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Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to find students.
Why? Because having someone recommend you is an extremely powerful marketing strategy, and increases the chances a new student will choose you as a teacher.
However, it can take a LONG time for this strategy to work and bring in new pupils for your tutoring business.
Fortunately, there is a faster way..
But you need to consider this from a different angle.
…and answer this question.
Do you know what your biggest source of referrals is?
That’s right – you are (or, you should be) the number one source of referrals for your tutoring business.
Maybe you never thought about it this way, but if you’re not currently “referring” the people you meet each day to your business, then there’s definitely something wrong.
Maybe you’re shy, lack confidence talking to people, you fear rejection, or just feel that you’ll be perceived as being “salesy” if you are constantly talking to people about your lessons.
Here’s my advice: Get over it.
You are the face of your business.
You’ve got a tremendous advantage here. Think about it… if the owner of a restaurant walked up to you in public and offered you a free dinner – wouldn’t you be flattered?
I know I would, and I’d be sure to take them up on it just as soon as possible.
You should be excited enough about your business.
Tell everyone you know exactly what you do and how it can benefit them. The fact is, from the moment you first decided to open a business, you entered the sales profession.
Either get comfortable with the idea of selling face-to-face, or go get a job that doesn’t require personal selling.
No one else is going to be as enthusiastic about your business…
…so who do you think will make the best sales person for your studio?
Ok, so how do you use this strategy?
First of all, take a minute to think about all the people you meet on a daily or weekly basis.
When you go shopping, when you eat out at a restaurant or cafe, when you’re in the post office, when you’re getting your car fixed… the list is endless.
You need to think that each of these people represents a potential client – because, even if they aren’t interested in your lessons, they most likely know someone who does.
Now this can be a daunting task at first, but trust me, it gets easier with practice,
Just forget all the sales talk, and ditch any terms that the average person on the street wouldn’t be familiar with – it turns people off.
Here’s an example of what NOT to say:
“I’m David Carr. I’m a saxophonist from New Jersey. I focus on teaching advanced improvisation techniques, for use in different jazz styles including modal jazz and bebop”
Unless the person you’re speaking to is quite an advanced sax player, this is NOT going to connect with the average guy in the street.
However, here’s a simple three step approach you can use…
1) The Opening Statement
You need to speak in a language most people can understand and relate to… the language more commonly known as WIIFM (“what’s in it for me”):
Speak in a language that relates to the person you’re speaking to
For example, if you’re speaking to a parent…
“Hi, I’m Patrick and I teach guitar in Kalamazoo. I offer individual and group lessons to students of all levels. I also provide summer classes for kids. These lessons are focused on getting youngsters playing the guitar and making music with their friends”
There’s your opener. Simple, just the facts, with something that the person will find interesting, without feeling like you’re pitching them on something.
In this case, a parent might think that guitar lessons will be a great way to keep their son busy in the summer holidays!
2) The Next Step – Make A Connection
Now, the average person would take this opportunity and jump right into inviting your new prospect to your tutoring business
And, that would be a mistake.
The next step is to show the person you are speaking with that you have a genuine interest in their thing – whatever it is. So, now would be the time to ask them, “What do you do?”
Take this opportunity to ask them a few questions. And be sincere in your interest.
Now, after you’ve shown you are actually interested in the person you are talking to, it’s time to invite them to your lessons.
3) Finally, The Invitation
Your next step after you’ve made a connection is the invitation. This is where you actually invite the person to start lessons
It’s important to do this in a way that shows you like the person you are speaking with, and in a way that is both personal and without any pressure.
Here’s how you do it:
“Katie, I have to get going, but I’ll tell you what… here’s a card that’s good for one free Spanish lesson. Feel free to use it yourself or to give it to a friend. But, do me favour and hang on to it – it’s good for $50 worth of lessons and only my students and I can give them out. You have my card, so feel free to call me if there’s anything I can do to help you with (whatever their thing is). Great talking to you!”
But no matter how easy or simple this seems, don’t underestimate the power of this Three-Step Method.
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By meeting people face to face in my piano teaching business, I got to know a lot of people in my town, made some really strong connections, and ended up getting a number of students from referrals.
So, get some cards printed up that have your business card on the front and the offer of a free lesson (or some other promotion) on the back and start shaking hands and meeting people in your community today.
You’ll be amazed at what this simple method does for your tutoring business!