What’s Your Strategy?
In this episode, I map out a strategy on how to convert your music studio into not just an online music studio, but an online community. A community that mixes music education, games and social opportunities. An online community with the fun and spirit of summer camp.
Businesses are having to permanently shut their doors. You are going to have to make tough decisions to stay afloat. You are going to have to rethink, maybe reinvent or re-imagine your music studio in order to survive. Now is the time to be a leader and inspire both your staff and your families. Now is the time to push your entrepreneurial self to the max, Now is the time to better understand your customer’s pain and connect with them through your messaging. Your studio’s survival depends on it.
How to Save Your Music Studio
A torpedo slammed into your music studio, maybe you only lost four, maybe 10 students, but you’re taking in water fast and maybe you don’t necessarily see that water. Maybe it’s coming in through the boiler room and you’re not aware of it yet. Maybe your customer’s confidence is beginning to waver a little bit. Maybe not so much in you, but about online lessons. They think, “Hey, we paid for March. We might as well try it out.” You don’t know how confident they are about this. You’ll find out very quickly in April. You need to run your business under the assumption that you’re going to lose more people.
Get Ready to Pivot
You have to assume that more trouble is ahead. The summer camps that you are planning to launch in June could be a problem. It’s fine to plan for the future, but I would plan on this situation lasting for six months or maybe even 12 months. That might be excessive, but you’re better off being prepared for it to go that long. I think right now you need to focus on assessing the damages in your business.
Examine Your Options
What are your options? Option number one: Zoom online lessons. What are your other options in terms of potentially growing your business in terms of growing or strengthening your business? The parents that are on the fence about March might not be there when April rolls in. What happens if mom or dad lose their jobs? They might have some money in savings, but how are you going to persuade them to continue in April? If they decide to keep their child enrolled in your lessons, you’re going to have to do something in your studio. What are your options and priorities right now? You had a whole to-do list and plenty of priorities, but things have changed.
Rework Your Priorities
It’s time to look at your current priorities. You need to identify what you need to do to survive and to thrive. Look at your operations and your office. Rethink how your office is structured. Are you answering every phone call that comes in? Are there things that you can do to automate the phones? Maybe your outgoing message when people call is one where you’re laying out what’s going on and what parents could do. Typically, that outgoing message is something that’s appealing to prospective new students. However, you need to take care of your current students right now. I’m having automated emails made up of answers to a lot of similar questions.
Three Things People Need From You
There are three things that your business, employees, and customers need from you:
- Strong leadership
- Entrepreneurial vision
- A new marketing mindset
- A new mission
- A new vision
- The ability to articulate your mission
Your mission before was to transform children’s lives through music. That’s not your mission anymore because your customers have new problems. You’re not erasing the original mission, but your business needs to address these new issues first or you’re going to become irrelevant.
What’s your new vision? How are you going to articulate it?
What words are you going to use? What marketing tactics can you use? You know, email, social media, and so on – what can you use to get that new vision and message out there? How can you instill confidence in your employees and your customers? A strong leader instills confidence. How can you reassure them that you’re in control and have a plan? How can you inspire them? We all need that coach to give us a pep talk. How can you as a leader, give your customers and your employees what they need? That’s what’s needed of you as a leader.
Understanding Your Market
As an entrepreneur, you need to read and understand your market. It’s a whole new market place that you’re dealing with. Don’t make assumptions about them. Now’s the time to reach out to your market and try to understand what their needs are. You’ve got to figure out how you can help them. What are their new challenges and how can you help them not only through music but through other means? I think the key to survival for music studios right now is to open their umbrella a little bit and say, “we’re not just a music studio; we’re also this.”
What’s Your Music Studios Messages
If you watch TV, you’ll notice the commercials have changed. The messages and tone have changed. They’re not doing videos of people at big parties. They’re very sensitive about that. Nobody wants to see big parties and big crowds. No one wants to be reminded of all the things that they can’t do. Go to your website. What’s your featured image of? What are the different pictures on your website? Are they kids at concerts? Kids with their teachers? Are those teachers reaching over and touching their guitar necks? That world doesn’t exist for us right now.
When people see those images, it gives them a painful reaction. They miss those days. I think the most effective photo featured image you could have on your website is a kid in front of their laptop laughing while holding their guitar and you see their teacher on the computer. Behind the kid, you see his mom on the couch with her feet up and her nose in a book, relaxing. That image right there projects the right message for this time and place. You’re not going to be trying to market lessons now. Be sensitive to how people are feeling.
Moving Beyond Music Lessons
What new experiences can you create beyond the music lessons? No one’s going to sign up for your music lessons right now, but you do have customers who have needs. If you can create over the top memorable moments of generosity and kindness, they’ll talk to their friends about it. You also want to plant seeds for your future. You shouldn’t just be thinking about what’s happening right now, but what changes can you make in your business that could potentially blossom into something that’s ongoing?
It’s important to stay competitive, but also want to stop selling and start giving. I think that’s the key right now. How can you add more value? When April rolls around and mom’s lost her job and dad’s business is hurting and they have savings, but they have your $150 expense screaming at them, you need to find a way to make them say “no, we are not cutting that because this music studio has done so much more for our child than we had ever expected.”
Get To Know Your New Customer
Let’s talk about your old customer. They don’t exist anymore. They’re gone, which also means your old business is gone. Your business has the same name, and your customers have the same name, but their wants and fears are utterly different. Your old customer wanted a happy child. They wanted a confident child, with that musician status. Every parent wants their child to have some sort of identity outside of school. You were able to potentially provide that for them. What were their fears? What the old customers feared was that they would fail in music and have a negative experience.
Your new customer, she wants a connection and for her child to feel connected. She wants her child to have a sense of community. Another is structure. She’s desperate for structure in her child’s day. And what does she fear? She fears isolation for her child. She fears her child suffering from depression. You know, “how is all this going to impact my child?” People are dying. Parents are also worried about their ability to simply parent because they’re so traumatized by this. The parents are worried about the tension that’s developing at home because they’re all locked in the house. These people are very different than the old customers.
Rethinking Your Music Studio
If you keep your business the way it’s always been, it will quickly become irrelevant. Your business needs to shed its skin and become something else. You have to create opportunities to give kids a sense of community, connection, and culture. How can you help with this isolation and potential depression that’s forming at home? Your new business has to help your new customer.
Online Lesson Issues
Everyone’s going online with zoom and having tech challenges. The pros, the lessons, and everything is through Zoom or other platforms. The private lesson online allows a child to experience that connection with the old familiar face. It creates structure and it’s a nice distraction from what’s going on in the world. The problem with online lessons is that there’s no culture with an online lesson. There’s no community. People don’t walk into your studio anymore and see that familiar face in the lounge. They don’t see those kids running around. You can’t create that with an online lesson. There’s no peer interaction. Another problem with the online lesson is it’s only once a week for 30 minutes. Parents need more help. The online lesson just doesn’t do enough.
Creating an Online Kids Only Club
What if your music studio, in addition to its online lessons, has something like a kid clubhouse or rock and roll clubhouse? What is it? It’s an online community that allows kids to connect, meet up with friends, make new friends, play music and games, and just be together, talking and socializing. What if you can create a whole online community that does that? If the kids are currently enrolled in the studio, it’s free and every day there’s stuff going on. It’s about these kids connecting, being social and having an online place like that directly addresses the parents’ fears. You can charge something like $50 a month to people who are no longer in your studio. I believe that this will give you a good chance of getting the old customers that are out of your studio. It’s exclusive to members only and their kids will want to join.
Half of the programming should be music and the other half should be something else that’s fun. You can have a time where kids can just practice together online. Their mikes are muted, but they’re practicing and they can see each other. Set up a time where the teacher can listen in and give tips or answer questions. You could have very structured things like a structured songwriting game. But then have times where the kids can just hang out and talk. Look up icebreakers for kids to get the conversation going.
You’re going to do a round table and ask kids questions. Maybe you could do something where kids get to submit their favorite YouTube video and nobody knows who’s submitting the video. Maybe you, the instructor, has the video and then at the end everyone votes on which one is the best. There’s no musical value to that and that’s okay.
The Marketing Pitch
If you can say to your customers, “look, you’re paying $150. Your child gets a 30-minute lesson and they can tune in here every day and be a part of the rock and roll clubhouse. These are different things going on in there.” You’re going to have a new whole marketing strategy for this. You’re going to have to be patient because it’s probably not going to get a lot of traction at first. People aren’t going to understand what it is. Consider having daily email recaps. Think of this as a summer camp, but it’s every day in your music studio. I think now is a time to create a social club that meets every day. Kids sign up and they can be a part of it. This puts you in a position to meet your clients’ needs for months on end and potentially get your old students who dropped out to come back.
Marketing Strategies For Your Online Music Studio
Let’s talk about strategy. How can you pull this off? If you’re going to have this social club, you’ve got to announce it and explain what it is. People aren’t going to sign up for it right away, but you’ve got to start building excitement, curiosity and begin educating people on what it is. Show them, as well, through videos. You’re going to have to aggressively go to your students and say, “Hey, can you attend? This Thursday we’re going to be doing musical jeopardy. We would love to have little Johnny on.” As long as you’re consistent in that message and present it in a way that’s attention-grabbing, they’ll eventually catch on to what you’re doing. You want to start featuring kids and doing these different activities and put them up on social media. Create PR using this content and make the parents excited about the opportunity. By targeting cold leads, I think you can pull these people back into your system.
The key to doing it as conversational marketing is to create an email that doesn’t have graphics in it. Tell your people that when you send out emails with a lot of graphics, people see sales. Instead, put your logo at the top, just a little graphic, but the rest feels like a natural email. Write it the way folks talk. Those emails are more likely to get open and read. Phrase it as “we have a class on Thursday. Do you think he could attend? No charge for the class the first time your kid tries out the social club.” If you send out an email blast through MailChimp and put a little link in there, then you can click, track who opened it and who clicked it. Then, get on the phone and follow up with those parents.
While all of this is going on, you need to keep an eye on what your competition is doing. More than likely, your competition is scrambling and just trying to get their business and lessons online. What if you can move into the market before them and do something different, something more than the private lessons? A private social club just for kids is different enough to capture the attention of the parents in your market. Potentially you might come away from this with a whole new aspect to your business.
It’s All About the Kids
One of the things about playing music in an ensemble is that kids learn about teamwork and leadership. They learn how to problem solve and how to troubleshoot. Plus, they find their voice in the group. We can still do that. We just can’t do that necessarily with the music the way we used to do it. We can’t all just fire up a groove and start playing. What can we do to work on those other skills? Do it as a group, work on those personality traits and the character traits that parents want their children to develop.