Hitting the Right Notes: Franchise Growth Through Strategic Marketing
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Hitting the Right Notes: Franchise Growth Through Strategic Marketing

Hitting the Right Notes: Franchise Growth Through Strategic Marketing

School of Rock has revolutionized how students learn and perform music through its patented performance-based approach. Ali Kendall, vice president of marketing at School of Rock, shares how the brand leverages its unique identity to attract students and franchisees alike. With a focus on fostering a strong franchisee community built on shared values, Kendall offers a compelling look at School of Rock's innovative strategies for enriching lives through music education.

Why do you think School of Rock stands out as a franchise opportunity? 

Kendall: One of many aspects that sets School of Rock apart from any other music education brand is its performance-based music-education approach, The School of Rock Method, which was awarded a U.S. Patent validating it as an exclusive concept and practice in 2021. Other music institutions focus solely on one-on-one instruction, but School of Rock has turned traditional music education on its head, combining one-on-one instruction with group rehearsals and live performances, teaching students how to play together as a band. This unique method of teaching builds extraordinary musical proficiency by integrating thrilling stage performance, song-based learning, and its proprietary Method Books and Method App.

Music is a universally liked concept and benefits from strong acceptance by youth around the world. Our investors, whether domestic or international, are impressed by the consistent appeal of our concept, enhanced by strong unit-level economics and return on investment. Because of the financial growth School of Rock experienced in 2023, we were recognized among the top 50 Most Profitable Franchises in 2023 by Franchise Business Review.

How does School of Rock leverage its brand identity to attract both students and franchisees?

Kendall: In addition to its rapidly-growing school count, School of Rock has continued to land impressive awards from top industry publications, which is a true testament to its mission, culture, business processes, and innovation. In 2023 alone, School of Rock was named Global Franchise’s “Grand Champion” and “Best Children’s Service and Education Franchise”, “Top Children’s Music Enrichment Brand” in Entrepreneur’s 43rd Annual Franchise 500, Franchise Business Review’s “Top Recession-Proof Business”, “Most Profitable Franchise” and “Top 100 Most Innovative Franchise”, among others.

Originally launched as a single location in Philadelphia in the late ‘90s, School of Rock has grown into a trademarked brand and global phenomenon in just 25 years, and now operates over 365 schools in 15 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Ireland, Mexico, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Taiwan. School of Rock is not slowing down, and will be breaking ground in new international countries in 2024 and beyond. This worldwide network of schools, its owners and operators, 67,000 current students, and hundreds of thousands of alumni paves the way for long-term growth and endless opportunities for both students and franchisees.

Aside from its growing global footprint in terms of brick and mortar locations, School of Rock has also established itself as a major presence in the music industry. We have longstanding partnerships with musical gear icons such as Fender, Gibson, Shure, and Zildjian, and countless alumni and music industry relationships to provide students with life-changing opportunities in the entertainment space. Through these long-standing partnerships, School of Rock students are given the chance to perform at several festivals each year, including Rock in Rio, Austin City Limits, Governors Ball, Summerfest, and Lollapalooza. School of Rock also curates many annual events for its community, including an AllStars tour and Songwriter Showcase, partnering with music experts like American Songwriter and Modern Drummer, to give its students authentic musical experiences that educate and inspire them outside of the rehearsal room. These offerings create long-term customer retention and loyalty, ultimately increasing success for our franchise owners.

In what ways does School of Rock utilize digital marketing channels to engage with its audience?

Kendall: School of Rock engages with its audience through several digital marketing channels, but organic social media allows our students and their families to submerge themselves in the true sense of community that School of Rock cultivates. When our students join School of Rock, they become part of something bigger than themselves - they join a global community of passionate musicians and music lovers. While School of Rock provides opportunities for students from across the world to perform together and network throughout the year, social media allows for the conversations to continue. Every time we post on social media via the brand accounts, we spark story-telling, conversations between students, or general camaraderie across our communities.

What role does social media play for School of Rock, and what platforms have been most successful?

Kendall: School of Rock focuses much of its paid digital advertising budget on capturing leads, with the priority KPI being cost per lead. Therefore, our organic social media strategy is to drive awareness and expand our reach. School of Rock’s social media presence reinforces its mission statement of being “a growing and passionate community dedicated to enriching lives through performance-based music education” by sharing community stories, celebrating student achievements, promoting student original music, commemorating artists, musicians, and our own community during awareness months including LGBTQ+ Pride, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month, promoting franchising opportunities, sharing mental health resources, highlighting new and long-standing partnerships, providing music-related educational content, and so much more.

While School of Rock utilizes several social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, X, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, at both the brand and local level, School of Rock’s corporate YouTube channel has proven to be the most successful platform due to its expansive reach, with over 165,000 subscribers and 52.5 million views.

How does School of Rock handle local marketing initiatives to drive awareness at the grassroots level?

Kendall: School of Rock’s New School Openings team begins guiding new franchise owners and operators on effective local marketing strategies and provides them with a suite of resources the moment they sign their Franchise Service Agreement. New franchise owners are placed in a cohort alongside other new owners to complete a series of training sessions, brainstorm marketing ideas, discuss challenges, and get advice from their peers and the New School Openings team. School of Rock’s franchise owners are often well-known and major influencers within their own community and surrounding communities, joining their respective Chambers of Commerce, being active in government affairs, participating in community events like farmer’s markets, parades, fairs, school activities, philanthropic activations, and more. Our franchisees also create events of their own, from open mic nights and holiday parties, to school concerts and movie nights, to drive further interaction with community members.

Our franchise owners use every opportunity to promote their music program offerings, but each owner and operator is first and foremost a believer in the fact that School of Rock enriches lives, allowing them to market authentically in the communities they love.

How does School of Rock support franchisees with marketing resources to ensure consistency and effectiveness across locations?

Kendall: School of Rock’s corporate marketing team offers a comprehensive library of resources and tools alongside a holistic virtual training series to set owners and operators up for success.

The company intranet houses professional photography showcasing our offerings and community culture, videos highlighting the talent and proficiency of our students, print and digital collateral for seasonal campaigns, and more. Additionally, the marketing team releases documents detailing best practices for email and social media marketing, and provides additional learning opportunities via deep-dive workshops.

Are there any emerging trends in marketing that School of Rock is exploring?

Kendall: School of Rock works to consistently optimize its integrative learning tool as a part of the METHOD engine and digital presence based on new findings, platform changes, or market trends. In 2024 and beyond, School of Rock plans to explore AI capabilities, improve SEO, enhance email deliverability, optimize the user experience and improve mobile functionalities on the website, diversify our digital advertising mix, streamline lead management, and more.

What are some of the biggest challenges unique to School of Rock franchise?

Kendall: School of Rock is a rapidly-growing enterprise, and we have more than doubled our student count since 2020. The onboarding of more and more schools has presented new marketing challenges in relation to providing our schools with the direct, personalized support we pride ourselves in as inherent in the School of Rock culture. We find it extremely important to understand the unique make-up of each of our communities to provide schools with the best marketing practices and tools for their target market.

How does School of Rock foster community among franchisees?

Kendall: School of Rock was recently named to Franchise Business Review’s fourth annual “Culture100” list, which recognizes the top 100 franchise brands in a 2023 report on the Best Franchise Cultures. The brands that were selected received the highest overall ratings based on 17 unique areas that contribute to a strong company culture, including leadership, core values, franchisee community, and engagement. School of Rock was also awarded the Gold Award for outstanding corporate culture and employee satisfaction in the franchise sector in the medium class category of the 2023 Franchising@WORK Awards by Franchise Business Review. The awards recognize franchise companies with the highest employee satisfaction based on an independent survey of corporate franchise staff.

The culture at School of Rock has evolved significantly over the past several years, and is defined by integrity, honesty, and optimism. We operate assuming the best intentions and are always transparent and fair. Every conversation we have, decision we make, and initiative we launch can be tied back to our mission. We operate with a strong set of values as our compass. We collaborate and challenge each other professionally and respectfully, with the mindset of “maybe they’re right.”

We strive to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion by celebrating individuality and demonstrating respect for all. We’ve built an enduring brand through our pursuit of a common purpose and willingness to extend a helping hand. Lastly, we always assume positive intent from others, cheer on one another, and amplify positivity.

What are you most proud of in your work with School of Rock franchise?

Kendall: Working for a company that doesn’t just tout their mission statement, but lives and breathes it, is game changing. School of Rock’s commitment to enriching lives through performance-based music education is immersed in every campaign, practice, and initiative it operates. As a result, the opportunity to collaborate across like-minded and passionate people is readily available. I am most proud of the work that has culminated from such collaborative efforts - born out of insights and feedback from individual School of Rock’s franchisees that offer value to the entire organization and community.

Published: May 15th, 2024

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