Why Offline Marketing Is Wasted Money For Language Schools And The Only Exception To It
You have a limited marketing budget just like any business out there and probably try out free outdated offline marketing strategies, because: hey – they are free and people said those have worked “in the past”.
Or you DO have a well-funded marketing budget and you still waste your money on outdated offline marketing strategies from the past that are keeping your team and yourself just busy without providing any benefits?
Offline Local Marketing: The Limited Reach That Works Great Online But Not Offline
Offline marketing methods like printing flyers, printing coupons, printing business cards, paid advertising in local “specialized” mini-magazines or paid advertorials in local mainstream print media: they are all a waste of resources.
Offline marketing methods are only talked about from marketing companies that try to sell you those services: printers that want to print flyers, magazine owners who want you to pay them for doing their hobby publishing a small local booklet that they call a magazine that has barely any impact or the dreaded yellow pages that are in most country only digital now – and even there they will lose their fight against the leaders in search technologies.
Offline marketing methods lack three things: reach and tracking and leverage.
They lack in reach is obvious fast as you only reach usually less than a few 100 people per marketing effort, usually even less.
A big problem for effective marketing is also the ability to track where a sale came from. And offline methods usually lack in tracking abilities, that means if you get leads or even indeed a customer: it is often not possible to track down the source of marketing that brought them to you.
They could have seen you on Facebook and at the same time found your business card in the waiting area of the hairdresser next door. You would not know.
Another last element that is a killer is the lack of leverage. Let’s say you have located a few eager new customers based on local offline marketing efforts then it is next to impossible to leverage and amplify those results. Let’s say you printed 500 flyers and put them on windscreens of cars parking in front of the building and the next streets. You CANT print 5000 flyers all of a sudden as there won’t be any more cars around – and expanding to half of the city does not make any sense.
On the other hand, you can do all those three elements very conveniently online: reach, tracking, and leverage.
You can start with a small marketing budget and a small REACH: targeting people exactly based on their location, their interest and even past purchasing habits on Facebook – then if you get responses and people become interested (you can actually TRACK them and see not just how many people click on your information but see all their demographics).
The online leverage is two-fold: if a small marketing campaign proves to work (it will take several to find out what works and what does not of course!), then you can instead of paying to reach 1000 people go and reach 5000 or even 10.000 people instead without spending a fortune. But online leverage has another dimension: you can do email-marketing follow up and keep in touch with potential language students much easier sending out several messages over weeks and months which would be impossible to do so in person as a newsletter should reach thousands of subscribers in order to return any results.
But I Do Need Printed Material For My Language School
Of course, you might feel the need for a few printed flyers, business cards, and some brochures. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that by simply printing an unrealistic amount of them turns them into marketing elements.
If people visit the language school because they are curious or if you have existing language students who want to take offline reading material with them, please do.
But honestly in 2018 and beyond everyone does and can refer other interested students using online media, your website and everything digital without the need to carry physical marketing material around. A posted selfie on your language school premises has much more marketing power than a folder carried along.
It also saves the environment from thrown away printed material that not only looks bad for your school if such flyers or brochures turn up on the streets close to your real location: it is simply not eco-friendly and hurts your reputation twice.
So think again how many business cards and offline printed material you really need. It is less than most assume and with today’s “print on demand” services where you make something when you just need it, it is easier than ever to keep the clutter to a minimum.
Flyers versus Facebook Ads
There is a strong physical limit on how many flyers one person can hand out to random people on the streets in a given period of time. No wonder that most people who are hired to hand out flyers throw away half of them: nobody will know if people were just not interested or they did not get those flyers in the first place. And honestly, if 100 people get a random flyer on the street, you can’t expect a single customer from such a low number, it is unrealistic and does not reflect reality. On the other hand, it takes maybe even several hours before you can hand out 100 flyers.
Putting flyers on car windshields or putting them into the letterboxes is banned by law in many countries, even handing out flyers on the street is prohibited in many cities and zones.
If you calculate 100 Euros for printing 1000 flyers (50 Euros) and paying two people 5 hours each 5 Euros per hour (it will be a challenge to hand out 500 flyers in 5 hours and nobody would be able to do this without breaks and will likely take all day).
So you spend 100 Euros or Dollars to randomly spread your marketing message. If you spend 100 Euros or Dollars you can tell Facebook exactly what kind of people you like to address, their age, their interest and will be able (depending on your region or what kind of language product you want to promote) to reach much more than 1000 viewers also based on the marketing model you use: ad views versus ad clicks for example.
With online marketing, everything can be tracked and controlled, with offline marketing it can’t. Flyers are the worst form of random marketing you can do offline.
Yellow Pages versus Local SEO
They are still around and a dying species, printed Yellow Pages. There are similar products often available locally that have fancy names but are nothing else but Yellow Pages converted into some new fad, that is not working. But most businesses will not know it is not working – because you can’t track those kinds of “marketing tools”. Nobody needs the Yellow pages anymore – everyone has their own smartphone in their pocket, ready to help for any search requested needed when it is needed.
And that is why your language school needs to do Local SEO and to be found in all social media and Google Maps entries.
Local SEO is something that you control and know who looked you up on Google My Business for example (read the article about Google My Business HERE). It is again trackable, can be leveraged and amplified with paid advertising as needed and you see all demographics of people being interested in your offers.
Advertorials in Local Mini-Newspapers Versus Pro-Active Customer Review Communcation Online
If you get a call from the local newspaper to be featured for your innovative ways on how you inspire and teach students, go for it – just don’t pay for it. What I like to talk about now are advertorials, paid entries that look like “local news” but are nothing more than disguised ads put into some sort of the monthly edition of the “What’s New In Town?” kind of flavored mini-magazine.
It is surprising how many of those are still around, even they are dying as fast as yellow pages – as they are usually nothing more than a glorified collection of local businesses announcements.
Nobody needs them because in today’s online world you can read ratings and comments of existing customers like Tripadvisor reviews or MyLanguageBreak.com Language School Rating sites that are more entertaining and help to build your own opinion instead.
Asking for testimonials and ratings from your current satisfied students should be normal and answering online-reviews is a must-do in social media to show that you care and listen to your past and future language students.
High-Fashion Display Advertising In Public Transportation Or Places Versus Just-In-Time Advertising On Mobile Phone Users Locally
What about those high-fashion advertising displays in public transportation or at bus stops? They look impressive and can surely help people to remember “your brand”, right? Well – here is the thing, that is exactly what those companies telling you who want to sell you this kind of advertising in the first place.
Everything that is publicly displayed is usually untrackable for marketing purposes and even if you ask potential leads and new customers they will most likely not remember having seen a particular sign or display ad in public – especially if they are in multiple locations.
This kind of offline “branding advertising” can only be done as supplemental advertising if you have a really big advertising budget – and even bigger companies know that their online marketing money spend can be much better controlled and tracked instead.
The only possible exception to outdoor display advertising might be something that is really close to your language school location that can serve like a sign where to find you, but you should not pay too much for this kind of upgraded signpost.
The Exception To Offline Marketing That Can’t Be Ignored: Creating Great Offline Experiences
Your language school yourself is the “offline showroom” all around the clock in your day-to-day operations to start with and the only viable offline marketing activity.
This offline marketing can be divided into two halves: one is the regular language school learning experience any of your students have while studying. The other half are special events like Open Door Days or Language Gameshows styled events. This kind of offline marketing can actually be scaled, leverage and tracked – if you take it online afterward!
You can always encourage your current students while studying to take selfies and you can just create fun picture-worthy spots all over the area without the need to tell them to do so. A funny noteworthy statue or artwork might help. It is very easy to encourage the already constantly automated need for taking selfies.
The key is to strategically encourage them to share them with your own #hashtags and specifically designed social media.
And if you do special days it is very easy to take pictures and videos and bring the whole experience online later and make re-usable online content out of it.
This multiplies the effect of the event and might lead people to visit your social media accounts and eventually your website – or if you are lucky you might get even a few direct students with those strategies.
The Bonus-Offline-Exception: Featured In Print
If you are getting featured in print like in a newspaper or magazine it is always worth to say yes to it – unless you have to pay for it. Then forget about it.
Readership of offline media is barely verifiable and is declining: there is a reason why more and more print media closes down and goes fully digital. Don’t spend money on it.
If someone would like to write about you, find out what their real motives are. If you are a good showcase for an article they write about that has to do with business methods, being innovative and how your language school stands out – that is all good. If it is just someone that has “nothing to better to write about” and is sort of a rookie or intern, politely decline.
Don’t overestimate how many people will read the offline articles. It will be disappointingly few and you can reach hundreds and ten thousands of people with a low budget using Facebook Ads instead.
Can It Be Tracked, Leveraged and Increased In Reach?
Everything you do offline and online needs to be measured and controlled. If you do not measure and control you are guessing and “guesswork” is not a strategy to be successful long-term.
Anything you do online needs to be put together in such a way that it can be tracked. You can use of course the standard free tools of Google Analytics and Google Search Console, but you also need to invest in tracking methods such as link-tracking software and need to understand how tracking pixels work (not just Facebook uses them, by the way!).
How Successful Marketing For Your Language School Could Look Like
Nobody wants to waste marketing money – unfortunately, every business does waste some of it. The key concept is to minimize the waste as much as possible and to track and control everything you do and then do more of the successful marketing and quit everything ineffective and outdated strategies such as the above mentioned offline marketing from the past.
In order to be successful in marketing, you need to do ongoing testing – in a controlled manner.
The first thing is to have all tracking mechanisms in place. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google My Business give you valuable insights about your customer behavior. With paid advertising, you get some key analytics always, but it is often advisable to use click tracking solutions that help you to know how much you paid for the desired results.
With click-tracking, you know what it costs you to get an email subscriber to your newsletter or how many people need to visit a product link before they buy the product.
The question is – are you able to do all required marketing activities in-house yourself with your team or do you need additional professional external help.
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