Today’s show is part 2 of our three-part series called “How to Market Your Music School With a $0 Budget”. In part 1, I shared 13 different marketing strategies that I implemented in my music school that cost little to nothing to implement. In today’s show, I’m going to share with you marketing strategies that music school owners from around the world implement in their music schools.
I asked people in the Music Lessons and Marketing Facebook group what strategies they implement in their businesses that cost little to nothing. I got some great responses and creative ideas that I’m really looking forward to sharing with everybody.
Maximize Your Marketing Potential
If you’re looking to scale your music school, you need to have a paid strategy like an ad. For example, Facebook or Google Ads. Ideally, both. Along with that, you also need an organic strategy, and this is where some creativity comes into play.
You’re not maximizing your marketing potential if you’re only doing paid ads or just some of these free marketing tactics. A robust marketing plan should ideally have many moving parts—a combination of both paid and organic.
– – – EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS – – –
Marketing Strategies that Cost Little to Nothing
Writing an Email for Referrals
Tim Veurink of Allegro Music and Dance Academy, located in Lockport, Illinois, has some great marketing tactics to share. The first thing that he includes is he writes an email for his current students to share with their friends. Perhaps he wrote emails to parents for parents to share with their friends.
I did something similar to this. I think this is great, and this makes it very easy for people to refer you to their friends. The challenge there is to write that email in a tone that a parent would likely write in.
You’re not going to infuse all this branding and marketing language. That’s gonna sound too much like it’s coming from you. Actually, I have an email in use that I send out to parents in my Piano Jam program. Here’s how the email reads:
The subject is “A Fun Activity for the Boys.”
I just signed Max up for a piano program that teaches kids how to play the piano in a band that also performs in concerts. I had a conversation with the program’s founder, and it really sound like a fun activity and wanted to see if Billy wanted to join the class with Max. Classes are held on Wednesdays, from 4:00-5:00 pm. Here’s the link to the program. Would you like me to have the instructor Dave Simon reach out to you?
I wanted to make sure that there’s a call to action in that email. It’s super short, simple, and sweet. No sale, no marketing language. Just trying to keep it sounding real.
Posting on Social Media
Second is posting on social media or, specifically, local mom groups. I got this feedback a lot from music school owners. It’s something that I never did. We’ll hear from other people as they get a little more specific as to what they post about in these local mom groups.
Writing an Article for Newspapers
Third is to offer to write an article for a local newspaper. That’s great. The way I would approach that, and this really worked wonders for me, is I would write an article for local newspapers or a local blog about my music school.
It was usually a press release about a newsworthy event, but I wrote it in the fashion of an article. I was giving them free content. Typically, local magazines or newspapers pay writers to create or write content. You’re making it really easy for them. When you give them a newsworthy story that’s well written, you could hire a copywriter or a copy editor to check your work just to make sure that it’s ready to go.
Also, what’s good about this is, if you write an article, they’re going to put it on their website. They’re going to create a backlink to your website which will help with your ranking on Google.
Making a Presentation
Fourth on Tim’s list is to give a talk at the library Rotary Club or chamber of commerce. What you could do is you could look at your local library Rotary Club and chamber of commerce and see what kind of events and speakers they’re having. Then, try to find your own unique angle that’s obviously relevant to music, music education, and children and present it to these different organizations.
Hosting Open Mic Nights
John Kozicki, the owner of Michigan Rock School based in Detroit, Michigan, hosts regular open mic nights at local venues. These open mic nights are open to his students as well as the community at large. The winner then wins some free lessons. I don’t know if it’s a month or maybe just a lesson or two. I’m uncertain as to what a student wins in the open mic night. Nonetheless, I think this is a very cool idea. This is a great way to get your students out in the community, but more importantly, get your community engaged with an event that you’re hosting. John shared with me in an email exchange that he’s had a lot of success with these open mic nights.
Engaging in Facebook Groups
Next, I heard from Gail Benson, the owner of Rockstars of Tomorrow located in Cucamonga, California, that she’s joined lots of Facebook groups. Again, bringing in this Facebook group idea that Tim talked about.
Gail posts relevant stuff there. She gets pretty specific. She says that she joins music, theater, city interest, parenting, and education groups. She’s an active participant in these groups, too. I assume that when you would post something interesting in these groups, people will like your comments and check out who you are. Then they’re going to see “Oh, Gail owns this music school.”
She points out that this is a little time-consuming, but I know that many schools have had a lot of success with this. This can be a good activity for one of your administrators in your office to be in charge of engaging in these groups. You can also either engage under your school’s business page on Facebook.
I know some groups don’t allow business pages to join the group. Well, I do in my Facebook group. You can easily hand it over to an administrator, or if you’re comfortable with someone in your office staff doing this, if you’re comfortable with them, doing it under your own Facebook profile, have them do it that way. Establish some guidelines for them.
Tyler Marolf of Los Rios Rock School, based in Los Rios, California, offers an open house jam and hang at his music school. I used to do something similar to this. I would do it on a Friday or Saturday night as a social night where I’d open up my band rooms and kids could just go and hang out and jam in. They’re totally unstructured, but the kids loved it. I had three band rooms at my school so I can make it work. Obviously, that’s not going to work for every music school, but if bands or ensembles are a big part of your school, there’s no reason why you couldn’t do something like this.
One thing I figured out is kids love to have a place to go on a Saturday night and hang out. Parents love sending their kids to a safe place to hang out on a Saturday night and be social, and there’s no reason why your music school can’t facilitate something like that.
Creating Video Content
Eric Bourassa of Fort Worth Music Academy based in Fort Worth, Texas, has what he calls a quarterly YouTube video week, where he brings in a professional videographer to record kids who sign up for this.
The videographer records kids playing something that they really know how to play well. Then, it is produced in a fashion that most likely the kid wouldn’t be able to do on their own in the videos posted on YouTube. The kids share it obviously on social media, and I have a feeling the parents share it as well.
Eric says that he takes these different videos and he creates a compilation video showing the transformation that a child would go through. He actually gave me a shoutout in his email. He said he got this idea from me, wherein I had talked in a podcast about the idea of taking short little videos of a child’s progression in lessons maybe just over a few months.
At the beginning of the short video, you hear the child struggling to play something. Maybe it’s a video you took from their first or second lesson. Then, on the 30th or 62nd video, the child’s playing pretty well. Sounds good. At the very end of the video, have some sort of uplifting message. Perhaps it would be like this: “This is what success sounds like” or “This is what determination sounds like.” “This is what perseverance sounds like.” You can just kind of keep building on all of these different ideas. It takes a little bit of work to coordinate something like this, but it’s not really that labor-intensive. You just need a plan in place to implement it. I’m glad to hear that Eric’s doing that at his school.
Next, this is from Mark Weisman, the owner of The Piano Workshop in Chester, New Jersey. Mark networks with local music teachers at both private and public schools, and he sends them a flyer that music teachers can hand out to parents. Now, I have a feeling that a lot of these teachers might not hand out the flyers but at least the music teachers being made aware of your music school and a parent in a school might be inclined to reach out to the music teacher in the school to ask if they know of anyone who teaches guitar teaches piano in the community.
Getting Advertised on Directories
Mark also talks about the value of reaching out to local PTOs to get into their PTO directories to be involved in fundraising events. Mark says that you can actually advertise in these PTO directories. That’s interesting. That’s something that I’ve never thought about. I know in Johnny Wilson’s program, Build a Music School, he talks about how to partner with PTOs.
Bring a Friend Day
Mark also has at his school a “Bring a Friend Day” where students can come and bring a friend to their lesson to sit in and watch. That’s something I thought about doing at my school. My big concern with that was, “Well, what’s the kid Like? First of all, why would somebody want to go sit in on their friend’s music lesson? It could potentially be boring, but what if the friend is participating in the music lesson and is participating in a fashion that’s not disruptive? Maybe the friend has a little drum pad and they would play kick and snare drum beats. Just really a simple quarter note on the kick and a quarter note on the snare. I think that could potentially be really fun.
It would make for an opportunity to make a video of the friend in the lesson accompanying their friend and that could go on social media, or it’s something that I think parents might be inclined to share.
Family Movie Nights
I love this comment from Kevin Jones. Kevin owns Strum 2 the Beat Guitar & Drum Lessons in Englewood, Colorado. He said, “I don’t view this as marketing, but I have pizza, game, and family movie nights. He says this has helped him retain students. Well, this is marketing. It’s called internal marketing. It’s a form of marketing that many music schools neglect or overlook.
They’re so focused on marketing that’s going to attract more students, but creating community and culture in your music school like Kevin is doing, like Tyler’s doing with his jam late nights, and like Mark is doing with his bring a friend to your lesson—that’s all about building community and culture, and that is a form of marketing.
Enjoyable music lessons are the only reason why people stay in your music school. Being in your space and enjoying being in your space and feeling like a part of or focusing on making your music school feel more like a community will, as Kevin points out, improve student retention.
Marketing in Your Neighborhood
Rebekah Trevelise, the owner of Austin Arts Academy in Austin, Texas, also has some insights on Facebook groups. She says that her biggest superpower is marketing to other moms in her neighborhood—moms and tots Facebook groups. Rebekah says what’s so amazing is that when a new mom in the area asked about music lessons in one of these groups, usually one to seven members will tag her in the post and then recommend her studio.
It’s great that Rebekah is a mom herself, so she can go and talk the language of our talk the talk of a mom. She’s really been able to build her brand and build her music school’s reputation in these groups where I assume without being too salesy. I mean, the fact that other people are tagging her speaks highly of Rebekah and her brand.
I think this is it for Episode 2. In Episode 3, I’ll share with you more free marketing strategies that music schools from around the world have implemented in their music school.