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How to promote an English language school in your region: the case of Addrian
Vyacheslav Zhiradkov, the founder of Addrian — a platform for learning English — told us about what works best for regional PR. The promotion of a local business has its own characteristics, which must be taken into account before deploying an advertising campaign in small cities.
Recently, we wrote about how to promote a local business. That was the theory — now, let's move on to the practical part. Our friends from the Ukrainian educational company Addrian have told us what they did in order for as many municipal residents as possible to find out about them.
About the company
Addrian, a Ukrainian educational platform, helps people of all ages and at all knowledge levels to learn English. The company, established in 2005, implements projects abroad and organizes student exchange programs and summer linguistic camps for children. Branches of Addrian operate in Kiev, Mykolaiv and Kherson.
The promotion channels that were used for Addrian
Local printed media
Articles and commercials in regional newspapers and magazines, which were popular in the early 2000s, have not worked very well for the last couple of years. They do not result in direct sales, and it is difficult to measure conversion rates for such a campaign. The main target audience is older relatives and grandparents of children, who can recommend options for their grandchildren to study English.
Publishing advertising content in local journals is not profitable. If such publications happen, they are agreed upon on the basis of barter. The company can offer a short English course for the publication's employees in return.
Addrian uses regional websites quite actively. This method does not yield substantial conversions. The main goal is branding. Publications provide an opportunity to make announcements about themselves and tell a large audience about their school. Performing slightly better than targeted publications is the mass distribution of news, articles and press releases on a number of media. For this, Addrian usually makes use of the capabilities of platforms — PRNEWS.io or B2Blogger.com.
As the founder of Addrian, Vyacheslav Zhiradkov, noted, Internet media without any additional marketing tools can hardly be called an effective source of leads.
Addrian is active on social networks. At the same time, it has an unsystematic approach to them. The company used to pay a lot of attention to its representation on VK, but now has switched to Facebook, Instagram and Telegram.
Paid advertising on Facebook is a great tool. It helps to attract participants in international courses, and it is indispensable for announcing open days and other mass events.
We have been using it for a very long time – we have been announcing seminars, and we have been a sponsor of the morning radio show.
Cable TV in Mykolaiv and Kherson is still effective. Addrian regularly advertises its educational seminars in Poland, the Czech Republic and Canada, in the form of scrolling text. Sometimes, experts from the company are called in to give an expert opinion on programs devoted to children's leisure and education abroad.
Sometimes the school itself prepares news stories. If the news story is topical and potentially interesting to viewers, it is possible to get on the air on local TV free of charge. Sometimes, barter is what proves effective.
Which channels are better
According to the head of the platform, the best effects come from word of mouth: recommendations by friends and relatives, who act as opinion leaders on a local scale.
Offline channels—handouts (flyers, leaflets) and street promo stands—have proven to be effective. However, Addrian is trying to get into online PR with the help of Facebook and Google AdWords, by creating local profiles on social networks (one for each city). Regional separation allows for extra relevance: users from Mykolaiv will see content updates that are exclusively about their city, people in Kiev will see content about their city, etc.
At this English school, the mass launch of courses starts in August and September. During this time, the company implements various marketing tools: leaflets, PR on social networks, mass events, etc., in order to attract new students. It makes no sense to launch a campaign at the beginning or in the middle of summer, since the thoughts of the target audience are fully preoccupied with the holidays.
Another significant target for Addrian is summer language camps. Their campaign to attract pupils—children 7-15 years old—starts in March. It is based on activities in schools, and includes the distribution of leaflets and establishing contacts with teachers. Good opportunities for PR are offered by holidays: Children's Day, etc.
But what about email?
The mailing list is a topic that is worth a whole article by itself. Of course, Addrian uses email marketing. The company actively cooperates with former active students, and works with a database of contacts.
To keep people informed, they send landing pages through email, they use SMS messages and personalized phone calls.
It is convenient to invite people to open days, introductory seminars, and open lessons by email.
Vyacheslav Zhiradkov says: “Thanks to the fact that we have accumulated a good database of contacts, we have come to the conviction that it is necessary to separate the marketing activity that works with the existing database from that which aims at initially attracting new contacts, namely those who have never previously contacted the company and with whom we have not recorded any contact in the database before”.
Standard email sending should be organized at least once a month. If there is a newsworthy story, this should be done once every 1 or 2 weeks. For email marketing to really work, a systematic approach is needed: a plan for sending emails, the search for a news story, creating high-quality content, A/B testing and continuous analysis.
Currently, Addrian has integrated email into its CRM, and each email sent has its own custom HTML layout.
Which other channels were used
On an appropriately regular basis, the company pursues contextual advertising, social media marketing and emails sent to media, for which previously established relationships are a help. If there is a qualitative and newsworthy story, it is better to prepare a press release, as it is likely that many publications will take it up, even those you have never worked with before.
The platform has used several times, as an experiment, a new marketing tool that is not yet sufficiently widespread in Ukraine: QR codes. The advertising campaigns using QR codes have not had a big effect so far, but at Addrian they do not intend to stop at what they have already achieved. This is a promising channel, for which one needs to look for the specific target audience.
Outdoor advertising. This works well in cities where there is already brand recognition. In the case of Addrian, these are Mykolaiv and Kherson. The plans for 2018 and 2019 include the placement of outdoor advertising.