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6 minutes reading time (1136 words)

If my studio is full, why should I keep marketing?

Marketing piano lessons is most often used to refer to the process of obtaining new piano students. ​Consequently, when our studio is full or has a waiting list, it is easy to think that we no longer need to market.

But marketing is also about retaining current students, especially since we want the diligent ones to continue in our studio. In a world where there are too many attractive choices for children's activities, it is important to remind parents of the benefits of piano lessons, especially compared to the benefits of other competing activities. 

Besides trying to retain our best students, one of the most convincing reasons for marketing to current piano families is that parents frequently re-evaluate the benefit of a recurring expense such as piano lessons, gym memberships, dance classes, or sports participation. Parents often think, "Are piano lessons really worth it? Boy, we could really use that $150 a month for other things!" Yet, most of the time, we never hear these thoughts or have a chance to make a case against them. Instead, we are often left reeling when parents announce, "We've decided to stop taking lessons for a time."

In addition, it is difficult for parents to see or hear their child's progress since they (we hope) hear daily practice. Small improvements are easily overlooked, and all students reach plateaus from time to time. Though we know that these plateaus are usually temporary, they become vulnerable moments in which it is easy for parents to allow their children to quit. 

Furthermore, parents are often just too busy! Many parents would absolutely love to have just one less place to drive, one fewer activity to fit into their schedule, one less thing over which to fight with their children, and one fewer after school activity that competes with homework. Marketing to existing families as a means of retaining students is extremely important. Some might even say it is more important than marketing to attract new students.

How do I market for retention?

​Regular messages

The most efficient way to market to your existing students would be to send a series of messages to parents about the benefits of studying piano lessons. Three or four per year might be a good place to start. These messages could be delivered by email, by printed paper, by a hyperlink sent as a text, and more. While it might be important to put this message on your Facebook page, this should never be the only way you communicate with your families as it is far from certain that all your followers will see it.1 An efficient approach might be to plan and compose all of these messages ahead of time and save them in a document. Then, mark dates on the calendar to remind you when to send them.

Examples of message content might include

  • An infographic about the benefits of piano lessons. http://www.encoremusiclessons.com/lessons/piano (scroll down for the infographic).
  • Facts or thoughts about the benefits of studying piano. 
  • An interesting news story about the power that playing an instrument has in a person's life. 
  • Research-based articles on the secondary benefits of music study. http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-benefits-of-music-education/.

​Automated messages

An even more effective and efficient way to implement this idea of sending regular messages would be to schedule the messages in an email program such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, or any number of email messaging providers. These programs allow you to compose any message (with a professional-looking template) and then schedule them at any time in the year. "Set it and forget it." It is truly that easy. If you come across more articles or facts that you would like to add, you can always edit these emails and reschedule them as necessary.

​Never sound automated

​Of course, a warm, friendly, and grateful opening paragraph is important to communicate that you recognize that parents have a choice in their activities and you are delighted that they have chosen to be a part of your studio. Affirming their choice to study music is also very reassuring to parents, perhaps with language such as this:

"Thank you for allowing me the privilege of teaching piano to your child. I know you have many activity choices for your family, and I wanted to pass on some interesting information to you about the benefits of music study. As you'll see in this article, you have chosen well!"

​Studio newsletters

​It is easy for parents, students, and even teachers to forget all of the amazing activities and accomplishments of your students and studio over the year. A newsletter at the end of each semester or year is a great way to remind parents of all the value that they are getting for their investment. You can download a professional piano lesson newsletter template here: http://composecreate.com/free-studio-newsletter-template/. Your newsletters can be printed or made into a PDF and sent in an email or linked to in a text message. Examples of newsletter content might include:

  • ​A list of all the activities of your studio for the year (recitals, festivals, group lessons, etc.).
  • Accomplishments of your students. You can include the most notable or even mention one thing about every student if you have a smaller studio (yes, you can even find accomplishments for those who have just begun).
  • Continuing education or professional development activities in which you have​ participated. This is a great way to remind parents that you are committed to providing a professional music education. 
  • Pictures! Our culture is overwhelmingly visual. Pictures of your students having fun, playing duets, winning competitions, etc., will speak much louder to parents than your words. Always include pictures.
Of course, you can do something similar in a blog post if you have a website, but keep in mind that parents are likely to skim blog posts. They may look for their child's name (be sure your policy permits your use of student images and names2), but remember that the pictures of students enjoying their piano lessons are what will stand out to them the most!

Increased, strategic communication with studio parents will not only demonstrate that you are committed to their child's musical success, but it will also give parents confidence that their investment is wise and should continue. Commit to marketing to your current piano families so that they will remain committed to the long-term investment in piano lessons.​

Your Facebook page is a great place to share valuable content like this, especially because it helps your studio to appear current and relevant. But never rely solely on Facebook to communicate a message to parents. The current algorithm of Facebook favors showing video posts from friends in your follower's newsfeeds, not updates from pages. Text posts from pages often reach only 2 percent of your page followers! http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/locowise-march-2015/619104 

2 See http://composecreate.com/piano-lesson-photo-release/

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