Whether you are an independent tutor or teaching for a company or teaching on a marketplace, marketing is an essential way to make you stand out, attract, and recruit the right students. However, some teachers find marketing unfamiliar or even dreadful. This blog answers a few questions: what’s good marketing, how does marketing work, how to effectively market myself as an online English teacher, what to put out there and how to choose the right marketing channel. By the end of the blog, I hope you will enjoy marketing. The key concept behind marketing is so like teaching – take your audience (students) on a learning journey.
What’s good marketing?
Good marketing isn’t about being aggressive or pushy. Good marketing is about a generous act to support and help your audience (who can be your potential student or client). That act to help your audience can come in two ways:
Help them solve a problem: for example, a student who does not know what a good essay is.
Help them achieve an aspiration: for example, a student who wants to prepare for a pathway to study abroad.
In summary, marketing is helping, supporting, caring, and empowering. It is not just selling.
What do marketing and teaching have in common?
When we are teaching, we help our students to attain a learning goal. To do that, we need to assess a student’s current level, and his or her goals so that we can design lesson plans to guide the student.
(Good) marketing has the same approach. We start by understanding our audience’s goals, current circumstances, and challenges. Afterward, we design a user journey that helps them to arrive at their desired destination. We guide our audience with our empathy, knowledge, and expertise.
When we are teaching, we help our students to attain a learning goal. To do that, we need to assess a student’s current level, his or her goals so that we can design lesson plans to guide the student.
(Good) marketing has the same approach. We start by understanding our audience’s goals, current circumstances, and challenges. Afterwards, we design a user journey that help them to arrive at their desired destination. We guide our audience to arrive at where they want to arrive.
How does marketing work?
Marketing takes time and there are four stages of marketing typically. These are (1) awareness stage (2) consideration stage (3) purchase stage and (4) retention stage.
Let’s take an example. If you specialise in teaching teenagers English essay writing skills, this is a customer journey you can design for your marketing messages:
Awareness: you have a way to make your audience aware of your tutoring service. This can be a web page or a social media account or a leaflet. This makes your audience start noticing you.
Consideration: this step gives your audience a chance to compare your service to alternatives before choosing your service (or others). This process can go on for a while as it takes time to build trust and credibility.
What does it take for a parent to trust you? Let us reverse the situation and ask: the last time when you meet a strange, what and how long did it take you to trust that stranger and purchase from him/her? Does the stranger have a nice shop or website? Is he/she working for a well-established and trustworthy brand? Does the stranger lend you help several times generously? Is his/her personality very approachable and open? Is he/she recommended by a friend or family member you trust?
Ask these questions and write down what has worked for you. Try to see if you can apply these in your own marketing.
Purchase: Congratulations, you have worked patiently and persistently on marketing. Now some of your audience made a purchase decision. You really deserve a celebration.
Retention: Getting new students takes hard work and keeping them requires smart design.
Build rapport: think about ways to support your audience inside and outside teaching hours. For example, some YouTube videos for language games so that students can keep practicing a foreign language at home with their families.
Build feedback: design ways to constantly get feedback from students and/or their parents.
Track progress: regularly communicate progress students have made
Help learners form a healthy learning habit: you can read a separate blog on this topic.
Do you have other ideas, feel free to share them in the comment box.
How to effectively market myself as an online English teacher?
The most important thing in effective marketing is audience understanding. Try your best to acquire their mindset and see things through their eyes. It is usually more effective if you can use the vocabulary they understand and can relate to. While doing marketing, try to solve a problem they deeply care about.
A user profile helps you to describe your audience. While creating marketing messages, you can look at these profiles to keep focused. Please read a separate blog on how to create a user profile.
But it is not always easy. If you are teaching English online, most likely your students live in another country, speak another language, and are surrounded by a very different culture. I will write a separate blog on how to understand intercultural clients/audiences/students.
What kind of content should I put out there?
The easiest and most practical way is to start with what helps your audience or follower. Write down questions your students or their parents ask you or the challenges they are facing. Keep a notebook and research how to best answer these questions or overcome these challenges. This is a good way to begin generating content.
Which social media channel should I choose?
There are digital channels and non-digital channels. Even under digital channels, you still face so many different platforms. Do I use Pinterest or Instagram, do I use YouTube or Tiktok? Shall I install WeChat? Shall I still use email marketing?
There isn’t a simple answer, and my suggestion is ‘It depends!’ And I will write a separate blog just on that topic.
Team up to stand out – rethink competition
Last but not the least, change competition to collaboration. Teachers have busy schedules. Independent teachers have insane schedules and limited resources in marketing. If you know teachers you trust and share the same teaching philosophy or approach, team up so you can share resources and energy. You may be teaching independently but you are not alone.