Word of mouth is still the way most small businesses find new customers.

After all, it makes sense.

Word of mouth marketing is the most personal form of marketing. It involves one person sharing their excellent experience with someone else, and recommending that company to their friend, colleague or family member.

Think about it.

How many personal recommendations have you given or received?

Whether it’s watching a film in the cinema, going to a restaurant or choosing a new car, we’re often far more likely to choose something based on the advice of our friends.

The same applies with music lessons. If you teach violin to a child, you might find new students purely on the basis of a parent recommending you to their friends.

violin teacher photo

Photo by nathanrussell

Even with all the different ways you can promote your teaching business, using both online and offline methods, word of mouth marketing always works better.

There is one problem though.

You need to play the waiting game.

It can take many months, or even years to build a substantial teaching studio just using this strategy alone. A lot depends on demand for lessons on your instrument, competition from other music teachers and even a slice of luck!

So unless you are very patient, you really need to use other marketing techniques to find students, at least in the beginning. Here are 3 tips for increasing the chances of getting those first word of mouth referrals.

1) Be honest and offer great music lessons

Ok, so this might seem obvious.

However, you’re not going to get referrals from your existing students if you suck at teaching. Your lessons need to be excellent. Good won’t cut it, so make sure your lessons are fun and engaging. You should also be prepared for every lesson in terms of resources.

If you teach some younger students, who really enjoy your lessons, you’re dramatically increasing the chances you’ll soon teach their friends.

Also, encourage your younger pupils to perform in school concerts. If they play a cool piece which they enjoy and the audience enjoys, you might get one or two classmates thinking, “I’d love to play the Pink Panther theme on the trombone!”

Before you know it, your studio has gained 2 or 3 new pupils. I know it won’t always work this way, but it’s all about increasing the chances of gaining those referrals…

2) Offer a financial incentive

For your older students, or parents of younger pupils, you can always appeal to their wallet 🙂

Mention to them that you’re looking for 1 or 2 new students. No shame in that. Just don’t appear desperate and say you need loads more pupils just to pay the mortgage!

As an incentive, you can suggest their next lesson will be FREE of charge. Or if you ask your students to play in blocks of 5-10 lessons, you could offer a small discount on their next invoice.

3) Facebook Ads

This tip is a little more complicated, and you will need to part with some cash. But it can be very effective if used correctly.

If you have a Facebook page, you can promote your business to friends of your fans.

By targeting people in your area, who are friends of people who like your page, you’d be amazed at how many people you can reach out to.

People will see an ad in their newsfeed advertising piano lessons, and it will say something like “Joe Smith and Jane Williams like Martyn Croston Pianist”.

What a great way to establish credibility with potential students if they see their friends know and like you already!

Let’s face it. When you’re looking for new students and you ask your friends to mention your lessons to people, not everyone will do it. In fact, most probably won’t do anything about it.

But by using Facebook you can expose your business to 100’s or even 1000’s of people, depending on the number of fans your page has.

For people who are potentially interested in lessons, they are bound to call their friend first after seeing your ad. And after they sing your praises, you should be expecting a phone call soon after!

N.B. – If your Facebook page has very few likes, you may need to run a campaign to boost your number of fans before trying this strategy.

Do you have any tips for increasing the chance of word of mouth referrals? Would love to hear from you!