Mar 15, 2016
Do You Offer a Free Introductory Lesson? Don’t
Here’s a simple tip to vastly improve your teaching business. Don’t offer a free introductory lesson. Offer an Informal Meet and Greet instead.
More than half of the teachers I know offer a free lesson to market their services. They also admit that many of the these meetings do not lead to a recurring student-teacher relationship.
I also know people that hop around Seattle and take advantage of such new student promotions. They rarely continue with lessons after the free trial period.
Personally, I feel like offering a free lesson cheapens your message as a professional instructor. It invites people to come take a lesson, even if they have no intention of signing up as a student.
However, I absolutely encourage you to offer an Informal Meet and Greet session with a potential student to see if you are a good fit for one another. It makes the whole process a two-way street, and that’s exactly what teaching is all about.
The Informal Meet and Greet encourages students to show up knowing that it’s not a given you will be their instructor. You’re looking for serious students to add to your roster and this method will encourage that relationship. The Meet and Greet also lets the student assess you as a teacher — and gives you the chance to recommend another teacher if it doesn’t feel like a good fit. It’s a win-win as the student finds the best teacher, and vice versa.
Often, a meet and greet also turns into a lesson. It rarely ends at the meet and greet stage. Most students come to a meet and greet willing to sign up for regular lessons, or appreciate your frank opinion if you are not a great fit for one another.
If you’re just starting a teaching business, or desperately need new students, a free lesson may appeal to get people in the door. It doesn’t work. A great example is Groupon. I know many small businesses that used Groupon to promote their product or service at a ridiculously reduced rate. They quickly realise Groupon does not build a base of loyal customers. It attracts customers that want a one-time deal. It does not attract customers willing to invest in your skill set or experience.
I’ve never enjoyed pursuing that segment. As a teacher, you are building a community that will sustain you and that will benefit from your experience and contributions to that community. It takes time, honesty, and patience to build trust within a community. It’s totally worth it.
Try switching your Free Lesson offer to an Informal Meet and Greet. Let me know how that works out for you. I bet you’ll be glad you did.