Basics of Marketing

What is Marketing?

Marketing? Not me! I don't need marketing. That's something that business majors have to take a couple courses in. It's all a bunch of theoretical busywork.

I don't know about business majors, but for piano teachers marketing has a **direct and immediate bearing on income.** To ignore marketing makes it harder to find students and reduces income sharply.

Do I have your attention yet?

Thought so!

So, what is this mysterious field? Marketing is figuring out the kind of students you want and how to reach them to let them know you're available. That's not such a vague idea!

Most people think that advertising and marketing are the same thing, but this is not the case. Advertising is only one aspect of marketing.

Marketing has four major components:

(1)positioning your service in the marketplace
(2)making people in your community familiar with your name and your business name (promotion)
(3)long-term planning (called strategic planning)

Let us discuss each one separately.


Positioning is:

What are you selling? Music lessons.

Who are the people who buy music lessons? Parents for children, adults for themselves.

What is your competition? Other private music teachers. Music schools (by this I mean community-based schools, not universities).

BUT ALSO: all other leisure activities! Dance, martial arts, Scouts, and sports. And then there are religious instruction, volunteer work, higher education, overtime work, lethargy, family resistance, and so on. Some of these cost money and some don't, but they -all- cost time. The people in your target market must make room in their schedules for your music instruction at the expense of other things.

Where is your direct -music- competition? Nearby? Is it private teachers? Music schools? If so, do they have more than one location?

What are your competitors doing to market themselves? Where do they advertise? How often? What type of ads? What type of media? How else do they put their names in front of the public?

Based on the above, what is your competition's target market? Is it the same as yours? If so, do you compete directly because of locale? Because of something else?

How successful do you think your competition is? Do the places they advertise and the size/type of the ads imply anything about their success? Do you have word of mouth about their success? Based only on their advertising campaign, how "hungry" do you think they are?

How do their monthly tuition fees compare to yours? How do yours compare to a month's worth of dance lessons or karate?

How is your product the same as your competition? How is it different? What can you do to differentiate yourself and your instruction from the competition in the eyes of the target market?

What seems to be missing from your competition's program? Can you provide the missing elements? How? How much will it cost, in time and money, to do this?


Promotion can include activities such as:

Of course, all your promotion activities need not be music-related. Consider some of these ideas:

Eventually your name will become known in your community as you do volunteer work, but when you're new to a town (or if you want to substantially increase your studio roster right now), you need to jump start things by -putting- your name before others in a positive way.

One of the best ways I know of is presenting programs to elementary schools, particularly if you can key into the social studies lesson or some other curriculum. Leave a half-dozen business cards with the teacher to give out when Jackie's mother calls to find out the name of the person who gave that really great presentation on music of the Pilgrims.

Another good one is to present a program at the community center or library. It can be a recital or lecture recital; or perhaps you'd rather do a presentation to preschoolers about instruments of the orchestra.

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is long-range planning. It's making an overall blueprint to guide everyday decisions so you reach your career goal.

By contrast, short-term planning, called tactical planning, is a reaction to what is happening now.

Some activities which fall into the realm of strategic planning are:

Your business will fare better if -you- make the plans rather than simply react to what happens to you. Being proactive are the fancy words for influencing what happens to you rather than letting whatever happens wash over you, after which you react. (If you want to go a step even farther back into the psychology theory, it's called having an "internal locus of control" rather than an "external locus of control.")


Advertising, obviously, is putting ads in place, but many of the preparatory and on-going tasks in an advertising campaign are marketing tasks. Since they are directly related to advertising, please read the file specifically on this topic.

Why Do People Buy?

*People buy to gain something (pleasure, prestige) or avoid something (deprivation, embarrassment).*

Kindly tattoo this on your arm. It's important.

What Do People Really Buy?

People are really buying benefits. They are buying -how easily- this thing is going to bring them pleasure or avoid pain. They are attracted to what a product or service can do for them. They want a problem solved, or they want to receive something of value, even if it's an intangible.

Marketing is an on-going business task. If you want to stay competitive, you need to do your marketing.

copyright 1998, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
Contact me about reprint permission.

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