Too often, people mistake the tools of marketing for marketing itself.
Marketing your piano studio is not about buying ads.
It’s not about spending money on business cards and fliers.
It’s not even about having a fancy, attractive Web site.
Marketing is telling a story that excites and entertains people who come in contact with your music studio.
Selling might seem difficult or distasteful. But telling a story? That’s easy.
Many of the most effective marketing techniques won’t cost you any more than your time.
Today, I am going to show you just one of those techniques. It will take a little time.
The rewards are well worth it.
What is this unbelievable technique?
Put reviews on your Web site.
Does this seem obvious?
Stick with me.
I have had the chance to look up the Web sites of many of the teachers who follow this blog. I also looked up the Web sites of large music schools.
It surprised me to see that most teachers and music school owners are not using reviews on their sites or social media profiles.
Why is this? I asked many of the people who read this blog. I got some great answers:
For that reason, I have created this very detailed post. This post will show you:
Even if you are already using music studio reviews on your site, I suggest you read through this article. A greater depth of understanding will increase your effectiveness as a business owner.
There’s something for everyone here.
Let’s get to it!
If you want to grow your studio, raise your rates, earn respect, or just attract quality families that prioritize music… I recommend using reviews / testimonials on your site.
There is an obvious reason… The logical math of the situation probably goes something like this:
More reviews = More students
Well, that is true. But there are other benefits that aren’t as intuitive.
Here are just a FEW reasons to put reviews on your site:
Many of my new students find me through my Web site. They enter their information on my contact form.
When I receive their information, I call them.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard the following idea:
“Yeah, I was looking on Google for piano lessons and I found your Web site. There were a lot of good reviews so I thought I would give you a call.”
I estimate that about half of the people who contact me mention my reviews as a reason for contacting me.
Some have even gone as far as to say they felt compelled to call me.
That is a sign of persuasion.
I want you to think about a parent’s experience of joining your studio.
They find you online. Or, one of their friends recommends your studio.
They call or email.
They begin lessons with you. If all goes well, they stay for years.
Their experience of lessons starts and ends with you, their teacher.
Yes, they see other parents at a recital. They might know of one or two other families who come to your studio. But…
They rarely have contact with other families in your studio.
When you use reviews, they get a chance to see what others are saying. They learn about your studio or music school.
I use a lot of tactics to attract new students to my studio.
Some tactics get attention. Other tactics give information about my studio.
Other tactics show that my studio is of a very high quality.
I do the full court press with new prospects. I let them know exactly what to expect and just how happy all my families are.
Part of this process is purposefully directing them to my reviews.
When it comes time to talk about the price of my lessons (which is more than any other teacher within 25 miles of me), the remark I sometimes hear is:
“Oh, that’s less than I thought it would be.”
That is a subtle way of saying: “I think that what I’m getting is worth more than what you are charging.”
I’m not arrogant. I don’t brag about myself or my studio.
The reason that people say this is that my story seems plausible to people. Dozens of music studio reviews support this story.
You are doing something right when people suggest you should charge more for your lessons. You are doing something really right when your rates are already high.
This perceived value has allowed me to raise rates every so often. Sometimes by as much as 21%.
If you’re interested in raising your rates, I wrote a complete guide to raising rates without losing any studio families.
Reviews aid in attracting quality, committed families to your studio because of the power of perceived value.
Some consumers look for the absolute best deal. Others want to look for the best experience.
My personal experience has shown me that people who are “bargain bin” shopping for piano lessons:
I’ve found that my strong public image (supported by reviews) has the effect of repelling those people. They don’t even call me to begin with!
The remaining people who do actually contact me are pleasant clients.
So, perhaps one or more of those reasons sounds appealing to you.
You want to move your studio in that direction.
How do we know that music studio reviews will get us there?
I wrote about this at length in my Facebook Guide for piano teachers.
Imagine two restaurants across the street from each other. One has a parking lot full of cars. The other has only a few.
Which do you assume is better?
It’s a powerful picture.
Now, imagine a list of piano studios showing up in a Google search. A studio with reviews is always going to stand out over one that doesn’t.
We live in an age of choice.
More and more consumers are using reviews to help aid them in their purchasing decisions.
Do you feel weird talking about yourself? Do you feel like this is bragging?
People who work with you want to know what your studio is like.
Testimonials on your site are a help and benefit to those who would work with you.
Those reviews might be the difference between someone contacting you or not.
You help others and help yourself when you put reviews on your site.
Effective reviews are:
I’ve looked over the Web sites of many music schools and private teachers.
Most people don’t have reviews or testimonials on their sites.
Yet, of the small percentage of sites that actually does have reviews… they are going about in the wrong way!
Moderated reviews do not hold as much weight as unmoderated reviews.
For instance, some sites have collected quotes from parents and put them on their site.
This is good. It’s a start.
The problem is that it doesn’t feel as authentic as a widget or plugin on your site that allows people to leave a testimonial without your control.
The same goes for screenshots.
I’ll explain below where you can get a free widget or site plugin for reviews.
Furthermore, the most effective reviews are not anonymous.
Reviews left on Facebook business pages are connected to people’s social profiles.
Reviews left on Google are connected to a Google account (often with a picture).
These are better than anonymous reviews. These are better than reviews just type-written on to a page by the music studio owner.
The one place where type-written testimonials are OK is if it is someone who is well known or a public figure.
A good example of this is on the page for my piano teacher’s Facebook guide.
That works. A random testimonial by Amanda H from Portland? Not as credible or effective.
I have focused on your Web site up to this point.
That is a good starting place. You absolutely should have a review widget or plugin on your Web site.
However, don’t stop there.
The more places you can get reviews… the better.
In the next section, I’m going to show you my favorite places to get parents to review you and give testimonials.
Are you ready to get some reviews?
I have several suggestions about where you should begin.
About 25% of the Web runs on WordPress.
If you run your site on WordPress, you should look at the extensive collection of “Review Widgets” available for WordPress.
Here’s just a small sampling:
These are free. They are easy to install. You can be up and running in no time.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy, if you have WordPress
TIME TO IMPLEMENT: 15 minutes
Thumbtack is a site that helps connect piano teachers with families who are looking for a piano teacher.
You create a profile. You can upload pictures and videos.
You can also get reviews there.
I display my Thumbtack reviews on my Web site on EVERY page.
If you have a Thumbtack profile, you can get the review widget for your site.
This works for both WordPress and non-Wordpress sites. So, if you have a Weebly, Joomla, Wix, or even a Music Teacher’s Helper site… you are in luck!
DIFFICULTY: INTERMEDIATE (you will need to copy the code into your Web site editor)
TIME TO IMPLEMENT: 15-25 minutes
Not on WordPress or Thumbtack?
Never fear. There are general Web site widgets out there that will help you collect reviews.
Many are paid (but affordable at $2 or $3 a month).
I’m not necessarily against that, but there are alternatives.
You can get your Google reviews displayed directly on your Web site using this tool.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Intermediate to Advanced
TIME TO IMPLEMENT: 20-30 minutes
To get reviews on Google, you will need to have a Local Google+ Page.
If you do not have one, you will have to create one. You can do so by following the directions here.
I absolutely recommend that you do Web site reviews and Google reviews.
Google is everywhere and most people use Google search to find something.
If you have a Google Places account, you will be placed fairly prominently on the map depending on the location of the person searching.
Along with your map location, your reviews will be displayed prominently.
You must use Google.
DIFFICULTY: Easy, if you have a
Google Places (UPDATE: Dec 2017) Google My Business page for your business
TIME TO IMPLEMENT: 15-20 minutes
One other note… Google Reviews is part of the Google My Business suite… which is the #1 free tool that I recommend using for your studio. I get 100’s of website visitors per month because of Google My Business.
I created a 10 minute video on how to use it, which you can watch below:
This is another no-brainer.
I have spoken at length about having a vibrant Facebook presence.
You should get some lovely testimonials to cheer up your page even more!
To do so, you will need to have a page that is in the “Local Business” category.
You will need to add your address.
It will then be possible to add reviews to your page.
Keep in mind… you won’t see the reviews tab until the first review is posted.
So, start asking!
Finally, a brief word about actually getting music studio reviews.
I have lost track of the number of reviews that I’ve received over the past 2-3 years.
It’s well over 50, scattered across my site, Thumbtack, Google, and other local directories.
How did I do it?
I set a weekly reminder in my calendar to send an email to a family in my studio asking them to write a testimonial for me.
I’ll do them in sequence. If I did Google last week, I’ll send a link to Thumbtack this week. And then next week, I’ll have someone do it on Facebook.
You know that I like giving you exact scripts for doing these things. Here is a sample of an email I sent asking for a testimonial:
I’m trying to get more reviews on my Google+ listing.
Would you mind to write a review for my music studio?
Just click here:
“Link to Google page”
You do have to have be signed into a Google account (i.e., Gmail, YouTube, G+, etc.)
I would really appreciate it!
PS> If you don’t have a Google account, just email me back and let me know.
It really is that simple.
I don’t recommend giving discounts or incentives for writing a review. If you do that, it cheapens the review.
If you recall, one of the reasons for getting reviews in the first place was to increase your respect and authority with families in your studio.
If everyone knows that you “pay” for reviews (either through tuition discounts or other incentives), you are undermining one of the core reasons for getting a review in the first place.
Having reviews and testimonials alone won’t fill up your studio.
As with many things that I write, this is just one piece of a larger puzzle. Overall, taking the time to curate reviews is a way to show customers that you understand and care about them.
However, this will go a long way to attracting new families. It will increase your stature and reputation with the families you already have. It is a solid, helpful marketing technique.
I recommend that you start using it today!