Tuesday, August 01, 2017

5 Rules for Marketing a Private Educational Practice

When I began teaching privately in the 1970's, tutoring wasn't yet a thing. It wouldn't become a thing till the late 1980's. By the turn of the century, the academic coaching market had long been a billion dollar industry. In 2018, it will surpass $100 billion.

In the old days, it was simply a matter of contacting college admission consultants and academic deans at local private schools, arranging meetings, asking for referrals, and then doing stellar work. Nowadays, with the educational landscape awash in tutors of all stripes, it can be hard to get a foot in the door.

Nevertheless, the basic template for running a successful private educational practice remains the same today as it's always been.

It boils down to five basic rules.


Rule 1: Be Excellent

Excellent work is the sine qua non of successful private practicing educational businesses. You solve problems for parents who hire you and create good will for colleagues who refer to you. These are your two top priorities, and must always remain so.


Rule 2: The goal is ... Raving Fan Clients.

[Not clients, not satisfied clients, nor even happy clients ... Raving Fan Clients!]

In end, it's all about generating great word of mouth from clients who RAVE about you, and for that you need to do great work, go well beyond the call of duty, and give more value than the money you charge (and if you're very good, you can and should charge a high fee).

Raving fan clients can't stop talking about you and the stupendous value and level of service you provide. They spread your name far and wide, propagating a buzz about you that takes on a life of it's own. Because people only ever hear wonderful things about you, contacts who've never met you begin sending you referrals based solely on the strength of your reputation.


Rule 3: The Three Marketing Tasks

Marketing a private educational practice successfully involves three key tasks:

A. Identify what you're good at.

B. Find people that care about that.

C. Show them how good you are.

[Attribution: Justin Sigars, BodSAT Prep.]

The first task is arguably the most important. Precisely identifying what you're great at doing sets the direction and scope of your practice and clarifies the targets and content of your marketing efforts.

Most private teachers over-generalize and would do well to pare down their offerings to those few at which they're most expert and feel most confident.

By limiting one's offerings to only those market niches virtually no one else can serve as well as you can, you increase the number of raving fan clients you have and boost the velocity with which word of mouth spreads the message of your fabulous service.


Rule 4: People will only refer to you if you make them look good.

One of your primary goals with each client is to make your referral source look good by exceeding expectations, giving true service, and producing fantastic results.

It's a good practice to thank referral sources for referrals, and to get back to them at least once with a progress report on how great your student is doing.

Make sure your referral sources hear about it whenever clients they refer express great pleasure with your work.


Rule 5: Always quickly follow up enthusiastic praise of your work with a request for positive feedback.

When a student who's been failing algebra suddenly gets an A- and then an A on two consecutive tests, I guarantee you'll get an email message from a new Raving Fan Client praising your skills and expressing gratitude for the wonderful work you're doing.

At that moment, ask for positive feedback.

Such feedback could take the form of an email to the person who referred you, singing your praises. It could be a 5-star Yelp review. At the very least, ask the client if he would please share your contact info with other parents if/when he gets the chance. You can also ask the student involved to give your name to classmates who may be looking for tutoring.

Every time you produce a particularly noteworthy result – as indicated by receipt of high praise – turn it into positive public feedback of some kind.


And yes, all this takes copious amounts of energy. Which means, if you're successful, you'll eventually have to limit the amount of work you do.

But that doesn't have to mean putting the brakes on your income. As of 2018, the best private practice educators in the San Francisco Bay Area consistently earn multiple six figure incomes.


Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.