How Your Music School Can Gain a Competitive Edge
Story marketing isn’t just about the stories you tell. It’s also about the stories your customers tell themselves about your music lessons and how they’ll transform their child’s life. The better you understand those stories, the better you can market to them, the better you can connect with them. Here’s an example of story marketing actually being used in sales copy. Storytelling is a great way to hook in the recipient of your marketing message. Here’s an email, this is an email in my e-book called 15 Sales Emails for Your Music Teaching Business.
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Hooking Your Reader With a Story
This is an email that I would send out to inactive or prospective students, right towards the end of soccer season. I’m just going to read a couple of sentences from the email. It reads like this;
“No more muddy back seats from dirty cleats. No more standing in the cold rain. Soccer season is coming to an end. Onward to new, exciting adventures for your child.”
That’s the whole story. The email then transitions into a sales pitch. It’s just a few short sentences. It sets the stage and pulls the reader into the sales copy.
Creating Marketing That Sticks
That’s one form of storytelling where I’m telling the story. But I want to share with you now, a few of short paragraphs from this book Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
Here’s a great example of a business that focuses on customer experience and the stories that their customers tell themselves. This is the key to giving your music studio a competitive edge.
I’m going to read to you this little short section, it’s on page 186 of Made to Stick. If you have the book, turn to page 186 and follow along. I’m going to condense some of the writing for time’s sake. After I read this I want to talk about how we can apply what the Heath brothers are talking about. How can we apply this to a music school? Well, specifically to your music school. So here we go.
What an Army Mess Hall and Music School’s Have in Common
Army food is just about what you’d expect. Bland, over-cooked and prepared in massive quantities. The mess halls are essentially calorie factories, giving the troops the fuel they need to do their jobs.
The Pegasus chow hall, just outside the Baghdad airport has developed a different reputation. Pegasus’ prime rib is perfectly prepared. The fruit platter is a beautiful assortment of watermelon, kiwi fruit and grapes.
There are legends of soldiers driving to Pegasus from the Green Zone, along one of the most treacherous roads in Iraq, just to eat a meal.
Floyd Lee, the man in charge of Pegasus wants Pegasus to provide a respite from the turmoil. He’s clear about his leadership mission, “As I see it, I’m not just in charge of food service. I’m in charge of morale.” Lee is going for transcendence. Pegasus, the white walls of the typical mess hall are covered with sports banners.
There are gold treatments on the windows and green tablecloths with tassels. The harsh fluorescent lights have been replaced by ceiling fans and soft bulbs. The servers wear tall, white chef hats. The remarkable thing about Pegasus’ reputation for great food is that Pegasus works with exactly the same raw materials that everyone else does. Pegasus serves the same 21-day army menu as other dining halls. It’s the attitude that makes a difference. Lee realizes that serving food is a job, but improving morale is a mission. Improving morale involves creativity and experimentation and mastery. Serving food involves a ladle. In redefining the mission of his mess hall, he has inspired his co-workers to create an oasis in the desert.
Looking Outside the Music Lesson For Your Competitive Edge
There’s a lot to learn here. Lee is just like a music school owner in that music teachers only have a set amount of notes to work with.
Every music teacher is working with the same rhythms. So in order to be great, you have to look beyond the world of music. In order for Lee to give his mess hall an edge, he looks beyond the food. You need to look beyond the music lesson in order to discover or create your competitive edge.
What Story Does Your Business Tell?
The story that Lee is creating for his customers, or for the soldiers that eat at his mess hall, is a story of nostalgia. It reminds them of home, it’s an emotional experience. It’s a little taste of home out there in the desert. As the Heath brothers say, an oasis in the desert, sports banners, and other reminders of home. He’s creating an environment of transcendence, transformation. The soldiers, for a moment, can feel like they’re back home. That’s the story they’re telling themselves. And in your music studio, it’s an opportunity for you to create a story for your customers.
You can do that through the decor, the ambiance, the lighting, the smells, the sights, and the sounds of your music studio. Lee clearly has devoted a lot of time and energy to look at all the different touchpoints in his mess hall, touchpoints meaning places where the customer and business meet, head to head. He’s looked at those different touchpoints and has asked himself, “How can we transform that experience?”
Creating Stories For Your Customers
When the waiter comes to the table, they’re wearing tall, white chef hats, instead of what the other waiters in the other mess halls are wearing. He decorates the tables in a unique way. The food isn’t any better than the other mess halls, it’s the same menu.
The Importance of Having a Mission
Lee helps form and create the stories for his customers. He’s not being motivated by some sort of financial gain. He has a very clear mission, his mission is morale, to improve morale, to give these soldiers a little taste of home. It’s an opportunity to forget about the war. It gives them a little bit of hope, something to look forward to.
I encourage you to spend some time and think about what is the story that your customers tell themselves. What are the stories they tell themselves regarding music lessons? The only way to find that out is by talking to them. Ask them questions like, “How do you feel music lessons will help your child?” Trying to understand their opinions regarding music lessons. And then how through the customer experience, not customer service, that’s different, how, through the customer experience, can you help massage those stories? How can you help build on those stories?
Stories and Word-of-Mouth Marketing
What we can learn from Lee is that he has set himself up for some aggressive word-of-mouth marketing. Clearly, word spread throughout the soldiers about the Pegasus mess hall. Anyone who goes to eat there has something to talk about because it’s so unexpected. It’s so unlike all the other mess halls. Not the food but the experience.
How can you give your customer something to talk about? How can you create stories that they can share? A new customer coming into your music studio is there a way they could come in and leave, and when they see one of their friends say, “Oh, the coolest thing happened to me. I took my daughter to her first piano lesson, and this music school is so cool. They did…” Fill in the blank. What happened? Or, “This music school does this,” what is that this?
Using Your Physical Space as a Source for Story
It’s so clear here in Lee’s story, that these soldiers have so much to talk about. Mike Grande has transformed his music school into a rock and roll Disney World. Perhaps a music school that’s more traditional, that really focuses on classical music could try to incorporate some of the design, some of the European design from the classical age. Perhaps they try to incorporate some of the feel of some of the great American and European concert halls.
Get creative. You’re a musician, you’re a creative person. Examine every aspect of your music studio and ask yourself, “How can we infuse this with some creativity?” Storytelling in your marketing can be a very powerful tool, a great way to engage people. But then understanding the stories they tell themselves about music lessons, and using the customer experience as an opportunity to build on those stories, can be even more powerful.
Try This Marketing Exercise
- Walkthrough your music studio
- What story does your space tell?
- How would a customer stepping into your studio for the first time feel?
- How do the decor and ambiance reflect your brand promise?
- What changes could you make to your studio to better impact the customer experience?
- What changes could you make to your studio to better reflect your brand promise?