Tag Archives: early childhood music marketing

Goal Setting for Teachers in the Childhood Music Classroom

The annual turning of the calendar generates reflection of the year past as well as expectation for the year ahead. Whether we wish to or not, during this time we often go through a mental exercise of regrets and aspirations. When looking to improve our personal as well as professional lives in the new year, purposeful, formal, and written goal setting has been proven to be more effective in changing or improving behaviors.

A helpful way to accomplish this is by following the SMART goal acronym, reminding us that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For the early childhood music teacher, as with any educator, there are goals that will make the classroom more effective. But when that teacher is also the owner of a children’s music studio, there are also goals that regard the business. Each set of goals affects the other and combine to make a successful studio.

Goal Setting for Teachers (of any kind)

For educators, it’s important to always be learning and improving teaching practices. The tasks involved in this endeavor can be quite overwhelming. These simple recommendations may help to reach those goals without losing your mind in the process.

  • Get feedback from your students, parents, supervisors, and/or peers – Often times, what we perceive as needing improvement is unwarranted, while some other areas may not have even occurred to us.
  • Write your SMART goals and remind yourself every day – With the initial chaos that a new teaching period often brings, it’s easy to lose focus on things outside the classroom. Posting goals somewhere to be seen often helps keep you focused.

Goal Setting for the Children’s Music Studio (or any small business)

Managing a classroom is challenging enough without having to run and maintain a successful early childhood music studio. However, it’s important to put on your business owner’s hat and set goals for the studio as well.

  • Go through the same reflection and feedback process – While improvements to the classroom often coincide with business goals, other considerations such as cost or communication outside of the classroom should be considered.
  • Consider the functional areas of the business – As with any size organization, there are major functional areas that also affect small businesses – Management, Production/Operations, Finance/Accounting, and Marketing/Sales. There is a great deal of resources available to help understand and improve these areas.
  • Set growth goals and the marketing tactics to achieve them – Most business owners want to grow, but sustainable growth is paramount to success. Sell it first, then build it is an established business axiom. One shouldn’t hire new teachers without the students, or expand classroom space without the need.
  • Start small and build gradually – Many organizations try to go “too big, too fast,” which is why many small businesses fail within the first few years. Take a tip from the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race.

The new year brings new opportunities and hope for a brighter future. Focusing on fewer, yet specific, goals for the classroom and the early childhood music studio will help to ensure long term success.

Fall Checklist for Children’s Music Studios

With the turning leaves and cooling weather of fall, children start back to school. Teachers have had an all-important  break, and are refreshed and ready to face a new year and often times, a new set of students. Early childhood music studio owners and teachers often run classes year-round while teaching the same groups of children as they progress in music. However, Fall still presents an opportunity for educators to reinvigorate their children’s music programs. Four ways in which to do that include outbound marketing programs, refreshing teaching space, reviewing lesson plans, and stocking up on classroom materials.

Perform Outbound Marketing to Grow Your Studio

Children’s music studio owners know that in order to sustain and grow their business,

it’s important to feed new students into the program. The following outbound marketing programs can help grow the number of new music students, and in turn, revenues.

  • Referral Programs – Provide incentives for parents to invite other parents to join your studio.
  • Eblasts – Whether you are using your own internal email list, a purchased list based on your target demographics, or a list offered by local organizations, emails can be very effective.
  • Direct Mail – Postcards or letters with incentives towards targeted demographics or neighborhoods are most helpful when repeated periodically.
  • Organization/Group Opportunities – Organizations such as the PTA, Mommy’s Groups, Neighborhood Facebook pages, and other organizations for young parents offer sponsorship and outreach opportunities.
  • Social Media – A fairly inexpensive way to reach out to potential customers while sharing your brand and benefits.

Refresh Your Teaching Space

Creating a space that is conducive for learning is very important for students’ cognitive performance. Here are just a few ideas for making your teaching space new and inviting to students:

  • Provide ample space for each student – As your classes grow, so should your teaching space!
  • Get organized to reduce clutter – A clean classroom helps students focus on the lesson and the teacher, not distractions.
  • Add a splash of color – Having a colorful classroom, such as carpeting or wall hangings, adds excitement and gets kids excited to come to music class.

Review Lesson Plans

While many lesson plans are “tried and true,” reviewing and looking at them in a different way can be exciting for even the most experienced educators.

  • Think if new world examples to explain established concepts – Explaining concepts with something students can relate to makes a better connection to the subject matter.
  • Each review uncovers new revelations – We often read books and watch movies multiple times because of things we may have missed the last time around.
  • Review aids recall – Just as with studying any subject, review always helps to recall information. Thorough knowledge of material gives teachers confidence.

Stock Up on Classroom Materials

Children’s music classrooms often have many more tactile materials than traditional classrooms, so having an ample and operable supply on hand is very important:

  • Plan for growth – While you may be reluctant to carry inventory over your expected class size, you don’t want to turn a windfall of new students away because you don’t have the necessary materials.
  • Wear and tear – Many materials, especially musical instruments, can experience the same wear and tear as children’s toys. Proper sound and tone are also important when teaching musical concepts.
  • New edition – Written materials often go through various editions and may have subtle changes and corrected errors. Check with your publisher to make sure your materials are up to date.

The new school year presents a time for teachers and students to re-energize their love of learning. Taking some steps in the children’s music classroom can help create new growth in the program as well as nurture a positive learning environment.

Music and Fine Arts Education More Important Than Ever

It is no surprise to anyone involved in fine arts education over the last several decades that arts classes have been gutted in public schools all across America. Since the recession of 2008, 80% of the nations schools were faced with budget cuts. That, along with No Child Left Behind and Common Core State Standards, pushed education administrators to prioritize math and science over other subjects such as music, drama, and art. Although the economy eventually recovered, these programs still have not. More recently, a robust economy showed some of the best state tax revenues in decades, administrators were looking at bringing back some support for these programs.

Enter Covid-19. The estimated impact of the pandemic on America’s creative economy is well documented. Quarantined from school, many children had no other access to music instruction or the fine arts. These cuts to the arts in public education has created a greater need for other organizations, such as early childhood music studios, to step up and fill the gap. Owners and educators of fine arts studios understand the many and crucial benefits that the arts provide to people of all ages, especially children.        

The Benefits of Music and Fine Arts Education for Children

Over the years, this blog has served to remind children’s music educators what they already know about the benefits of music instruction at the earliest ages. But in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, fine arts education is more important than ever:

Children in a Musikgarten Music Makers: at Home class.
  • Music Class builds Self-Esteem in Children – Participation in music helps children to feel smart and accomplished. Singing and dancing together aids music students in understanding that an ensemble is more powerful than its parts, with everyone contributing their singular efforts to create something bigger. Helping them to understand that their part is important to the success of the entire sound create a sense of worth and value.
  • Music Exercises the Brain and Improves Learning in Children – Participating in music, as well as learning a new instrument such as piano, changes the brain and improves learning. Like exercise does for the body, music does for the brain – improving understanding of language and written communication. While teachers have been trying their best to keep children engaged over screens during the pandemic, music can serve to help keep their brains tuned up for learning and prepare to return to the classroom.

Including musical training, drama, and art into a school’s curriculum has been recommended by educational researchers again and again, but many school systems show no inclination to reintroduce these classes any time soon. Therefore, it falls upon outside fine arts education organizations to provide these all-important opportunities. For children’s mental health and preparedness in the aftermath of a pandemic, fine arts instruction is more important than ever.

Small Business Tips for Emerging from an Economic Downturn

With the recent approval of two Covid-19 vaccinations, and a second economic relief package from Congress, small businesses such as Children’s Music Studios can begin to share the hope that the economy will start to pick back up in 2021. Many small business owners have not fared well during the crisis. Some 30% to 40% of those most affected by social distancing have gone inactive since February.  Typically this time of year, small business owners are setting goals and making plans for growth in the coming year. The need to plan and adjust is just as important now as ever, but the approach and mental process is different in a flagging economy.

Tips for rebuilding your small business after Covid-19

  • Understand your prospective customers perception – Consumers are extremely cautious coming out of an economic upheaval. If they believe money is going to be tight (even if they have it), they are going to behave as such. Your message to them should be that your services are very important and a good value. It is also a good time to focus on keeping quality and customer satisfaction high.
  •  Take a hard look at your finances – It’s important to monitor your cash flow very carefully and forecast it at least three months in advance. Separate the essential expenditures from those that can wait, and work with creditors to spread or reduce payments while you get back on your feet. If your cash flow projection means that you will need to borrow in order to stay afloat, identify financial resources to help you recover.
  • Put together a marketing plan – You will not be able to market the exact same way as our economy comes limping out of the pandemic. Start by letting people know that you are back to business and offer them something of value to show you are in this together. We have previously explored how to make the best use of existing marketing resources with little additional cost. However, while many companies cut back on marketing in an economic downturn, savvy business owners understand it can be a good opportunity to capture market share with smart investment.
  • Develop a time line and contingency plan – When resources are scarce, a time line can help you to understand what actions (and expenses) should be addressed first. Rebuilding a business is just that – a step-by-step building process with contingencies. Knowing how and when to address priorities helps to balance resources.  Finally, be better prepared for the next time an unexpected downturn happens – and it will. Take what you have learned from this experience and prepare a well thought out plan for a better reaction to loss in customers and revenue.

While it is unfortunate that many small businesses across the world will never be able to open their doors again due to this pandemic, studio owners of children’s music programs can begin to make concrete plans on how to recover stronger than ever. And when the next downturn happens, that valuable experience will make them better prepared to endure it.  

Musikgarten is the leader in early childhood music education — for children and teachers, that offers a complete multi-year educational program that helps infants, toddlers, and children develop a deep love of music and the ability to express it. For more about Musikgarten and its offerings, go to https://www.musikgarten.org/.

Nurturing Customer Relationships with Music Students and Parents

While we are by no means out of the woods of this pandemic, the recent vaccine news gives us all some hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Predictions for when we can safely resume normal activities vary from early Summer to the end of 2021. Depending on the state in which their children’s music studio resides, and personal preference, early childhood music program teachers will have a degree of flexibility as to when they can begin to offer in-person learning. For many educators, this time after a long and painful separation from beloved students cannot come too soon. With this anticipation in mind, studio owners and teachers can be marketing to return with a large number of enthusiastic students and parents.

Preparing to Return to In-person Children’s Music Classes

Many owners and teachers of children’s music studios have been offering online classes for students and parents during the pandemic, but most all agree that in-person teaching is preferable. So, in order to transition to a robust return to an in-person classroom setting, here are some marketing tips to consider.

  • Existing and Past Customers – the Low Hanging Fruit Most of us have heard the marketing adage that it costs five times as much to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one. Focusing efforts on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) rather than new customer acquisition begins with developing and managing your Customer Relationship Database (CRD). A CRD is basically a customer contact list with other customer characteristics. Business owners can start compiling a database by dusting off old customer records and creating a single list of customer contacts with whatever information you may have, whether its mailing address, phone number, email, or a combination of those. Spreadsheets are very handy for this, and can also include children’s names, their age and level of music education, etc. Please keep in mind that this kind of information is very sensitive, so it’s important to take precautions to safeguard access to the list.
  • Categorize Your Contact List – Some music studio owners may haveyears of contact records witha mixed bag of phone numbers, addresses, and or/emails. You will want to separate your CRD in as many like groups as possible. Contact method is a good way to start because it often dictates how you will contact your customers in marketing campaigns. Start with emails first, because it is still one of the most cost-effective way to reach customers. Depending on how you decide to use phone numbers, group texting can be very cost-effective (but be sure to set it up without all reply), but does not work on older landlines. Addresses for mailing programs would be the least cost-effective method of contact because of postage costs. You may also want to then categorize your customers by former and current, past purchases, or music program level. Keep in mind that just because someone has not been in the program for five years does not mean they are not a valuable contact.
  • Plan and Execute – A robust and well-organized Customer Relationship Database does no good if it is not utilized. Once your list is compiled and organized, put together a plan on how you will execute your marketing efforts. How many categories do you have with each contact method? For example, emails for current customers vs. emails for past customers.  Marketing messages and “calls to action” for each category will vary, with current customer emails encouraging new class sign-ups, while past customer emails may ask for a referral or testimonial. Determine your goals for each category, and what steps you must take to reach them. There are many free and paid Customer Relationship software programs that can help with emailing, texting, and even traditional mailing programs.
  • Messaging the Message – Before pulling the trigger on an email, text, calling, or mailing marketing campaign, you will want to make sure your messaging is clear while matching your various targeted categories. For example, you will not want to ask a past customer whose children are now grown about music classes for their grown children, but you may ask them if they know parents who might benefit from your services. For getting back to in-person classes, write your message as to create anticipation for the upcoming classes. Lastly, be sure to ask recipients to take action in your message, whether it is signing up for a class, going to your web site, or forwarding an email to a friend or family member who might be interested. The bottom line is to create a message for each category of contacts that is meaningful for that specific group.

While cases are still rising, the eventual end of the Covid-19 pandemic is finally coming into sight. In preparation and anticipation for that, now is a good time for children’s music studio owners to gather and organize their customer contact information into a Customer Relationship Database. With this CRD, there should then be a solid plan on how marketing campaigns will be executed, so when the time comes, you are ready.

Musikgarten is the leader in early childhood music education — for children and teachers, that offers a complete multi-year educational program that helps infants, toddlers, and children develop a deep love of music and the ability to express it. For more about Musikgarten and its offerings, go to https://www.musikgarten.org/.

Five Basic Steps for Marketing Early Childhood Music Programs

With so many things needing attention at once, it is all too easy for owners of children’s music studios to lose focus on basic marketing principles that will help them ensure the ongoing success of their business. We often unintentionally get bogged down in the day to day activities, where more long-term plans are placed by the wayside. As a refresher, these five very basic marketing steps should be periodically addressed in order to help operators of childhood music programs stay on track and prevent “missing the forest from the trees.”

Step 1 – Setting SMART Marketing Goals

Goal Setting is the first important and crucial step in the marketing strategy process. We have explored in the past how to develop SMART goals and achieve them, because if you don’t know where you want to be, how can you plan to get there? Traditionally, goal setting for businesses was recommended at one- and five-year intervals. However, depending on changes in your business environment (such as the Covid pandemic), you will want to review and adjust your goals as needed.

Step 2 – Determine or Realize Your Target Market

A target market is the particular group of consumers at which your children’s music program is aimed. For example, your overall target market may be families with young children. Market segmentation further divides the larger market into smaller, more defined categories, such as parents or grandparents of young children. Even further, you can divide them into demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral segmentation. The more specific the segments, the better you can focus your marketing resources. If you don’t know where to start, a good place is your current customer base. What are their similarities in those four segment categories? Once you have determined your current customer, you can expand marketing efforts from there to similar audiences.

Step 3 – Developing a Marketing Message

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” No matter how well you have identified your target market and segments, if you do not offer value to them through your music studio offerings, they will not enroll their child. Therefore, you must determine your value proposition or “pitch” in order to explain why they should enroll their child in your program. As a professional children’s music teacher, you are well aware of the numerous benefits that early childhood music education to children. The key is to create a concise statement or series of statements of this value called a Marketing Message. This is your “elevator speech” that should be consistent in all of your marketing and sales efforts and only slightly tweaked for different market segments.

Step 4 – The Competitive Positioning Statement

As with any business, it’s important to understand your competition. This may be indirect competitors that don’t offer the exact same product or service but yet compete for your target market’s resources. For example, children’s dance classes or sports programs that also enrich the lives of children may compete for your parent’s budget or time. It’s also important to know your direct competitors – other early childhood music programs. Think about how you can market or sell against both types of competitors, which is often summarized in a competitive positioning statement.  This is generally stated more in positive terms of the different benefits your business offers than negative terms such as “throwing shade” on your competitors. As with the marketing message, indirect and direct positioning statements will be slightly different.

Step 5 – The Marketing Mashup – How it All Comes Together

The final basic step in the marketing strategy process is to combine all the previous steps. In a nutshell, it is to present your unique value proposition to your target audience(s) in order to reach your marketing goals. A unique value proposition is how you combine your marketing message with your competitive positioning statement in order to differentiate your children’s music studio from its competition. Depending on the goals you have set and your marketing budget, you can determine the best way to reach your target audiences through the various marketing channels available. Remember that the more specific you are with your target market segments, the more efficient you will be with your marketing resources – whether in time or money.

While there are many other decisions to be made about implementing your marketing plan through sales and marketing channels, if you begin with these basic steps and refer back to them consistently, you will have a good marketing foundation for your early childhood music studio. Keep in mind, however, that marketing is both an inexact science as well as an iterative process. Fully expect that you will make mistakes along the way, but with a good marketing strategy, they will have less of a negative impact and make you that much smarter the next time around.

Utilizing Downtime to Nurture your Children’s Music Studio

As many businesses across the world have temporarily (and in unfortunate cases permanently), shuttered their doors amid the coronavirus crisis, there are some signs of light at the end of the tunnel for states begin lifting stay at home orders. However, for non-critical children’s services such as children’s music programs, the wait is likely to be longer. Even when all businesses are given the nod to re-open under guidelines, we can bet that parents will remain apprehensive to take any risks with communal programs. There are things that children’s music studio owners and teachers can be doing now to take advantage of the downtime and prepare for the uncertain future.

Strengthen Your Technology and Teach Virtually – Whether for good or bad, no one disputes that education in the United States will never be the same. Through baptism of fire, educators from all areas are having to embrace technology and provide an online representation of their former curriculum. This is no exception for music teachers, and while there are arguments to be made about what is lost through virtual music teaching, there is simply no other current alternative. Now is a good opportunity to explore the various technology available for providing virtual services. We have seen some amazing “at-home” concerts produced by amateur and professional musicians alike, many even playing together while in separate cities. As these become more commonplace, parents will grow ever more comfortable with the format of virtual teaching for their children. Proving this option may smooth the transition to a time when they are comfortable with in person group settings again.

Keep Communicating with Parents – It is extremely important to keep in contact with your parents and students during this time. An old business adage tells us that it costs at least five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Make good use of your client email list, providing weekly updates to parents. Be sure to think of something of value to deliver each and every time you reach out. Parents are desperate for something to keep their children calm and entertained during this time. If you are not offering virtual classes, provide some resources for them to remain musical! As we all know, music has many psychological benefits for stress and anxiety and they are sure to appreciate the help. If you don’t have a complete email list, consider a short phone call to the parents and children to see how they are doing and provide some much-needed encouragement. Teachers are leaders, and good leaders provide encouragement in times of trouble. Finally, make sure your communication is confident and forward thinking, ensuring that the value that your studio provides is continuing and will be there once this is over.

Plan Well for the Next Phase – In the highly acclaimed managerial book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the first two identified habits are being proactive and beginning with the end in mind. Together, these combine into one trait that all effective managers possess – goal setting. During this downtime and downturn, it is important to look ahead and have a goal in mind for when the smoke finally clears. Then, work your way backwards understanding and setting tasks in order to reach those goals. If you have already set goals for 2020, this is the time to revise those goals and adjust to the “new normal”. Follow the SMART goals guidelines, and be sure to include marketing as part of your new goal setting. Share with parents your goals for their children’s musical growth, which provides an opportunity to promote class materials and enrollment for the next class, whether it is virtual or in person in the future.

Smart business owners and teachers understand that agility, communication, positivity and goal setting are all imperative for long-term success. Children’s music studio owners are both teachers and businesspeople, and as such, are looked to for leadership from their customers and students. By taking advantage of this unfortunate downturn in our economy, savvy business people will come out of it stronger and better prepared for the eventual recovery, whatever that may look like.

What Web Site Format is the Best for your Early Childhood Music Studio?

Small business owners understand that having a web presence is imperative in today’s market, both to provide a means of simple contact information and grant legitimacy to your business. Often times, the very first thing an interested prospect will do is Google your business to get as much information as possible to help with their purchase decision. This is especially true for Millennials.

 While there are way too many topics on organizational web presence to cover in one blog post, one that children’s music studio owners have constantly asked about is “What is the best kind of web site format for my business?” The options available can be daunting. When it comes to deciding on which format to go with for your music studio business, there are three major factors to consider – Budget, desired functionality, and autonomy/ownership. Typically, as desired functionality and autonomy increase, so does the necessary budget.

  • Social Media Profile or Page – There has become a trend of companies using one or several social media profiles in place of a web site. These pages are quick and free, making it perhaps the lowest cost option for businesses. It can also be a good way to build brand loyalty with customers. There are some downsides, however. For one, social media profiles offer limited page layout design, and have rules concerning content. Social media by nature also allows input from your audience in comments, likes, etc. This can be problematic if one disgruntled customer wants to badmouth your company on your own profile page. Lastly, smaller businesses, such as children’s music studios, can be eclipsed by the deep pockets of larger organizations that spend thousands to place numerous ads on your profile page.
  • Licensed Company Web Templates – Many organizations provide their dealers or franchise partners with a predesigned, web site template that is already branded with the corporate color palette, fonts, logos, etc. These often come at a small per month expense, including hosting, and are relatively easy to set up. Most also include Content Management Systems (CMSs), which provide password access to a Wysiwyg editor (simple toolbar of icons like in Word) so that content can be added and edited with copy, pictures, links, etc. Some of these sites also provide some functionality that are specific for the industry, such as children’s music class sign up forms and calendars. Also constrained by the template design, ultimate ownership of these sites belongs to the corporate entity that provides the license.
  • “Free” Web Site Builders – Web site builders have become very popular with start-ups and small businesses. GoDaddy, Wix, and Squarespace are popular providers of this format. While still considered “templated” web sites because the overall structure of the site is already provided, they tend to offer many options for different “look and feel” templates, depending on your particular tastes. Site builders also offer a large variety of Plugins, or modules that can be added for certain functionality such as online chat, class scheduling, or ecommerce. While they may come across or marketed as “free,” however, there are very often hidden costs to these sites such as hosting and domain fees, ad-free versions, and other upgrades such as email service and increased functionality. Finally, if you become unhappy with the provider of your site builder and want to take your business elsewhere, you have to leave your web site behind.
  • Open Source Templated Web Sites – Open source refers to a coding language that is available to anyone out there that wants to program a web site. There are several open source templated site platforms out there that are very popular, with WordPress being the most well-known. Offering virtually tens of thousands of pre-made site templates that can be bought at a relatively low price than custom programmed sites, they also offer a large amount of Plugins for all kinds of functionality. Being open source, these templates can be highly customized, tend to work well on mobile devices, and offer robust Content Management Systems (CMSs). Building these sites is not as easy as it sounds, as you must learn each template’s CMS with particular quirks. But because they are so popular, there are a lot of resources and programmers available for building and maintaining them at an additional cost. Having full ownership of these sites, you will be able to host and move them just about anywhere you like. However, also because they are so popular, open source templated sites are popular targets for hackers, so constant security patches must be installed.
  • Total Customized, Hard Coded Web Site – If highly customized design and functionality is what your organization needs, a hard-coded custom designed site offers the most flexibility to “stick build” a web site. These sites, depending on how much customization is desired, can run from the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for small to medium businesses. For industries that have very unique offerings that require unique functionality, this may be your only option. For example, a fabric company that wants to offer online customization of its fabrics, as well as showing inventory in real time might need a customized solution. Custom web sites also offer scalability of and security, which comes at a price.

While the multitudes of web site format options out there might make your head spin, for small businesses such as children’s music studio owners, it is often best to start by determining what kind of budget you have for your web site. It is often good to start small when launching a web presence. Weigh that budget against how important functionality and autonomy/ownership is to your business needs. Something as simple as a social media profile may not be enough to tell your entire story. Also keep in mind that on average, web sites need to be updated or redesigned about every 5 to 7 years in order to stay in step with trends in technology. So, starting small is a good way to learn about web technology without breaking the bank.