Raving Fans And Going Viral With Your Teaching

Raving fans are the basis to your guitar teaching business going viral. I believe every guitar teacher should aim to go viral yet, most teachers never even consider it be and aim too low. They settle for 30 or 40 somewhat regular students which results in a modest (often struggling)  income. Even if you never go viral the pursuit of viral will get you thinking differently and stepping up your game. Viral is also proof that you’ve have made it and the first step is getting people raving about you. Raving fans says you are getting it right in the eyes of your students. They are excited and spreading the word.

How to go viral

To get an understanding of the process of going viral I recommend reading the book ‘The Tipping Point’. I won’t go into it here but the author Malcolm Gladwell describes nicely how a business reaches a point where it goes viral. I was fortunate enough to see my own guitar teaching business go viral. I will admit that when it did go viral I had not orchestrated it nor did I expect it. It just happened and happened quickly. It was somewhat luck but also a case of years of trial and error. This seems to be the case with many businesses. They rarely plan it but, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan.

Planning to go viral

Going viral might require some luck but, planning to go viral is still a worthwhile exercise. The fact that many of the businesses who went viral were caught by surprise doesn’t mean they didn’t prepare. Think of it like this. Not every athlete who trains for an Olympic event will win a gold medal or even qualify to go to the Olympics. They have hopes and dreams but, those who wins medals for the first time are often surprised when they realise they have won a gold medal. Very few would admit that they had planned and expected to win gold. Many of them are even surprised when they get selected to go to the Olympics but you won’t find a single Olympic athlete in the modern games who didn’t train hard. Really hard. There may have been some luck involved but no amount of luck would help a person who had not put in a similar amount of training as the other Olympic qualifiers.

Start with your strengths

The first step is identifying your strengths. You can’t please everyone and trying to will, prevent you from going viral. Your strengths will make you appealing to certain types of students. The way to identify your strengths in terms of your teaching business is to focus on the students you most enjoy teaching. Ask yourself why you enjoy teaching these kinds of students. Its likely because they are the students who admire you enough to follow your instructions. You don’t feel like you are constantly trying to sell them on your teaching style. We have a limited amount of energy so we want to put that energy into the right students. In my case I enjoyed working with kids. My interest in the ‘nature verses nurture’ argument pushed me in this direction very early on.

Knowing what your fans like most about you

The next step is to identify the qualities of your teaching style that appeal to your best students. This is important for a few reasons. Firstly you want to accentuate those qualities. By dialling them up you increase the chances of students becoming raving fans but, you will also repel those students who don’t like such qualities. The ones who you generally don’t want to be teaching. In my case it was students who wanted private lessons to work on specific songs. My approach was ‘skills first’ and based on a group format. This seemed to work well with kids so I focused on this younger age group. Another reason to identify the qualities that appeal to your best students is for marketing purposes. Knowing what will appeal will help you to design a marketing campaign that catches the attention of the right students. In my case with kids, I used pictures of kids in my ads and promoted the benefits of starting young to parents.

To go viral you must change a person’s state

The next stage of going viral is giving students reasons to rave about you. To be worth raving about they will need to leave each lesson feeling inspired. To achieve this you need to become skilled at changing a person’s state. This usually requires an emotional experience that leaves them on a high. Changing someone’s state is not easy at first but, once you understand and practice you will realise what real power you have. Think of it like a great band. The best bands and artists have enormous power. Remember Beatlemania? How about Elvis or ABBA or Led Zep. They change people’s states within minutes or even seconds. We all know that feeling. We take our seats in the concert hall and then the lights go down. BOOM! We get a rush and the person we were 10 seconds ago has left the building. That’s the magic. That’s what you need to be doing for your students. If you are not changing a student’s state you are not likely to go viral anytime soon.

Motivation is the key to going viral

I realised some years ago that motivation was 80% to 90% of teaching. An unmotivated student won’t last long. If I were to walk into your classroom and see bored, unmotivated students I could assume your teaching business is struggling. Most guitar teachers are focused heavily on the technical and theoretical aspects of guitar playing giving little to no attention to their student’s level of motivation or current state. Its important for a teacher to be learning and developing the skill of motivating students. Motivated students will, practice without being constantly reminded and, their family and friends will hear about you. Motivation comes from changing a person’s state. In future posts I will be talking more about how to change a student’s state so they want to practice and will also motivate others to practice.
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