So, as we get tantalisingly closer to being able to take on our first full time member of staff, we’re spending more time thinking about what kind of a company we’d like to grow into.
Up towards the top of the shopping list is to be as open as possible. Being open is easy when everything’s going okay, but it’s a bit tougher when things go wrong.
Which is why today, I’m going to test my own boundaries a bit by being open about my current biggest headache, and just how much it’s undermining my usual (over-) confidence…;-)
Here’s the thing:
We’d like to build an SSi language course for every language – most particularly, for all those languages that don’t currently have good materials for learners, and are in real danger as a result.
But because the process of training someone to adapt our framework to a new language is fairly detailed (we can’t just say ‘There’s the file, good luck!’ and expect it to work), we need cash flow to achieve what we want to achieve.
Which means that we need to find a way to market our courses. SSiWelsh hasn’t needed that – we started it with an entirely voluntary structure, so we were able to sit back and let word-of-mouth from our fantastically supportive learners work its magic.
That’s a very slow process, though – if we focused entirely on other minority languages in the same way, we’d probably have a cash flow that would let us build a course for every language some time shortly after my 320th birthday.
Hello, Google Adwords!
To cut a long story short, I’ve been on an Adwords learning curve for most of the last year – and yesterday was our first test of the new approach we’ve been working on: sending people to a landing page with Phil and Alison’s terrific video on it, letting them know they can get access to the same 5 sessions Phil and Alison used for free, and then offering them the chance to get the full 20 session Tourist Course for Spanish for £19.
In the last 24 hours, Google has sent us 495 visitors (which cost about £130, so not the end of the world) – and Wistia, our lovely video hosting company, say that only 55 saw the video – even though it’s on autoplay!
So what the blinkety heck is going on there, eh?
Then of the 55 who saw the video, only about 20% watched it the whole way through (even though it’s less than 4 minutes) and only 4 registered to get access! Hnghgh.
Not surprisingly, none of those 4 chose to upgrade to the full course straight off, but I’m guessing we can all agree that 4 is probably not quite a statistically valid sample.
Lessons learnt: I’m a language teacher, not a marketer
But even so, this dramatic failure is (for today) making me seriously doubt my ability to do anything right.
I know that doesn’t make any intellectual sense – why doubt my ability to build a successful language course when I get emails every week from people who are delighted by what they’ve learnt? – but that’s what’s happening.
It’s a similar feeling to how you lose faith in yourself when you plateau with a new language, or even feel as though you’re slipping back. We spend a lot of time on the forum telling people they must have faith in themselves – maybe this is a timely reminder for me that having faith in yourself isn’t always easy.
I can see a bundle of things to test – the ‘how long do you think they’ve been learning?’ idea clearly isn’t triggering the curiosity I thought it would, so maybe we need a different headline that is explicit about how quickly they learnt, and a shorter video of their highlights, and perhaps limit the ads to show in the UK only. We need to get the sign up form on the same page, which requires a technical fix that we’ll have to wait a little for, and we probably need to stick in two or three comments from people who’ve used the course.
So I’ll pick myself up, brush myself down, implement those changes and test again, and see what Round 2 brings.
I may be creating too much pressure for myself here. It feels as though I have to get this to work, or we’ll never reach all the people we’d like to reach, and never help all the languages we’d like to help – not to mention letting down everyone who’s helping us at the moment, and everyone we’d like to employ in the future. Oh, and my son and my daughter and my wife – yes, I may have my flaws, but I’m pretty good at this guilt stuff.
Maybe that’s wrong, and there are other ways to get Wil to bed (a Welsh idiom which I accept sounds a little odd in English!) – but perhaps I just don’t have enough confidence to see them at the moment.
So, to finish with a moeswers (moral lesson):
If you’re feeling stuck with a language, trust yourself, trust the process, and keep on going, however tough it feels in the bad patches.
And the next time I tell you that on the forum, you’ll know that I really do understand how you’re feeling…:-)
[Oh, and if any of you know anything about marketing and fancy having a look at the landing page and pointing out any particularly stupid mistakes, it’s here: https://site.saysomethingin.com/communities/spanish-for-english-speakers/pages/tourist-course-esen ]
And did I mention my back is hurting?
Yes, it’s Self-Pity Friday here at SSi Towers…;-)
P.S. Now, this ‘Being Open’ stuff
Writing all that was easy. I type quickly, and it just felt like a good old-fashioned rant.
Clicking ‘Publish’, though? Now that’s a whole different ball game. Letting people see that I’m not sure what to do and don’t feel much faith in myself at the moment? Scary stuff.
C’mon, Jones, just go and click the damned thing…