To Ad or not to Ad, that is he question.


This is probably the single most irregular part of doing business you are ever going to deal with.  How to establish a marketing campaign as a small business.

The first thing you got to do is know what you are selling.  You might think this is a trivial question, but what you think you are selling is not necessary what other people think they are buying.  You sell apples, people are buying a snack, could be something else than an apple… you just wanna make sure they buy the apple.

When it comes to a school, what are we really selling? Education?  Not really. We already know that the student is the “product”, the end service.  But what about the paying customer, the parents, what are their expectations?  That depends a bit on the segment of the market you are approaching.

Let’s see.

Status: For many parents, the ability to get their kids to the front of the line is what matters.  Like a brand new Iphone, when the old one is good enough.  This market segment is mostly aimed at test taking, an “objective” high score on an official test is something.  They might also be the ones that come and inform you you got 2 weeks to prep their child for a speech contest.  In this segment price is actually positively related to demand.

Fear:  This component is very prevalent in South Korea, where job opportunities are only for those who can compete in the rat race.  English is part of that.  This part of the market needs a lot of feedback on how their child is doing.  This is also the part of the market that is always looking for the next best thing.  And it is that part of the market that knows better how to teach their kids English than you do…  They like to have a strict curriculum and lots of testing during the learning process to keep tails on the progress of their kids.  This segment is somewhat ignorant of price, but very sensitive to “results”.

Opportunity:  There is a segment in the market that looks at Education as an opportunity for their kids, not as a requirement.  Too bad this is the smallest segment in Korea.  They will be looking for someone who can guide their kids to a bigger world.  This group will also look for other ways to keep their kids going.   Looking at alternative solutions like language holidays, information on Universities and the like.

It is obvious that every parent is a mix of the above, and therefore your advertising needs to have a mix of these too.

In my experience, to have a good advertising campaign on city level, you need to be part of the city. Developing this is so time intensive that the only ones I have seen succeed at this is where partners team up.  Can’t really help you there.

Another issue is time.  Advertising is a costly affair. It doesn’t always work, and one time it will work,another time it won’t.  The trick is to keep up the energy up and keep the advertising going.  Consistency reaps the greatest benefit.  The only advertising campaign that has ever worked (apart from the heavy social involvement) was the one where we just kept putting on the same adds, in the same places for the longest time possible.

Good luck.