In How the Lean Startup Philosophy Can Help You Build a Successful Piano Studio, I described how applying principles from the “lean startup” business philosophy can maximize your piano studio’s success. Today I will look at another aspect of this philosophy:  articulating your “unfair advantage.”

Your Unfair Advantage Will Improve Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

Articulating your “unfair advantage” allows you to better convey your Unique Value Proposition – what truly differentiates the style and content of your piano lessons from other teachers that prospective students might choose.

Does the concept of an “unfair advantage” strike you as, well, unfair? Keep in mind that every teacher potentially has one or more such advantages. There are plenty of students to go around! Formulating your “unfair advantage” can help the students meant for you to find you.

Business writer Jason Cohen explains that “A real unfair advantage is something that cannot be easily copied or bought.”

What an Unfair Advantage Isn’t

With that in mind, here are some qualities that don’t comprise an unfair advantage:

  • Your passion for teaching piano lessons. Most teachers (hopefully!) share a similar passion.
  • Your studio’s fine instrument. If other teachers don’t have quite as fine an instrument, they can buy one if necessary.
  • Your carefree manner with children. There are probably other teachers near you that share this trait.

Could You Use Any of These Unfair Advantages?

In the tech startup world, a frequently-cited advantage is breaking new ground in your industry. Of course, unless you have a radical new model for piano lessons, you are unlikely to be breaking new ground in any significant way. Yet, even though the average piano teacher is unlikely to be breaking ground that hasn’t already been dug 50 feet deep and sifted through with a microscope by thousands of teachers for over 200 years, there are still some relatively easy-to-find “unfair advantages” that you may be able to use for marketing your studio:

  • An expert endorsement – from, for example, a popular or famous teacher.
  • An established presence in your community that a new teacher in town (or a shy teacher) might take years to develop, if ever.
  • Your personal authority, which can be enhanced by writing a book or having taught an up-and-coming virtuoso.
  • A large number of existing students that are only too happy to refer you to others.
  • A high ranking for your website in the major search engines.

You may be able to think of other creative ways to develop an unfair advantage. For example, Zappos, the online shoe company, developed an unfair advantage over its competitors by focusing on “creating happiness” for its customers. None of Zappos’ competitors were willing to go to the same length to create happy experiences. Over time, this became a genuine advantage and trademark of what a Zappos’ customer can expect.

Could you do something similar? Whether it is making your students (or their parents) happy, or conceiving of some other way you can markedly differentiate your lessons from others, each advantage that you articulate is an opportunity for your piano studio to grow and prosper.

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