When restaurateurs open up a new food joint in town, what’s the first thing they do? Give away food! People will stand in line for the better part of a day to sink their teeth into a free hamburger, sandwich, or wrap. If I hadn’t done the same thing in the past, I’d laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation… but that fact is… people. love. free.
People will switch cable providers for the prospect of a new flat screen, ‘like’ Facebook posts by the thousands for the shot at a complimentary hotel stay, and camp out in sub-zero temperatures for a concert ticket giveaway. Free is addicting. Which is why we recommend new piano teachers give trial lessons a shot… at least once.
If you are an experienced teacher with a boatload of students, you’re probably in the enviable position of being able to pick and choose your clientele, making trial lessons something you probably don’t need to consider.
But for teachers just starting out, offering free trial lessons can help you build a student base (and build it fast)… which means you’ll be able to ditch the Kraft Dinner and ketchup soup for something a little more appetizing.
It’s a New Teacher Kind of Thing
Experienced teachers are much less likely to want to give away piano lessons than new teachers. Which leads new teachers to believe that giving away trial lessons are a bad thing. And the truth is… it might be. But it might not be. Everyone’s experiences will differ, which is why I encourage new piano teachers to try it, at least once.
At our music school we built our initial student base on the back of trial lessons. Of course, our awesome teaching and programming had a lot to do with it… but in order for families to experience our teaching awesomeness we had to first get them through the door.
So if you’re considering giving away trial lessons, here are 3 myths that our experiences debunked when we offered trial lessons as a marketing tool.
Myth 1 – I Can’t Afford to Give My Time Away
When you offer a trial lesson or community-building group session you are no more giving your time away than you are when you plan you regular lessons, create advertising, or enter accounting data. Piano teaching involves a considerable deal of non-teaching time. Giving trial lessons can be as beneficial to the long-term success of your studio as is keeping accurate accounting records.
If you make sure your lesson rates account for non-teaching activities such as bookkeeping and lesson planning, then trial lessons can be added to this list. The financial harm for piano teachers is not doing trial lessons, but rather undercharging for the service they offer.
Myth 2 – The Public Will Exploit My Offer
Well… this is true; some potential piano parents will exploit your offer. But here’s the great thing about piano lessons… a potential client “purchases” your services over and over and over. Therefore, it is worth the risk of being exploited by a few in exchange for gaining a new piano family. Even if six families take advantage of your offer and only one signs up, that one family will pay you month after month for years to come. Consider the families who took advantage of your offer as simply the cost of doing business.
Most businesses (piano-related or not) would pay much more than the value of a few trial lessons to acquire a high-paying customer for life.
Myth 3 – Your Current Piano Students Will Feel Jilted
We have offered various giveaway and trials at our piano studio for over a decade. Having provided lessons to over 3oo students per year during this time, we have never once had an existing family complain about feeling jilted. People are used to the concept of trials and giveaways and have no doubt taken advantage of these offers in many areas of their own lives, so they are unlikely to complain about something they themselves have jumped all over in the past.
Also, many of our piano families entered our studio through a trial so they understand it is simply part of our lesson process!
Focus on Finding Life-long Friends and Fans
Successful new piano teachers know that in this era of social connectivity, their survival depends on building trust and relationships with their clients. All new teachers need money to survive, but focusing solely on getting paid will threaten your survival. Instead, focus on providing your piano students and your potential piano students with over-the-top incredible value… and financial security will follow.
And since we’re talking about giveaways… if you’re not already a Teach Piano Today subscriber, sign up here and we’ll send you our free eBook, Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers – The Essentials!