IATEFL 2015 | Christina Rebuffet-Broadus: Market smarter to sell higher as a freelance trainer | Talk summary

Posted: April 16, 2015 in Conferences
Tags: ,

Abstract: In the competitive training market, it is crucial for freelance trainers to prove their added value and differentiate themselves if they want to ask for higher prices. This talk presents proven tools and techniques to do just that. We will also identify common marketing practices to avoid if you want to increase your chances for successful sales.


Christina is going to focus on the following three topics:

  • Common practices people use to mark themselves as TEFL trainers that are not very effective.
  • Pricing strategies that are based in psychology
  • Techniques to build trust and promote yourself without screaming ‘please buy my product’ – by showing them rather than telling them.

Do you use any of these arguments? 

They all might hurt you!

  • ‘My charge is €.. an hour’

Formulating price in contact hours hurts you because HRs don’t take into account all the other work you have to do (lesson preparation, drawing up contracts and so on). ‘€30 per (contact) hour’ might mean that in fact you get €3 per hour.

  • My training is customized to your needs’

Of course it is! It’s your job to customize – everyone’s doing that so that doesn’t differentiate you.

  • ‘Covers grammar and vocabulary that you need to [do such and such things]’

This only reminds your clients of traumatizing experiences trying to learn English at school

  • ‘Best prices on the market’

If you think of food, who has the best prices on the market? Not high quality restaurants. This is not the message you want to send out.

  • ‘Hi, would you be interested in training?’

The answer is always ‘No’ or ‘We’ll get in touch’. Asking an HR this question e.g. at a conference out of the blue scares them and this produces lizard brain reaction: ‘can I eat it?’ (no) ‘can I ignore it?’ (not polite) ‘can I run away?’ (yes, and that’s what they do).

Psychology of pricing 

How many packages to present? Christina showed us a little experiment on how the number and prices of packages may affect your perception.


Option 1.A: online subscription €29
Option 1.B: Print & web subscription €64


Option 2.A: Online subscription €29
Option 2.B Print subscription €64
Option 2.C Print & web €64

The second way is a lot better because just two products at random price are difficult to compare. The point of having option 2.B is to make customers see the value of 2.C. Shops use these principles in the same way: if you see a dress at €200 you might think that’s too expensive, but when later you see a product (e.g. a bag) that’s very expensive (€1140), this anchors the customer’s idea of what’s an acceptable price for other products.

Also, when you present your products in three different packages, people normally go for the middle one. This means: the one you really want to sell more should be in the middle!

Presenting a discount also makes things attractive: Reg €54 > €40 is more attractive than €39. Prices that end in 9 or 7 are also more attractive.

Finally, package your offers as products with names! Christina offers their clients three courses called ‘On the go’,’Half and half’ and ‘The total package’. Everything you normally do as part of the training product (needs analysis, etc) has to be listed in the product description.

Build before sales 

Build media presence (e.g. newsletters, etc). You need to be in regular contact with your marketing base to reduce the ‘lizard’ reaction. This can be done by regularly providing content that’s useful for your clients (e.g. share or create videos / share tips / e-books and pdfs). Set yourself a schedule. Christina sends out a newsletter every Tuesday – this has become part of her job. She also produces videos (ideas for what topics to address come from her clients’ typical difficulties, but she also sends new subscribers of her blog a questionnaire in which they write areas they need to practice).

(video from Christina Rebuffet-Broadus’s youtube channel Speak Better Feel Great)

Managing subscriptions

  • MailChimp is free up to 2000 subscribers.
  • SumoMe is a plug-in to collect internet addresses. If you don’t collect the addresses of your visitors, your really have to start. They are the people who’ve heard of you and when you’re ready to present an offer, they will be willing to listen to you.

Comments from the audience:

Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn (build up your profile, create a blog, think about keywords, etc).

My takeaway from this session, apart from all the great tips? In our work teachers have to perform a lot of diverse functions and we really should draw on expertise accumulated in other professional fields. Christina Rebuffet-Broadus successfully uses insights into marketing and psychology when marketing her services in the same way as John Hughes uses Kurt Vonnegut’s eight tips for writers when writing his coursebooks and Nick Tims uses technology to save himself time. Probably there are a lot more very relevant ideas to explore in books which it had never occurred to me to open. 


Click here for an overview of all my write-ups from IATEFL 2015.

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