Musicians . . . what's your offer?

The real question for those who want more students is this, Musician: what’s your offer?

Too often, we’re unclear about the promise behind our offerings. We think we’re being clear. We think we’re promoting our studio or group program effectively.

When in fact, we’re coming across as a commodity. We’re offering “convenient online Guitar lessons from a professional with a degree from a prestigious music school.” You and a gazillion others, right? When there’s nothing distinctive in your marketing material, there’s no incentive for people to click “contact.”

Most musicians are deaf to how our promotional messages are coming across to our intended audiences.

What I learned on my summer vacation

Over the summer I had three clients who each wanted to launch—for the first time—online programs they’d developed.

Each musician was motivated and had excellent material to teach. And all of them were nervous about their ability to attract enough students. They wanted to get the marketing material right.

My job was to help them plan and implement their vision. So we started at the top with their description of what they were offering: the name of their program and a short blurb. Here’s what we discovered that can help you.

Name your offer

I know, this seems so basic, but it’s where many musicians go wrong. Don’t sacrifice clarity for cleverness. Think about your intended readers—will this be clear and compelling to them?

Needed: a title and short description that immediately tells readers what you’re offering—and what the advantage is for them.

Is it a bootcamp, a workshop, a festival, institute, or intensive? Is it group lessons, private lessons with monthly studio classes, or what? And what’s it FOR?

And yes, this goes for promoting your own studio, too. You don’t have to name your studio but you do need a compelling short description of what’s distinctive about your approach. This isn’t about your years of experience, your degrees, or even your student successes.

Instead, it should be about what’s at the heart of your teaching—the human connection you make with your students and the impact your teaching makes in the world.

Clarify WHO it’s for

Be clear who your intended students are. You need to plan a targeted promotion campaign that will reach your ideal age range and levels of students—using email, referrals, and social media.

Is your workshop or lesson program for emerging artists, pianists, or brass players? Is it for improvising musicians, adult amateurs, or students ages 18-25? The more specific you are, the more your ideal students will see, “this is just what I need.”

You’ll need to think through how you can connect with and reach these specific people and plan a campaign to do it.

What’s the promise behind your offer?

I’ve written before about clarifying your promise because this is essential. And it’s where most musicians fall down on the job: we fail to convey a compelling promise in our promo materials.

The promise of your program is the ultimate benefit you offer. It’s what your students will walk away with that they will value most.

Emphasize benefits here, not features. So this is not the nitty-gritty of how your program will work.

It’s NOT the . . .
length of the program
repertoire you’ll cover
guest artists or speakers, the extra master class sessions
or special online resources.

And it’s not that you “tailor lessons to students’ individual needs and interests” (boring cliché everybody uses)
or that you “use a flexible approach and wide variety of repertoire.” (vague cliché)

Those aren’t reasons why people sign up

Don’t get me wrong: you DO want to list relevant non-clichéd features in your materials. But these are not what gets someone to sign up. So features do NOT belong upfront and at the top of your materials.

Instead, what you want at the top (and in the title if possible) is the aspirational goals of your dream students. Something like “Ace the All State Auditions,” or “Performance Success Bootcamp,” or the “Sight-reading Made Easy Program.” Each of those titles conveys the desired goals that will be addressed in the program.

What do your dream students want?

State clearly what you offer: what people will gain through your program. Think about what’s appropriate for the age range and level of the students and parents you are seeking to serve.

Whatever you come up with, put in a short series of bullets. For advanced students, here are a variety of examples . . .

  • Uncover your true potential in a supportive learning environment
  • Learn practical strategies to enhance your tone quality, articulation, and intonation
  • Find out how to turn practice into creative exploration
  • Release excess physical tension so you can play with more ease
  • Incorporate improvisation into every session so you can perform with more freedom
  • Discover how to genuinely connect with your audiences

The Results . . .

With my clients this summer, we worked through their promotion strategies, email campaigns, referral requests, and sales pages. We revised their program descriptions and their registration pages. We focused on clarifying Who’s it for, What it’s for, and the Promise of their programs.

None of us knew how it would turn out (and yes, as a veteran of a number of my own launches, it feels scary). But it’s the only way to learn: by doing.

Each musician went into this with a minimum number of participants they had in mind. The number of students they would need to attract to their program in order to feel like it had been a worthwhile venture.

And I’m very happy to report that because of the excellent work they did on their promo materials and marketing campaigns, all three of these terrific musicians far exceeded their expected number of participants. Two of them had 50 participants and the third had a total of 62 students!

Wow—and all this during a pandemic! I’m so happy for and inspired by my clients: BRAVI TUTTI.

What I loved most—besides the confidence my clients gained in the process—was seeing how clarifying their messaging in their promo materials helped strengthen their programming and the teaching itself.

Musician: what’s YOUR offer?

Improving your promotional messaging to clarify your intent will reveal any places where you’re foggy or undecided. By working effectively on your messaging you can end up delivering better on your promise—and becoming a more engaging and effective teacher.

If you’d like to join a group of other accomplished musicians exploring strategies to advance their careers, join our Free MusiciansMakingIt Facebook group. And participate in our weekly FB Lives on Tuesdays at 12 noon ET — we’d love to see you there!

If you’d like to find out how getting expert coaching can help you bring more of your best work into the world, let’s talk.

Looking forward,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well


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