7 Low-Cost Promotions to Grow Your Lesson Program

In 1989, Paul Myatt bought a music school and retail operation, which has since grown to more than 12 locations and 4,000 students weekly throughout Australia. And at The 2017 NAMM Show, he shared seven simple promotional ideas to help music retailers grow their own lesson programs.

In his early days with the business, Forte School of Music, Myatt found that 95 percent of the people calling his store were women. They came from middle-income families, were genuinely interested in their children’s education and had heard that music lessons were important to kids’ development.

“I believe all businesses need to identify who your customer is, optimize your website for tuition and retail, have a social media plan, build your community and educate that community about music and the benefits of learning and playing music,” Myatt said.

Here are the promotional ideas that have worked for Forte School of Music:

1. Make sure your website sells music lessons. Make your phone number and email link clickable. Also, include forms that provide you with important information. For instance, on every page of Forte’s website, potential customers have an opportunity to connect with the company. Myatt shared that he had more than 3,972 trial lesson requests in 2016 alone. “That’s an awful lot of instrument sales,” he added. Consider asking for such information as: How did you hear about us? Do you have an instrument?

2. Build an email list and send e-newsletters. Myatt put this in place a year ago and has since reduced his advertising spend and created more inquires. “It’s a no-brainer, and it really works,” he said.

Use emails and e-newsletters to educate and build relationships. Forte promotes local concerts and community musicians to its customers. Free downloads and video links also direct viewers back to Forte’s website.

3. Celebrate your students’ successes. Post Facebook and YouTube videos of your students, and share your YouTube channel. Promote performances and results, as well. Forte sends a letter to students’ school principals in a handwritten envelope, along with an emailed copy. This helps build relationships with schools.

4. Sponsor local school music awards. Forte presents trophies at school assemblies, sends press releases and photos to local newspapers, and provides information on music education to local schools.

5. Run weekend music workshops. Forte hosts songwriting sessions, band camps, rock schools, garage bands and workshops on writing music for video games. According to Myatt, the options are endless. His guidelines for success:

• Plan ahead and include a slick performance at the end of the workshop, so parents can get a video of their children. “I’m not interested in making a profit,” Myatt said. “I just want cost recovery, but I really want the promotional and marketing activity that I can get from this workshop.”

• Invest your time in the presenter to help them be successful. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Students should be excited, engaged and impressed with your presenter.

• Capture video highlights for Facebook and YouTube. Use Facebook Live for a few minutes, and make sure it’s good. Embed YouTube videos in your website to help with your search engine optimization.

6. Create an interactive show. Make sure you have a strong host. “It’s the ultimate in guerilla marketing,” Myatt said.

7. Connect with local charities. Myatt is a running and swimming coach for a local charity, Can Too Sing! It stages an event at the end of 12 weeks where people learn to sing and play African drums. The event raises money for cancer research and also builds relationships, encourages participation in music and makes his business the center for music in the community.