Advertising my EFL Business

by Helen
(Cheltenham, UK)

Question - I am in the process of setting up an EFL tutor centre in my hometown. I have done a business plan, designed a website, and had flyers and business cards printed. However I wondered if you had any recommendations for advertising my business abroad? I won't get much business from handing out flyers in the street so I wondered how I could successfully reach out to people of any ages looking to learn English in England! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Answer - I agree about the need for more than local promotion. Handing out a flyer in Dorchester wouldn't deliver a student from Dusseldorf - unless you got very lucky.

For small businesses the internet is the obvious way to reach the millions of potential students from around the world. Your website, social media and advertising all have a role to play.

I think that websites, if used correctly, offer the most long-term potential to an offline business looking for more customers - in your case more students.

Websites

If your website is just a place where you display your business, then you are unlikely to receive much traffic, and the traffic you do receive will come from your advertising. Unless you have a huge advertising budget, this will probably not be enough.

For a website to reach a large audience, it has to be built up in such a way that it ranks highly with the search engines. One way to do this is to build up a content based website - such as this website.

Writing lots of articles does, of course, involve a lot of work and commitment. However, many people with physical businesses have succeeded in creating vibrant sites which have attracted a lot of traffic, and therefore more custom for their offline business.

I'll write more about my story in developing this website, and creating a new stream of income for myself, in the future. If you are interested, this is the program I use: SBI (links out of this site).

Building a website as a business is not for everyone, however, and there are other ways..


Social Media

Do you have a Facebook page for your business? You should do. This will help you build up your online presence. Do you use twitter? Many people I've met have used Twitter successfully - I'm still working this one out myself.

Using social media as a soapbox seldom works, but if you can learn how to use this medium to engage with your potential students, then it can work. For some businesses it works spectacularly well.

Advertising

Advertising can also work very well, but of course you need to target it. I've not used any advertising for this website yet, as I've managed to attract quite a lot of traffic, and rank quite well at the search engines without it. I do intend to experiment with advertising on facebook in the future.

If you advertise on facebook you can target your ads according to your readers' interests.

You could also try advertising on any of the larger ESL sites which are aimed at helping students improve their English.

Other Methods

Another well tried method is through referrals from online businesses or language schools abroad. You will need to build up your contacts, and work out how much you will pay for each referral. A lot of language schools already do this.

Over time, word of mouth will, hopefully, bring you more students. When this happens it's great, but even when you do have a lot of word of mouth recommendations, you will still need a fresh supply of students from other sources.

Back to handing out flyers. If you live in a town with a lot of tourists, then this may well be worth doing.

I hope your EFL tutor centre goes well. Keep us informed of its success..

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