Do you have a website for your studio?
What if your website isn’t sending the message you think it is?
What if it’s actually repelling new students instead of attracting them into your studio?
I’ve had the opportunity to look at the websites of many teachers, music stores, and music schools.
I’ve found that 99% of these teacher websites are information junkyards.
What’s an information junkyard?
It is a teacher site that focuses on studio location, tuition, policies (often the longest page), teacher credentials, academic benefits, studio piano, repertoire, and other boring information that parents don’t care about.
I talk about how your dry and boring copy is driving parents away (and four other reasons your marketing isn’t working) in this video:
I’m aware that this is a bold statement.
The opposite of this is being strategic in the message you choose to share. It is being tactical in the angle that you take while sharing that message.
I’m referring to websites here, but this is true for any promotional material about your studio: fliers, websites, postcards, social media profiles, print ads, digital ads, or personal interactions.
Today, I’m going to show you:
Let’s do this!
I want you to think about a fish right now. Can you picture it? What kind of fish is it? We don’t need to take a poll… It is safe to assume that we all didn’t think of the same fish. Your background, location, parents, and life experiences influenced your thoughts. If your dad was an outdoorsy type, you might have images of fishing on a lake or ocean. You might actually know the names of many types of fish. If you grew up in the city, you might have a general image of a fish in your head. Perhaps a fish you saw at a zoo or aquarium exhibit. Now, if I told everyone to think of Nemo… there would be no mistaking. We would all be thinking the same thing. The point? Teachers are communicating a message on their studio website. But, parents are not hearing and understanding that message. Teachers are communicating a message on their studio website. But, parents are not hearing and understanding that message. Click To Tweet You have a rich understanding of the meaning when you use words like “music appreciation”, “piano lessons”, “creativity”, “inspiring students”, and “piano method.” Obviously, parents do not have that understanding. They did not take lessons for 15 years, get a degree in music, and then begin teaching lessons after college. That’s why they are coming to you! When you do not clearly communicate the tangible, measurable, and specific meaning of words on your website, you force your readers to interpret them for you! The danger there is that you leave to chance what people think about your business, your studio, and your ability as a teacher. How do we solve this problem?
You should ask “so what?” to everything on your website. There are several reasons for this:
For instance, most teacher websites have some variation of the phrase: “We inspire students to learn and love music!” What does that mean? Can you even describe it? A phrase like that is the textual equivalent of a “stock photo.” It’s meaningless and inauthentic. Now, what if we asked “so what?” What would that mean? It means that we would describe what an inspired student looks like! What does a student that loves music look like? I can think of a few things:
That list is already better than the statement above. But, if we convert it into a story… it becomes irresistible: “Students at our studio find music to be fun. When they are at home, they love to go sit and play the piano. You will hear beautiful music in your home. You will be shocked that your child can learn piano so quickly!” Do you see the difference?
We’ve gotten specific… but what should we actually put on our website? We should tell parents only what they want to hear. No, I’m not talking about being the “friend that agrees with me.” I’m saying take their viewpoint. When a parent is looking into piano lessons, what do you imagine is going through their head? What is their goal? What are their fears or objections to beginning lessons? When a parent is looking into piano lessons, what do you imagine is going through their head? Click To Tweet Do you have specific ideas about what’s going through their head? Do you know what they’re thinking? I thought I did.
I had been teaching for over five years. I was even marketing a piano camp that saw 200 kids a summer. My assumption was that parents were afraid their children wouldn’t practice enough. When I actually surveyed the parents in my studio, I was shocked to find that no one said that. I have helped teachers and music schools increase their enrollment, begin group lessons, raise rates, and overhaul their marketing for years now. In all that time, only a small percentage of parents have listed that as a real fear or concern. But, out of thousands of parents surveyed in all these music studios and music schools, I kept seeing one phrase pop up over and over again. In fact, it’s usually around 70% – 80% of parents that list this fear. “I was afraid they would hate music.” Now, on its face, this might not seem that earth shattering. But when you really begin to dive into the implications of that statement and how often it appears as the #1 fear or barrier to beginning lessons… it is staggering. Remember, this is 70-80% of thousands of parents in different parts of the world! I can promise you… the same is true of your piano parents as well. I’ll draw it out for you! I’ve followed up with many parents and actually asked them detailed questions to discover exactly what they mean. This is what I found: Parents like or love music. In most cases, their children like or love music. Parents see the value of private music education. They are even willing to pay for it. But! They have such a low view of piano lessons, piano teachers, and our profession that their main concern is that we teachers will somehow “ruin” their child. They believe the process of learning music will result in their child’s love for music to cool or (worse yet) completely reverse! So, what happens? They come to our websites. They see our fliers. It’s loaded with OUR credentials. OUR policies. OUR rates. OUR demands. OUR thoughts about what music lessons should be. Uh oh. So far, we have not done ANYTHING to address that main fear or frustration. In fact, all we’ve done is reinforce it. Everything is focused on the teacher and the music. None of it reassures the parent that they were understood. Does this sound far-fetched? It’s because we have only viewed piano lessons from OUR perspective. There is good news though. If we know their primary concern, then it is possible for us to address it!
Marketing legend Jay Abraham said something that I’ve never forgotten: “Communicate with impact or don’t communicate at all.” This goes back to the “so what?” principle. All of the features of your lessons should point back to that fear. For instance, let’s imagine a teacher that is a big believer in Leila Viss’ “Off Bench” system. This teacher has iPads, technology, and other games and resources in her studio. How do we cast this information in light of the parent’s goals and fears? It might look something like: “Happy Tunes Music studio has multiple, high quality pianos and an extensive collection of learning games, digital resources, and activities for young musicians.” Now, most teachers would stop right there. That’s weak communication. A great communicator asks: “So what?” This is where we turn a boring communication into an effective, hard-hitting, impactful communication: “Students love playing on the studio iPads. They enjoy learning theory and are eager to answer my questions. Most of the time, parents have to drag kids out of the studio… that’s just how much they love their lessons!” All three parts are there now. First sentence contains the boring facts. Second sentence contains the “So what” answer. Third sentence connects it to the fear or desire of the parent. It provides context for the entire concept. That is your formula for success! 1\ State the fact. 2\ Explain the concrete reality 3\ Connect it to what parents fear or desire for their child In most of my interactions with parents, I listen to the words they say. I connect it back to the 3 – 5 outcomes that I know they want. Even when I’m faced with criticisms or concerns… I seek to connect it back. I use the formula. This isn’t just effective marketing. It’s effective, meaningful communication. It’s putting the customer first. It’s a level of service and care that most people rarely experience… to be heard and respected.
The first two points had to do with your messaging. You still need to present the message. Most teachers do (and SHOULD) present that message on a Website for their studio. Most website visitors visit a site and leave without doing anything that you would like them to do. In fact, for most sites over 99% of visitors do not buy, reach out, or engage. They are “window shoppers.” How do we turn some of those visitors into customers? Provide a powerful picture of how your studio will solve a parent’s problem. When you do that, parents want to get in touch with you. They want to join. So, it is your job to make it very easy to do that. Professional designers consider it a win if over 2-5% of people fill out the contact form on the site. These same designers have a bag of tricks to help increase that number. Here’s how:
Your website only has one goal. To get people to contact you. Here’s what it’s not for:
Everything is designed to excite them so much that they get in touch with you. This is why I was able to get 38 new piano students in just 12 weeks during a fall enrollment period. This is why one of the teachers I coach was able to grow her studio by 122% in a 5 month period. This is why music schools get a bump in signups after I overhaul their websites and delete those things I mentioned above. One goal only. Save the details for AFTER they’ve signed up. Anything else is like asking on the first date what you should name your kids. It’s out of order. It’s presumptuous. It’s creepy.
You should have big buttons on your page that point towards a sign up form. These buttons could say things like:
Here’s an example from my studio website: My recommendation is that all the buttons should say the same thing. It provides a consistent, almost hypnotic presence on the page. When they click this button, it should take them to persuasive landing page or even a simple contact page that highlights the key benefits of lessons in your studio. I will be writing a blog post soon about a 250-student music school whose marketing I overhauled. I completely redesigned their site, marketing copy, and AdWords account. I added buttons and calls to action on every page. The schools monthly lead jumped from 10-15 form fills per month to over 30 per month on a smaller budget! This is powerful stuff. Here’s a video of me doing a studio website teardown with Courtney Downes of Mad Hatter Music in Australia. We walk through her website and find places she can make small, but powerful changes. She learns exactly how to 1) tell parents what they want to hear, and 2) turn her website into a persuasion powerhouse. In fact, she came back to let me know that the website changes greatly improved her studio results!
Do you want…
If so, I suggest that you get very clear on the message that you are communicating to parents.
Make it EASY for them to understand how awesome your studio is!
Make it EASY for them to believe that you can do great things for their children!
Make it EASY for them to contact you!
Do not put barriers up. Do not bore them with irrelevant information.
Serve them by exciting their emotions and inspiring them to call or contact you.