Advertise Your Music Lessons
I don’t write that much about advertising in this blog. I focus more on general marketing concepts. Episode 97 called How to Write Facebook Ads for Music Lessons takes a deep dive into the creative side of Facebook Ads. Specifically how to write an advertisement. In this post, I’m going to explore how to advertise your music lessons in both print and digital.
Marketing vs Advertising: What’s the Difference
I think it’s important to first clarify the difference between advertising and marketing. I encourage you to think of marketing as a wheel with multiple spokes and advertising just being one of many spokes.
A lot of people think of marketing and advertising as the same thing. They’re certainly related and connected, but advertising is just one aspect of marketing. Other aspects include…
- Customer experience
- The culture and the community you create in your music school
- The ambiance, and even the decor in your music school
These are all internal marketing functions. There’s external and internal marketing. External marketing is an attempt to attract new business, whereas internal marketing is an effort to keep students for longer.
Social media is another aspect of marketing. I’d devote another spoke to email marketing. The telephone also is a powerful marketing tool. How you simply communicate with your customers is a form of marketing. Each spoke on the marketing wheel has different tactics and tools associated with it.
If I were to come up with a definition for marketing, I would say marketing is a form of communication designed to attract more students as well as keep more students for longer.
– – – Episode Highlights – – –
Scaling Your Business With Digital And Print Ads
Advertising simply provides jet fuel to your external organic marketing. Organic marketing takes time and patience, but paid ads carry your message beyond its current reach.
Quite often, a music school can get relatively large or relatively successful without advertising at all. That’s certainly how it played out in my music school. I would hang posters in coffee shops, and I got up to about 100 students. I was really big into attending camp fairs. That was a great way to build my email list, but I avoided advertising completely for a few years.
There was a certain point where I really wanted to scale my business, but the methods I had used to get to 100 students really weren’t helping me scale up. That’s when I bit the bullet and put some money down on ads. This was also back in the days before Facebook ads were really a thing. I was all about print ads at that point.
Digital advertising is a relatively new form of advertising, but it still embraces the same teachings and philosophies of print ads. Both digital and print ads can serve as a form of brand awareness or making sales.
The Pros and Cons of Digital and Print Ads
Digital Advertising: The Pros
- They’re often cheaper than print ads
- You can control your ad spend on a daily basis
- You can measure your results
- Digital ads are dynamic and can be changed daily
- You can better target your audience
- Great for brand awareness and sales.
Digital Advertising: The Cons
One of the cons of digital ads is it can be challenging to capture people’s attention. People are quickly scrolling through their social media feed, and there has to be some aspect of your ad that’s going to get them to stop the scroll and take a moment to look at your content.
Just look at your own behavior when you see an ad in your Facebook feed. If the ad is something that you find interesting or compelling then you’re likely to click the “See more” to read the rest of the ad.
There really aren’t a lot of cons to digital advertising. I do think it’s worth noting that Facebook and Instagram certainly cost a lot more today than they did even just a year ago. And Facebook’s targeting is considerably more complicated now due to the iOS14 updates. But still, Facebook and Instagram ads are a great return on your investment.
Print Advertising: The Pros
- Rates are negotiable
- Your ad is being served to a specific audience
- The magazine reader moves at a slower pace than a social media user
- Great for brand awareness
Print Advertising: The Cons
- Not as good as digital ads for making sales since the reader is unable to make a purchase with a single click
- It’s more disruptive than digital ads and often ignored
- There’s no way to measure results
- You’re unable to alter your ad spend after your ad goes to print
As more people leave print advertising, it creates new opportunities. The price of print ads is going down, and the price of digital ads is going up. Facebook ads is still a better ROI (return on investment)
Advertising With Posters
I would also lump in with print ads. Posters that you hang up in coffee shops—that was my number one marketing strategy when I started posters like a billboard for brand awareness. People are walking into the bookstore or the coffee shop, and they see your poster there for music lessons. They glance at it. Maybe they make a mental note to reach out to you, but it’s certainly a very affordable form of advertising.
How to Layout a Print Ad
In a print ad, you’ve got a headline, an image, and a call-to-action. A digital ad has the same thing, but they play a different role in these two different settings.
In a print ad, the headline’s front and center. The image ideally should be filling up the entire frame of the ad. When it comes to any type of print advertising, I highly recommend hiring a graphic designer. If you yourself are a graphic designer, great! But don’t hire your cousin Larry who dabbles in graphic design. Hire a professional. You can go onto Fiverr or Upwork and find someone good and affordable. The design and the layout of your advertisement can make or break the ad. Quite often in print ads, there are maybe three different sizes you’re going to be dealing with. A full-page ad is great. I quite often would do a quarter-page ad or maybe an eighth of a page.
The smaller your ad gets, the more clean, clear, and simple your ad needs to be.
Clean, Clear and Simple Wins the Day
If you’re running a quarter page or the eighth page of an ad, think of your ad as the way an above-the-fold of a website should be designed. The above-the-fold of a website ideally has one image—an image that’s telling a story in itself, an image that makes your ideal customer look at it and think “I want that. I want that outcome.”
Think of a headline that also accentuates that desire and also simply defines what your service is. Somewhere in that headline, you need to clarify that what you’re selling is music lessons.
For dealing with a full-page ad, now you can take a different approach. You can almost treat it like an actual magazine article. That’s more of an old-school way of approaching an ad, where the reader might necessarily realize that it’s an ad. You don’t see that so much anymore. Still, nonetheless, if you’re doing a full-page ad, there’s no reason why at the bottom you can’t have one or two paragraphs of copy.
If you want to see a great full-page ad, that’s very relevant to our industry. Google John Caples and look up his ad “They all laughed when I sat down at the piano.” It’s one of the most successful and referenced ads in the history of advertising. And yes, just so happened to be an ad for piano lessons. John Caples wasn’t even a copywriter.
Avoid This in Your Print Ads
One thing to avoid in any print ad, or really any ad in general, is featuring your logo and placing it front and center (for example, “Dave’s Music School”. That doesn’t mean anything to anybody. I mean, maybe they’ve heard of it. So there’s some value in that. But that’s not going to grab anyone’s attention).
How to Win the Battle for Attention
When it comes to both marketing and advertising. It’s always a battle for attention. How do you grab people’s attention? How do you stop them in their tracks? How do you stop them when they’re turning the page over and they realize that they’re on a page of advertisements? What can you do in your ad that’s going to make them stop and not flip the page? What can you do when they’re scrolling through their Instagram feed? How do you get them to stop the scroll? The goal on social media is to stop the scroll. How do you do that?
When someone’s walking into a coffee shop and your poster for your music lessons is on a bulletin board with 20 other posters and advertisements, what can you do? How can your advertisement stop people in their tracks and take a moment to read your ad?
The picture and the headline—that’s what’s going to get people to stop in their tracks and pay attention.
An Easy Way to Capture People’s Attention
Volkswagen did an ad in the 1950s called “Think Small”. In the 1950s, everyone was driving those big cars. They looked like tanks. They were gas guzzlers, and they are pretty awesome-looking. Volkswagen came out with an advertisement with the headline “Think small”. Then, in the upper left-hand corner was a tiny image of a Volkswagen. Probably, they put it there because studies have revealed that when we scan a page, our eyes first go to the upper left-hand corner. The advertisement had more empty space than words or images. I’d say 80% of the ad or more is just empty space, but that space is what caught people’s attention.
That same principle applies to music, doesn’t it? Listen to the song by The Temptations “Papa was a Rolling Stone”. Listen to the bass line. It’s one of my favorite baselines. There’s barely a bassline there, but when the bass player, I think it’s James Jamerson, plays a pattern, it’s so impactful. The way he places the notes and the rhythms make such a great impact because there’s so much tension in the music because he lets multiple measures go by and there’s no baseline. There would be no tension if he didn’t play any notes at all, but the fact that he introduces some notes and then backs off and you’re waiting and he sticks in another job, every few beats.
If you saw a billboard or an advertisement and it was just a plain white empty space, you wouldn’t think anything of it, but the moment you start putting in an image or some words, it changes the whole dynamic. So the Volkswagen ad was highly successful because of its use of minimalism.
“Think Small” was very similar to Apple’s ad in the 1990s. Some 40 years later, “Think different”. That’s all the ad said. “Think Different”. I had a picture of a computer that looked unlike any computer the world had ever seen. It’s very futuristic. It was sleek and curved, the edges are curved, and it looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. Up until that point, computers are really big and boxy and beige. This was sleek and had translucent colors. You can even see some of the innards of the computer. That ad in itself revitalized Apple. So how can we apply these concepts to a print ad?
Paint a Picture of Something Your Customer Desires
An ad that really caught my attention recently was an ad for Delta Airlines. The ad was a picture of a couple on the beach—clearly a very desirable exotic tropical location. The headline said, “This is what laid back looks like” and then it mentioned, “Delta Airlines”. There wasn’t a picture of an airplane. It was a picture of the destination. It was a picture of the transformation that you can experience if you book a flight with Delta. Other airlines can take you to that exotic location, but the fact that Delta is painting that picture and is telling that story plants a seed in the reader’s mind, “Well, if I want to achieve that transformation, Delta is the one to take me there.” Now, most likely, you’re gonna go and start checking online to see which price is the most attractive to you, but nonetheless, it’s Delta that planted that hope. You’re associating that transformation with the brand of Delta.
An Idea For a Music School Advertisement
I thought that could be a really great starting point for an ad for music lessons. What if you created an ad that says “This is what success looks like”, “This is what confidence looks like”, or “This is what achievement looks like”, and the picture is more than just a kid playing their instrument. Quick aside about using photographs of kids playing instruments. So many music schools use photographs of kids playing an instrument in their marketing and advertising. That’s great, but quite often the child is looking at their hands playing the instrument. They look really focused, and they’re concentrating.
That’s quite often what’s happening when you’re playing an instrument, but you can be so much more impactful if your image shows a kid laughing or looking into the camera and smiling because that’s really what the parent wants. They want their child to feel happy, to feel good about themselves while they’re playing an instrument. So let’s say you’ve got this ad you’re working on the headline is going to be “This is what success looks like”. It’s a picture of a kid. She’s got her violin she’s holding in one hand. In her other hand, she’s holding a bouquet of flowers, and her mom and dad have their arms around her, and they’re clearly all posing for a photograph that was taken right after a recital. That picture in itself could grab people’s attention, “Oh, what’s going on with these parents and this girl. I’m a parent, I want to have a moment like that. Like those parents are having in that photograph.”
Just like the couple on the beach and the Delta ad, I want to be on that beach, that exotic tropical location. “This is what success looks like”. Then, a sub-headline about music lessons, the name of your school, and your logo which is not front and center (you can put it in the upper left-hand corner down at the bottom).
Lead With Need, Not The Details of Your Music Lessons
People form their opinion. They’re going to have an emotional response. It’s going to be by looking at that picture and looking at that headline. Down below, you can have the details. You might have a short paragraph (one to three sentences) using some of your brand language. Then, at the bottom of your print ad, you have a clear call-to-action, your website, and your phone number. Now, the problem with print ads of course is people have to leave the environment that the ad’s in and snap into action.
I know print ads are kind of archaic and a thing of the past, but not really. When you see an entire industry shift to a new trend and marketing and advertising, it creates a new opportunity for the old form of advertising. I still think there’s a place for direct mail advertising. It’s very expensive, but if done properly can be effective. I use direct mail advertising to market to my current students. I use direct mail to promote summer camp. When I launched Kidzrock and Jr. Rockerz, I promoted that through direct mail. I also use direct mail to send postcards, little messages expressing my pride, or the teacher expressing his or her pride in their student. Now that’s not advertising. That’s a form of marketing. We’re using snail mail for that because people don’t expect messages like that to come via snail mail. They expect it to come maybe through a text or an email or the phone.
When to Boost and When Not to Boost Facebook Posts
I know a lot of music schools boost their posts. That can be an effective form of advertising, but I think it’s important that you understand the difference between boosting a post and running an ad. Boosting a post on your business page allows you to get your message to a broader audience, but an audience that already liked your page. You’re basically paying for the old version of Facebook business pages. The old version, 10 plus years ago, allows a large number of people to see your post. Now, when you post on your business page, very few people see your post. The more active you are on your business page and the more people engage with your business page, the more Facebook will push out your post. I don’t know this for a fact, but my hunch is the more you advertise on your Facebook page, the more likely Facebook is to push out your organic post.
Facebook’s turning into a pay-to-play platform, at least when it comes to business. A boosted post is great if you’re going to promote a program directly to your current customers. “Summer camp” is a great post to boost, but posting and boosting about music lessons on your business page is just like preaching to the choir unless there are people that follow your page that maybe aren’t customers or inactive customers. You might know that it might be effective, but still, if you want to promote and advertise your music school, you have to go into Ads Manager.
Outsourcing the Facebook Ads Manager
Even if you’re going to outsource your ads or someone else is going to create the ad for you in Ads Manager, it’s to your benefit that you learn the basics of how Ads Manager works (get a course or go to YouTube), so you can talk with the person who’s running your ad so that you know how to measure the results. I wouldn’t outsource the creation of my ad, but the actual creation of the ad in the Ads Manager and the setting of the target audience and all the parameters could be outsourced. Facebook ads are a whole different way of thinking when it comes to advertising. In the print ad, the billboard, and in the poster advertisements, the headline’s front and center, and the sales copy is often minimal—maybe a sentence or so beyond the headline. The headline often is the copy—whereas, in a Facebook ad, the headline is below the image. Then above the image is the copy. It’s kinda backwards.
The Goal is to Stop The Scroll
A few years ago, Facebook had the 20% rule. If 20% or more of the image was text, they wouldn’t approve the ad. They’ve eliminated that rule, but I wouldn’t treat your image in your Facebook ad like you would an image in a print ad. You really want the image to stop the scroll, to have something captivating in it that’s going to stop the scroll. The kid playing the piano, when you see the back of his head and you see he’s kind of looking down at his hands, that picture is probably not going to stop the scroll. A kid cracking up because clearly, something funny happened in the lesson, that’s more likely to stop the scroll. Maybe the picture of the two parents with their arms around their child holding the violin and the bouquet of flowers who just finished her recital, that maybe will stop the scroll. You got to experiment. I have hands down.
The Secret to Facebook Ads: Test, Test, Test
I have had more success with video than a single image in my Facebook ads. Videos do have a tendency to perform better than a still image. The testing revealed that the more real the video looks (a video, maybe shot on an iPhone, of people talking that clearly looks like someone sharing an authentic experience), the more likely it will cause people to scroll on. What if it’s a 30-second video of you walking through your music school with kids everywhere and as people are watching the video there’s a sound off, and they see all this activity of the kids, and they kind of ask “What’s this?”, and maybe they turn it on, and in here you’re just talking a little bit about the school. That’s likely to get viewed.
Most people don’t watch more than just a few seconds of a video. So the shorter your video is, the better. What’s nice about the digital ad is that you have a lot of room for text. An important thing to look at as you’re creating your ad in the Ads Manager is to look and see when the See more option kicks in on your copy. In a Facebook ad, you can see just a little bit of the copy and then you see the “See more”. Before the “See more” feature kicks in, you want to be able to have a hook. You want to say something that people read and think, “Oh, that’s interesting. I’m going to click that button and See more.” So if your opening sentence says “We offer music lessons for all ages and skill levels.” Well, that’s not a very compelling statement. You’re selling at that point.
A Facebook ad that doesn’t look and feel like an advertisement but appears more like a regular post is more likely to get people to stop scrolling and check out your ad.
There are different levels of prospective customers. There are parents that are actively looking for music lessons. Those people are more likely to respond to “We offer music lessons.” Then, there are parents that know at some point they would like their child to take music lessons. There are also people that haven’t really thought about music lessons. They have kids who are doing after-school activities like sports but might be open to considering music lessons.
Why Your Ad Will Fail Without a Hook
Your opening sentence needs to trigger to spark their curiosity. A statement such as “Did you know that 70% of adults who took childhood music lessons regret that they quit and wish that they could play an instrument?” A statement such as “Would your child enjoy performing music on stage to a supportive cheering crowd?” Yes! My kid would enjoy that. All those things are a hook just like a song contains a hook.
With a hook in a song you’re trying to seduce the listener and slowly pull them into until you have their undivided attention. This same principle applies to marketing.
Once they bought into the hook once, they liked that chorus. Alright, then, I’ll listen to the verse I’ll listen to the bridge. Most people don’t form an opinion about a song until they hear the hook, until they hear the chorus, but with a Facebook ad, you want to open right up on that hook. Now below the image or the video is your headline, and Facebook limits the length of that headline. That headline should be a summary of your offer: “Enroll today”, “Get 50% off”, or “Schedule a free trial lesson today.”
Why Video Often Performs Better in Ads
Another great approach to creating an ad is to create an Instagram reel and upload it into your Facebook ad. Instagram reels look just like TikTok, but it’s not branded with Instagram on them. Facebook’s getting into TikTok-style videos, so people are getting more and more familiar with that look. The thing with Facebook and Instagram ads is that you can test every aspect of it.
Right now, I’m running a Facebook campaign and I ran two ads using two different objectives. One was reach; one was leads. I would run them for a couple of days, and then the ad with a higher-performing objective is the ad that I went with. I actually tested multiple objectives to find which objective was getting me the leads that I wanted, and then I ran two ads with different images. One was an image and one was a video. To no surprise, the one with the video was outperforming the image. Then, I tested the headlines. Each ad had a different headline. The ad with the best performing headline is the ad that I went with. Then, I tested the call to action buttons. One was “Learn more”, and the other was “Download”. “Learn more” was performing better, so I turned off “Download”. Then, I tried a different opening hook with two different ads. The ad with a better performing opening hook is the ad that I went with. With the print ad, you can’t do any of this type of testing.
A common question I’m asked is “Should I use long-form or short-form copy in a Facebook ad?” Test it. I always do.
If you do a long-form copy in the Ads Manager, you can see how the ad’s gonna look in different formats. The “See more” feature sometimes appears right after the second line. Sometimes it appears further down, depending on the device that a person’s seeing your ad on. Check those different views and perspectives on the different platforms to see what looks best.
In summary, at the end of the day, clean, clear, and simple wins the day especially when it comes to print ads. A single image with a headline and a call-to-action maybe with one or two sentences is all you need. With the digital ad, really focus on how all the components are working together. How the headline or how the hook (e.g., the first two sentences) works with the image and how it works with the headline at the bottom.
Don’t just create a Facebook and Instagram ad and run it. Test the different components of it.
Create your first ad, duplicate it, or run an A/B test. Edit your second ad to test a certain feature of it. Advertisements are just a vehicle. Advertisements are only as effective as its message. Get your music school’s brand language and marketing language dialed in first—a marketing language that places the customer as the hero in the story.
Your marketing message is to advertising what a melody is to a song. You can have a great band with a great groove, but unless there’s a great melody with a meaningful lyric, it’s likely to never be a hit. The success of your advertising rests on the shoulders of the message in your advertisement.