This month in the Library forum I created a channel to share how we pitch our services online and hold each other accountable through the process.
In business “a pitch” is a presentation of your idea, product or collaborative project to a group of people who can support and make it a reality.
As self-employed online teachers running 1-person businesses, our pitches will generally fall into one of the two categories:
- A pitch to potential clients. You can pitch your services or products.
- A pitch for more publicity. You can pitch your expertise to content creators.
There are complex pitches when you’re setting up collaborative projects or contacting big investors, but most online language teachers start their “pitching practice” by reaching out to potential clients and versatile audiences in order to make sales and grow your audience.
I realized that I will not be able to talk about 2 types of pitches in 1 post, so I will make it into a “pitching series.” In this post you’ll learn how to pitch your work online and get more clients, and in the next one I will share more about pitching for publicity.
Let’s dive in.
Back when I first started teaching English online, I thought that a sign of a successful teacher was when people come knocking on my door asking for lessons. When that wasn’t happening I started doubting my expertise and qualifications. I invested more to get extra certificates so they would convince someone to hire me.
It felt demeaning for an experienced teacher (like me) to go and “pitch” her services somewhere, convincing others to listen to me and pay attention. I felt jealous of some online teachers who knew as much as I did and yet they were somehow able to attract other people’s attention better than me.
What was wrong with me? Was I defective? I labeled myself as one who was “bad at marketing” because somehow it gave me an explanation for why what I thought was success wasn’t happening to me.
What I didn’t realize then was that an online teacher’s expertise didn’t automatically translate into getting clients and sales. For the people who did notice my blog or my social media account, the idea of hiring me was not clear because I never pitched my services to them.
From that silent marketing experience, here are 2 lessons that I’ve learned.
#1: Let people know what you do.
Some call it a “soft pitch” or soft-selling where you’re using subtle yet persuasive ways of offering or selling your products and services.
I like the idea behind a “soft pitch” – imagine you’re playing baseball with a child. You’re not going to pitch them the same way as you would in a big baseball game. You will do it carefully, in such a way that the child you’re playing with is able to play on their level and feel like they did it!
Some teachers resist the idea of a soft pitch because they may not have a website or a nice-looking platform for online courses or even a “cool-sounding package.” So they start blogging or podcasting or posting on social media and hope that the audience will be able to figure out that they should hire you.
Here’s what you can do today to begin pitching to your audience:
- On your social media: make it easy for people to contact you for classes. Set up a “book me” link or button. Start with free consultations.
- Mention what you do on social media (in stories or posts). It’s not always obvious that you’re looking for clients.
- Include your booking links in your newsletter.
- Ask your current clients to tell their friends about you (see below how to do it).
- Prepare for a virtual party at the beginning of a school year (or any month). Ask your teacher friends to promote it, and tell the participants how you can help them.
- Mention your services, products and courses in your free content: on social media, podcast or blog.
Here are some phrases that you can use:
On social media: “I’m looking for new clients. If it’s you – send me a message.”
On social media and in your newsletter: “I want to run a program for X to help them Y. Would you like to join?”
To your current client “I’m looking for 1 client. Can you think of your 1 friend who might benefit from working with me? If so, here’s what you can write to them: My Italian teacher has helped me boost my vocabulary and confidence, and she’s now looking for new clients. If you join her this month, she can give you a special 1-month offer. Remember you always wanted to go to Italy? Maybe you should start working on your Italian? Here’s her email: ______.”
#2: Launch your services.
If you always offer 1:1 classes and are not offering anything else at the moment, should you still launch it? The answer is – why not?
A launch is a process by which a product/program is introduced to the market. Launch involves a number of steps, and if you need more guidance, my recently updated mini-course on launching and promotion simplifies and organizes all the steps.
The idea behind any launch is simple: you’re sharing about your work with as many people as you can. You want to introduce new people to your services on a regular basis, even if they’re available all the time.
Here’s how you can do it for your coaching services:
- Set up an event (it doesn’t have to be long or labor-intensive) where you teach your audience a set of skills. Read Lucy Samuel’s story about running a webinar to sell products.
- Share the event promotional information with the people you know who can share it with others (if you’re in the Library, ask other teachers for help!)
- Prepare for the event and be the star of the show.
- Imagine each person who comes as your client – that will help you be most authentic.
- Invite people to work with you (in a soft way) and send them follow up information via email.
What if you’ve done all of the above but you’re still not getting the results you want? Maybe your audience isn’t ready to work with you (yet) or maybe the core group has worked with you enough and now your offers are not as helpful to where they were?
Before you think doom and gloom, consider what you can do to get more visibility and exposure. I’ve talked about it in one of my previous posts, but in the next one I will share how you can pitch to bigger content creators, what you can write and what to include in your introduction (or a bio).