Nearly two months ago I gave myself a flyering S.T.A.G. for the duration of February and March. It certainly wasn’t my favourite time of year to be out promoting スミス英会話 in front of the two stations that sandwich my school – 長岡天神 (Nagaoka Tenjin) or 長岡京 (Nagaokakyo). It was often cold, sometimes snowing and I could think of many more comfortable places I would prefer to be relaxing at 7 o’clock in the morning.
In a previous post I talked about one way I could distract myself, by viewing the whole enterprise as a kind of sport. That certainly helped, as did the notion that I was out on the street communicating with crowds of potential students. The communication itself can take on various forms. For example there’s the deciphering of nods, where sometimes a tilt of the head can mean “I would like to take one of those, please” other times “I’ve seen you in front of me, what on earth are you handing out?” and of course the “I’m in a hurry, would you be so kind as to get out of the way?” (The good folk of Nagaoka, I feel, are impeccably polite).
Then there are the morning greetings, sometimes in English, sometimes in Japanese. My opening gambit is invariably a “good morning” or even a “good morning, sir / ma’am”. This then may be followed by the aforementioned nod, a Japanese aisatsu, or a nice brisk good morning in English. If someone takes one of the flyers, I usually wish them a nice day, and perhaps a “your welcome” if they have thanked me. I myself always thank anyone who takes a flyer, and also those who have indicated they won’t be requiring a flyer on that particular morning (whether by nod, a shimmy of the hand or verbally). Sometimes a more senior lady or gentleman laughs at the prospect of their joining an English school, but I’m happy to offer them a flyer all the same whilst sharing the smiles: after all perhaps their daughter or grandson could be interested?
But my favourite form of communication was when I bumped into existing students. Even if it was only for a minute or a few seconds, afterwards I always felt warmed and encouraged by the brief chats I could grab, even when the worst of the winter weather was doing its best to freeze and dampen my spirits.
So flyering can be viewed as a kind of sport, an act of communication or simply as an effective marketing tool. I’ve been doing flyers off and on throughout my years in the Smiths sytem, and I have to say that with all the web support that head office has been providing these days, it’s become more effective than ever. Over the period of the 2 month S.T.A.G. the school signed up 8 new students, with one more starting tomorrow and number 10 next week.
Thank you Tim. Well said. Sport you say. It’s April and so Let the Games begin!
“impeccably polite” That’s very interesting as over at Kyobashi we too have only “impeccably polite” folk.
When it comes to a nod from a senior I simply say “You know the oldest student I taught is 92 he came to me and simply said, “I want to speak English before I pass on”, you are just a spring chicken”
Al Bartle says
Your explanation of the “flyering experience” is well put. There are all kinds of folks out there early in the morning each with different preoccupations on his/her mind. The reactions vary tremendously. However the reactions of those who have at some time taken the plunge to learn English conversation are so obvious it can sometimes be startling. They smile and and reply to your “have a nice day” with a warm “you too”. That is really heartfelt. They remind us of the kinds of people we want to help each student to evolve into. All of the people who pass you are or know someone who could truly benefit from studying English. Those who have taken the step at one time really shine and remind us of how much good we can do for our students.
What you say also reminds me of one man who stopped me and told me in Japanese that I was very polite and kind. That was really nice of him to say that. I told him that that was part of my job and I really enjoy it. After all, I am, in many cases the first person to greet these busy people and a nice greeting can really put a positive spin on their day. I am sure that for many of them the more they see you and realize your kindness, the more they begin to consider studying at Smith’s School. Despite the ever-present barrage of big school’s posters on the train and in the stations, a Smith’s teacher in front of the station is much more powerful because we are living breathing people spreading kindness for all. Keep up the good work!