Most people know me as the marketing guy for tuition centres and other educators, but I never really got to share the part where ...
…I failed in setting up a tuition centre myself!
It was probably 7 years back at least.
I was still studying in Nanyang Technological University (NTU), but an interesting offer popped up from a well-known entrepreneur who was introduced to me.
I started a tuition centre with 3 friends.
We were invested in by a very big name preschool chain to spearhead their tuition arm.
It all sounds like we’re set for success right?
It was an absolute horror.
The days of waiting around, freshly renovated centre.
Thinking if it was a bad idea to be located on the 2nd floor instead of 1st floor.
Going to the shopping area nearby to handout flyers, and watch people throw them in the bin right after I handed it to them.
Wondering when someone was going to finally walk in and enquire.
And when they actually did, doing a consultation and self-doubting myself whether it was done well.
Getting my answer when the parent never got back…
After 3 months of hard work, we had a grand total of…
And these were referrals from our investors, so really we had ZERO students from our efforts.
Believe me when I tell you, I know firsthand the intense pain and fear of having no prospects and no customers in your business. (In fact, I failed 1 before and 2 more business ventures after that)
Long story short, we were told to end things very shortly after, and I went back to school with a failed business.
It was a really bad experience that made me wonder if I was cut out for any sort of business at all.
But I kept trying.
I went on to fail 3-4 more times in similar ventures…
Then I saw a Facebook post which changed my life forever.
It was a hiring post by a pretty famous marketing strategist whom I’ve been following on social media for awhile.
I thought to myself. It was either I was going to keep failing in business and get a real job… or I figure out the answer once and for all by apprenticing and learning the ropes.
(P.S. I’ll just call my teacher Sensei from here on because I’m not sure if he’s comfortable to be named)
So I attended the interview…
And Sensei told me this:
99% of businesses out there are getting it wrong when it comes to marketing.
That includes me…
While we think of marketing as sending out flyers or doing some branding or awareness … getting eyeballs… being creative.
The only real marketing is marketing that sells.
As quoted from David Ogilvy, a legend in this field:
“We sell, or else. If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative”
I was stunned that night after what must’ve been a 3-4 hour long interview.
That wasn’t really the way I ever thought.
Either way, I knew I absolutely had to take on the apprenticeship to learn everything I could.
So I got started..
And the funny thing is… I was catapulted right into a new project,
Which was a programme selling our marketing services to tutors!
You wouldn’t believe the sheer coincidence.
It still makes my hair stand thinking back now.
And considering that’s something I already had emotional scars in… I was scared as hell.
But well… It’s not like I could say no since it was my first assignment in my new job,
So I dug my head in and hoped for the best.
2 months later…
While still pretty much brand new other than making dozens of calls each day to sell our tutor programmes…
(that’s how I know so many tutors so well by the way lol)
I was given my first tutor client to consult….
That’s when I started to realise the problem.
It was like I was looking at myself in the mirror.
They were just like me!