Should you join a music school/agency/franchise?

At some point you may consider whether you would be better off joining an established music school, studio, agency or franchise instead of running your guitar teaching business on your own.

If you talk to an music school, tutoring agency or franchise who are hiring teachers, they will likely tell you that their brand name is valuable and can help you attract students faster and easier. They suggest that when you tap into their agency/franchise network, you benefit from all the work other people have put in to building up that brand.

That sounds like a compelling reason to join an established brand and we were fortunate enough to be able to test this out in the real world.

Sam's Dilemma

One of our members (we'll call him Sam) asked us to help him choose between joining a large tutoring agency and teaching on his own.
The agency would charge him $150 per month and they would provide him with marketing materials, a page on their website, allow him to use their brand name and they may even potentially refer students to him.

Sam knew it would be a large expense but the promise was that their branding was valuable and he would be able to gain students faster if he was part of their brand. This was a nation-wide tutoring agency, so Sam felt confident their brand name would draw in students.

Testing The Agency's Brand Name

To help Sam decide between staying on his own or joining the agency, we helped him run an experiment.
We created two nearly identical ads on Facebook. The first ad would use the agency's brand name and logo with a photo of Sam.
The second ad would only use Sam's name (eg: Sam's Guitar Lessons) and a photo of him. Everything else would be identical apart from the brand name used and the logo.

This is called a 'Split Test' or 'A/B Test' and it gives you a very powerful way to find out what details matter. The only main difference between the two was the brand name used - so any differences in the results will be due to the brand name.
The goal with this experiment was to find out whether the agency's brand name would attract more potential students than simply using Sam's name as the brand name.

We ran two ads at the same time on Facebook (learn about Facebook Ads in this course - it also explains split tests you can run) with a budget of $150 per ad. If the agency would be charging him $150 per month, we wanted to find out what type of results Sam could achieve with $150 per month in advertising.

The Results

After three weeks, both ads completed with the following results:

  • The agency ad achieved 6 contacts resulting in 2 new students
  • Sam's ad achieved 21 contacts resulting in 9 new students

Neither ad produced impressive results, but there was a significant difference between the two.

The ad running under Sam's name generated 3x more contacts and new students for the same cost. That's a huge difference! Even though this was only one test with a fairly small budget, the results are significant.

Needless to say, Sam decided that he would stay on his own instead of joining the agency. Instead of spending $150 per month on the agency, he decided he could spend that same $150 on ads using his own name as the brand name.

In other words, Sam was far better off using his own name instead of using the agency's brand name.

Why Did Sam's Ad Win?

We've run tests and experiments like this before and almost every time the ads with a real person's name in it wins out.

When potential students saw the ad reading 'Sam's Guitar Lessons' and they saw a photo of Sam smiling and holding his guitar, it made it clear that Sam is a real guitar teacher. In that instant, the potential student knows who the teacher's name is and what they look like. That information makes it easier for the student to build up the courage to contact Sam and talk about lessons.

On the other hand, when the potential students saw the agency's brand name, it didn't come across as personal. While we still included Sam's photo, it didn't create the same connection. If we didn't include Sam's photo and simply had an image of the agency's logo, no doubt the results would have been worse.

It takes a lot of courage for a potential student to make contact with a teacher. Removing any barriers and making the experience as comfortable as possible is important. That's why Sam's ad achieved significantly better results than the agency's ad.

The fact that a sole teacher can outperform a nationwide brand is a significant finding.

Lesson From This Test

If you currently use a brand name (eg: ABC Guitar Lessons), don't immediately feel you need to change to using your own name. What this test should teach you is that instead of assuming that one way works better than another, test it out.

A simple split test could be all it takes to find out whether you would be better off changing your brand name or sticking to what you're already using.

Should You Join a Studio/Agency/Franchise?

Of course there are other reasons why you may consider joining an established business. The point of explaining this test was to show that the brand name shouldn't be part of your decision. The fact is that in the guitar lessons market, large brand names don't hold value in potential student's eyes. Students are more likely to choose John Smith over ABC Guitar Lessons.

While that may go against what businesses have been told for decades, the reality is that when it comes to guitar lessons, the more personal you are and the more you put yourself out there, the more you will stand out.

Why Live and Teach Guitar Isn't A Franchise/Agency

This test spells out clearly why we don't run as a franchise or agency. Our goal is to help guitar teachers like you build up your own business on your own terms. We provide you with the tools, strategies and principles needed to build a successful guitar teaching business. But at the end of the day, the business should still be yours. Build up your own brand using your own name, because that's the strategy we see work over and over.

If you want to run your own tests using Facebook Ads, check out our Facebook Ads Course here.