The demand for virtual services is at an all-time high and that's hardly a surprise considering we have had to do all of our working, teaching and learning over the Internet for the last four months. So how can you capitalise on this upwards trend? Key to growing your client base is understanding what your potential customers are looking for. In this update, I will talk you through some of the data surrounding what the UK public has been searching for on Google and how we can use that information to target your market.
I am the first person to admit that numbers and data fill me with dread and panic, but I'll talk you through some of the cheats and work arounds that helped soothe my number induced anxiety. I have to say, the digital skills I have learnt during lockdown have been gifted to me by the marketing fairy godmothers at Broadplace and having a good marketing team behind you when you feel like you are drowning in data can be a godsend.
Give the people what they want!
So, where do we start? For an idea about how to be found online, you need to know what the people want. Since the school closures in March, there has been a noticeable increase in search terms used on Google to find online tuition as you can sign in the image below:
It is abundantly clear that since this time last year, demand for online tuition has been on the up, even before the pandemic hit. And maybe less surprising then is the downward trend for 'tutors near me' plummeting as the demand for online tutors soars.
Just these two graphs give you a really strong idea of the market and Google is a great free tool to explore these trends as they happen. It's worth noting that at the very edge of the graph is a sudden change suggesting that as lockdown is eased, the demand for face to face tuition is going up. However, just as some other businesses across the country that work in close proximity with clients, there has been a slight update about when we can expect to teach in person again and this is really key to your planning for the next few months. New guidance from the government lists tuition as one of the services that can be offered again from 4th July if social distancing procedures are followed inside. Keeping up to date with these announcements is especially critical as we have seen the first city to go into a local lockdown as the rest of the country hangs on a knife edge with infection numbers creeping up again.
Interpreting the future
Tools like google trends can allow us some insight into how people search for content and whether you are offering live online lessons or curriculum content, if you stay ahead of the curve and offer what people need just before they realise they need it, you are bound to succeed.
So how do you do this without a crystal ball or a bag of magic tea leaves? Let's bring news updates into the equation. The constant cycle of educational updates entered into the public domain before they become mandatory gives us one way of matching what might happen with what will happen. Going back to the graph above and the sudden spike in users searching for 'tutors near me,' we can see a correlation with the announcement that all children will be returning to school in September come what may. With the threat of fines to parents for student absence and speculation about the potential for subject suspensions at GCSE level to allow schools to concentrate on core subject attainment, there is mass uncertainty about what to do for the best for the upcoming school year.
As expected, many parents and students were distressed and disheartened to hear that work already carried out at the beginning of year 10 may never be acknowledged. I can't help but think the proposals, although not confirmed, will lead to mass disillusion with the school system and demotivated students being forced to attend hours and hours of subjects where they cannot thrive. Accordingly, it may become even more crucial for private tutors to provide subject support in areas beyond the core subjects in response to fears about missing out. How will these pupils so deeply affected by he pandemic in terms of their absent knowledge appeal to the job market and university places with only a blinkered understanding of the world and a very firm grasp of exam techniques in three subjects? I am convinced that the damage done to this generation is reversible, but only if education is expanded beyond schools and into the community.
React and reap the rewards
Long term speculation is all well and good, but it is the unfolding present that holds the key to building a successful business in the post-pandemic world. If you have a website already you will be well aware of which content of yours is the most effective in terms of visibility and user traffic. If not, then I will let you into a few secrets.
Video content: I'm not the kind of person who gets anxious about public speaking or writing material, but making promo videos fills me with abject terror and yet this is my most viewed content! I still haven't quite recovered from the stress of making my first video all those weeks ago, but I now feel I could make another one in a style I feel comfortable with.
Have a look on Youtube for tutors that provide lesson content and see how the most popular accounts have their own style. If you know camera facing teaching is not for you, don't do it. It's very easy to create a screen recording and a voiceover which can be just as valuable as a piece to camera in the style of a regular class. The good thing about Youtube is that you can host the videos on your social media account or even on your website - and it's free!
Marketing emails: If you have a list of contacts already, why not update them every now and then with your latest subject offerings or some motivational messages about wellbeing during peak exam periods etc. Even if you have lost some of these clients recently, parents will feel supported in helping their child and you can build a more personal experience as a result. Don't overload them with messages every week though, strike a balance between personal and promotional.
Now that you have an indication of what you can offer to respond to demand as it occurs, and even just before, take a look back at my post about building your online teaching toolkit and make the transition now.
The Learn Lab launches its first summer school this month for core subject support before the return to school. Look out for the July Newsletter coming later this week with full details.