A Beginner’s Guide to Attracting More Language Students

As a lifelong language nerd, I’ve had more teachers than I’ve had pairs of shoes — and I haven’t chosen a single one of them based on their impressive degrees or ‘10+ years’ experience’.

Don’t get me wrong — I know these things are important in helping me achieve my language goals. 

But, frankly, where and when a teacher trained matters far less to me than whether our personalities will gel, their teaching style will work for me and if our values align.

The same probably goes for your ideal students, too. 

See, as a teacher you bring so much more than qualifications and experience to the table. You’re an individual with your own approach, ideas and personality — and all these things add up to create the perfect learning experience for your people. But they’ll never know it if you don’t tell them.

Your ideal students deserve to see what you’re all about before they decide whether to sign up. In fact, the more connected they feel to you through your content, the more likely they are to choose you as their teacher.

This is what’s known in marketing as the ‘Know, Like, Trust’ factor. 

The ‘Know, Like, Trust’ factor is a proven concept that states people only buy from businesses they feel connected with. In other words, businesses that have put in the work to understand, relate to and empathise with their target customers and, in turn, earn their trust. 

This principle is important for businesses across the board, but especially so for language teachers running a personal brand. That’s because your students need a certain level of trust in you to not only spend money but time learning with you. Like I said, who you are is just as important as what you know. 

So, in today’s post, I’m diving into this concept and explaining how you can apply it to your language teaching business to attract, connect with and convert more students. 

Know: Becoming a familiar face and voice  

Just like you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking a total stranger to look after your bag while you go to the toilet, your ideal students won’t feel comfortable handing over their time or money to someone they don’t know. 

Before you can expect anyone to respond to your posts promoting your available lesson slots, you HAVE to make yourself known to them. And like any good friendship, that takes time.

Potential students won’t flock to your Instagram page in the same way other teachers do because they don’t have a vested interest in finding out who you are and what you do. You need to give your people a reason to follow your page, which means posting content that speaks directly to their wants and needs.

Say you’re targeting backpackers looking to learn basic Spanish for a trip around Spain. You’d want to come up with content ideas that relate specifically to this goal in order to cut through the noise. One example could be a post that breaks down phrases they’ll need for travel-related emergencies. See how much more specific that is than a simple ‘word of the day post’? 

By consistently sharing valuable advice that meets your ideal students where they are, they’ll start to recognise you as a reliable authority on the topic they need support with. 

Not only that, but when you write in the same voice — be it fun, friendly, sarcastic, blunt or cool — they’ll begin to recognise you from your words alone, helping you build a sense of familiarity.  

Like: Getting your students to like you

We buy from people we trust, and in order to trust someone… we’ve kinda gotta like them first. So, the next step in attracting more language students is to earn their favour.

Of course, just like in real life, you have very little control over whether or not someone likes you. But rather than letting that send you into a spiral of self-doubt, embrace your uniqueness by unashamedly showing your personality through your copy. 

Some people will love it; others won’t. And that’s okay. You’re not here to impress or appeal to everyone. You’re here to make your mark in your niche by speaking to your people. 

Now, your brand personality can either be a real representation of who you are or a slightly dimmed down or spiced up persona. It’s really up to you, but if you ask me the more genuine you are, the more genuine your connections will be. 

Let’s face it: if you’re a bubbly extrovert who drops a swear word in almost every lesson, you don’t want to attract stuffy professionals who’d cringe, or worse, complain about your language. So, you’re best off showing who you are right from the start. 

So, how do you show your personality through nothing but the written word? This is a BIG topic that deserves a post of its own (coming soon), but an easy place to start is by choosing 3-5 adjectives to describe yourself. 

Once you have these, ask ChatGPT for a list of grammar guidelines and words you can use to craft copy that conveys these personality traits. Just be careful to read through it carefully — the robot’s good, but it’s not always right. 

Trust: Earning the trust of your students 

Trust has been the foundation of monetary transactions and human relationships since forever, but it’s more important than ever in the age of the internet. 

Before your ideal students will even think about taking the leap and handing over their hard-earned cash to this near-stranger, they need to have confidence in you and your service.

This is where your achievements, certifications, and testimonials come in — but there’s a catch. Speaking about them will only be effective if you’ve already given your potential students a chance to get to know and like you through your content. 

Because who cares if some stranger on the internet has a Harvard degree? A grand total of no one.  

By focusing your message on your credentials and experience alone, you’re essentially skipping the ‘know’ and ‘like’ steps of the process, which is like entering a conversation in a foreign language without ANY understanding of the culture. Presumptuous and doomed to fail. 

So, instead of being all ‘me, my qualifications and I’, your copy and content should lead with the things your ideal students care about — how to hold a meeting in English, how to greet their French inlaws or what to ask in a Spanish job interview — and back up with credibility markers like experience and student success stories. 

The ‘Know, Like, Trust’ factor is key to attracting more language students. 

And if you keep these three words in mind whenever you’re preparing content or writing copy, you’ll find it gets a whole lot easier to write more compelling messages that catch attention and get results. 

If you want to learn more tangible writing techniques you can use to achieve this, I go into much more detail in the Language of Copywriting, my copywriting course for language teachers.

August 21, 2023

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