How to Do Market Research for Your Language Business

The internet is full of people trying to sell you on their ‘secret method’ for attracting new students, making more money and growing your teaching business. 

But the truth is, it doesn’t matter how effective these strategies are if you haven’t first uncovered the most important *secret* of them all…

Who your students are and what they want.

Yep, it really is that simple. When you understand who you’re speaking to, what they want/need and why they want/need it, you basically have your marketing strategy right there in front of you. 

So why isn’t every language school or teacher dominating their niche with incredible marketing?

In my experience, it’s usually down to one of two reasons: 

  1. Market research is boring, time consuming and it doesn’t seem hugely beneficial. 
  2. There’s so little useful information out there on how to actually do it that we tend to just skip it entirely.

Either way, the result is usually the same: generic messaging, samey content and disappointing sales figures. 

Whatever obstacle is standing in the way of you *fully* understanding your audience, we’re about to overcome it. 

Here’s everything you need to know about doing market research for your language teaching business.

What is market research and why is it important?

In marketing, market research is the process of speaking to and understanding your target customers for the purpose of creating and promoting a product or service that solves a problem. 

Without it, you can’t be sure that people want what you’re selling or that it meets all of their needs. 

But its usefulness doesn’t start and end at creating an awesome language product or service. The insights you gather also form the foundation of your entire messaging and marketing strategy – from what you say about your product to which channels you use to promote it

Have you ever read an ad and felt as though the writer is reading your mind?

THAT’S the power of market research. It allows you to create a stand-out message and form a much closer connection with your reader because you know what they’re thinking and feeling. 

How can you conduct market research for your language business?

There are a number of ways you can gather insights into your ideal students’ wants, needs, habits and communication preferences. I recommend using a handful of techniques to make sure you’re gathering as much information as possible. 

Interview your ideal students 

This is hands down one of the most effective ways to do market research. Interview sounds scary and formal, I know. But it’s really just a conversation. 

Ask a mixture of past, present and potential students to join you on a private 1:1 call where you’ll ask them questions about their experiences with the language. 

I suggest recording it so you can fully engage in the conversation and put them at ease – especially if you’re interviewing them in the language they’re learning. 

Send out surveys 

Surveys can be a great way to hear from more people in a short space of time. 

You may also find they make it easier to reach people who haven’t bought from you yet because, let’s face it, it’s way less scary than speaking to a stranger on the internet. 

The downside to this is that many people half-ass their way through surveys, giving short answers that don’t really tell you anything useful. 

To avoid this happening, ask a series of open-ended questions that dig into their motivations for learning, their goals and the challenges they’re facing. 

You may also want to offer an incentive for people to complete it properly.

Read your emails, DMs, social media comments 

If you’re already promoting your language business, chances are you have a bank of incredible insights hiding out in your emails, social media accounts and DMs. 

We often sideline these because we’re not thinking about marketing when we respond, but they can be some of the most authentic, useful insights you have available. 

The same goes for your live classes. Listen out for the questions your students ask or the language problems they share. Chances are they’re not the only people to struggle with these things, so they can inspire great new ideas.

Keep up with Facebook groups 

This one’s a bit sneaky, but it’s totally allowed as long as you’re not using people’s words directly in your marketing or making a record of anyone’s name.  

Join Facebook groups for learners of the language you’re teaching and keep an eye on the posts in there to get an idea of what people are struggling with and how you can help. 

This method is especially useful for gathering insights from people who haven’t yet invested in classes or found a solution like yours. 

What should you ask your students?

It’s one thing doing market research, but it’s another doing it well. 

The best marketers know what questions to ask to get the answers they need. And lucky for you, I’m sharing a few insights here.

The desire 

Learning a language can feel super vulnerable, so jumping straight into asking about the problems someone is facing is a bit mean. 

That’s why I like to start the conversation (or survey) by first understanding the student’s desires

Ask questions like: 

  • Why do you want to learn {language}?
  • In what ways will learning {language} impact your {life/work/travels/relationships}?

The problem 

As I mentioned earlier, your product or service should solve a problem. So, naturally, you need to know what this problem is. 

So, once you know what your ideal students want, dig into what’s preventing them from reaching that goal with questions like:

  • What is the hardest thing about {the thing they’re trying to do}?
  • What impact does this problem have on your everyday life?

The solution 

As a teacher, you likely know what your students need in order to reach their goal. But what you know they need might be very different from what they think they need. 

Therefore, it’s crucial you get to the bottom of what they’re looking for. Or else you may end up promoting something they don’t look twice at. 

Ask questions like: 

  • What kind of support do you feel you need to {reach your goal}?
  • What features would you like to see in your ideal language course?

Ready to start doing market research for your language business?

I sure hope so because it’s the best way to gather new ideas, create eye-catching content and attract more perfect-fit students to your school or business. 

Oh and I guarantee you’ll discover some surprising insights. Because if there’s one thing market research will show you, it’s that you don’t know your ideal students as well as you think you do. 

Want more tips to guide your research? Grab my Market Research Toolkit for just £9 and get the questions, templates and tools you need to gather marketing gold.  

February 5, 2024

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