How to Market to Inactive Students | EP 182

September 22, 2022

Marketing to Student Drops

In today’s episode, I discuss how to launch a marketing campaign targeted at your students who may be dropped out in spring and didn’t return in the fall.  It’s easy to forget about these people during the fall rush as you’re getting all these new students. It’s very exciting! But those people that dropped out during the fall or spring and didn’t return? I wouldn’t give up on them just yet. The people from the fall of the previous year are also worth reaching out to.

 

Parents are looking for afterschool enrichment programs that can help their kids be better people, and your music lessons can help them achieve that.

  

Today on the show, I’m going to share with you strategies that I would implement in my music school every time right around mid-to-late September.

 

If you’re trying to nurture the relationship you have with that person, stay top of mind and build goodwill.

 

Common Reasons Why Students Don’t Return

I think an important question to ask yourself is why people drop out. Why did they not return in the fall?

 

1. Getting Settled into the School Year

Perhaps the parent wants their child to get settled into the school year first. Perhaps a child’s going to a new school or they’re moving up from elementary to middle school and the parent just kind of wants to see how their child settles in.

 

2. Overwhelmed Parents

The parents may be just telling you that they are overwhelmed and they have so much going on. They just can’t deal with afterschool programs quite yet.

 

3. Soccer vs Music Lessons

Maybe there’s some sort of scheduling conflict. Quite often, it’s tied in with a new activity or sports. Soccer is a big competitor this time of the year, but I have found that if the parent really wants to try to make it work with their kid, there’s usually a way to make it work especially if your school’s open on weekends when kids don’t play soccer.

 

4. Overscheduled Kids

Some parents don’t want their children to be overscheduled. “Fine, we’re going to do soccer in the fall.” That’s really going to be the only activity and then they’ll put music lessons on hold.

 

5. A Child Doesn’t Love Music Lessons

Another reason why people don’t return is that their kids just don’t love music. “Well, my kid’s not practicing.” They’re throwing their kid under the bus. Usually, it’s a cover for the fact that the kid just really doesn’t love music, which is also another reason why they wouldn’t be practicing that much.

 

 

If you’ve got a service that can help people, you have a moral obligation to broadcast your message—to be persistent.

 

 

An Explanation or an Excuse

Let’s take a look at these different explanations. If the kid does not love it, something could be going on in your music lessons in general. Look at the music lesson as well as the culture and community that you create in your music school if retention is the problem. Parents could genuinely feel that they want their child to get settled into the school year or that they don’t want their child to be overbooked and they’re doing soccer. Well, those people have some hope.

 

 

Only a small percentage of your drops will have the potential to actually return, but the people that do drop and don’t return can still be a source of referrals for you.

 

– – – EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS – – –

 

How to Market to Inactive Students in Your Music School

 

List Your Dropouts in a Spreadsheet

You mustn’t give up on them. Have a strategy to stay connected with them. What I would do right before the fall gets started is to make a spreadsheet of all spring and summer dropouts. Also, some people don’t drop out in the summer but then drop out right as you roll into fall. Include them in the spreadsheet, too.

 

Know the Perfect Time to Market

The next thing that I would do is to look up online the popular soccer leagues that most of my students go to and find out the soccer league season’s end date. You can ask parents what soccer league or music school their child’s in. In St. Louis, there were only two different leagues that I had to keep an eye on. Knowing when the soccer league ends allows you to coordinate a marketing campaign around that.

 

You’re trying to make the world a better place through music, so keep emailing and texting people until they reply. Keep calling them until they pick up the phone…until they give you a firm “NO”.

 

Use a Targeted Marketing Effort

For the parents who told you that they’re not going to continue in the fall because they want their child to get settled into school, you’re going to have one marketing effort for them.

 

 The more top of mind you are, the more likely they are to talk about you.

 

Be Consistent and Persistent

Then, you’re going to have a marketing campaign tied in with the end of soccer. That can go out to everyone who’s inactive. You must have good data as to why people aren’t returning. The only way to find out why is to persistently reach out to people that have not reenrolled in the fall. A lot of music schools may send an email or two or send a text message then at that point back off if they don’t hear back from the parent. It’s really important that you’re consistent and persistent.

 

Having an effort to reach out to parents through an email without the sales message implies that you’ve been thinking about the child.

 

Don’t Worry about Being a Nuisance

Don’t worry about being a nuisance to them. Most likely, the reason they aren’t getting back to you is you’re on their lower list of priorities. With so much going on, saying no to you isn’t as important as everything that they’re having to deal with in their life.

 

By being persistent, you will eventually catch them when they have a second to respond to you. If they see that you’re continually reaching out to them, they’re going to realize, “Okay, this guy is not going away until I tell him no”.

 

Capture Data to Focus Your Marketing Efforts

Here’s why. Most likely, if they’re getting multiple attempts from you to get them reenrolled in the fall, you’ll eventually get a “NO”, and then you’re going to take a break. They’ll probably tell you a cover-up so they won’t hurt your feelings. Maybe their kid hates their lessons, but they tell you that they want their child to get settled into the school year. At least you get that data which will allow you to formulate a marketing strategy for them in the weeks ahead.

 

Email Marketing

In the third or fourth week of September, you can send an email to the people that wanted to get their child settled into the school year and let them get acclimated to the new school and new schedule. Say something like, “I hope Billy’s having a good start to the school year. I just wanted to reach out to you to let you know that Billy’s teacher, Adam, has an opening on a Monday at four o’clock and a Thursday at six o’clock. Do either of these times work better for you?”

 

Assess Your Message

Let’s take a look at what’s being implied in that message because there’s a lot. By simply saying, “Billy’s old teacher has two new openings on these days,” you’re implying that this teacher’s pretty booked up. With the teacher shortage that’s going on in our country, or at least in the States or probably all over the world, there’s a good chance right now that the teachers are pretty booked up. That message is broadcasting a message of scarcity.

 

Present Simple Options

Now, the teacher might have more than two openings per day, but by presenting just two options, it becomes a lot easier for a parent to focus. Presenting four openings runs the risk of the person being overwhelmed. You also don’t know if this person even really wants to reenroll so you’re making this very simple and easy for them.

 

Use an Assumptive Close

Also, in this email, I used an assumptive close. I said, “Do either of these times work better for you?” Well, the parent never said to me that they want to sign up or re-enroll. I’m assuming in the language that they do, but look, if you’re confident in your music lessons and you believe in your music school, making assumptions like these are great.

 

People should want to reenroll in your music school. Your music lessons can help their kids out. Parents are looking for afterschool enrichment programs that can help their kids be better people, and your music lessons can help them achieve that. You can display your confidence by using an assumptive close like this: “Adam has an opening on Monday and Thursday. Do either of these times work better for you?”

  

Persistency Pays

If they don’t reply, email them again a week later or text them or call them a week or a few days later. Don’t let it go with just one attempt to connect with them. People appreciate persistence. I’ve had so many parents say to me over the years saying “I’m so sorry I didn’t get back to you. Thank you so much for your persistence.” Perhaps some people were, but I’ve never had anyone express to me that they were annoyed by it.

 

Help People

If you’ve got a service that can help people, you have a moral obligation to broadcast your message—to be persistent. You’re trying to make the world a better place through music, so keep emailing and texting people until they reply. Keep calling them until they pick up the phone…until they give you a firm “NO”.

 

Get Ready with Your Campaigns Ahead

Earlier on the podcast, I talked about making a note of when the soccer leagues come to a close. Perhaps about two weeks before the soccer season ends, I’d have an email marketing campaign ready to go. This could also really work well. It’s a short little video that you could convert into a Facebook ad.

 

Beef Up Your Ad Copy

This email campaign is going to have a message that addresses the end of a soccer season and some of the challenges that a parent might have when the soccer season is over. Then, you’re going to come to the rescue with your music lessons. Here’s an email that I would send out. I would test two different ones. The subject reads “Is it over yet?” Here’s the message:

 

“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. And as a little piano playing around the house, sound a little guitar to keep you warm on the snowy days ahead, little drums for a family Saturday night dance party. Everybody loves music. Your child will love playing it. CLICK HERE TO START TODAY.”

 

Then, you can maybe include an offer like “P.S. $50 off lessons” and “Offer expires” and then you give him a date.

 

Use an Email Marketing Platform

My approach for this email marketing campaign is to send three emails set to go. Say two weeks before soccer season ends, and email 1 goes out. You only can do this if you’re using some email marketing platform like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign. Not using these platforms means you’re not optimizing your email marketing. Despite its advantages, so many music schools don’t utilize email marketing as much as they could. You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t have a robust email marketing plan.

 

Send out three emails promoting this sort of after-soccer promotion. Set a deadline for the promotion. Mine is always set for a Saturday. The reason being is the week before the deadline for that promotion, I would go to the phone with my office staff.

 

Track the Performance of Your Email Campaigns

Export and sort data from the email campaigns to identify who’s consistently opening and clicking the emails. They’re called clickers because they’re the first people that clicked on your link. Clickers tell you not only did they open or read the email, but they also actually went to your website.

 

Use the Power of Sales Call

People that opened your email tell you that your email subject caught their attention, but it doesn’t mean that they necessarily even read it. During that week, we’re going to call the people that clicked the email. If they don’t answer, we’re going to leave a message like “Hey, this is Dave from Dave Simon’s Rock School. We just wanted to let you know we’re running a promotion that expires this Saturday. It’s $50 off music lessons. If you’d like to bring a little music back into your child’s life, now’s a great time to enroll.”

 

Gamify Your Sales Training

Something like that—a little scripted-out message that everyone’s going to leave on the phone. This could be a little scripted opening statement that you’ll use every time people answer the phone. What is more, you can also gamify the experience with your staff. Turn it into a competition and drive it with some nice cash prize saying “Whoever gets the most sales this week, I’m gonna give him a $300 bonus.”

 

Stay Top of Mind

For people who want to take a break to get their kids settled into their new school and can’t do it now, maybe in the first week of the school year you can message the parent and say “Hey, I hope Billy’s off to a good start in his new school.” That’s the email. No sales message. If you’re trying to nurture the relationship you have with that person, stay top of mind and build goodwill.

 

Automate Tasks

Having a CRM allows you to manage this easily. When someone tells you that they’re going to take the fall off in August because they want their child to get settled into the school year, note that in their CRM account and then email them. You can even write the email right there at that moment and schedule it to go out in three weeks.

 

Same with sports. If the parent says, “You know what, we’re going to take the fall off. Sally wants to do soccer this fall, and we just want her to do one activity.” Great. Make a note in the CRM and then email Sally’s mom in mid-September, “We hope Sally’s having a successful soccer season.” I used to like using this line “Tell her we said hello. We missed seeing her and hearing her fill the halls of the music school up with music.”

 

Give Value to Your Students

Having an effort to reach out to parents through an email without the sales message implies that you’ve been thinking about the child. You remember that Sally’s doing soccer. You remember that Johnny’s going from elementary school to middle school. There’s a lot of value in this even if they don’t return to your school.

 

Build a Source of Referral

If you look at all of your drops, only a small percentage of them will actually return to your school. Most people don’t return because their kids just didn’t love music lessons enough to want to come back. Most parents who sign their kids up for music lessons are thinking “I hope my child loves this. If she does, this is something we’re going to continue to do. We’re not going to take a break from it if my kid loves it. I’m looking for an activity that my child loves. That’s his or her thing.”

 

Only a small percentage of your drops will have the potential to actually return, but the people that do drop and don’t return can still be a source of referrals for you.

 

People don’t return to music lessons because the child doesn’t like them. It’s not the parent necessarily. By continuing to nurture that relationship with them, you begin to build thought in their mind. They’d say “I wish my child wanted to continue playing the piano because I really love that music school. Those guys are great. They always made it a little extra effort. They always went beyond my expectations.”

 

Top of Mind, Tip of Tongue

An email like “Hey, I hope Sally’s off to a good start at her new school.” leaves the parent with a positive feeling. It puts your music school top of mind in their mind. The expression “top of mind, tip of tongue” means the more top of mind you are, the more likely they are to talk about you. You’re still a part of their life. Although they only get two emails a year from you with a personalized message, they’re still a source of referrals.

 

Nurture Relationships

Even though a student drops out, there’s still a good chance that at some point, someone will ask that parent for a good place for music lessons. If it’s been two or three years since they enrolled their kid at your music school, and they haven’t heard from you, which means you’re not really on their radar or top of their mind anymore, they might not refer you. By continually focusing on nurturing those relationships, you can make that inactive student or parent a strong referral source for you.

 

It’s Not Too Late

That’s my fall marketing strategy that I would implement for inactive students. I know it’s a little too late to implement some of these, but it’s certainly not too late to implement parts of these. If you liked what you heard, make a note. There’s no reason why you can’t implement it next year.

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