Studio Marketing: Creating Value

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for posts about how I’m building my studio since I moved to a new area.  I have been reading a lot of books and articles about marketing lately, and I’ve been learning a lot!   I’m happy to share what I’m learning, so I’m going to be posting a whole series of posts on studio marketing.  The most important lesson I’ve learned is going to be addressed in the first post of the series: today’s post about creating value.  Enjoy!

Marketing

Marketing, at a most basic definition, means promoting your business.  While advertising and branding are indeed part of it, marketing is much more than that.  Marketing is the combination of all your efforts to get people to remember your business.  Marketing builds your brand, and your brand is what gets people to remember your business.  And when people remember your business, they are more likely to buy from you. 

First: What Can we Learn From Apple?

In these rough economic times, folks may say they don’t have money for piano lessons.  Baloney, I say.

Let’s look at the company Apple.  They’ve been doing amazingly well through these economic times.  And with products like the MacBook, iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad (which many piano teaching blogs have been raving about lately!), it’s no wonder.  Apple is creating products that people value.  Despite the fact that their products are by no means the most affordable on the market, their sales continue to increase.

So what can we learn from Apple?  Here’s what: People always have money for what they value.

In this economy, there are many teachers who are at an all-time low number of students.  For others, business is booming.  How about you?

Creating Value

How does Apple do it?  How do they successfully market themselves despite the fact that they are obviously not the most affordable option for consumers?  They don’t market themselves based on price, that’s how!

What kind of piano teacher do you want to be?  One who competes with competitive prices, or one with competes with the quality of services you offer?  The former will attract customers who only care about price.  The latter will attract customers who care about the quality of the service.  This is not to say that we should not be affordably priced — this is simply to suggest an alternative to marketing ourselves based on affordability.

Apple does not advertise itself as affordable.  Apple markets its products based on user experience — sleek, fast, convenient, and stylish.  In contrast, other technology companies market themselves based on affordability and savings while maintaining that their products are powerful and advanced.  Try visiting their websites (here’s Apple.com and Dell.com, for example) and notice what kinds of words you find on their homepages.

If you don’t get anything else out of this post, get this: Marketing your studio is about creating value for your customers.

How to Create Value

Creating value is about defining and communicating what is unique about your studio as well as the benefits you promise your customers through your service.  Here are a few examples of what might make one piano teacher unique from another:

  • I believe teaching composition along with how to play at the piano allows students another creative way to express themselves.
  • I believe teaching through play is the most effective way to learn.  We use lots of activities and games during the lesson.
  • I believe teaching popular styles of music is just as important as classical styles.
  • I believe music is an important way for humans express their feelings and emotions.

These are just a few examples.  It might take some time and pondering to figure out what kind of focus makes you unique as a piano teacher.  If you’ve written a teaching philosophy before, you’ve probably already figured some of this out for yourself.  If not, try visiting the studio websites of some other piano teachers and see what makes their approach different from your own.

Once you’ve defined what makes you unique as a piano teacher, you can make it the center of your marketing.  Then your website can boast much more than simply affordable lessons.  And when people ask what you do, you will have more to answer than simply “I’m a piano teacher.”  Not only will clearly defining your value be a helpful tool for you to talk about when potential students call, but students/parents will also perceive this value too and spread the word for you.  This is how you can successfully market yourself.

So, what makes YOU unique?

If you think you’ve got this figured out, please share – what’s unique about your piano studio?  :)

References:

  • Free Prize Inside, by Seth Godin
  • The Small Business Owner’s Bible, by Steven D. Strauss

Photo Credit: jo-h | CC 2.0

PG
Joy Morin is a piano teacher in northwest Ohio (United States) who enjoys keeping her teaching fresh with new ideas and resources. ColorInMyPiano.com serves as a journal of her adventures in piano teaching as well as a place to exchange ideas and resources.

Joy has blogged 1142 posts here.

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22 Comments

  1. Amy Chaplin
    Posted 27 June 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Joy,

    It’s really fun following what you’re doing because we’re both going through the same process at the same time. It’s so exciting though, I feel like it’s finally time to put to work what I’ve been thinking, planning, and developing for the last few years.

    Keep it up!

    • Posted 1 July 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      Yay for moving and getting re-set up! It is an exciting time, even if it is a lot of work!! Keep me updated! :D

  2. Posted 27 June 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Well, in some ways I’m still building my studio, so I wouldn’t boast to have a lot to offer on this topic. However, I do have a few things that keep me unique from others who teach in this city. I use visuals and games with every lesson- a thing that seems to intrigue and thrill the parents of the children I teach, as if it’s a really great idea that they’ve never heard of. (As a side note, none of my piano teachers I had while growing up EVER used a game or visual at my lessons!)
    Also, as soon as the students are reading notes (not just fingering numbers), I start playing duets with them, whether it’s a written one or just improvising by ear to go along with what they are playing. They think it’s just the greatest!
    Also, I am passionate about finding out how each student learns individually. I refuse to put them in a box or to put myself in a box when it comes to teaching. I teach one who has some learning difficulties, and although it’s a challenge to keep him focused, I am committed to finding out how he will learn best. I can tell that his parents really appreciate that.

    Great post, Joy! Looking forward to reading more.

    • Posted 1 July 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      These are great thoughts, Leah! I think figuring out how to define your own unique traits is difficult….so way to go! You’ve got this all figured out!!

  3. Posted 27 June 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Hear! Hear! ;0)

  4. Posted 27 June 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your website. It’s terrifict!

  5. Posted 27 June 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for some wonderful ideas, Joy! I am trying to increase the size of my violin studio, and everything you mention rings true even across instrumental lines I believe. Your comparison to Apple is the perfect example of increasing your value rather than decreasing your price. Great post!

    Colin

    • Posted 1 July 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Colin!! You’re right – this post is really for independent music teachers of ANY instrument! :)

  6. Posted 29 June 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Great post, Joy! I recently participated in a critique of my website with http://www.savvymusician.com/blog/2011/05/website-critique/ and was challenged by the evaluator. He was saying he’d like to see someone do a Top 10 List of Why You Should Study at the ______ Studio, so I created one on my website. Feel free to browse mvpianostudio.com

    Cheers,
    Marcia

    • Posted 30 June 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the pep-talk and insight, Joy! And Marcia, that’s an incredibly helpful link; thanks for sharing!

    • Posted 1 July 2011 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      Marcia – your studio website looks GREAT!! I love all the information and photos. Thanks for both of your links!

  7. Posted 15 October 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I taught in a new location and my best advertisement was word of mouth until I got a website! I tried ads in the newspaper in the classifieds and a business size ad. I received NO phone calls from any of these. My name was on our local MTNA website and received several students that way. It wasn’t until I had an adult vocal student find me through MTNA website. He convinced me to do a website and it paid for itself immediately. I tried a sign in my yard (like a political sign) with the words PIANO LESSONS with my phone number. I received numerous phone calls but very few were serious inquiries. So my adult student walked me through making a website. I just about doubled my studio numbers! I changed my yard sign to just have PIANO LESSONS and my website. I get hits all the time and now only receive serious phone calls after they visit my website. I cover all the basics of fees, obtain a piano, to what I teach and expect. It was all worth it. I will take some of your suggestions to improve my value – great ideas!

    • Posted 17 October 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      My experience is similar to yours! Having a website is SO worth it. :)

  8. Jenn
    Posted 7 November 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Great post! I’m wondering (besides yard signs) how you get traffic to your website?

  9. Posted 21 November 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post, Joy! I really appreciate all the wonderful resources you provide on your website. Also, if anyone has any good ideas about bringing more traffic to one’s website, I’d love to hear about it! I have a small studio teaching classical guitar and finding new students has been quite difficult these past few months.

  10. Lydia
    Posted 11 January 2013 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    Hi Joy!
    Your blog is awesome, thanks!

    I have a question about a web-site – which service/platform did you use to build one? How much did it cost?

    I wanted to go with a simple standardized version, offered by Music Teacher’s Helper, but it has very long address, like “yourpianostudioname.musicteachershelper.com”. It’s so long, I’m afraid, the majority of people won’t even bother to look it up.

    If you can share more about the web-site creating, it’ll be highly appreciated!! Thanks!))

  11. Lisa
    Posted 6 July 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I am a mom, who put her career aside to raise her 5 children. Now that my last is getting older and doesn’t need me quite as much, I know it is time for me to use that Music Ed degree I worked so hard for! Plus, I LOVE music, the piano, voice and theory lessons! The teacher I had, growing up, was just phenomenal and I would like to pass that legacy on. She didn’t do much as far as games, etc., but she poured herself into her students, specifically, ME! As it turns out, my husband let me shop for another piano, a better one (I ended up with a 7 ft Baldwin) but here’s the kicker. It was totally redone on the inside and yes, it was my teacher’s personal piano for years! I am honored and I know, it’s a teaching piano! So, here goes an “old” 47 yr old mom, trying to invent herself and start up her studio. I am gleaning all of this wonderful advice from your website. Thank you so much for this! Onward and upward. Lisa

    • Posted 8 July 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Wow, Lisa, what a blessing to have such a wonderful instrument to teach on! Building a studio is a fun adventure — I wish you all the best!

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