Private tutoring can be a great side gig or your dream – freelance life. Either way, finding students is hard work and it's never over. Here are some marketing tips to freshen up your game.
Do your prep work
Before you start putting any marketing together, you have two tasks to complete. First, clearly define who your target market is. Be as specific as possible and write out the description. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their goals – is this a hobby, will they go on to a conservatory? What are their other interests? What do they share with each other?
Without defining exactly who your ideal students are, you'll be wasting a lot of marketing effort and resources by casting too wide a net. If you are focusing on young students, rather than adult learners – market to the students and their parents separately. They're in very different places and are motivated by different messages.
The second task is to spell out what makes you unique. Why should students work with you and not some other private music teacher? Once you can verbalize what makes you unique, you can build your marketing messages around that quality.
From here, we can talk about specific marketing tactics. There are three main categories of marketing strategies:
- Word of mouth referrals
- Online marketing
- Traditional print advertising
Word of mouth referrals
People trust other people. Word of mouth marketing is one of your best channels to find new students. You don't need to be passive about generating word of mouth buzz about your tutoring. Get pro-active.
- Cultivate relationships with key people at local organizations, including schools, that have regular contact with your ideal students. Even other music teachers who may have their own side tutor gig for the same instrument. You may have different kinds of ideal clients so you would make amazing referral partners for each other.
- Hold a special event open to the public. This could be an afternoon recital or masterclass with current students. Ask them to invite people and promote your event online and off (more on that a bit later). It could even be a short holiday music camp. Parents desperate to find ways to keep their children occupied will be grateful. It doesn't have to focus entirely on your instruments. Partner up with another musician or arts teacher and have a fun arts camp.
- Ask your current clients. So many people forget this one or feel uncomfortable doing it. If you have long time clients, they obviously love you. If you don't want to ask for direct referrals, ask them what sorts of local organizations or community places they think would be good places for you to find new students. They may have some good ideas and you've planted the seed.
Any digital presence you already have online, say a Facebook and/or LinkedIn page, should be used to promote your services. If you already have a website, that's great. If not, there are numerous online services that will help you build and host a site inexpensively.
Here's the key though – to find some success with online marketing you need to publish regular content to get noticed. You can write short Facebook or Instagram posts. If you want to write a longer post, you can publish it on long form social media sites like Medium or LinkedIn.
One of the best types of content to share is stuff that answers the questions students or their parents have about learning their instrument or the value in taking music lessons. Another great content type gives potential students and their parents a peek into what learning with you would be like. The visual platforms, like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are great for this. You can upload short little videos of preparing for a student or a snippet of a recital, or even a 3-minute mini-lesson on one of the most challenging techniques you teach.
Since we love word of mouth marketing, ask your students and parents to share their own photos, videos and thoughts about their lessons with you. That will reach their networks of like-minded people.
Traditional print advertising
Don't overlook this! Just like with website, there are numerous online sites that will help you design and then print out gorgeous postcards, business cards, and other print media.
Buying a list to do a mailing probably isn't the best use of your funds, unless you have access to a very targeted, local list. But you can leave postcards at community centers, ask religious organizations. Talk to any organization that puts together a "welcome to the neighborhood" basket, which are always filled with promotions from local businesses.
Also consider advertising in a local newspaper. You can put up digital ads on places like Craig's list or some tutoring sites, and if those work for you – great. But interesting research from the Pew Research Center on Journalism & Media finds that local papers are popular with people who are active in their communities. Even if those aren't people who want to hire a music tutor, they're active in their communities. They like to be helpful and informative for others. Let them know who you are.
What's already working for you…or not?
Think about where you've found your most loyal students. Use those experiences to guide you as you choose which new marketing tactics to try first. Marketing success doesn't happen overnight, so pick a few new tactics and commit to them long enough to see if there are any change in your student inquiries.