One of the most effective ways to get (& keep) your clients on your side is to keep them informed. Especially for families that are already juggling multiple after-school activities for each child. The easiest way to accomplish this is through a studio newsletter.
And while you may have visions of clients deleting yet another email, there is a way to get those newsletters read.
Don’t email, just to email
How many emails have you opened & wondered why the other person or company thought this was worth your time? How many emails didn’t even make it past the subject line before you hit delete?While regular communication is key, too much or too little can have negative effects. Click To Tweet
At one point, the principal at my children’s school decided 3-4 newsletters over 10 months with reminder emails was enough for parents.
In theory, this could have been great. Except …
- Dates were changed after the newsletter went out, but no notice was sent home
- Reminder emails were sent after 4 pm the day before an event
- The school website was so disorganized that it was almost impossible to find any information
Do you know how hard it is to book a haircut appointment last minute as you get ready to leave for work?
Do you know how frustrating it is to rebook next week’s lessons so you can attend your children’s school concert on the new date … less than a week away?
And yet when it comes to our studios, do we sometimes do the same to our clients?
I used to be on an email list. Loved the podcast & decided I wanted to hear more from the podcasters.
Instead I got emails every-single-day from everything to business advice, what the view from the dock looked like & what their kids were creating on their YouTube channels (neither of which I was subscribed to).
Turns out they encouraged their readers to email their subscribers every day. It was more important to show up in the email box than say something meaningful or help their readers grow their businesses.
And so I ended up leaving the membership community & unsubscribing from their email list within just a few months. Even though I probably could have learnt quite a bit from them.
I just didn’t want to wade through the sheer number of emails on random topics to do it.
Because we typically see our students each week & send home practice notes, we have a unique opportunity to use more than one method of communication.When you send a message of any kind to your client, do you have something to say that they need to hear? Or is it a case of just showing up in their email box? Click To Tweet
Another principal at my children’s school took a much different approach than her predecessor. Regular communication was important to her. And, she made it a priority for the administrative staff to get that sent out.
Each week, a short 1-page newsletter appeared in my inbox. It gave a short description of the different activities coming up in the next week. And on the right-hand side were a list of dates divided by “events this week” & “upcoming events”.
And when there was a change in the dates for an event? We immediately got a short, 2-3 sentence email letting us know about the mistake. Instead of waiting 3 months after the original mistake.
While each week might seem too much, this was my personal Goldilocks zone. I could quickly scan the newsletter & double-check the calendar for the upcoming week.
And, it was much easier to make sure the twins were ready for whatever was happening at school.
Sending a monthly newsletter with reminders written on the weekly practice pages is enough to keep clients up-to-date in your studio.Find the Goldilocks zone for your studio communication. Click To Tweet
What to Include
The biggest fear of many studio owners is feeling like they are spamming their clients.
And, yet there are important dates & information parents need to know.
Plus, newsletters are a great opportunity to showcase the amazing things happening in the studio.
So, how do you balance the real need to keep clients informed with the job of marketing for studio retention?
The quick answer … include the basics only. Then, direct your clients to other sources that highlight how amazing your studio is.
All you really need on each studio newsletter is:
- Events in the studio: themes, incentives/challenges, group lessons, recitals, holidays, etc.
- How to register for events, as needed
- Invitation to contact you with any questions
While talking about events in the studio is part of marketing, helping clients get in & out of their inbox is always appreciated.
So instead of giving it all away IN the newsletter, direct clients to click on a link for more information.
- “Join our [social media channel] community!”
- Include pictures (with parent permission) of students in the studio.
- “Never miss a bragging opportunity again.”
- “Get a backstage pass to our latest studio theme!”
- Videos linked to the activities students do in lesson.
- “Register for group lesson!”
- Google Forms is easy to use & free.
- Create a sense of urgency by closing group lesson date/time as they fills up.
How to batch your studio newsletter
Once I learnt how to batch my administrative tasks, it was a game changer.
That being said, I’ve tried a LOT of different templates & ways of presenting information. Some with more success than others.
When I first began, I created my own Word template & group emailed my clients each month.
While it did work, I had no way of tracking what was going on. And, I had to be at my computer in order to send the emails.
Which meant a lot more work on my part.
Annual studio plan
Part of batching your newsletters is knowing what will happen in your studio throughout the year. This is the information you want to include in your studio newsletters.
Hopefully, you have at least a rough outline of what will be happening throughout the year.
- Special studio events: group/master lessons, recitals, etc.
- Incentives or challenges
- Themes: styles/eras/regional music, rhythm, ear training, improvisation, composing, etc.
- When students will start preparing repertoire for various studio events
Email marketing platform
An email marketing platform is a way to keep in contact with our clients that doesn’t require immediate attention from you.
Even the most basic plans include:
- Email templates
- Schedule emails to be sent at a particular day/time
- Reports that track email information
- Social media link icons
I’ve used MailChimp, Aweber & Active Campaign.
If you are just starting out & have a small studio, MailChimp has a free plan & is very easy to use. It is the option I began with in my studio & I really couldn’t complain.
Aweber was one of the first companies to this space, but didn’t necessarily keep up with newer companies. While the support was good, it was clunky to get things beyond the basics to work well & the cost just didn’t match up with features offered by other companies.
If you have a large studio & some tech know how, Active Campaign is a great option. Not only is there plenty of tutorials, but the set up is intuitive & really visual. (By clicking the above link, I may get a very small reward for your enrolment.)
- Writing out all your studio newsletters at once
- Scheduling the emails for the entire year
- Sit back & relax knowing its all taken care of
The perfect blend
When getting an entire year’s worth of studio newsletters prepared, there is a quick 3-step process I use.
- Add important dates: holidays, studio events, registration dates
- Include links to register for studio events to appropriate newsletters
- Also include how this effects regularly scheduled lessons
- Add short 2 -3 sentence blurb about what the month’s studio focus is
- Bullet points let parents quickly scan the email
On the actual newsletter, the order of this information is reversed. Studio focus, then registration, followed by important dates.
This encourages clients to read/scan the whole studio newsletter.
Remember to KISS. Keep it super simple. That goes for you as you make the newsletters AND as your clients read them.
First studio newsletter extras
If you have never sent a studio newsletter, there is a couple extra details to include in the first one.
- How often & when clients can expect to get the newsletter
- For example, “around 4 pm on the last Friday of each month”.
- Social media links: Any social media you use for your studio can be included as icons at the bottom of the email.
- Encourage parents to like/subscribe to their preferred channels to stay in the know.
A little extra help
While I highly encourage you to use the templates included in your email marketing, I get that sometimes we just want a clear-cut “this is how to do this” PDF.
To help you save time right from the start, I’ve created a template that ensures you include the information you need … & leave out the information your clients won’t read.
Once you are in your email marketing program (like Active Campaign), just fill in the template information using the design you like best from their site.
Click below to access your template.