The key to profitable language school advertising lies in a mental shift that recognizes a major fallacy: doing marketing only when it is absolutely necessary. Treating language school marketing as something that only needs to be done when “everything fails” and as “emergency backup” is more common than language school business owners would like to admit.
While many start-ups and new businesses are in a position where they still need to prove themselves and might look for investors, their marketing budget is rather small to almost non-existent.
No wonder that many language schools get creative and try to get as much “free advertising” activities as possible on their way. This leads in a short time into thinking, that paid advertising is rather a luxury that should rather be avoided. It comes from one central thought mistake: seeing marketing as something that happens “on-demand” when it is needed.
Everything Is Language School Marketing
Language school advertising is actually within any activity your school does – the way how the school communicates in social media, the way people experience your school when they enter the building and the classrooms, the way how they are interviewed if they want to take a language test. Every single aspect of your language school is an important aspect that will market your business on multiple levels.
The reality is that language school advertising is an ongoing process, not just single or multiple marketing actions or events that are disconnected from each other.
Even if you have a cafeteria and the way how it is run – as it is quite standard that students are taking pictures of their food and beverages. Putting themselves in a scene showing off that they are in this “amazing place” where they currently study a new language – and this will become another important building block how others experience your language school business themselves.
With so many different language school marketing elements in place, it becomes crucial to make a list of all areas and set your priorities which is easier than you think once the mentality of seeing marketing only as “emergency rescue” plan is gone.
An ongoing marketing plan for your language school ensures your long-term success. The key to long-lasting language school marketing that converts interested people into real paying students lies in the right mix where you add short-time limited marketing activities along with ongoing marketing campaigns.
Language School SEO
Search Engine Optimization, SEO, is the ongoing process of presenting all your language school-related information online in such a way the maximum of people will find it.
SEO is much more than just adding a few lines and a few keywords on a page saying “best language school” or something like that.
Search engines are now based on real human behavior and supported by new artificial intelligence algorithms that can’t be cheated by some “Internet marketing tricks”.
SEO is basically the way how to enhance the reputation of your language company online by not only sorting the information in a specific way and helping customers to find it as fast as possible.
SEO also includes how people interact with you overall. How long potential language students stay on your website. How often they come back.
Key is this: is the information you provide on your website helpful and unique? Search engines just like real human beings! – are not interested in finding content that has been copied from somewhere else.
They have no reason to list your website if you do not provide something new and interesting.
Other SEO questions are: How do people interact on social media with your company? What do people say about you in social media?
Language School Social Media
A lot of those things are “out of your control” – what people say about you online has to do with the experiences they make with your school in the first place.
You have to be on social media if you like it or not.
People will always talk about you – and if you are not aware of what people say about you, you are missing out on a lot of essential information that can you help you to improve your language business.
The key for social media is to participate and influence others in a natural way by sharing helpful information along with your offers – in a healthy mix that does not look like a desperate sales pitch.
One great way is to create new exciting public events, such as language gameshows or other interesting open door days. Other interesting ideas could be specific language workshops that tie into local events that are happening in your area. If there is a film festival that shows foreign films for example – that is a perfect public relation opportunity where you can leverage social media to a great extent.
You can greatly profit from ideas and suggestions people make online – for example on language courses that are needed but not available yet in your area.
It is worth the effort to do keyword searches online on Twitter to see what is going on in real time and to connect to people and events. The usage of “hashtags” like #newstoplearning and similar motivational keywords can also be an additional source to get people talking about your language services if you find the right message.
Some social media messages – also called memes – could go viral if you are able to think outside of the box and reach an audience that feels like they are connected to a “cause” and “movement” than rather to a “company and their products and services”.
Interacting online on social media comes with a high investment of time – your language school might need to hire additional workforce as dedicated social media staff.
There are some tools that can help you automatically pre-schedule content in social media, but the challenge with social media is that it can overall NOT be automated. You are required to respond and interact individually.
Many businesses fear people expressing their negative opinions or writing things about your services that are less favorable.
But not all “bad talk online” is actually bad.
People will always have their opinions. They key is to respond in a way that makes other people trust you. For example, handling online reviews the right way.
Language School Reviews
Tripadvisor is a good source for getting feedback, not just about restaurants, but also language schools.
Many businesses are stressed out on how to respond to bad reviews or bad comments. But every comment and opinion about your language school is valuable – as long you are responding in a way that makes other see your company as a real-world service provider.
If your overall responses are negative and your services need serious improvement – admit it. Tell people that based on the comments and opinions your language school is in the great process of implementing things – and prove it in form of videos, pictures and blog posts.
You can’t afford NOT to respond on negative talk.
If – and that will surely happen as well – you receive critique and bad opinions from people despite your services being great overall, that is not a problem either.
Look at some 5-star hotel or restaurant reviews. Even the most expensive and luxurious hotels receive bad reviews – and not all of those bad reviews are actually based on real feedback. Sometimes reviewers have stress and conflicts with their partner and try to get even by writing a bad review.
Your language school needs to respond in a very straight-forward and direct way when confronted with false reviews or overly negative opinions that are based on misunderstandings or other problems.
Other potential customers will appreciate if you respond in a natural and light way to these kinds of comments.
This is one of the best ways to gain free public relationship marketing.
It is recommended to hire an external copywriter to answer your reviews if you are too much emotionally involved and unable to respond without looking being personally offended by bad reviews.
By the way – in the last couple of years there are more and more TripAdvisor-styled review-websites that are now specialized for the language business industry.
You want to consider adding you language services or language school to our own language school review site www.MyLanguageBreak.com for gaining additional exposure.
Language School Marketing Targeting Self-Confidence
One very important point for your language school marketing activities is that you need to convince possible new language students about two sides of your language school business.
One is about the services you offer – and the other is the one that is most often overlooked. This second big aspect of reaching out to your new language students is on how able you are at in appealing to their own self-confidence.
Will potential language school students believe that they are able to master a language learning with your language school? A dream destination for learning a new language might be tempting to book a language trip with you.
But are you able to help the students to believe, that they are will walk out with a diploma that they can use for their future business career?
Is the offer you make something that – if the students are young – their parents see as a great investment? Or if the students are old enough to pay for the language education on their own: can they overcome their own doubts?
Learning a language, in the end, requires great mental effort and will-power and requires people to leave their comfort zone. Not everyone is ready for that – and not everyone actually believes they actually can do it.
This is one of the most neglected areas in language marketing. If are able to communicate and transfer confidence in potential language students themselves, your language school will become an unbeatable force in the language industry.
You find additional insights in our article: Why Helping Language Students Believe In Themselves First Is More Important Than Them Believing In Your Language School.
Free Language School Marketing Is An Illusion
Have you considered giving away free language lessons?
A lot of language professionals hate the idea of offering free language lessons. The same people expect to be able to find and use “free Internet marketing”.
Think of “free marketing” as an illusion. It will always cost you something, ultimately your or someone else’s time. And time is not free, never.
If you offer free language training or a free introductory language class will the teacher that will give those classes also work for free?
You will have to pay the teacher of course or you will devalue the person right there. If you, in fact, do expect that your staff should do unpaid voluntary it will come to no surprise that you might be having a hard time finding new talent or finding yourself being faced with constant turn over of employees.
This mindset of constantly seeking for “free marketing” is a true killer of most businesses.
The goal should be that your language school is so profitable that there is no hesitation in spending a well-calculated marketing budget on a monthly base for professional marketing activities.
Maybe you should consider offering higher-priced language services to begin with?
You find additional insights at our article Why Free Internet Marketing Advice Is Like Free Language Training
Language School Marketing Budget Consideration
It should not come as a surprise that good well orchestrated language school marketing needs a well-planned marketing budget.
The times where you could do marketing on a shoe-string are long over. See also our article Why “Do It Yourself” MentalityCan Kill Your Language School Business.
While you might want to consider using interns (see also our article Offering Internships At Your Language School: A True Win-Win), you can’t rely on a “free workforce” as the foundation of your ongoing language marketing activities.
Some language schools depend heavily on getting funding from institutes – a helpful resource is actually the National and International Funding opportunities for language work.
While receiving such funding is a very welcome help to get a language school started, it will never be a successful long-term business strategy. No healthy business is able to survive without a marketing budget to be present in the public.
If your language school wants to be present in Google, for example, there is almost no way around to avoid paid traffic strategies, as in the beginning if you have a new website it will take considerable time for SEO marketing strategies to kick in. It will take several months usually before your online reputation is where you like it to be.
Online recommendations about your services are only available after you run your school for a while, for example. They don’t magically show up.
Links from other trusted sources that have to do with learning languages coming to your website only happen if you do networking – and that even means to go to Language conferences in person such as the ICEF ( recommended read Is The ICEF Conference Worth The Time & Effort)
The trust-building activities to establish a business online are money and time-intense. Many language schools that depend on “free marketing” run out of resources long before they become profitable because of this.
So how big is your Language School Marketing Budget per month?
Don’t expect to make a big impact online these days if it is less than € 1000. If you just starting a language service it is next to impossible to do so under € 2000 per month if you are realistic.
If you already have an established network of high-quality contacts for an existing language service you might be able to calculate under € 3000.
But if you honestly calculate to have high-quality content written on an ongoing base so your reputation online is based on the value your blog and social media is giving to others, you need to put a team of professionals together.
That is also why people fail that think that having a “good looking website” that looks great, is enough. The website is the platform where you need to communicate – on an ongoing base.
All Internet marketing done is an ongoing communication process. If you are not able to keep the motor running and potential customers will doubt if you are actually still in business because there are no verifiable updates going on – then you will have to close down your language school business faster than you think.
Language School Marketing Recommendation
Effective language school marketing happens when the most important proven marketing strategies are combined together.
That is why we offer them in very specialized language school marketing packages. They enable you to free your time for your daily language school business while we improve your marketing results behind the scenes for you.