Guest blog post by Doug Hanvey, author of Piano Lab Blog
Testimonials and Online Reviews = A “Real Reason to Believe”
In these days of overhyped marketing of nearly every product and service – and yes, that sometimes includes music lessons! – it is more important than ever to communicate why your prospective students should have what marketing experts call a “real reason to believe” in you and your studio.
The best way to communicate a “real reason to believe” is via testimonials from current or former students/parents.
Of course, testimonials now include online Google reviews, Yelp reviews, etc. Testimonials and online reviews are effective because they are based on the actual experience of a student/parent. They are thus more believable to prospective students/parents than anything you personally say about yourself and your teaching.
How to Use Testimonials and Reviews
Testimonials are an excellent addition to every music studio website. At least one or two should be placed on the home page. Placing more testimonials on other pages of your site – such as your “About” or “Contact” pages – is even better.
Of course, if you use marketing materials such as flyers or brochures, add testimonials to them as well.
If your studio has a business listing on a search engine such as Bing or Google (which it should), or a Yelp listing, any online reviews you receive will be posted there. Whenever you receive a positive online review, be sure to ask the author if you can use their review as a testimonial on your website and other marketing materials.
Testimonials and Reviews: The Good and the Bad
Not every testimonial or review is created equal. Of course, this is obvious with online reviews, where the author typically has the option of awarding your business 1 to 5 stars. But it is also true of testimonials without a star rating. Characteristics of not-so-good reviews and testimonials (irrespective of the star rating):
- Short – one or two sentences
- Vague or lack detail – “Susan is a really good teacher!”
- Lack the name of the testimonial’s author
- Have spelling/grammar mistakes
Another characteristic of a not-so-good online review is that it is clearly posted by you (for your student/parent), and not directly by the student/parent. I personally find such reviews lame and much less believable, and think, “Couldn’t you get your client/customer to post their review themselves?”
Characteristics of good reviews and testimonials:
- Long – at least one or two paragraphs
- Rich in personal detail
- No mistakes; well-written
- Author’s name given
How to Obtain Quality Testimonials and Reviews
Most students/parents are too busy to ever think about writing you a testimonial or review. So don’t wait – ask! You have nothing to lose by asking. As success author Jack Canfield says, “You’ve got to ask. Why are people so afraid to ask? Mostly because they’re afraid of experiencing rejection. But if you get a no, you are no worse off than when you started. If you get a yes, you are a lot better off!”
Asking also gives you the opportunity to make an educated decision about which student/parent is most likely to write you a top-notch testimonial or review. I recommend using the following guidelines when deciding which student/parent to ask next:
- They’ve studied with you at least 1 year
- You feel a strong personal connection with them
- They’re making good progress
- They feel positive and upbeat about their lessons
- If you’re asking for an online review, you know they’re smart and generous enough to realize you need the highest numerical rating (usually 5-star) possible
Want to give prospective students/parents a “real reason to believe” in you and your music studio? Ask for a testimonial today!