Help with Advertising, Need Ideas
Maggie R., Utah
It seems that I am in a very low class area and I’m finding it truly difficult to find students that are committed to lessons. What are some things that you all have done to find your students and keep them. I need consistency and have yet to find enough students to be consistent to even make it through Foundation level one. I need your help. I have raised my prices and things are looking up but still not there yet.
Annette O., Utah
The best thing I have found is to “wiggle” into the homeschoolers’ bunch. 5 out of 7 of my students’ families are homeschoolers. This really helps because it gives you more daytime hours when you can teach as well. You just keep trying and praying about it. It will happen for you!
Cheri S., Utah
First, hold out for those who are committed! It’s worth the wait.
I got lucky last year (my first year) to connect with several families who really “got it.” The moms understand the vision of Simply Music and are committed to helping their kids stick with it, even during the valleys (and we’ve already had some). Besides luck, finding and keeping those great families probably depends on two things in my case: 1) contacting as widely as possible, especially among people who are already share some connection with me; 2) following Neil’s training exactly. Here’s more about both of those:
1) The more contacts you make, the more likely you are to find the ones who will love SM. Last August, I sent a mass email and a facebook message to all my contacts/friends, posted on any forums where I hang out, and talked to everyone I know. Anyone who knows me knows I teach Simply Music and love it. Like with any job, you’re a lot more likely to find “clients” among people you already know, or at least share some connection with (like parents on my homeschool forum who may not be close friends but we share that interest and maybe they know my name or remember something I’ve done). My messages and conversations were brief, enthusiastic (not in a cheesy way; it naturally comes across that I truly believe SM is the best way to learn piano), and totally non-threatening–just letting people know it’s available and I’m excited about it. Simply Music comes up regularly in conversation because it’s a big part of my life. I remember Neil encouraging us along these same lines.
2) I figure Neil (and also Robin) have spent years working through everything, and they know what’s effective and what’s not. Following their direction both for attracting and managing inquiries, and also throughout teaching and managing my studio, I think all together has made a very effective package for finding and keeping students. I’ve done pretty much everything exactly the way Neil teaches it (and the way Robin has coached us during her visits):
- how to conduct the initial phone conversation–during the call, I still refer to the printed out sheet from our training
- how to run the FIS (or SIS)–I still use a notecard that briefly outlines what’s covered in the Introductory Sessions training, following the order exactly
- what to cover in the Foundation Lesson (the first lesson–long-term relationships, roles & expectations)
- keeping the relationship conversation a consistent part of most lessons (just a few seconds, built around that thumbs-up/down gauge that Robin taught us)
- trying to manage every lesson the way Neil discusses in the training and also in the time management audio workshop
- starting every stream and program at a stage in students’ progress where other teachers have found success (based on our workshops with Robin, the new playlist training, and other workshops & conference calls available online)
- consistently following through on all those streams–accomp, comp & improv, arrangements, reading rhythm & notes–and teaching them the way they’re presented
- taking the playlist as seriously as Neil says we should
- using all the teaching strategies he teaches us: single thought processes, control the events–everything that appears in those little teaching tips sections on the training videos
- helping students get the most out of the SHMs so they acquire all the building blocks & tools for future learning, instead of just learning songs (the new playlist training is great for this)
- making sure students & parents understand that’s what we’re doing–I repeat this all the time
- doing my best to run a requirement-based studio–I only want to teach families who understand and want what I’m offering and are committed to fulfilling their roles; I ask students and parents to sign a commitment sheet when they enroll and again at the start of every school year; I have a brief conversation whenever anyone lets any one of their commitments slide. I have let students go who can’t do that. (actually, they let themselves go, when they saw that I was serious)
- listening to lots of workshops and conference calls, available online and/or for purchase–Robin gave us some excellent suggestions about which are especially helpful
From the earliest conversations through every lesson, this program has been thoroughly thought-out, I would say almost scientifically researched to find out what maximizes the possibility that students will have success and stick around. I probably sound rather like a cult follower, but I just figure they’ve worked it all out, so why reinvent the wheel?
If I had to pick what’s most important in all this (though I’m sure it all works together), I would say it’s those first conversations. Sometimes those introductory conversations weed out people who really don’t want what I’m offering. For the rest, those conversations (about the philosophy behind SM, how/why it works so well, long-term relationships, roles, and requirements) form the foundation for what we’re building together. People know what to expect, so they’re ready to fulfill their role, not freak out when Johnny “doesn’t like piano anymore,” keep the playlist alive, trust the process, etc.
Hope that helps! It’s probably stuff you already know, but I find that I have to regularly check in with myself–why didn’t that work today?–and often I find that it’s something I already know but wasn’t implementing as well as I could.