just one student enrolled from that!) I carry my tri-fold studio brochures(in pumpkin orange color for this fall season) in my purse or my little black music bag with “MS. SUSAN” embroidered on it and piano keys painted across the bottom of it (a gift from a piano student years ago) from a catalog company called Lillian Vernon email@example.com everywhere I go, and hand them out to as many families as I can, waiting in line at grocery stores, at the local theatre children’s productions, at my church and community choir rehearsals, etc. Just make yourself a walking billboard for Simply Music! I cannot wait until they have more merchandise through SM like name tags, t-shirts, music bags for student’s SM home materials and music. That reminds me, I have to have another business lapel pin made to wear daily, as mine is lost!
One more idea, is that I donate one month’s FREE Simply Music Piano Lessons in a gift basket in a silent or live auction to any organization (schools, non-profits,etc) that is having a fund-raiser and that has brought in quite a few new students who love it so much that they continue on with SM lessons!
And last, but certainly not least, is putting an ad in your local telephone directory’s yellow pages! It will cost you dearly upfront, but it is well worth it, as that is usually where people go when looking for a piano teacher, and if it is under “musical instruction” you will be found, as there seems to be real interest in piano lessons, and a lack of enough qualified teachers, at least in our area! I have also partnered with a music store selling pianos even though they are an hour away from us, and we are going to have a big PIANO SALE at the end of October in my studio with new, used, acoustic and digital keyboards for sale, and I will earn a percentage of the profits for my non-profit!
This is probably more info than you wanted to know, but if it helps you or any other SM teachers, it will make me (and Neil) happy to know that we are spreading the word about our remarkable Simply Music piano method! Keep us posted on your progress, and please have others share with us what has worked best for you in recruiting students.
So Heather, just start small and THINK BIG, and you will be blessed beyond your imagination!
Hope that answers your questions!
Janita P. Nebraska
The important point for you is to just get started. Call the mom and schedule a private FIS and do a private lesson with her son. You have to start somewhere and the more lessons you get under your belt, the more students you will attract. IT does get to a point in your studio enrollment where the numbers start to snowball. But, in the beginning, it is important to have students, warm bodies if they need be!
Victoria S. California
Don’t wait with an inquiry. Have them come to your studio ASAP. I lost two families by waiting. Never again! I said I’d never teach private lessons, either, but I have taken on an autistic boy who isn’t ready for group. I look at this as a learning time for myself as well. I am also working with a five year old who doesn’t process fast enough for a group. I teach her with her older brother who processes slowly (though faster than she does) and they are okay with this as they have a crazy schedule.
I am having a five year old come to my studio tomorrow from a newspaper ad I placed. She was in a hurry to get her son started and I didn’t have an FIS planned, so I made one around her and she knows her family may be the only ones there.
I also called the local paper and told them I teach a non traditional piano method that I thought would make a great story for the paper. They sent a reporter to my studio to interview me and take my picture. The story will come out in about a week and I am hoping for a number of calls.
I also have personally phoned about 50 local numbers per week and left a message for those not home (most) to call me back. If I don’t hear from them that week, I leave another message the next week and they return the call out of curiosity. As soon as I speak live to the (preferably) woman of the household, I tell her I am contacting the community to let them know I have opened my piano studio and that even if they might not be interested in lessons, that I know they know people I don’t know and that word of mouth is always what works best in the community. Most of them listen to what I have to say, and some of them come to my next FIS, or I ask them to write down my name and phone number so they have it on hand if the subject ever comes up. Most people are willing to do this. Most of my students so far are from my direct efforts speaking live to people. A few from flyers posted around the community (I live in the country), and a few responses to my newspaper ad, but so far no sign ups (because I handled them incorrectly thinking to make them wait for my next FIS).
So far I have averaged about one new student for each 40 or 50 calls. Time consuming, but I think of it as the snowball rolling down the hill till I’m not the only one in my community talking about my studio on my behalf!
Carrie L. Michigan
Saturate the internet. Go and type in piano teacher and your area and see what comes up. If you can join in a teacher directory, Craig’s list, whatever do it! It will take time, but you will generate students this way and the more they see you on the web the better.
Also if you can get a good website going that will be helpful too. I purchased a template from bludomain.com for cheap and my husband and I put it together. I will also have a BLOG by the end of Dec.
My opinion is to start somewhere, even with one student. You can ask the one student if they have friends that would like to join in with her. Or just really do well with the one and they’ll hopefully share more about you.
Susan C. AU
When I began teaching four years ago as a brand new piano teacher, I was very fortunate to gain some referrals from Jenny who had been teaching for a number of years. I still needed to gain my own contacts and I mention the following because just getting going is so important to keeping going.
We were able to help three Asians who had just arrived in Australia, who in turn helped me by becoming my first group. I charged them a small amount in lieu of them letterboxing pamphlets for me. I guess it was a bit like rent-a-crowd, but it really helped to have enthusiastic students and got me going. They have become long term friends.
So I encourage you to take what comes your way and see what happens with it.
I completely agree with Carrie about SATURATING THE INTERNET . The Internet is such a powerful tool now and many people use that to get their information. Use the “Get Lessons” website and setup a profile. I believe it is free. And, a website is a powerful tool as well. I got mine through Homestead and it was extremely easy to setup. I was concerned before because I didn’t know how to “build” a website, but this thing is super simple. Basically, if you can use a WORD document, you can build a website. And, it costs me around $5.00 a month. Additionally, I am ADDICTED to my statistics page that the website supplies. It tells you how many people are looking at the site, where they are, and which pages they looked at. I like to go and look at the statistics after I have told someone, maybe run an ad, or gone to networking events to see if anyone went to check me out. It lets me know if my ads, networking, etc. are working. I have gotten about 3 students from Craigslist, and that too is free. Also, check out your local Chamber of Commerce. If you work it, the Chamber can really help you. Additionally, I joined my Chamber for about $150 and when I did, they hosted a ribbon cutting for me. That ribbon cutting was announced in 4 different news papers in our area along with a press release. That alone paid for itself because I would have paid over $400 to get that publicity or buy the ads from those papers. From the Chamber, I have hooked up with a group of Therapists who specifically deal with the elderly andbereavement counseling. They were so excited to hear about my program and have been sending me referrals from their clients. It is so great to not only know that I am assisting them in learning something new and introducing them to music, but also to know that this is something that is assisting in their healing process and helping them move forward in their lives when many of them don’t know what to do. I hope all this helps!
Amber B., Michigan
I recently heard a speaker give a business speech called “Peak Your Profits.” There were two things that I took from this talk. The first is that the only reason people do not refer you to their friends is that they simply forget and possibly you never asked them for a referral. If they pay you each month, they are happy with you and certainly happy enough to tell a friend for you. Are you asking for referrals or even asking current student to write a review for you to put on your Google places listing?
Second, if you give a student something for free, print out the invoice and write “free” across it in your handwriting. We all give perks and freebies and just hiding them in an invoice, students will never open does not give you the impact that you could be getting.