Although Chess coaching is a pure skill game, building your chess academy has nothing to do with your chess skills. It is all about running your academy efficiently like yet another company. As a chess player, I will keep things Black & White and will be sharing how flint, the CEO of ABC (Academy name has been masked while the coach was generous enough to share the strategies) chess academy constantly grew his student base over a period of 2 years and is now making 15000-20000 USD per month. I will also be uncovering interesting strategies, ideas and tips that you can imbibe and apply to your academy.
So how to get constant flow of new students?
Chess academies or any business for that matter can get new students/customers only in either of these 4 ways. There is no other secret sauce and ABC academy followed the same and successfully implemented each of these strategies.
Step 1 : Appear in front of potential learners !
What did flint do?
- He published ads in local newspaper. Timing is important. Flint has a habit of booking slots earlier with local press for promoting their services during peak seasons ( Summer camps).
- He maintained a good relationship with local press reporter . The friendship with reported gave him a boost as he managed to get few free publications during days when there were free slots in the press.
- Flint also publicised that they are conducting coaching classes in Chess groups and communities where learners conglomerate. For example in Singapore, the community clubs are the best place to publicise your chess coaching services.
- He regularly conducted tournaments with academy name that created visibility in newspapers and reached potential learners. But remember in these events, they were not able to explicitly promote their academy. ( If you are just starting your chess academy, do not follow this route ) . Help other organizers and learn the details involved in organizing an event. We have hosted over 1000+ chess tournaments from intra-academy to GM tournaments and have heard numerous success and failure stories. Conducting event is an art, take small steps if you do not have prior experience.
- Flint also registered the chess coaching services with the local society groups. More details about in the networking section.
- Provided t-shirts to all their sub-coaches and students. The more they wore the t-shirt, the more the branding got established in the public.
Although the above mentioned ideas would be followed by many academies. Doing all these frequently every single month with a planned calendar is very important to succeed.
Other interesting ideas followed by ABC academy. Only a few successful academies will break their traditional shell to involve in such innovative promotions. Do it and see the change.
- Flint also frequently conducted chess mini-chess evening in malls or parks around his locality, shot videos of such events and posted them in social media. This created a lot of talk triggers and improved the academy brand value.
- This i felt was the master move of all. ABC academy conducted a chess tournament in the school and requested the school management to hand over the trophy during annual day of school event. It is super important to get your academy name publicised during your local school annual events where hundreds of parents would be gathered. You cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
Not all traffic to your academy page or website will be organic ( Free or unpaid traffic ). You will have to set aside an online marketing budget every month to promote your academy and get more traffic.
What, where and how should I run my ads ? . This is a topic for our yet another upcoming post but will cover briefly how ABC academy did it?
Let’s talk about ads in facebook.
Do you know 1 out of 8 posts in facebook feed that you see on an average is a sponsored advertisement ?
In the above image, do you see the word sponsored at the top ? . These are sponsored ads that ABC chess academy run to reach potential learners around their locality.
How about running ads in Google ?
Chess ads are not so expensive especially if you confine your ads to specific locality.
Step 2 : They search for chess coaching & find your academy
Search where ? – Most people either search in Google (or) Social Media [ Facebook or Instagram ]
Let’s search something real in google and see what pops up in the result. There are 4 good things here that you should notice about ABC chess academy.
Let’s decrypt the above search results. Which link do you think the user will click ?
Answer is : Your never know but chances are high that he will never go past the first page
Have you heard of this famous quote ?
Best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of google. – Rarely one goes past behind page 1 .
It’s an absolute must that your chess academy should be discoverable in Page 1
- ABC chess academy has 127 – 5 star ratings while Sam chess academy has only 1. ASK rating from students if you provide them a good value.
- When users search they can click website link provided by ABC chess academy to explore further and enrol which the other did not provide.
- ABC chess academy has listed its academy in Market places website for it to appear in first page search results.
- ABC chess academy has also spent years of effort for ranking his academy as first in the list. This is only when learners search for “Chess coaching in chicago”.
- ABC academy also listed real photos of students wherever possible
- In their social media accounts
- In their academy location
- In google maps
- Marketplace websites
Website is your academy’s salesman working 24*7 .
- ABC chess academy has followed the best practices and regularly updated their website
- They had a clear form for enrolment
- Academy timing were clearly mentioned . How would you expect someone to drop in to your academy if you don’t mention time ?
- Phone number and email were mentioned at the top and one click call options were provided.
- Real photos and achievements in the website provided a great deal of confidence and authenticity to the new visitors
They also created a facebook page with a name that reflected the location of chess academy. It is also a good idea to buy a domain that reflects your locality and point it back to your academy site . Note that this is not your academy facebook page. Yes ofcourse you should maintain one. If your academy is in XYZ location, create a facebook page with chess in XYZ so that the page appears in search results when someone searches for chess coaching in XYZ.
- Use your locality keywords wherever possible to maximize discoverability
- ABC chess academy maintains account and regularly posts across all major social media channels [ Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc ]
- They make use of tools like buffer to post it simultaneously in different social channels.
Step 3 : Learn the flint way. How did flint get references for his coaching ?
Reference is one of the best organic way to grow your academy in the locality. Here are few activities that will create talk triggers about your academy and better references or recommendations
- He opened up your academy for weekly club hours . General public can walk into Flint’s club and play casual games against each other. This created word of mouth references to his coaching offering
- Provided medals to all participants in an intra-academy chess tournament. Word of mouth spread as the proud parents shared the photo with medal with neighbourhood friends. Although it is a bad practice, many academies do it and are quite successful implementing it.
- Networking is key for references. The more people you know, the more references you get. ABC academy joined in all association around their locality and contribute. May it be red cross or people welfare association. This way you can contribute to the society and at the same time grow your academy brand through networking.
- Flint invest in visiting cards not just for him but also for all sub-coaches. Many coaches think that visiting card is only for big businesses. Sharing visiting card during events will let the other person share their card or number with you.
- Flint had a habit of greeting the new connection with a simple hello on the same day through whatsapp or email.
Step 4 : How to reach your potential learners directly
This involves reaching out directly to those who want to learn chess.
- One way to find such potential learners is by registering in popular market places websites. Say for example, https://www.urbanpro.com/ is one of the popular sites in India where learners look out for teachers. Act fast when there is a request from a potential learner.
- Flint handed out flyouts in big local events (not necessarily chess) . This did not get them students immediately but doing this regularly in their locality for a period of time fetched them great results.
- There was a sports complex where all outdoor sports were taught. Flint took a risk and started a branch in the same sports complex. Soon he started getting students who did not like other sports or those who got injured by playing outdoor sports. Although the reverse can be true as well, with innovative teaching methods flint managed to retain his students.
So what are the innovative teaching methods did flint follow ? – Stay tuned for Section 2 of Strategies to run a successful chess academy.