One great way to be able to cope with the cost of a large ad is to create a group of teachers. The group then shares both the ad, and all associated expenses. In this way, six teachers can co-operate to ensure that a commanding $3,000 ad only costs each participant $500.

So how does it work? The secret is ensuring that the members of the group complement, rather than compete with each other. So your ad could be for “Boydtown Music Tuition”, but the six listed teachers might consist of flute, piano, oboe, clarinet, trumpet and voice, each with a separate listed number. Prospective students are much more likely to notice this ad than the smaller ad you would have done by yourself, and then they call the relevant teacher.

Because of the complementary nature of the services on offer, sharing the ad like this doesn’t mean that you have to share students. If you’re the only oboe teacher in the group, then 100% of the parents who call “Boydtown Music Tuition” looking for oboe lessons will talk to you. And you’ll have an advantage over the other oboe teachers, because they will be limited to whatever advertising they could afford by themselves. The advertisement for your group will overshadow your competitors’ advertisements in a way that advertising by yourself never could have.

Each of the studios can retain their own autonomy—apart from co-operation on the ad itself, there is no need for any further official association between group members. Alternatively, the group might elect to take things further still, and create a business that reflects the association, perhaps even co-operating in a similar fashion on a centralized premises of some sort. But the point is, it doesn’t have to be that grand. Even if all the group did was meet once a year to discuss next year’s ad, the mechanics of the idea work just fine.

Combining with same-instrument colleagues

This technique is also possible for teachers who all teach the same instrument, but you will need to introduce some additional way of differentiating between the studios. For example, you could ensure that all members of the group were from different parts of the city. Or that different members of the group specialize in different styles, or different levels of proficiency, or different ages. Again, you don’t end up losing prospective students to other group members, because all the students who are interested in your niche will call you, and only you.

Float the idea at your next MTA meeting—be clear on the structure, limitations and benefits of the proposal, and let people know that if they are interested, they should contact you. Make sure you’re already armed with some figures and examples of what’s possible. It’s much easier to excite fellow teachers about combining forces if they can actually see it in action.