Studio Business

Forum Q&A | Advertising for Piano Lessons

Last time, we shared our favorite pieces of technology!  It’s never too late to add your thoughts, so feel free to jump in the conversation if you haven’t already!

This time, let’s talk about advertising.  Yesterday, I mentioned that I will be giving a presentation about marketing & technology for piano teachers in March.  I would love to learn more about what techniques piano teachers are currently using to advertise!

What kinds of advertising have you tried in the past?  What works, and what doesn’t?  How often do you advertise?  What kind of budget do you give yourself each year for advertising?  

Leave your comments below!

Photo Credit: Dominique Godbout | CC 2.0

23 thoughts on “Forum Q&A | Advertising for Piano Lessons”

  1. The places I advertise:
    Craigslist – it’s free and as long as I want new students, I keep an ad posted. Probably 30% of my students come from Craigslist. (Warning, you get LOTS of spam this way. If someone wants 3 weeks of an hour a day lessons and their English is bad, delete it, it’s a scam. Always insist on talking on the phone or in person before you accept payment, otherwise you’ll get a fake cashier’s check)

    I hang my business cards and posters at local businesses (a coffee shop and grocery store have bulletin boards anyone can use for free). I have gotten a few students this way. I just hang a poster or card every few weeks when I’m grocery shopping or when I want a latte. This only costs me the price of a latte.

    Google searches/Google places – it has taken me a little while to get high on Google’s search, but I now get as many students from Google searches as from Craigslist. Make sure you register with Google Places so you show up on a search for relevant terms in your area. This is free and has only taken my time to figure out.

    Word of mouth – I offer current students a tuition credit for referring students and have made sure local school music teachers know who I am. This is about as effective as Craigslist and Google.

    What hasn’t worked:
    Google Ads – They have given me free credit, so I haven’t paid anything and don’t think I would bother. I get a few click throughs to my website, but this hasn’t produced any students yet.

    Stuffing fliers in mailboxes in my neighborhood – I got a good walk that day and no new students.

    Advertising on candy I hand out on Halloween – I’ve put stickers on Halloween candy for the past 3 years but haven’t even gotten any calls or emails. (and yes, I buy the good candy)

  2. I have lived in a very small, rural town for about one year. Here are some things that have worked for me and some things that haven’t worked as I have tried to build my new studio these past several months.

    Our town has a free classifieds publication that runs weekly. It’s free to place an ad and I have gotten students this way. You have to be diligent with placing ads each week because the ads run for only one week.

    I obtained permission from our county school board to place flyers in our local schools. That has produced several new students for me this year and has really spread the word about my new studio in our new town.

    I’m trying something new this semester – giving all my students a free T-shirt in their favorite color with the studio logo, contact information, and musical statement on it (statements like “I don’t play piano…I rock it!”). Hopefully these walking billboards will attract some more students. If not, at least it will help my students feel even more of a sense of community within the studio and be proud to be a piano student!

    Even though I live in a very small town where word of mouth is the main way of advertising, I did get one student who searched for piano teachers online in our area, and my website and Facebook pages came up when she searched.

    I played the piano last year for our town’s annual Christmas program and got one new student because of it.

    I became a MusicLink Foundation instructor, and because I am the only instructor in our town who teaches students with financial need, I have attracted several students this way as well.

    Craigslist did not work for me because of the very small size of our town, and people here often do not think of searching Craigslist for piano teachers. Writing a press release did not work for me either, likely for the same reasons.

    Word of mouth seems to be the best means of attracting new students here in our rural area, so the more I can become visible within the community, the more word of mouth will be helpful for me. I read some research recently regarding advertising and marketing for the private studio, and word of mouth was by far the best way of attracting students, according to the study. Wish I could remember where I read it…

    I like the Halloween candy idea that Erin posted above, so I might try that one this year if my studio isn’t full by then. It just might work in our small town :)

  3. I also designed advertising magnets for my car doors. They haven’t attracted any attention yet, but I do feel good knowing I’m making every effort to give someone the opportunity to learn about my studio!

  4. Since most students come via the internet these days, I find it’s well worth belonging to professional organizations that post lists of music teachers online. So whatever organization you can join, it’s probably worth the yearly cost for the advertising alone – then everything else they offer is bonus!

  5. When we moved to our city, I advertised on Kijiji. I quickly got a nice group of students.
    This year, however, I have not had to advertise at all, and have even had to turn some students down (I recently blogged about the teacher shortage in our city). Word of mouth did all the work for me, and I’ve been amazed at how fast word got around in just a year’s time.

    1. Awesome, what town do you live in? There are so many teachers in Rexburg, ID charging so little that it’s hard to make what you’re worth. Regardless, there are many students too and it’s just a matter of good advertising and building a reputation.

  6. When I moved to new town & opened up a piano studio I advertised in the city publication for $80.00 /mo and rec’d no calls or students from that. I worked up and ad & placed on Craigslist (free!) and soon had around 10 students from that. I have not had any bad experience with Craigslist… I just kept the ad on Craigslist until I was full and now I don’t even advertise but word of mouth keeps my studio full & have to turn away students or place on waiting list. I also tried letters to all the area schools with no referrals. And I do give a free lesson to any student that refers a new student and they begin lessons with me.

  7. This is a great topic! I’ve been very lucky over the years and have never had to pay to advertise.

    I got my start through a student-teacher program, so I received my first students that way. Once I started out on my own I built my studio up using mostly word-of-mouth. I did advertise on Craigslist, but I only had 2 serious inquiries over the period of a few months.

    I can’t stress enough how important it is to get to know other teachers and musicians in your area. Referrals are what keep my studio full. I had a huge influx last fall when an older teaching colleague retired and one family got hold of my name. Once they started, they passed my name onto more of their peers, and things really got crazy! :)

    Being involved in several area churches has been a huge plus. I’ve gotten numerous calls from church families. I’ve also been lucky to become friends with several church ladies who also work at preschool and after-school care programs, and they’ve generously offered to display flyers, and pass my name along as well.

    So- bottom line- I’ve found that it’s really more about who you know and the relationships you form than any kind of paid advertising. This may be a reflection of the area I live in, but simply by word of mouth I’ve found that over time I now have more than enough students to fill my studio, and have had to resort to a waiting list as well.

  8. Hi there. I recently started my own blog and was compiling a small list of related blogs / sites and found your site. Believe it or not , but this is the first comment I’ve made on any of the blogs :) I wanted to respond to this question because it is important that curious teachers in need of information about advertising are able to read differing viewpoints.

    Let’s agree that if you profit from your advertising , then it is worth it. All those paid directories are most definitely worth it. The idea is simple. Type in ‘piano lessons *insert your city here*’ , and BOOM. Up comes Google search results with many various directories like getlessonsnow and lessonrating. Sign up and pay for the first 2 or 3 pages of directories on those lists. The top directories charge about $50 to get your own profile and a link. The linkjuice isn’t important as the traffic. I had one young girl who was taking lessons with me 3 days out of the week at an hour per lesson. She was dying to learn quickly and her father was rich so I put the plan out to him and he agreed. I got this student from one of those directory sites. I have received 2 others from the directory sites as well. This has been about a 1,000% profit AT LEAST.

    Then there is organic traffic. You need good page rank and good site optimization (meta description , title , keywords , etc) to place for relative keyword searches such as ‘piano teachers’ ‘piano lessons’ ‘piano classes’ , etc.

    Craigslist WORKS. You have to be tenacious about reposting and renewing every 3 days. Make this into your religion. I have received many students from Craigslist.

    I wouldn’t bother signing up for other sites like Craigslist. In a couple months , I haven’t received one visit from any of the 15 I signed up for. I use Google analytics to track this data , so I would know … not one hit. Craigslist is an average of 1.5 a day visitors.

    Google Adwords also works. You need to know how to use it properly so expect to take 15 hours researching all the articles and then about 20 more hours modifying your account so its efficient and profitable.

    Then there is the cheap ways of posting business cards in supermarkets , coffee shops , etc. This works too.

    In summary , I consider ANY method great advertising if you profit from it. Spend $300 to sign up for all the directories. It’s definitely worth it. One student will repay that at least double.

    Here is a fun article I published before reading this question. It was the first blog post I put up. Hope you enjoy :)

    http://prodigypianostudios.com/pianoteachersblog/?p=31

    ~Dustin Sanders
    Creator of Prodigy Piano Studios , Instructor
    (And a total beginner Blogger )

  9. I used to pay for an online listing and it got me students so it was worth it, but I have gotten way more students by paying only for a domain name and hosting for a WordPress blog.

    My studio had a website for a year that never cracked the first 5 pages of the search engines – then I got a domain name and my own hosting and BAM, first page on every search engine for the keywords/location I was aiming for. Totally worth the $60 a year and a little effort on my part.

    I have a sticker on my car which has also done well in the school pick up line :-) Definitely worth the $7 I paid someone on Etsy to print it for me! (I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re prone to road rage or continually go out in public in torn yoga pants or are uncomfortable with people following you home from the school line)

    Google place page is great – you can set it up to show or not show your home address if you teach from home (as I do) and it has also put me at the top of the lists.

    Adwords and Facebook ads were a waste for the amount of money it would have cost (good thing they were free credits) and I won’t touch Craigslist. As a parent, I would never search Craigslist for some one to teach my children so I won’t list there. I know it works for some people but it’s not something I would consider.

  10. Sorry – one other thing – I put an email list signup form on my website (i use MailChimp) and offer a free lesson coupon for signing up. It has given me a decent list of contacts and new students – some signed up a year after joining the list so had I not had a form of staying in contact they may have gone elsewhere.

  11. How did you sign up for Google Places without giving your address? I teach out of my home and am very uncomfortable putting my address on the internet. I’d appreciate your help.

    1. Google needs your address to be able to confirm that your business really exists at the address you claim. After signing up, Google will send you a postcard with a confirmation code.

      However, there might be a way to hide at least the street and street address from your Places page after you’ve confirmed your address with Google. I doubt it, but it might be possible.

  12. One thing that I forgot that I wanted to mention. I’ve had a lot of success with craigslist as well, but you have to be careful that you haven’t been “ghosted.” When you are “ghosted” your ads appear to have been posted, but they don’t actually show up when someone searches. Craigslist apparently has a rather haphazard policy about this and it can happen to you without you even noticing. The only way that I know how to get around it is to create an entirely new Craigslist ad and to dramatically change up your ad’s content.

    i’ve also had a decent amount of success with my website, even though it hasn’t started appearing very high on google yet. I think it helps that I’ve finally got it looking nice. Check it out for inspiration: http://www.neworleanspianoteacher.com or http://www.musicnola.us

    I used Yola to create my site for almost free, FYI.

  13. I’m a teen that has just started teaching piano to young students in my community. Putting up flyers in local businesses has helped a lot (I like to use the kind with tabs that have contact information people can pull off). I would suggest starting with a reasonable price (that always catches people’s attention) and spreading things through word of mouth! I started teaching my friend and sister for free, so they’ve told their friends about it and I realized that I could start charging people. It’s in demand and a great way to increase your skills at the piano and make a quick buck!

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Be careful not to set your prices too low! And anyway, marketing yourself for your low prices isn’t the best strategy (not saying you are – but just wanting to make sure) means you are going to attract parents who care mostly about low prices. A better strategy would be to market for your education, strengths, and unique offerings so that you will attract parents/students who value those things about you. Here are three posts to check out on this subject:

      Studio Marketing: Creating Value
      Determining Tuition Rates for Teaching
      Studio Marketing: Communicating Value Through Your Website

      I agree with you that word of mouth is always the best though! Just make sure they are talking about what a great teacher you are, and not about how cheap your lessons are. :)

      Good luck!

  14. Wow! I love this site and all the valuable information. I recently made a video and posted it on YouTube, advertising my Skype piano lessons. I also use our local Craigslist and create a post if I have a few spots in my studio I would like to fill. Thank you again for your site, I am learning a lot and appreciate it!

  15. I’ve been trying to do some more research on this now that we are doing our first Summer Camp, even using some of your cool ideas and expanding. This has been real helpful to read all of the comments.
    I’ve been posting on craigslisit but not often and nothing has happened obviously with that for the camp or lessons.
    It honestly is just word of mouth from my own clients. I put out a deal to get some parents that maybe didn’t think to reccommend me to others at first to get 10% off their next month’s lessons but that hasn’t generated anything. It just happens when it happens I guess.

    I’d love to hear more ideas though!

  16. Hi Joy: I JUST came upon your website today! I’m trying to recruit more students. I’ve had 30 at one time (teach out of my home; not on weekends). The last 2 years have not gone well. Things are starting to pick up…..then summer. I’ve been teaching for 30 years—not always in the same area. I’ve been in this area (Uniontown, Ohio) for about 14 years. I use the school music teachers, store ads, occassionally newspaper ads, word-of-mouth. I appreciate everyone’s comments & ideas !! Thanks so much !!!!

  17. By accident I came across your q & a. I was looking for a sample flyer to advertise. I read everybody’s comments and ideas. I can say one thing…. I tried THUMBS UP. Sorry to say – they are horrible; made it sound lucrative – make it sound inexpensive yet every credit of $2 – $3 adds up in no time into hundreds of dollars over a period of time. the sad part was NOT even ONE BITE after six months. I DO NOT recommend them at all.

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