Why Word-Of-Mouth Is The Most Powerful Marketing Strategy
This post comes off the back of a recent conversation where the teacher was asking about marketing strategies. This particular teacher has been teaching for many years but still had less than 30 students. When we talked about his marketing he said that he received on average 1 new inquiry a week and enrolled about 70%. This means he is enrolling around 37 new students per year and has been doing so for over 10 years. I concluded that he has enrolled around 200 students in the last 5 years. Now while I agreed that he could increase his marketing there was a more serious problem as I will explain
The real problem is not your marketing
Despite what many guitar teachers like to think, marketing is not the most important factor to success in our type of business. The number one quality of a successful guitar teacher are people skills. Marketing will get you the interview so to speak but your people skills will get you the job. When I hear from guitar teachers with more than a few years of teaching experience wanting advice on marketing due to low student numbers I know they are likely barking up the wrong tree. They believe their problem is connected to marketing. This may be part of the problem but for any teacher who has been in the business of teaching guitar for more than 3 years its definitely not the main problem. Their main problem is people skills but the question is how can we measure people skills?
How can you measure your people skills?
You can measure the success of your people skills by the number of referrals you receive. Despite all the hype about the Internet and social media, studies show that 90% of referrals are still via word of mouth for local businesses. This is good news for the local guitar teacher because it means you can and should be growing your business quickly. If your numbers are not growing via word of mouth it means something is missing with your people skills. Try to leave your ego out of it. We all have weaknesses in this area and the first step is to be honest by looking at our scorecards. Try to see the truth about your referral numbers. If you switched off your marketing tomorrow would your numbers continue to grow?
Social media is overrated
What I see a lot are guitar teachers spending disproportional amounts of time trying to get students via social media and various Internet sites. This time would be much better spent focusing on developing your people skills to turn your current students into raving fans. This cannot be overstated. The problem is much of the business advice floating around on the Internet is not aimed at the local business but is instead, aimed at more global Internet based businesses. Stories about the success of Facebook, Uber, Air BnB are all based on spreading your reputation online. This is fine for certain kinds of businesses. Remember that even Facebook started at Harvard and built a local community first.
Play to your strengths
Our business is one of the strongest examples of a local word-of-mouth style business because kids and young mothers are undoubtably the two most social groups in our society. Once you tapped into these groups your reputation will and should spread quickly.