Friday, August 05, 2011

from the comments

My buddy John Williamson, who knows a thing or two about teaching and about running a school, had the following sage advice (which he left in the comments section of the post about zits and tonsilloliths):

From my perspective...

You need photos of happy, smiling successful students...and lots of them. Not so many words- keep it simple. Not much about yourself unless academically. Brief bios of students you have tutored and how well they have done + photos. Kill the background and replace it with "an image of success" or a montage of exam logos.

Basically, take what you've done and cull 70-90%.

People are going to pay you if they can visualise their little sprog in the same position as the images and bios on the site - they really don't care about who you are. :)


I think these are all valid points, and John has had years of experience running his school in Dunedin, New Zealand. I'm shit when it comes to marketing, so I agree that a makeover may be in order, especially if the tutoring website seems as narcissistic as this blog is.

To respond to a few of John's points:

1. I'd love to slap up pictures of happy, successful students who have benefited from my tutelage... but the problem is that I don't have any yet, unless you count the kids at YB where I currently work. I'm certainly not going to display "found" pics of other kids; that might be a lawsuit waiting to happen. While I completely agree that pictures of students need to be on the site, I need to build a student base first.

2. I, too, wondered whether the background looked too serious for its own good. It may feel more like a Chinese tombstone-- it's actually the Heart Sutra-- than an attempt at cheerful advertising. (In truth, I wasn't going for cheerful: I was going for a serious, cultured vibe. Still, it's true that the background should be more directly relevant to who I am and what I'm doing.)

3. Rest assured that a montage/banner is in the works-- something to replace the current banner, which is nothing more than text.

4. I'll definitely cut down my bio. However, unlike John and his school, I basically am the institution, here: an "About Me" section strikes me as only polite.

5. Hey, John-- are you sure you're in a position to give marketing advice after having made this corny-ass video?? (I'm just busting your balls, man.)

Anyway, although there are differences between marketing a school and marketing a single person, I do plan to take this sage advice into consideration as I continue to tweak the tutoring blog. Expect changes over the next few weeks.



  1. Oh God-- That video?? That wasn't me! It was Elvis! No we didn't produce that. I Korean guy with a camera came in years ago and asked me a few questions one Friday. Surprise surprise it ended up on the net. The message from that is "be careful of Koreans with Cameras".
    Still - the basic marketing message is the same all over the planet - simple message + eye candy. We don't use the web much because students choose through agents.

    If I were you I would plug the following... I'm really smart/Been to good uni/ Worked as a GRE teacher and have heaps of happy students/ I'm expensive but your kid will really benefit. I'm not sure about law suits but I think you could pretty easily photoshop happy faces to give the impression of generic "success". Sometimes "less is more."

    After that you need to find ways of directing parents of students to your blog site. I guess that will be your biggest challenge.

    Best of luck!! I Rick Perry for your success!!( To use a Texan phrase)

  2. I'm hoping to use Craigslist as one way to spread the word. I might use eBay as well-- as a way for people to register directly for a given class.

    Am a bit hesitant to take an "I'm expensive, but..." stance. That phrase might be a real turn-off.

    I'm going to create a fee structure that encourages people to buy "packets" of hours as opposed to paying hour-by-hour. Per-hour prices will be expensive, but the "packets" will be much cheaper.

    This works out better for me; people who only pay per-session are usually unreliable-- the curse of private tutoring is the lack of guarantee of steady work. To minimize that problem, it's best to persuade people to commit to larger chunks of time, and to make the refund/schedule-change policy a bit draconian without being overly snotty about it. The point is to aim for a market consisting of dedicated students, not dilettantes and other flighty folk.

    We'll see how it goes.

    What sort of image or logo connotes success, in your opinion? I keep imagining a man and woman experiencing simultaneous, triumphant orgasm: the mythical goal we all want to reach.



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