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Running an English School: Spreading the Word

I have slept on the sofa in the office, and before that on the floor of the school, to be up early to hand out flyers at the station. I’m not a morning person and don’t find this easy.

 

Once out, a positive attitude can carry you through the duller moments and the many people that stream past ignoring the flyer on offer. And then one bites and takes one, and the people behind follow.

 

Four people signed up within three hours of us first ever handing flyers out at the station.

 

Foreigners wearing branded clothes, smiling, saying, ‘Good morning’ or ‘Hello!’ cheerfully and loudly can attract a lot of attention.

 

Our record in handing out flyers is 1,873 in 2 hours by 3 people between 7 and 9 a.m. on March 16th, 2003. That’s one every 4 seconds.

 

We were lucky on this occasion in that one of our crew, Juliy, was a model from Ukraine, 6’3” and very handsome. Thankfully, Sean and I didn’t put too many people off.

 

As with all marketing, after time, it gets harder and harder to remind people you are still there and get them to take notice. Persistence pays.

 

Team work is great if you can get help. We hire flyer staff, and this too is difficult. We have a dress code and rules about appearance, and experience has taught us to remind staff not to turn up smelling strongly of alcohol.

 

I get asked a large number of questions about marketing and advertising. It seems like everyone is looking for the secret answer. There isn’t one. The old joke is that everyone knows 50% of their marketing budget is wasted, but no one knows which 50%.

 

In 20 years our best sources of new students have been, not in order: flyers (posted and handed out), magazine ads, signs, web searches and word of mouth. We no longer do magazine ads, instead spending more on social media, pay-per-click and providing free content.

 

You should set a budget, try different things, record all results, and see what works best for you in your location.

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