6 Language Education Marketing Cliches (& How to Avoid Them)

Warning: this article might make you feel called out.

Which, for the record, is totally not my intention. 

I’m not here to point fingers or make you feel bad about your messaging. I’m just here to help you write better copy and make more sales by avoiding some of the biggest language education marketing cliches around. 

And if it makes you feel any better, I’ve definitely used some of them in the past. You’ll even see an example of one of my earliest ads. Don’t judge.

Anyway, now we’ve got that little disclaimer out the way, let’s dive in. 

Here are 6 of the language education marketing cliches and how (and why) to avoid them. 

1. “Speak clearly and confidently”

Search results: 192,000 

I was recently doing some market research for a client who’s promoting a pronunciation course. I reviewed six of their main competitors’ websites and sales pages to understand their position in the market. 

Can you guess how many used this phrase in their headline?

Every. Single. One.

That’s not the only problem with it, though. It’s also super vague, which makes it hard to trust and even harder to notice. 

If you want your people to feel a connection to your copy, you’ve got to get specific. Ask yourself: what does ‘speaking confidently’ look, feel and sound like for your ideal students?

And then write that. 

2. “Learn anytime, anywhere”

Search results: 14,900

When the pandemic first hit, I was working for a Chinese language school in Shanghai. Our entire business was built on running in-person classes in the city. So, the lockdown sent us into a mad panic of trying to set up, launch and sell online classes in a matter of days. 

As the marketing manager, I was tasked with writing the copy for a poster and setting up some ads. And little old me thought this was a genius headline… 

So ~innovative~ right?

Admittedly it probably was slightly more original pre-pandemic. But since then, it’s become one of the most predictable, snooze-worthy phrases of the online learning industry. 

So, moral of the story? Don’t be like me. If one of your selling points is that students can learn wherever they like, try switching ‘anytime, anywhere’ for a relatable example. 

Like, can your students learn on the bus en route to school? During their lunch break? As they’re cleaning the house while the baby’s asleep? 

These specific details will make your copy stand out and speak to the right people.

3. Speak {language} fluently in {ridiculously short space of time}

Search results: 3,930,000

Ahh, fluency. That vague, elusive goal that everyone has a different definition of. 

Some claim you can reach fluency in as little as 90 days. Others say 6 months is enough. 

But you and I both know that’s all a heap of marketing mumbo-jumbo. Then again, ‘speak fluent Italian in 3 years, if you study consistently’ doesn’t have quite the same impact, does it?

Fluency is the definition of fluffy copy. It leaves way too much to the reader’s imagination to be believable or relatable. 

So, instead of using ‘fluency’ as a selling point of your offer, again, try adding specific detail to show exactly what that means for your ideal student, in their dream situation. For example:

Order your dinner without checking the dictionary. 

→ Laugh along with their jokes – for real, this time.

The same applies to the phrase “learn {language} in {ridiculously short space of time}”. Explaining exactly what that means for your ideal students will help give your copy an edge. 

4. Take your {language} to the next level 

Search results: 357,000

What level? Where? 

This has to be one of the most universally overused phrases across all industries. I imagine a copywriter came up with it years ago and it was fresh, new and exciting.  

… But then every marketer and their friend began using it to sound cool! powerful! and dynamic! 

In language, we know that ‘to the next level’ is used as a synonym for improving. But improving to what level exactly?

Is it passing the next official exam? 

Then try: Pass your B2 exam by Christmas.  

Is it being able to participate in meetings? 

Then try: It’s time to give voice to your big ideas.

Is it having the confidence to travel alone?

Then try: Become your own interpreter.  

Your students are learning for a specific reason. Highlight that reason to make your message more specific, unique and engaging. 

5. Improve your {language} 

Search results for English: 46,000,000

And for Spanish: 1,340,000 results 

And in case you teach a niche language and you’re thinking ‘Ha! I can get away with using it’, Thai has 42,900 results.

That’s a lot of people saying the same thing. 

And the funny thing is, it’s not even a selling point. It’s a basic deliverable of your service. Students are literally paying you to help them improve, so they don’t need to be told that’s what you’ll do. They need to be told how. 

If this phrase is currently occupying your website, sales page or personal bio headline space, there’s an easy fix. Consider what you *actually* help your students achieve and rewrite it to focus on their big goal. 

And if you’re not sure what that goal is? It’s time to do some market research, my friend.

6. Speak like a native 

Search results: 19,700,000

Yikes. We’ve got a LOT of work to do.

Besides the fact that the phrase ‘speak like a native’ is seriously problematic (see this IG post if you’re not sure why), it’s also TOTALLY unoriginal. And unrealistic. And vague.

What exactly does ‘speaking like a native’ entail? Speaking at speed? Joining in conversations spontaneously? Adopting a specific accent? 

It could be interpreted to mean any of these things, which is what makes it so fluffy (and damaging). 

So, if you find yourself wanting to use the phrase… stop. Ask yourself: what do I actually mean by this? Then paint a more vivid, specific and empowering picture of that

Are there any other language education marketing cliches you want to add to the list? 

I’m sure there are LOADS more I’ve missed, and I want to hear them. Leave a comment below with your biggest pet peeves. 

And if you want to write clearly and confidently, improve your copy and take your skills to the next level? (lol)

Then you’re going to love my Marketing Crash Course. 😃

Sign up here to receive weekly marketing lessons in your inbox that guide you step-by-step through everything from getting to know your students to creating a content marketing plan.

The best bit? It’s totally free to join.

January 30, 2024

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