What My Mailman Taught Me About Marketing Music Lessons | Ep 106

Marketing Music Lessons

I want to share with you a marketing lesson that I learned from my mailman. Before I share with you this marketing lesson, actually it’s three different marketing lessons I learned from him, I have to give you some context to the story.



My wife and I are … Well, my wife and I and my family, we live here in Cleveland, and we’re Orthodox Jews, which means that on Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath, there are certain religious obligations and restrictions that we adhere to. One of the obligations, which is great, is that we’re obligated to have three festive meals, three Thanksgiving-style meals, started on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night.


I got to be honest with you, by the time you get to that third meal, the meal has been cut back to maybe tuna fish, fruit, and whatever leftovers are left from the other two meals. The restrictions include that we’re unable to use any type of transportation other than our feet, so no driving, not using … You can’t use a bicycle. You can’t even be a passenger on one of those vehicles, so everyone’s on foot on Saturday.


Small Town in a Big City

With these three festive meals, you’re also encouraged to have guests come over, so it’s a very social event. It’s every Saturday, and because of the Jewish Sabbath, because of this one day, religious Jews cluster into these small neighborhoods that are maybe a mile, two-mile at most radius, because everyone needs to be able to walk to get everywhere.


Dressed in Our Sunday’s Best

When we first arrived in Cleveland, we were invited over to our neighbor’s house for a Saturday lunch, which as I said is very customary to invite people over for meals and keep in mind that religious Jews on Saturday, are dressed in their Sunday’s best, or in our case, Saturday’s best, men in suit and ties, women in fancy dresses. The kids are also dressed up. You can also identify an Orthodox Jew on Saturday because the men, that our heads are all covered with hats or yarmulkes, you know, those funny little hats. As we’re walking to visit our friend, the mailman walks by and he shouts out just in a really hearty, energetic voice, “Shabbat shalom,” and my wife and I didn’t know what to say. We didn’t say anything back.


We were just kind of frozen. Then finally, I said, “Hello. How are you?” I noticed he kept walking down the streets saying Shabbat Shalom to everyone. Now, to give you a little bit of context, Shabbat Shalom is a greeting that a Jew gives to another Jew on Saturday.


“I just listen to what people say. I observe what’s going on in the community, and I want to make people feel good.”¬† That pretty much summarizes good marketing, this whole act of listening and observing what your customers are doing and coming up with meaningful ways to connect with them beyond the delivery of your service.


Saturday Surprise

It’s the equivalent of seeing somebody on Christmas, maybe a total stranger, Merry Christmas. It would almost feel awkward not to say that. If I’m walking down the street on a Saturday afternoon and I see another Jewish person from across the street, I’m going to try to make eye contact with them so I can say to them, “Shabbat shalom,” and they’re probably doing the same to me. It’s a very celebratory day. The mailman said it. I never heard a non-Jew say Shabbat Shalom to me, and I’ve had plenty of my non-Jewish friends come over on a Saturday afternoon for lunch, and they don’t say that to me.

Marketing Music Lessons

They hear me saying it to other Jewish people, but the mailman said it. Hey, maybe this guy was Jewish. Well, no, of course, he’s not Jewish. He’s working. Jews are also restricted from working on Saturdays.


When we got to our friend’s house, her “Hey, what’s the deal with the mailman?” and she said, “Oh, his name’s Aaron. Did he tell you, Shabbat Shalom?” I said, “Yeah, How did he know to say that?” She said, “I don’t know. He’s the greatest guy. Everybody loves him. He always wishes everyone a Good Shabbos.”


Surprise Your Customers

Wow, I was really touched by that, and sure enough, every Saturday when I’d see Aaron, he always made a point to say Shabbat Shalom to me, and he would say it to everybody else on the street, just like the Jews do. He said it with that same enthusiasm that the people in my community do. A couple of months later, another holiday was coming up, Rosh Hashanah. Now, the greeting is different on Rosh Hashanah, and Rosh Hashanah, you say good Yom Tov when you see somebody. I remember that morning, I said to my wife, “Let’s see if Aaron knows what to say on Rosh Hashanah, and sure enough, we see Aaron, the mailman out on the street, and he passes us and he says, “Good Yom Tov guys.”


“Good Yom Tov,” and I said, “I can’t believe it. How does he know that? How does he even know today’s a Yom Tov?” Needless to say, everyone in our neighborhood loves Aaron, the mailman. Now, a few weeks ago was Hanukkah, and by this point, I’m assuming Aaron’s going to wish us a Happy Hanukkah. He’s going to know it, and sure enough, we stepped out of our door and he wished us a happy Hanukkah.


Drop a Note To Your Customers

Hanukkah is not such a religious holiday, so there aren’t any indicators that it’s Hanukkah, but somehow he knew that it was Hanukkah, and he wished us a happy Hanukkah. Hanukkah’s an eight-day holiday. During those eight days, Aaron dropped off a note, a little card in our mailbox, just saying, “Wanted to wish you happy holidays from Aaron, the mailman.” All right, so let’s just kind of review this from a marketing perspective. Now, Aaron, the mailman’s an employee, but he’s thinking like an entrepreneur, and I even asked him once, I said, “Aaron, how did you know that today was a Yom Tov, and how did you know what to say?”


Listen, Watch, and Plan on Way’s To Make Your Customers Feel Good

He said, “Look, I just listen. I just listen to what people say. I observe what’s going on in the community, and I want to make people feel good.” Well, that pretty much summarizes good marketing, this whole act of listening and observing what your customers are doing. It doesn’t take much to figure out that on Saturday, people say good Shabbos or Shabbat Shalom to each other.


It doesn’t take much to figure out that people are saying Good Yom Tov to each other. All of a sudden, Aaron, the mailman’s out there when he hears maybe one or two people saying it. They’re probably saying it to him. Everybody wishes Aaron, the mailman, Good Shabbos or Shabbat Shalom, or Good Yom Tov when they see him because they know that he likes to participate in the community that way. They know that he likes to go beyond the expectation of the mailman, so this whole idea of listening and observing your customer, and surprising them, and delighting them, and it doesn’t really take much.


Exceeding Customer Expectations 

In Aaron, the mailman’s case, it’s simply saying words that he knows will resonate with his customers. Now, we’re not really his customers, right? I mean, he works for the government, and his job is just to simply put in the mail in our mailbox, but he’s taking that to another level. He’s having a greater impact on our community by engaging in our community, and making us feel good, and making us feel welcome. Then, he hit it out of the park when he dropped off a little note to us, wishing us happy holidays.


He didn’t do it the week before Christmas. He did it right in the middle of Hanukkah. That takes some awareness and some effort. Completely unexpected. How can we apply these marketing lessons to a music studio?


Marketing Music Lessons Without Spending a Dime

Well, here’s how. Let’s say … Well, here’s how. Again, Aaron’s strategy is to listen, pay attention, observe, and then surprise your customers, so how we apply that to marketing music lessons? Here’s how.


Let’s say, for example, one of your students comes in for the lesson and you say to her, “Hey, you got any big plans this weekend?” and she says, “Oh, my grandparents are coming into town.” “Oh, that’s great. Are these your mom’s parents or your dad’s parents?” “Oh, these are my mom’s parents.” “Oh, and what do you call them?” “What grandparent name do you have for them?,” and she says, “Oh, my grandma, I call Mimi and my grandfather, I call him Popa and that’s kind of the end of the conversation.


market music lessons

Surprise and Delight Your Music Students

You make a note of that. Pull out your cellphone and you make a little note that Sally’s grandparents, Mimi and Papa are coming to visit. On Monday, you email Sally’s mom and say, “Hope you had a nice weekend with your parents. I’m sure Sally had lots of fun with Mimi and Papa” and that’s it. That’s the email.


That’s the exact type of strategy that Aaron, the mailman is using. That’s going to get mom scratching her head, wondering, “How did he know that my parents were coming into town?” She could probably figure it out. She can do some investigative work and figure out, “Oh, yeah,” that Sally said something, but nonetheless, mom was going to be so touched by that. She’ll perceive it as a really extreme act of generosity because it is.


Marketing Music Lessons is About Relationships

It’s, you’re showing that you care about your customer beyond the business exchange, beyond the, “I’ll teach your kid and you give me money,” and that’s exactly what Aaron’s doing. Now, here’s something that I think is really interesting. We always would give our mail person some Christmas gift, and we typically didn’t really know who our mail person was. I mean, typically, they come to the door and they’re listening to music or they’re on their phone, they drop the mail up, but still, it’s just kind of one of those customs that we all do. Maybe you leave some cookies out for the mailman, but for Aaron, we felt like, “No.”


Elevating Your Customers Feelings

We really wanted to do something really generous for him, so we gave him a $50 check. To be honest with you, I would have been okay if we had given him more. I have a feeling that a lot of people in our community also gave him very generous gifts because it feels good to express your appreciation to people who you really appreciate. It feels good to express your appreciation to people who’ve had an impact on your life, to people who brighten up your day a little bit, and that describes Aaron, the mailman. Who knows, maybe Aaron made hundreds of dollars through gifts over Christmas, and clearly that’s not what’s motivating him.


A Fresh Perspective On Marketing  Music Lessons

What’s motivating him is his desire to make people feel good. What goes around comes around. I’m sure he appreciated our $50 check. I’m sure he appreciated all the gifts that he got, and I’m sure it made him feel really good, and it’s the same thing with your customers. You’ll feel really good when you surprise your customer with an email, asking if they had a good time if they had a nice time with their parents this weekend because you know you’re really going to make their day, or you’re at least going to add an element of surprise. You’re going to lift their spirits for that moment.


The more you think like that, the more connected your customers are going to feel towards you, the more loyal they will be towards you. Aaron, the mailman is the best mailman we’ve ever had, not because of how he delivers the mail, it’s because of the connection that he makes with the people in our neighborhood. He’s a part of our community. He wants to be a part of our community, and he expresses that by using expressions and language that the people in our community do, and the people in our community feel like he’s a part of our community. People in my community say Shabbat Shalom to him.


They say Good Yom Tov to him because they also know that that will resonate with him. It’s our way of saying to him, “Hey, we care about you and we do consider you a part of our community.” The effort that Aaron, the mailman makes is minimal. Really, the effort that he makes is in listening and observing, and that’s what you need to do with your customers, listen and observe what’s going on in their lives. When you overhear your customer saying something, or if one of your students tells you something, ask yourself, “Could this be an opportunity for me to surprise them?”


Create a Strategy for How You Market Your Music Lessons

When your student tells you that they’re trying to get ready to play the piano at their talent show, ask yourself, “Is there a way for you to really do something special for your student after their talent show?” Maybe you send them a note. Maybe you go big and you even show up at their talent show. That’s a little bit of a time commitment, but just being in that mindset of listening and observing, and then asking yourself, “What can I do to surprise and delight my customers based on the information that they’re sharing with me? What can I do to be more like Aaron, the mailman?”

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