How to Market Your Music School With a $0 Budget Part III | EP 185

Market Your Music School Without Spending a Dime

Paid ads allow you to push your marketing message beyond the realm of organic efforts.  Coming up with the money for ads can be a challenge, especially during the early days of a music school when you don’t have a lot excess cash to reinvest in your business.


Through a little creativity and consistency, there’s no reason why a music school can’t get some wind in its sails without having to spend a lot of money on marketing.


One thing that wasn’t discussed in episodes one and two is creating content that isn’t necessarily about music lessons—whether that content is a blog or podcasting content, that celebrates or provides value to your community.


Every week, I write a blog post. It could be about fun things to do this weekend in Cleveland or family-friendly activities to do in Cleveland. The same people that are looking for fun family activities in my area also might be the same type of people that we consider music lessons at some point for their child.




Start a Podcast That Features Local Personalities 

Mike Grande of Rock Out Loud in Morganville, New Jersey, does a podcast where he interviews people—local characters, local leaders, and owners of businesses in his community. The podcast doesn’t even have the name of his school in the business. His podcast is sponsored or hosted by his music school. He’s providing content that’s a value for his community.


Surely, this is a little more advanced approach to marketing. It requires some time and effort to do, but it’s certainly the one that I’ve always embraced. It’s this whole idea of positioning yourself in your community as someone who’s providing and adding value.


That’s something that’s going to come up today as I share with you the different marketing tactics that these different music school owners shared with me.


Send Out Business Letters with Free Coupons

Joe Jenkins, the owner of Magic City Music for Kids in Birmingham, Alabama, has this to say:


“Every September, we send a business letter to every music teacher and every church pastor in the city explaining who we are and how our music school positively affects children in the community. In the letter are 20 free coupons for a month of free lessons in either piano, voice, or drums. Not only does this strategy makes the music teacher and the church pastor heroes for passing out free coupons, but it also puts them in my corner when referring future students for music lessons.”


By passing out something of value for free, Joe’s making these people look good in the community. Having these free coupons allow the local pastors and music educators to be heroes, and they’re even that much more likely to refer students for music lessons to Joe’s music school.


Joe also points out that he does this again in February for what he calls a “March Madness Promotion”. He says that he’s had a lot of success specifically with this March Madness Promotion where he typically fills up all of his openings. Students wind up signing up after this promotion.


He’s not spending a lot of money on advertising, but Joe is spending money by giving out these free lessons and having to pay teachers for teaching those lessons. Still nonetheless, if 40 to 50% of those March students convert into regular paying students, it’s certainly a good investment.


Be More Involved with Your Community

Next, we’re going to hear from Vincent James, the owner of Keep Music Alive in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania. Keep Music Alive is an organization that puts on these annual events. Vincent has this to say:


“One of the best ways to market your music school with the $0 budget is to become more involved in the community. One way to do that is to participate each year in Teach Music Week, which happens in March, and Kids’ Music Day, which happens in October each year. Keep Music Alive partners with over 1000 music school stores and organizations to celebrate Teach Music Weekend and Kids Music Day by offering free lessons to new students and holding special events that benefit and celebrate kids playing music.”


It’s this whole idea of creating events for your music school as an opportunity to promote music lessons. A lot of people do open houses. It’s the same general idea, but it sounds like Vincent has an organized program that he offers and partners with other music schools. To learn more about Vincent’s program, you can go to


Wear Your Brand on Your Sleeve

Scott Johnson, the owner of Set Apart Music, located in High Point, North Carolina, says that he brands all of his kids at recitals with new T-shirts. At the end of each school year, he puts the word brand in quotes. Obviously, he’s not branding them with a branding iron, but he’s taking his brand and he’s putting it on a T-shirt. Maybe he gives that away for free, but he points out this whole idea of creating cool clothing to give to students.


It is such a great way for students to be walking billboards. That’s certainly not a free marketing tactic, but if you look at the fact that a kid might be walking around for a year or two with your shirt, many eyes are going to see the name of your music school.


Take Your Message to The People

Kelly Desouza of Key to Music, located in Port St. Lucie in Florida, says that she used to have a table at the mall. Then, she would sign students up that way. Also, she points out that she had to pay money for that table. This whole idea came up a few times in this series. It’s all about looking for opportunities to get out in front of your community and have some sort of a booth set up where you can interact with the public—whether it’s trade shows and farmers’ markets or different fairs.


Kelly also points out that she collaborates with the city and would set up to 12 performances a year in conjunction with the police and fire departments. It’s really all about being dialed in and partnering with your local community.


Partner with Your Local Library

Gabriella Martucci, the owner of Martucci Music in Sacramento, California, has this to say:


“Our local library lets us post flyers for free kids’ activities so through that and local mom Facebook pages, we’ve offered a free “Mommy and Me” class that gets folks through the door.”


Someone last week on the show spoke about partnering with local libraries. That’s something that I never really thought about. It’s so certainly something worth checking out.


Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Sofie Arhontoulis, the owner of Saili Music in Southern Australia, has this to say:


“Obviously, word-of-mouth costs nothing. But I do spend time and energy on investing in our enrolled students to make sure they’re maximizing their enjoyment and time with us.”


Sophie is really tapping into the secret of word-of-mouth marketing. It’s not just hoping that people will refer their friends to you or just about offering people a financial incentive for referrals. It’s really focusing on the experience that the child’s having in your music school. The more enjoyable that experience is, the more likely parents are to refer.


The real key to revving up your word-of-mouth marketing is to focus on what’s happening in your music school outside of the music lesson as well. Good music lessons are key and an important aspect of word-of-mouth marketing, but what you’re doing in your culture and community is where you can create experiences that can inspire and motivate people to talk about your music school.


The more remarkable the culture in the community and the experiences within your music school, the more worthy of remark your music school is, and the more people will remark or talk about your music school. If you want to learn a little bit more about word-of-mouth marketing, check out Episode 103 from this podcast. The show is called The Secret To Word Of Mouth Marketing For Music Studios. It doesn’t get any more specific than that.


Use the “Who Do You Know?” Tactic

Michael Gumley, the owner of Melbourne Guitar Academy in Melbourne, Australia, and the host of the TopMusicGuitar Podcast has this to say:


“I like to use something called the Who Do You Know? tactic. You ask every single person on your social media listing and or personal network if they would like to take music lessons with you. Whether they say yes or no, you follow up with who do you know that is looking for lessons or could benefit from lessons with me.”


I love this. One thing I also like about this idea is that Michael has a name for it, which is a great idea. I also like giving names to my different marketing tactics. Every person you come across in your day-to-day is probably one to two degrees away from knowing somebody that fits the profile of your ideal client.


When everybody knows somebody with a child between the ages of say 6 and 18, just because you’re talking to a 75-year-old, well clearly that person doesn’t have a child within that age range or most likely doesn’t, but there’s a really good chance that they have grandchildren in that age range. Just make it a point to keep the name of your music school front and center when talking to people.


A quote I love sharing on this show from Dean Graziosi says, “If you have a product that can really help people that can make their lives better, you have a moral obligation to share that with everyone you know”.


I think we all can agree that music lessons have the ability to have a positive impact and even change a child’s life for the better. According to Dean Graziosi, you have a moral obligation to tell everyone you know about your music lessons.


Invest in Yourself

Next, we’re going to hear from Jennifer Roig-Francolí. Jennifer helps musicians overcome both physical and mindset barriers. When it comes to growing as a musician, you can actually check out her website to learn more. Here’s what Jennifer has to say:


“Decide to adopt a growth mindset. Be willing to get curious and learn about marketing instead of resisting it.”


Wow. This may be one of the best things we’ve heard in this series. She’s really talking about investing in yourself and changing your mindset. And being willing to set aside some time every day to invest in yourself to learn about marketing to learn about business management and growth.


Learning, of course, is the first step. The second step is making a plan, and the third step is committing to action. Step number three, which is committing to action, is always the hardest step of all because, through action, one is going to either succeed or fail. The fear of failure can be a crippling fear, but none of us can afford to be fearful of failure. As long as failure leads to personal growth into a greater understanding of what you did wrong, it’s not a failure. It’s just a step towards success.


Use Social Media

Number two, Jennifer says:


“Be grateful for social media. Learn to use social media wisely and appreciate the incredible free advertising it offers you instead of criticizing it for its obvious drawbacks. Learn to make it work for you instead of letting it control you.”


I’ve heard a lot of music schools say that they know they should be doing social media. They say they feel this sort of pressure to do what everyone says: “You need to be on social media.” But then, a lot of people don’t really see the benefits or that they’re not seeing immediate results from social media. To learn about how to get better results from social media, I encourage you to check out Daniel Patterson and Nate Shaw’s recent episode on their podcast 7-Figure Music School episode just came out a few days ago. It’s called Efficient Social Media Marketing (w. Sara Campbell). Sara Campbell is really just a great person to follow in general when it comes to getting better results with social media.


Invest in Your Marketing Education

Next, Jennifer has this to share:


“Invest in your marketing education. In the early stages of building your business, your investment will mostly be in the form of time spent investigating how to market your studio.

The internet is full of ways to learn about marketing for free, and that’s where I started out. Because as a service provider, I didn’t know the first thing about marketing.

However, I quickly learned that I would waste a huge amount of time and energy trying to curate the endless information on the internet by myself, and I realized that I needed some expert help to speed up the process and maximize my growth potential.

Most businesses invest in paid advertising as a matter of course.

An entrepreneur doesn’t need to do that because of the wonders of social media. However, the savvy entrepreneur will likely need to invest some money in marketing education in order to save time and money in the long run.

Whether that means borrowing the money, taking out a loan, or increasing your income temporarily in some other way, at some point it will be wise to invest in a marketing program or hire an expert marketing coach to help you.

Every time I’ve done this, I have recouped my investment and my income has increased dramatically because of what I learned along the way.”


The key word there is this is. An investment is not a cost. Would you spend $5000 if you believed that $5000 was going to lead to you making $10,000? Well, of course, she would. There’s a little bit of risk with every investment of course, but finding courses and mentors can turn into an investment and create a return. It’s not even measurable.


Take Care of Your Health

Jennifer’s last point, which I really love, says:


“Take excellent care of your mental and physical health. Being an entrepreneur is one of the best ways to live and work because of the freedom you have running your own business; yet, it can often feel like a roller-coaster with its constant ups and downs, so it isn’t a lifestyle for the faint of heart! You need to develop excellent control over your mind and keep your physical body thriving and full of energy.”


Wow, it’s so true! This will help keep you balanced through the inevitable challenges of being an entrepreneur. We all know opening or owning a music school can be very stressful. Had I known how challenging and stressful opening and owning a music school was going to be, I might not have done it, but once I was up and running with my school, I certainly wasn’t going to shut it down. Coming up with healthier ways to take care of yourself and manage the stress Jennifer points out is essential.

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