I’m risk-averse and have little budget – this is what I did for marketing

Ever since I started out on my own in Aug 2012, I have been forced to think about how to market my services. I have tried a few things; some worked, some didn’t. In this article I will share about all my attempts.

I operated on a shoestring. Being unsure of how marketing work, and being very risk-averse, I invested almost nothing into marketing. I never hired any one to design marketing material, do digital marketing, etc. In hindsight, some of these investment should have been done. A professional looking logo and marketing collateral, for example, can go a long way to position myself as a premium tutor.

Instead, I designed my own standees, name cards and everything else. My dear wife helped to design my company’s logo. I used Microsoft Power Point at first; later I discovered canva.com and it changed my life. I like it because it is free and there are tonnes of professionally designed templates in all imaginable categories. I even designed rather nice looking bookmarks – canva.com has beautiful templates for bookmarks – for my tuition centre. I strongly encourage every tutor to learn how to use canva.com. It may be your lifesaver when you need to design the next holiday workshop poster.

The only serious marketing investment I made, was to commit to a professional networking organisation called Business Network International (BNI). The application fee was below $1000 per year and there were some monthly meeting fees of around $100, but the real investment, I realised, was the time to attend meeting every week and to meet other members separately to get to know each other better. This was my word-of-mouth marketing strategy.

For a few years, this investment into word-of-mouth marketing gave me enough referral to sustain my very small one one-man-operation. Yet somehow it was not really enough to bring enough students for small classes which I want to run. I reaped many benefits from BNI but to fill my classes, I needed something more.

I started to learn about things like guerilla marketing, digital marketing, FB marketing and content marketing. My favourite writer is probably Seth Godin, who wrote Purple Cow, Permission Marketing, Tribes and This Is Marketing. I highly recommend that all tutors should read it. It might just change your mind about marketing.

I learnt from people like Eugene Seah on how to use Facebook as a business and branding tool. I learnt from Mike Li to tap into the power of LinkedIn. I learnt from Sam Choo on harnessing the power of Facebook groups. I learnt from Colin Goh on how to identify my stronger FB posts and how to capitalise on it. I learn from Jason Lim on how to build a trustable brand, as well as how to position my business in the best way possible.

The more I learn, the better I become in marketing. Yet the more I learn, the more I am humbled. There is just so much to marketing. I am convinced that I cannot do marketing by myself. It’s very important to know the basics of these marketing strategies, but I know that my time is better spent thinking about things that no one can do for me, like networking, identifying market opportunities, talking to parents and students etc.

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