Two Of The Best Ways To Grow Your Tutoring Business If You’re On A Low Budget

This week's blog post was written by Jeevan Singh.

Jeevan is a hugely successful tutor and has established not just a great tutoring business but a variety of products that help students to pass their exams.

He's a superb example of someone who is making a difference to students both locally and nationally. Furthermore, he's pretty darn good at marketing his own business so if you're a tutor or aspiring tutor, read on!

PS. This is a long article so if you'd prefer to download it simply click here.

My name is Jeevan Singh and I’m a maths tutor and author. I started my tutoring business at the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year, whilst studying at university. Being a cash-strapped student at the time, it was difficult to for me to grow my tutoring business. I had to test a number of different marketing strategies and painstakingly record the results of each one, including the response rates as well as how many enquiries turned into long term students in the end. This is the only way I could identify the strategies which were the cheapest to implement yet delivered the best results.  

After months and years of testing, I’ve identified the two best ways to grow your tutoring business if you’re on low budget. To save you the time and hassle of identifying these strategies on your own, I’m going to share them with you today. Most tutors and tutor agencies wouldn’t reveal this information. They will give you general advice on how to find new students but they won’t give you the results you’d expect. It’s probably because they haven’t really gone to the effort of testing them out. At the end of the day, it’s about the results. You don’t want to waste your time carrying out an ineffective marketing campaign that is not going to bring any new students to your tutoring business. That’s why I am prepared to go an extra mile today and reveal the two best marketing strategies I use in my tutoring business and the kind of results you’d expect from each one.

Right let’s begin...

The first marketing strategy to use in your tutoring business is supermarket windows...

Many tutors and tutoring agencies underestimate this strategy but I’m not sure why. Over the years, it’s proven to be one of the best strategies and this is where I get the majority of new students.

Supermarket window advertising is kind of self-explanatory; you place your adverts on local supermarket windows. You should place them in shops which have high foot traffic. By this, I mean, you should place them in areas which have a lot of passers-by. For instance, town centres or parades of shops. The idea is a passer-by will eyeball your advert as they walk past, make a note of your details and contact you about your tutoring service, very often on the same day. 

Now, shopkeepers may be a bit reluctant to put your advert up at first. After all, they are giving you free advertising space. But to get around this, stress the kid’s benefit of your service. Explain to him/her that it will improve kid’s education in the local area. People are open to anything which relates to kid’s development. Say you will put it up temporarily and remove it in due course.  

A word of warning: Some shopkeepers will not allow you to put your advert on their shop window but they’ll insist on letting you leave some on the counter. Don’t leave your adverts near the counter. I’ve done this before and it seriously lowers the response rate (I’ll explain the response rate in a minute). You have to place your adverts on the shop window because you are capturing the attention of passers-by. Remember, not all passers-by enter a shop so they’ll never see your advert, let alone give you a call.

Some newsagents may charge you to place your advert on their shop window. Don’t be afraid to spend a quid or two. The responses are worth the cost. Some shopkeepers leave your advert on their window for weeks on end because they simply forget about it. I still get enquiries from adverts I put on shop windows months ago.

What advert do I use for this type of campaign?

The way you construct the advert is crucial in driving the greatest response from the supermarket window campaign. I’ve assessed many tuition adverts in the past and they’ve been very poor. No wonder they struggle to find new students.  

Below is the advert I use in the supermarket window campaign. It’s an A6 size advert. Use an A6 or A5 advert in your campaigns. Anything larger than that and the shopkeeper will feel you are taking advantage of their free advertising space. Notice how it’s a black and white advert. You may argue: “A black and white advert looks dull. It needs a bit of colour’. However, in this type of campaign, a black and white advert is more effective. I always use a black and white advert and get very good results. This is because the message on the advert is clear. Too many colours/designs can distract the reader from the main message:

Let’s have a look at those 4 key areas I’ve highlighted on my advert:

1.     Headline – the most important area of your advert. The headline is 80% of your advert. If you don’t get this right, you’ve lost the reader from the outset. You only have a split-second to capture the reader’s attention as they walk past the shop so you have to accentuate the headline. Use a big, bold heading. It spells-out to the reader what you’re offering; in my case – MATHS TUITION. It will immediately grab the attention of somebody who is looking for a maths tutor, stop them in their tracks and encourage them to read on.

2.     Benefit-driven bullet points – the next part of the advert ‘sells your service’. List the benefits of your service in a bullet-point fashion. Don’t list the features. Features talk about your service. Benefits explain how it will benefit the customer. For instance, don’t say “we have a 100% success rate”. Add... “So your child will achieve their target grade”. This reminds the reader what your service will do for them. Use ‘You’ a lot in your copy because it’s all about them. Not you!

3.     Scarcity – the last bullet-point is known as scarcity. People lead busy lifestyles so they may forget to call you later on. That’s why it’s important to use scarcity. By giving the impression that resources or availability is limited; in this case, “we can only take on 2 more students this term” forces the reader to act then and there.

4.     Call-to-action (CTA) – Scarcity is usually followed by a call-to-action. Believe it or not, most advertisers get this bit wrong. They explain how good their service is but fail to instruct the reader on what to do next. It would be a big shame to get the reader this far, only to leave them guessing what to do next. You have to tell the reader exactly what you want them to do. Spell it out to them: “Get in Touch Today”. This is followed by your contact details. Over the years, I’ve found parents like to call you because they want to hear ‘a voice’ behind the advert. Thus, make sure you include a contact number!

What results should you expect from this type of campaign?

A supermarket campaign usually results in a 20% response rate. This means, if you were to place your ad in as little as 10 shops, you should get 2 responses over time. This is a fairly high response rate considering the work and cost involved. Creating an A6 postcard is cheap to do (you can create a basic advert for free on Word) and posting it in 10 shops should take you around 20 minutes, if you choose parades of shops.

If you would like an electronic copy of all my ready-made adverts, please visit my website:

When you get enquiries, make sure you ask the parent where they saw your advert. This is important because you’ll see what shops generate the greatest response rate. It may be that a particular shop does not have many competing-adverts on their window and that’s why you get a greater response. You should revisit these shops on a consistent basis and put your ad on their windows to generate a regular flow of leads.

That is the first marketing strategy to use in your tutoring business so what is the second?...  Referrals!

Again, many tutors and tutoring agencies underestimate the power of referrals. It is one of the best marketing strategies because it costs you virtually nothing and the work is carried out by someone else, usually by your existing student.

People are very skeptical when it comes to purchasing goods and services. I guess it’s due to all of the scams that are floating around these days. Parents are even more skeptical when it comes to choosing a tutor for their child because if they choose the wrong person, not only will their time and money will be wasted, but their kid’s exam results and future will be in jeopardy.

This is where referrals can be very powerful. By encouraging your students to recommend your service to their friends/family, you seriously lower their resistance. You don’t have to convince the prospective parent that you’re the right tutor to go with. Your existing student will do all the convincing for you. Parents prefer to go with someone who has been ‘tried and tested’. Also, it reduces the effort on their part because they don’t have to actively look for a tutor. As I said before, people live busy lives and prefer if things were handed to them.

Don’t expect your students to recommend you to their friends/family on a consistent basis. You have to remind them from time to time and provide them with incentives. For instance, reduce their tuition fees if they can bring a new student to your business. Or, offer a free session after a set number of sessions with the referred student.

It shouldn’t be too difficult for your existing students to recommend you to their friends/family. Social platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook make it very easy for students to ‘spread-the-word’. I’d advise you to create a Facebook Page for your tutoring service. Interact with your students on Facebook so they’re inclined to like/share your posts. When they like/share a post, all of their friends see it too. Hence, benefitting from viral marketing.

So what kind of results do you expect from referrals?

Personal analysis has shown that 10% of leads will arise, solely through referrals. For instance, if you manage to get 20 enquiries from supermarket window adverts, an additional 2 enquiries will come from referrals. Even individuals, who enquire about your service and don’t go with you in the end, will still recommend you to their friends/family. How great is that!

Why conversion rate is more important than response rate...

Although the number of responses from referrals won’t be as high as supermarket postcards, they’ll convert into long-term students at a higher rate. The conversion rate is different to the response rate and it means, out of all the responses you get, what percentage of those will become long-term students in the end. Referred parents/students usually convert at a 50% rate. Using the example on the previous page, out of the 2 enquiries I get through referrals, 1 of them will become a long-term student of mine. This is due to the reasons I mentioned in the previous section; parents/student are less resistant to services recommended by their friends and they will naturally go for products or services which have been ‘tried and tested’.

On the other hand, ‘cold’ parents who enquire about your service after seeing your advert in a shop window, will take a lot more convincing. Remember, the purpose of the advert is just to drive a response i.e. to encourage them to contact you. But, you’re only halfway there. You still need to ‘sell yourself’ to the parent and convince them that you’re the right tutor to go with. What I’ve found in the past is parents who come via the supermarket window route won’t have a single tutor on their radar. They’ll carry out a bit of research and have a handful of tutors and tuition centres on their shortlist. This means your conversion process has to be strong in order to convince the parent you are the best option.

When this happens, I usually send over a 20-page pre-sell document to the parent, reiterating the benefits of my service. It’s important to get this message across as soon as possible or the parents will not take you seriously and go with a nearby competitor. It took some time to perfect this document but nowadays, every time I send it to a prospective parent, it blows all of my local rivals out of the water. If you would like to use the same report in your tutoring service, head over to my website: