Virtual Lesson Platforms: Build Vs Buy

By: Blink Lesson

Are you conducting all lessons online or simply offering it as an option> Either way, you need to understand the nature of how potential students (and parents) approach the internet.

1. Know The Difference Between Online Advertising and Online Services

Today, an Online presence is vital for any business, but don't mistake advertising Online for delivering services Online. An example to illustrate:

If I search Google for, "Learn Guitar Online", the first site that appears is a self-study program for learning guitar (recorded videos). Google dose not know I'm looking to take lessons online over a video conference.

Why is this important? If you teaching lessons online via video conference, you have to make sure to differentiate your messaging from learn guitar on your own online programs. Use something like, "Avoid the Drive: Take Your Guitar Lessons Online". Your first goal should be to target potential customers that are looking to receive live online lessons, not programs delivered online.

2. Know Your Target Market

Your target market is the group of people who will buy or refer others to buy your product or service. This is important because you will want to target the referral sources as much as the end customer. If you are teaching violin, orchestra teachers are your friend.

Know Your Target Market Limits. A local tutoring business has a geographically limited market because people have to drive there. If you are tutoring Online your market might be limited to families that have broadband Internet, a good computer, speak your Language and are willing to pay what you ask. Whatever limits you have, you will save a lot of time and money if you know them beforehand and avoid marketing to people that fall outside.

3. Know Who to Start With

You might be thinking: "Couldn't I market in a way to convince someone looking for in-person lessons to do it Online?" Back when the iPhone came out, no one was specifically asking for it. Apple had to create demand for it through advertising, but it took tens of millions of dollars of it. The lesson to learn from Apple is that it took millions of dollars to convince people. Unless you have a huge marketing budget and long-term plan, you will do much better starting with people already looking of your services.

There might be 50,000 students needing lessons, but need does not equal looking. Of those 50,000 there might be 25,000 who are looking but only 1,000 searching to receive services Online. 1,000 isn't 50,000 but its a good start.

4. Know How to Target

Targeted marketing is taking your target market and determining the best way to reach them. Remember though, you are first trying to reach people that are looking for your services. This is important because you want to meet them where they are looking, not simply where they are.

A good way to illustrate this is Google Search vs. FaceBook ads. Facebook ads are what marketing people call, "Interruption Marketing". You open the FB app to see what's going on with your friends and all the sudden you are, "Interrupted" by an add. Google search adds display when people have typed keywords that match your product or service. Facebook has a plethora of demographic data that you can use to make sure you adds display to certain people, but people don't go to Facebook to search for services. Thus, on Google you would be meeting your target audience where they are looking.

Before you jump on Google Adwords and build an add, consider if the best source of new customers might not be Online at all. Remember, a big part of your target market could be other teachers or musicians that will refer. These people are not usually "looking" for your service, but they need to be ready with your information when someone they need to refer comes along. If you believe there is a shortage of trombone teachers in a geographic area, you might do better getting in your car and stopping by schools in that area than paying for Google adds.

And a Bonus: Know Your Specialty, or Get a Specialty

My son plays upright and electric bass. He plays all kinds of music including classical, jazz, and rock. If you're an accomplished classical and jazz double bassist, I (the parent) would be a lot more interested in having my son take from you, than finding two teachers to help him.

Also, my son needs a teacher beyond beginner. If you are an accomplished classical and jazz double bassist AND like teaching advanced students, that is specific. That information would help me (the parent) know you are the specialist he might need.

If you provide lessons to anyone that can drive to where you teach, you are only competing with other teachers in driving distance. When you start offering online lessons, you are competing with any teacher Online. Thus, you need to be any more specific about what you specialize in, in order to stand out.

The reality is, it would take years to appear on the first page of a general Google search for something like, "Online Piano Lessons". If you are a small or solo business, that should not even be a goal. Instead, you might aim to be top of the results for, "Advanced Online Jazz Piano Lessons". Even better, strive to be known as one of the best teachers at your specialty among the Online social network of the people that need it.