“How well do I want to do?” If your desired result is average, this may be achieved with meager efforts. However, if your desired result is excellent, then this calls for great promotion.
Idea #1: Be Better
Don’t do what everyone else is doing… unless you’re going to do it better. Last time you were at a music store, did you see ads with tear-off strips for music lessons? Does your local Craigslist “Services Offered” section have a number of clumsy posts made by would-be music teachers? Take note of what your competition is doing, and resolve to either avoid those tactics or use them more effectively. Have all of your promotional materials professionally designed. Be counter-intuitive. Stand out from the crowd to cut through the noise.
Idea #2: Promotional Swag
How many times have you grabbed a pen somewhere and noticed a pharmaceutical company’s logo on it? Promotional swag is great because everybody loves free stuff. Goodies will be taken by one person and seen by many. Consider musical keychains, pens, custom printed guitar picks or t-shirts. You can find a supplier on Alibaba. It is surprisingly affordable. You can give swag away for free, sell it at a special rate, or even use it to get referrals.
Idea #3: Encourage referrals
How can you give your current students and their friends an incentive to send referrals to you? Consider offering “prizes” for referrals. For students of limited financial means, you could offer free lessons. Perhaps you could get 10 gift cards to a local music store and let the student pick one from the stack in exchange for bringing in a friend. Your students want to help. Reminding them that their referrals are important keeps you on their mind.
Idea #4: Get on the search engines
Imagine you are looking for music lessons, and you want to research local teachers on the web. Where will you go to find them? What if you could be the teacher to show up at the top of the list? For small businesses, it’s surprisingly easy to dominate the local search results. All it requires is consistent effort and considerable patience.
Idea #5: Go guerilla
Print customized guitar picks with your website address and go to the local music store, dropping these picks in the sound hole of the guitars. Print business cards and go to the local libraries and bookstores, leaving a card in each book. Be surreptitious; everybody hates marketers.
Idea #6: Make friends
What kinds of businesses interact regularly with your target market, but aren’t competing directly with you? The most obvious answer m ight be “music stores” — but what about martial arts studios, sports clubs and record stores? Where do parents hang out? Make a list of possible affiliate organizations and contact the owners directly with a special offer for their customers only. Business owners take great pride in their work and will often be flattered by such an offer.
Idea #7: Advertise
Traditional advertising methods include radio ads, print, television spots, “street” advertisement and bulk mailing. New tactics have emerged for new media: search engine optimization, local search, social networks and pay-per-click such as Google Adwords. Do a bit of research and determine which of these are within your budget. Expect to spend a sizeable percentage of revenue on advertising, and expect to earn more from advertising than you spend on it. More funding will likely result in faster growth. Some money will be wasted, but you’ve got to learn how to do it – and that means you’ve got to play with real chips!
About the author: Greg Arney is a guitar player, musician and composer based in Boston, MA. Greg’s primary focus as a musician is living well and being of service. Find out more about Greg or get in touch at his website.