Amplify Your Word of Mouth Marketing
Asking someone for a referral or asking for “the sale” can be difficult and can feel unnatural. It can feel forced in a conversation. I’m going to share with you some different approaches to transitioning, from asking for the sale or asking for a referral.
You would think that most small businesses would have a referral-based marketing system. Most music school owners will tell you that most of their business comes from word of mouth. Yet most music schools and most small businesses don’t have a word of mouth or a referral-based marketing system in place. It’s common to have “refer a friend get $50 off” which can be an effective incentive. The more different referral systems you have in place, the more referrals you will get.
Asking For The Sale
I know it can be hard sometimes to ask for the sale. You’re on the phone with a prospective client, you have a nice conversation and it can feel awkward to transition into so what do you say we sign up and I know it can even be awkward or uncomfortable to ask for a referral. Here’s how I encourage you to think about this or how to approach asking for the sale and asking for referrals.
Think Back To Your Childhood
I want you to take a moment and think about how music has impacted your life. Imagine what your life was if you can remember what your life was like before you started playing an instrument. Before I started playing an instrument I was a below-average student and I was painfully shy. I just didn’t feel like there was anything special about me. I just felt like I was very average. In seventh grade, I started playing bass guitar, started playing with some of my buddies and we had a little garage band and word spread like wildfire around my junior high school that I was in a band.
How You Help Kids Feel Greater Than Average
I have this very vivid memory of being at a friend’s house. The garage door propped open. It was April or May and all these teenagers kind of hanging out in the driveway, neighborhood kids listening to us. I just felt so amazing. Music gave me an identity. It made me feel more than average. It made me feel special. It made me feel unique. It made me feel smart. When you’re a kid you rely on your grades as a metric for your intelligence. If you’re not a great student, even if you’re an average student, you need something to help you feel smart. Grades are that metric. My metric, my grades were always average, but playing an instrument requires talent, requires determination requires focus.
How You Help Kids in Their Social Life
All of a sudden my status changed. I felt better about myself. Older kids began to notice me. The rest of my classmates had to deal with the fact that we’re the low men on the totem pole the fact that I was a musician. It allowed me to bond and connect with older kids that were also musicians. When you’re a musician and a competent musician, older kids will respect you and they’ll even hang out with you. They’ll play in bands with you.
How Your Music Lessons Change Kids Lives
Music helped me cope and deal with my insecurities in a way that gave me a sense of self, a sense of purpose, and a sense of confidence. I can’t imagine what junior high and high school would’ve been like without that newfound identity and the newfound confidence that music gave me. Music is something that I can always turn to when I’m feeling a little bit down, or if I just want to relax, I can pull out my guitar and sit outside on the porch. I can sit at the piano and improvise through some cord changes. It’s just a very therapeutic exercise, this is what you’re selling. This is a promise that you’re making the people. It’s not about learning an instrument. It’s about how learning to play an instrument changes your life. You’re selling people that hope that dream and that promise and you know firsthand the power of music.
You’re Once Conversation Away From a New Student
In so many other industries, people have to ask themselves, “Okay, how do I get passionate about selling toothpaste? How do I get passionate and excited about selling whatever commodity it is that I’m selling?” I’ve never met a music school owner that struggles with that. You’re doing people a disservice if you don’t tell them about your music school if you don’t pitch to them your music lessons.
When you meet someone at a party or you start chatting with somebody at Starbucks that has kids, you’re doing them a disservice if you don’t tell them about your music school and tell them how much their kids would love music lessons at your school. One of the best forms of marketing is simply talking to people. When people ask you what you do for a living, there’s a good chance that that person asking you that question has kids of music lesson age, or know somebody with kids.
Have Some Go-To Phrases To Help You Transition and Close
It can feel uncomfortable to ask for the sale because it feels like you’re saying, give me money. We had a nice talk about your kid, but now show me the money. It’s not what it’s about at all. When you ask for the sale, you’re saying great. When can we start helping your kid achieve all these hopes and dreams that you have for them? I just encourage you to think of your business from that perspective. You’ve got a product that can change kids’ lives. It changed your life. You can use your life story as a source of inspiration in your sales and marketing.
I know that still doesn’t take away the discomfort of asking for the sale. A way that can make it easier to ask for the sale is to have some fixed sentences that you have memorized, some fixed phrases that you know you can just pull out when it’s time to transition in the conversation, to transition away from talking about the child, transition from talking about your music lessons and how they’re going to help the child so let’s get you on the schedule.
Eliminating Awkward Moments
My transitional phrase was always, “does this sound like something Billy would enjoy?” Mom says, “Oh yes, this sounds great.” And then I pivot from there to my assumptive close, presenting two options to the parent. Well, we have a Tuesday opening at four and a Wednesday opening at 5:30. Do either of these work better for you? Every phone call ended that way. Every phone call with a prospective student. That is how I would transition to the sale. Before I had those fixed phrases, I could feel my heart racing a little bit like, “Okay, how do I do this? I want to cut to the chase.” Now it kind of feels like time to ask them if they want to sign up or do I ask them if they need some time to think about it.
A Simple Word-of-Mouth Strategy
I used this same approach for referrals. One of the best ways to get your customers to refer is to ask them to refer, to let them know that one of them, that you rely on their referrals to grow your business and your customers who love you. They want to help you out. When you see parents signing up multiple kids in your music studio, that parent is telling you they’re pleased with the service you provide. Typically it starts out, they enroll one kid. Then three months later, they enroll another kid.
They’re telling you that they’re pleased and you need to ask them for referrals and they’ll gladly refer, but they need a little push. They need to be prompted. The way that I would do that is some of the fixed lines that I had is whenever a parent complimented me and I’d say, “Oh, I appreciate your feedback. It means so much to me. If you have any friends who have children that you feel would benefit from music lessons here, I would greatly appreciate it if you could send them our way.”
Creating Opportunities to Ask For Referrals
I had a system where I would, two to three times a year, pop into the lesson of each student in my school for just a few seconds, listen to what they were doing, and I’d email mom a note saying, hey, I popped into Lauren’s lesson today. She was working on an Olivia Rodrigo song. She sounded great. You must be so pleased with the progress that she’s made in the past few months. Nine out of 10 times, the parent’s going to reply back to me. First of all, with a thank you for the note. Then they would typically often give me some feedback about how the lessons are going and if they compliment me or if they share some positive feedback. There’s an opening for me to ask for a referral.
Asking For Referrals In Your Auto Signature
It was the same standard phrase. “I appreciate the feedback. If you know of anyone else that has children, who you feel might benefit from music lessons, we’d greatly appreciate a referral.” I’d even take it a step further and I’d say, feel free to send them this link so they could contact us today. Then I’ll link to the website. Creating a culture of referrals in your studio is essential to amping up your word-of-mouth marketing. I’ve seen businesses add “ we love referrals” in their auto signature. It’s just a little reminder to your customers how they can help you. Having these memorized scripted statements to ask for the sale, to ask for the referral makes it a lot easier to do so.
It’s Not About Sales; It’s About Changing Lives
If it ever feels awkward or uncomfortable, just remind yourself how music has impacted you, how it’s changed your life, what your life would be like without it. If kids don’t take music lessons and they don’t feel successful in music lessons, they’re going to live a life without music. I mean, they’ll live a life where they can listen to it on the radio, but you know firsthand how powerful and impactful it is to hold music in your hands, to create music with your fingers. That’s what you’re selling. That transformation, your discomfort, maybe even inability to ask for the sale is doing your community a disservice. The more comfortable, the more confident you are to talk about your business, to ask for the sale, to ask for the referrals, the more lives you can change.
Other Resources For Word of Mouth Marketing