A few weeks ago a Minima Designs reader who has a math tutoring business asked me to talk more about referrals and the struggle to find clients.
I actually used a math tutor in high school to get through geometry (I wasn't as genetically blessed as my physicist husband in that department) – how did I find out about the tutor? My mom went to my math teacher and asked for references!
Until you get known as an authority in your field, referrals will be the backbone of your business.
When I started my business, I gave a 5% finder's fee (an industry standard) to anyone who sent a committed client my way. I also connected with an design agency and a coach whose clients needed my services. Those two factors got the ball rolling – and less than a year later, I had work to show in my portfolio, happy customers that shared my name to their friends and raving testimonials on my website.
You're not in this alone – think about who needs your services and how you can connect with them!
Search Engine Optimization and FaceBook ads are great supplementary ways to drive traffic to your site – but don't discount the human factor! People trust the opinions of other people – how else do we find our dentists, doctors and yoga instructors?
Let's look a bit closer at the math tutor:
Step 1. Determine who do you want to work with
Let's say she wants to work with high school students. Focusing on a specific target makes it easier to connect to that audience.
Step 2. Brainstorm how you can connect with that audience
- Are you near a local school? Do you have any relationships with anyone at the school?
- Do you know local math teachers (or other teachers?)
- Do you know other tutors? I often tell new designers that one of your best sources for work – is other designers! People can only handle so much work and they want reliable people they can send referrals to!
- Does your family know exactly what you do and share that info with others? Until I told him to stop due to too much work, my husband was constantly telling people that I was a web designer.
- Are you friends with parents of high-school age kids? Etc. Etc…
Step 3. Hit the pain points in your marketing materials – and outline how you can fix it
In my case, I had to pass geometry or I couldn't go on to pre-calculus – and I was driven to get into a good college. Who wanted this more than me? My parents! They were willing to spend good money to make sure I didn't flunk the class!
Step 4. Get those testimonials!
Did you get the kid to pass the class? Make sure to get that raving testimonial from THE PARENTS – and share it on Yelp, FB, message boards etc. You have to make people aware of your successes! Once they're aware of you, they'll be lining up to hire you!