Marketing for Teachers: How to Sell Out Your Courses

VivianaYou think marketing isn’t for you? Think about it this way: If you don’t fill up your classes, you don’t maximize all the work you put into the preparation and planning of your course. It’s like blogging. Writing a great content will only get you so far. You need to actively spread your content to reach out to those who are interested in it, but don’t know you exist…YET!

We want to see fruition of your efforts to create your courses. That’s why we put together some tips and resources to set you off on your way:

1. Know your customer

The first step in any marketing activity is to understand your audience. To whom should you market and how do you most efficiently reach them?

What you should know about the students who are most likely to purchase your services:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • socioeconomic status
  • demographic or physiographic traits
Asian family shopping

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Are you teaching kids or adults? Does your discipline skew towards one gender? It is always a good idea to start marketing your teaching services in the nearby vicinity, and then branching out as the word about how great your classes are spreads. Price is another important factor that will determine your target audience. Some people prefer highly experienced tutor and are gladly willing to pay higher hourly rate. Others look for the cheapest private teacher on the market and are willing to sacrifice the quality.

It is always a good idea to do a bit of research and find your niche within or around your discipline. Maybe you find out there is a high demand for your subject in a certain age group or that people are interested in a specific area that is not easily available in your town. Try and narrow your expertise down to something more specific and start growing your student base incrementally.

2. Reach your audience

Now that you determined your target demographic, you need to research how to best reach them. You have a myriad of options when it comes to marketing your business. The critical part is to choose the most effective mediums. Are you willing to pay for advertising or are you going to rely on free media? Are you going to promote your courses in the real world, online or both?

Audience at concert

Image by Nomadic Lass via Flickr

How to determine the best method

This is why understanding your audience is so important. You want to be wherever they are! If you provide educational services for kids, you want to appear wherever their parents are. If you target the younger crowd, you will probably be using social media channels to promote your classes. Or you might want to hold an event to showcase your handicraft skills where  your potential students can learn some basics and get interested in your craft.

It is OK to experiment and try different methods. Testing is one of the vital parts of any successful marketing strategy execution. Make sure you measure the results of each activity so that you can easily determine the most effective one!

No matter how you plan to promote your services, there are some universally proven tactics that will help you sell out your courses:

Start marketing well in advance

Time

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Whatever method or channel you choose, allow time to spread your message. Especially if you are new in the business or you just launched a new course. Start marketing your classes 3-6 months in advance. The marketing cycle takes longer than you think. You can start blogging about topics related to your course and start collecting email addresses of your followers.

You can hold events and ask people to give you their phone numbers to get notified when you launch the course. There are many ways you can spread the word about your services and collect contact details of those interested in them. You just need to start early enough. Don’t get disappointed if your first course doesn’t sell out. You have to build your reputation over time!

Offer discounts and freebies 

Sale

Image by by IvanWalsh.com via Flickr

Everyone loves deals! No matter what your opinion is on offers and discounts, they work. If your offer is good enough, people just won’t say NO. There is a trap though. By giving everyone a discount, you lose money on the customers who would otherwise be willing to pay the full price.

Be smart about your offers. Create online custom codes and share then only with your followers. Print special flyers that you only distribute in certain cafes. You can create custom codes with different offers according to who you’re targeting. Again, experiment with what works the best and roll out the most effective method.

Give the first lesson for free. Or offer the entire course for a reduced rate in exchange for a review or a blog post. This way you can build your reputation faster and gain the very much needed credibility.

Provide a money-back guarantee

Guaranteed

Image by missfitzphotos via Flickr

Guarantees help build trust. People are more comfortable buying your service if they see that you offer a satisfaction guarantee. Although most of them will never ask for their money back, it creates a sense of confidence in them.

You will probably have to see whether a free first lesson or a money back guarantee work better for you. Neil Patel provides a comprehensive case study of the two tactics in this article. Try both, measure the results, and decide which alternative is the best for your business!

A standard 30-day money back guarantee can make the difference between someone enrolling into your class or not. Your course cannot be possibly suitable for anyone so do not take it personally if people do ask for their money back. You should rather try to use this as an opportunity to receive an honest feedback.

How do you sell out your courses? Do you have a proven method? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we will explain some effective online marketing tactics for your teaching business.

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Get the Word Out: How to Market Your Courses Offline

VivianaThe biggest challenge of any new business is to get a continuous flow of clients. And new tutors or teachers are no exception to the rule. Let’s have a look at how you can spread the word about your teaching business with a limited budget. It is the combination of your marketing activities and your reputation that will help you attract new students and grow your business.

Low Cost Methods for Offline Marketing

Notice Board Advertising

Bulletin boards are great places for advertising your teaching business; new or old. They usually get a lot of traffic from your target audience – students and/or their parents. What are the best locations for placing your advertisements? Schools, community centers, public libraries or cafes are one of the best places to promote your services. Try to maximize your reach by advertising in as many of these locations in your area.

Notice Board

Image by by Stew Dean via Flickr

Read more: How to Advertise Offline

Leafleting and Flyers

Another easy and affordable way to spread the word about your teaching services is to distribute leaflets and flyers. It is a popular marketing method for small businesses. Unaddressed mailbox distribution involves delivering flyers to homes or offices in your area. It is a mass marketing method on a local scale with a great possibility to reach your target audience. Door-drop marketing is an affordable option that can bring you in new students. You just need to be careful not to breach any regulations that apply to this method; e.g. “No Junkmail” system in Australia.

Read more: Leafleting in your area

Local Print

Local Print

Image by ilamont.com via Flickr

Advertising in your local newspaper is definitely a great way to let your potential customers know about your business. You will be guaranteed a certain amount of eyeballs and can target your audience by choosing the right publisher. On the other hand, this is probably the most expensive option you have. You might want to use this type of advertising for special promotions and deals to increase the impact of your advertising dollars.

Read more: Print is Dead? Not so Fast.

Merchandise

Branded merchandise can mean pretty much anything with your brand/name/logo on it. A cup, pen or a calendar – anything. Since you are only a starting brand and people have no incentive to show your brand, you want to provide them with something useful. Think about what products can be a good fit for your students.

Read more: How to Make Great Brand Merchandise

Referrals

Word of Mouth

Image by dobrych via Flickr

Word of mouth is a truly powerful marketing method, namely for small business. However, it takes a long time. How can you help the process of spreading the word? Incentivize your current students. Offer them discounts for inviting their friends to join. Leverage your relationships with advocates and influencers to help share your message. Offer them something of value when they work with your brand.

Read More: 4 Steps to Executing a Successful Influencer-Driven, Word-Of-Mouth Campaign

Do you use some interesting offline methods that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we will explain some effective online marketing tactics for your teaching business.

Did you like our post? Keep in touch for more updates and great links:

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 2. Gain Recognition

VivianaStarting your own teaching business is a highly rewarding experience. At the same time, it requires a great amount of hard work, patience, focus and responsibility. Last week we talked about how to get the right skills to become tutor or a private teacher. Today, we will cover how you can get recognition for those skills and how to best manage your online reputation.

Get Visible

If you cannot be found, you don’t exist. You need to get visible so that your potential students can find your business. To start with, you have to think about your brand. Are you going to use your own name or are you planning to use a business name? It all goes back to what image you want to project and what your personal and business goals are.

Visible Light

Image by sweethaa via Flickr

Personal Name vs. Business Name

Using your personal name is obviously the easiest option. In Australia, you won’t need to register a business name if you use your individual name. Don’t forget you will still need ABN (Australian Business Number) for tax purposes!

From a branding perspective, your personal name suggest you are a freelancer running your business by yourself. This can be an advantage as some people might prefer individual tutors with a personal touch over more anonymous private schools. On the other hand, this may become a problem when you decide to scale your business and hire other teachers and can become a real hurdle if you decide to sell your business one day. In some cases, using your personal name can be seen as less professional and less credible.

Using a business name for your brand can allow you to communicate your Unique Selling Proposition in the name and combine it with a logo that represents your values as a business. Choosing the right company name is extremely important for your business and can have a critical impact on your future success.

Read more: 8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business

When you decide on your name, you need to register it with ASIC, or a respective organisation in your country. Your name has to be unique in your state or country and cannot be already registered by someone else.

Now that you decided on your name, it might be a good idea to buy a domain name to represent your company online. Even if you do not plan to go online straight away, you don’t want to risk someone else buying your desired domain name. It’s a negligible cost that can save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Read more: 12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name

Build Trust

Trust

Image by mikebaird via Flickr

So now you have a business name and you’re officially in the business. That’s a good start, but to be honest, it really is just a start. You will need to work hard on convincing your first customers that you are the professional, knowledgeable and reliable tutor or trainer you claim to be.

How do you do that? Try to get testimonials from your past and existing students. If you are completely new to teaching or tutoring and are starting from scratch, it might help yo ask your trainer, teacher or employer for a reference to highlight your qualities as an educator. These referrals not only build trust for your business, but also establish respect among your peers.

People Google literally everything nowadays. Even if you do not have the resources to build a website or do not want to make such a big commitment yet, you can set up a free WordPress site where you present your bio, showcase student testimonials and list any qualifications or awards you might have gained.

If you are from Australia or New Zealand, you can set up your teacher profile on Knowinger, our new education marketplace, and start offering your classes and building your reputation via our platform. It is completely free to create a course and acquire new students!

If the online world is not your thing, you can build your reputation through publishing articles in the local press or speaking (or at least participating) at conferences and events attended by your target market. Performing is another great way of acquiring new students and building your brand, if you happen to be a musician or a dancer. If you make art, you can use your products to showcase your skills and start building your reputation through your existing customers.

There are many different ways you can build trust for your teaching business, depending on your discipline. In general, one of the most powerful drivers of growth for small businesses is word-of-mouth. It can take some time to build your client base, but if you provide them with an excellent customer service and great product, they will not only come back but will tell their friends about you.

We will be covering some smart and affordable marketing tactics in one of our future parts of the series, so stay tuned 🙂

Become a Thought Leader

Another step in gaining recognition is to become a thought leader or an authority in your field. As you can imagine, this is not a quick win. It is a rather lengthy process you need to invest a lot of time and effort into. If you do it well though, it can lead to a great revenue growth.

Thought Leader

Image by kalidoskopika via Flickr

Probably the best way to begin your journey is to start a blog. Your blog should be closely related to your teaching business, but the tone of voice and overall appearance will highly depend on your target audience. You would  probably choose a different voice targeting moms whose little girls attend your dancing classes, or writing for young professional who might be interested in your copy-writing course.

Read more: 30 Quick Content Marketing Tips Every Marketer Needs to Know

Leadership is a Journey

Image by Hamed Saber via Flickr

The next step on your way to become a respected expert in your field would be to publish a book. As difficult and expensive it might seem, there are many online tools you can use to self-publish an ebook.

Guest posting is another great way to gain reputation. Try and pitch your article to a well-known online publisher covering your discipline. You never know, you might get lucky!

Speaking at conferences, hosting podcasts, or creating online videos are another widely used tools that will help you make the cut. Participate in online discussions and forums and offer your expertise to others. Be creative, consistent and provide your audience with a quality content! 

It goes without saying that to be a true expert in anything, you need to immerse yourself in professional development. Reading, networking with your colleagues and attending webinars and conferences will help you keep up to date with new developments in your area of expertise.

Manage Your Reputation

Your reputation is everything! As a small business or an entrepreneur, you want to make sure that people talk about you in a positive way. You cannot afford unhappy customers and negative reviews. That can be detrimental to your business, especially at the beginning.

Where do you hide a dead body? On the third page of Google results.

You can’t really control what people say about you, but your can to some extend manage your reputation online. Start with searching your name on Google and include search in Google Images. Have you found anything that can potentially damage your professional image? You can either remove the content by yourself, if it was created by you, or hire an online reputation management agency who can help you bury the unwanted information. You should set up Google Alerts to monitor any mentions of your brand name on the internet.

As more and more students use reviews to make their decision, your online reputation is extremely important for your business. If you happen to get a bad review for your classes, respond to it and offer your side of the story. Do not take criticism personally and try to avoid responding emotionally.

Pay close attention to what people say about your competitors. You can use the information to fill in the gaps people are looking for and to gain a competitive advantage.

Make sure you use your existing social media channels wisely. Keep private things private. It might be a good idea to set up a separate Facebook and Twitter profiles for your teaching business, even if you are just a freelancer using your own name. The rule of thumb is: Do not share anything you don’t want your students to see or read. You never know when or where it can appear. Fine tune your Facebook’s privacy settings to reflect how you want to use your Facebook profile from a professional perspective. Maybe you want to use it as a channel to get your name out there and establish yourself as a trusted authority. In that case, you want all the information you share to be public. Or perhaps you want to keep your Facebook profile for private conversations only and would prefer to hide your posts from anyone but your friends. Either way, make sure to personalize your privacy settings.

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Now you know what skills you need to start teaching and how to gain recognition for your knowledge and qualifications. Next week, we will talk about how to create a business plan for your new entrepreneurial endeavor.

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The Official First Step

2 days ago, I made my startup project officially official…

It’s a strange mix of feelings ranging form excitement, nervousness, sense of responsibility and many others. To make it clear, I did not launch it yet, I just made the idea public.

What do I mean by that?

  1. I published my “how it works” video on Youtube. Check it out!
    It’s a pretty simple animated video that shows the overall idea of Knowinger. I used GoAnimate Pro account to produce the the video and created the voice-over myself. I have some radio presenting background, which made the job little easier 🙂
  2. With this video, I entered EYE 50 Contest on C2-MTL, a global conference that explores the relationship between commerce and creativity. They are searching for your innovators with ideas that are solving problems in an innovative manner. Selected 20 innovators will be invited to the actual conference in Montreal! So I’m really hoping my idea is strong enough to make the top 20. Please support Knowinger in the contest by “recommending” the project above the video!
  3. I launched a signup landing page: www.knowinger.com, where I showcase the same video and ask people to sign up with their email address to stay in touch with the Knowinger community. I am planning to send those people updates on the development of the project. I also intend to give them a special launch offer once we go live. I launched the page with Launchrock, a very simple tool created for exactly this purpose: pre-launch landing pages to create some initial interest and build your email database. And it’s completely free!
  4. I set up the start up Facebook page and invited my friends to “like” the page. An obvious thing to do, yes. I do not feel I am currently ready for it as I don’t really have any content strategy, but I cannot afford not to do it I guess.
  5. Also, I set up Knowinger Twitter account and started tweeting, but am honestly struggling a bit in that space.
  6. And last but not least, I started this blog to write about my progress as an entrepreneur.  Let’s see how we go here 🙂

It’s not a rocket science and I have’t done anything big (yet), as I didn’t really get my ducks in a row yet. But I still feel this was an important first step in launching my new project, a community marketplace for people to find and book face-to-face classes around the world and teachers to offer their knowledge.

I am seeking for any insights, comments, recommendation, connections or thoughts so please do not hesitate to comment here or contact me at hello(ad)knowinger.com.