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  #1  
Old 10-25-2007, 12:07 AM
Suzannah Suzannah is offline
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Default Marketing ideas for tutoring business

Hello,

This is my first post, but I have been lurking here for about a year.

A little background about me - I am 28, and I went to grad school straight out of undergrad. After studying way too many years, I completed a social science related master's degree. Upon graduating, I decided that I didn't want a "real job", so I decided to go the self-employment route instead.

This past January, I launched my business, which is an in-person test preparation and tutoring service. It is in a similar vein as the Princeton Review; I get students ready for standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, GRE, etc. I do not have a storefront. Instead, I meet students at their homes or at the library. I have done this type of work for seven years for various companies (including the Princeton Review).

I am starting to build up some good business and I am actually turning a decent profit, but it is not enough to live off of yet (I have other freelance work that keeps me afloat financially). Eventually, I'd like to be able to hire other tutors to work for me.

Right now, my current advertising includes: my website, which shows up surprisingly high in organic google searches; Craigslist, which I've gotten a number of students from, postcards and letters to schools and teachers, and a monthly ad in the city Family magazine, which targets my exact demographic market. I've only gotten two calls from the magazine ad, but I signed both, and one of them resulted in multiple referrals, so it has totally paid for itself and then some.

My target demographic is parents who are highly educated, are in a high income bracket, and in a lot of cases, send their children to private schools.

So, my question to all of you is: what are some other areas of marketing that I can pursue? I don't have a huge budget, but I know you have to spend money to make money. Most tutoring business does come through word-of-mouth referral, but I am still in the process of building up a customer base.

Also, the test prep biz is unfortunately fairly cyclical (fall is super crazy; spring and summer, not so much), so I am also open to creative ideas for expanding my service offerings.

Thank you for your time and help.
Sincerely,
--Suzannah
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  #2  
Old 10-25-2007, 01:29 AM
bill benson bill benson is offline
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Sounds like you have a lot going for you Suzannah. Have you developed any web design skills or did you farm that out?
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  #3  
Old 10-25-2007, 02:49 AM
Suzannah Suzannah is offline
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Hi Bill,

Thanks for your reply.

In answer to your question ... both, actually.

One of my freelance jobs is working for a syndicated newspaper columnist. I started learning how to use Joomla for that job last year, and then I hired his webdesign guy to do my site for me. Since then, I have taught myself a lot more joomla to add cool stuff to my site. In an interesting twist, web guy has now hired me to help him promote his new sites that he designs since I have done a reasonably good job of promoting mine.

My site is here. I'd welcome any feedback about the copy, SEO, features, etc.

Thank you,
Suzannah
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  #4  
Old 10-25-2007, 04:53 AM
acumen_ice acumen_ice is offline
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As long as you have contact in a magazine and write for your website content, how about submitting articles in magazines and journals. Here you can show off you expertise and some of your methodology which can convince a lot of people to take up your services.
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  #5  
Old 10-25-2007, 06:37 AM
greenoak greenoak is offline
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.
**try to go for more general tutoring on your site.....at a glance it seems all about tests...... have a reading spe******t...probably a big big concern in the early grades...if you do branch out mail to all your past clients....


**maybe enrich your site hoping to be a destination for your kinds of kids.... with hints for more general learning and basic study skills... , not just tests....
.

**.enrich with juicy add ons.....benchmarks for kids...... maybe testimonials.... test gossip ...college stats....parent tricks..

*** take a look at other tutoring companies...thinking here of one that got kids up to the right reading level..they advertized on tv...a chain ...sullivans????

**.... or focus on dyslexia...lots of parents struggeling with that probably....
*** your site is very subdued and minimal.....no picture of you being nice and helpful with your loving dog at your feet or dressed up in a whip and hovering over the poor kid....no happy kid with an A......nice and minimal might be the best....
** a magnet or bookmark, a bunch of wood pencils , something to leave with them.... ...oh susanna or call me...i can help... etc etc
**** to expand find a popular elementary retired teacher to be your elementary spe******t.... to emphasize you are now good at getting kids over the hump and into good reading...
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  #6  
Old 10-25-2007, 07:05 AM
LisaL LisaL is offline
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I would approach area schools and ask to distribute (through the teachers) a flier promoting your services to every student. Be prepared to offer a donation/percentage to the PTA or other school organization. In the area I live, that's the only way to get a commercial venture advertised within the public schools.

I work with private schools and test scores are extremely important for marketing purposes. Since classes are often small, you can offer your services at the school, in the evenings, for the entire class.

For college students, put up posters/fliers on campus and in businesses where students hang out (ie. coffee houses, restaurants, gyms, etc.). Just make sure that your promotional materials look professional (not like you're a student trying to make a few extra bucks).

Hope that helps.

Lisa
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  #7  
Old 10-25-2007, 09:51 AM
bill benson bill benson is offline
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Suzannah, I'm far removed from your market, but a couple of general suggestions on the web side.

Use title and heading tags in you HTML with key words. You have a title tag, but no heading tags on your index page. Also, use something like wordtracker to find keywords for your site. I suspect you are in a pretty small niche which is usually good.

For your store, use zen cart or something similar, not Amazon. They install and function a lot like Joomla. Install it as a subdirectory under Joomla. It gives you complete control of your "store". You have access to the database for editing, can do better SEO, and have other products. It would allow you to make the store section of your site more profitable. It's also free like Joomla.
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  #8  
Old 10-25-2007, 07:40 PM
Suzannah Suzannah is offline
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Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your replies.

Acumen - that's a great idea about pitching an article for a magazine. I do have a lot of media contacts, at least by proxy through my freelance position. I should probably take advantage of that.

Greenoak - re: general tutoring. Yes, my business is mainly focused on tests right now, for two reasons. One, it's what I know, and it is a HUGE multi-billion dollar industry right now. Also, test prep is fairly specialized knowledge, so I can charge a premium for it. General tutoring is a fairly saturated market, and it is hard to compete because there are tons of people offering tutoring for $10-20 per hour. I do plan to start adding more general stuff to the site eventually.

Getting a reading spe******t is a great idea. Especially if I could find someone with experience with learning disabilities. There is definitely a large market in those areas. I think that maybe that will be what I will concentrate on in the spring when things start to get slow.

Your thoughts about pics of happy kids on the website made me laugh because when it was first designed, there was a nice pic of a happy kid and I made the web designer take it off For some reason, those pics just annoy me, but I'll look around and see if I can find something non-annoying.

Lisa - That is great information about the private schools. I have been trying to figure out how to get myself integrated into some of the private schools but haven't known exactly how to go about doing it. Who would you recommend approaching at the schools? The counselors? Receptionists? Principals? PTA? Admissions person?

Bill - Thanks for looking at my site. I don't quite know what heading tags are, or how to put them into my index page. Does it involve changing the HTML code? Also, how do you know that? I've seen you mention the same thing for other people's sites, and I've always wondered what the trick is.

As for the shopping cart, if I used something like the Zen one you mentioned, wouldn't I have to stock and ship the items myself? One of the things I liked about the Amazon thing (which I just added recently and am still playing around with) is that I don't have to stock anything. But maybe I am misunderstanding?

I know this post is long - thanks for reading! If you've got any more suggestions, I am happy to hear them.

Thank you,
--Suzannah
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  #9  
Old 10-26-2007, 06:58 AM
LisaL LisaL is offline
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Suzannah,
For private schools, you want to contact the principal or headmaster directly. My marketing campaign to schools consists of a postcard followed by a sales letter and then a phone call. By the time I get them on the phone they've already seen an example of my work (the postcard) and have read about my services in the letter. As a designer, I designed the postcard myself, but hired a copywriter to do the sales letter (she's someone I met on this forum, I can get you contact info).

Also, I agree with the poster who suggested testimonials. They're very valuable.

Let me know if I can help in any other way.

Lisa
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  #10  
Old 10-26-2007, 07:58 PM
huggytree huggytree is offline
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Instead of looking for ways to find more business for what you currently do have you considered diversifing the business your in?

its a 2nd way to expand and a different way of looking at things...
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