Top 5 driving school marketing tips to save money and grow sales

  • August 31st, 2017
  • in Marketing
  • By Steve Jones
Top 5 driving school marketing tips to save money and grow sales

Would you benefit from my top five driving school marketing tips that will not only save you money, but will also grow your bottom line? Of course, you would! But, you might be a bit skeptical and I don’t blame you one bit.

“To make money, you have to spend money” is a time-tested adage that remains true to this day. But how much money do you have to spend? Wouldn’t it be nice to maximize your small marketing budget to earn the most profit?

Marketing is the most powerful tool that an owner can use to grow your driving school business. Yet, it’s one of the most confusing and under-utilized tools. Why is that?

The evolution of marketing

Marketing has changed dramatically. In the early 2000’s, a small business like a driving school had about ten different avenues to market their services. Most were expensive and not very targeted.

Flash forward to 2017. Now, small businesses can actually reach their core customers (also known as its “lowest hanging fruit”) without breaking the bank. Why spend thousands on print ads? Yes, they reach your core customers, but they also reach every Tom, Jane and Harry in your community. The marketing rules and guidelines that existed ten years have been blown out of the water.

The introduction of SEO, PPC and social media

If the above acronyms sound like another language, they’re actually quite simple; but all are very, very powerful. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), PPC (pay-per-click) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) may be a bit tough to learn, but once you do – sit back and watch your sales soar.

Huh? That’s right. By utilizing my top 5 driving school marketing tips, you can zoom in on your core customer base. In turn, you’ll be able to reach just them and not everyone else. This lowers your cost, saves time, and increases your profitability.

Sound good so far? Then, keep reading. After years of trial and error (not to mention thousands of dollars spent on ineffective ad results), I stand by these top 5 driving school marketing tips. Follow my plan and I promise that you’ll be very pleased!

#1 – Driving school marketing tips – SEO

driving school marketing tips SEO

Does your website look like it was designed in the 80’s or 90’s? Is it exciting, easy-to-use, and optimized for mobile? Can customers place online orders? If not, you’re missing the boat! Contact a web designer immediately and tell him that you want to add a shopping cart to your website so that customers can purchase your services from the comfort of their own living room.

Once you have an updated website that is open 24/7, it’s time to optimize it so that customers can find your driving school in Google searches. Your website is now on the map, but potential customers must be directed to it. You need to refine your SEO so that your website actually shows up when customers are in need of your driving school.

When it comes to driving school marketing tips, I simply can’t emphasize SEO enough. If you own a driving school in Dallas, when a parent is looking for driver’s education for their teen, your business should show up on the first page of search results. When this happens, it magical and sales soar through the roof.

How to improve your driving school’s SEO

Ok, I know you’re asking, “Well, how can I turn up on the front page of a Google search?” It doesn’t happen overnight and it takes your attention and patience. The first and most important step is to make sure that relevant and meaningful keywords are on every page of your website.

Google’s magic happens when you type in something in the search bar and something 100% relevant, local and meaningful shows up. Your own website should include relevant keywords like “driving school,” “drivers ed,” “driving lessons,” etc. on the appropriate pages.

If you think you’re utilizing the correct keywords, you should also add relevant H1 and H2 tags and descriptions. OK, am I losing you here? It may sound complicated, but improving your on-page SEO isn’t THAT difficult. It just requires an open mind, a good dose of patience, and a willingness to learn new things. Your business depends on it.

Software and other options for improving SEO

Software is especially important and useful when trying to improve your on-page SEO. I personally like SEMRush. This SEO tool will perform an audit of your website to help you determine its overall health and performance. You’ll get a clear picture of any technical issues and suggestions about how to fix them. SEMRush is a subscription service, so there is a monthly cost of $99.95. However, it could potentially generate thousands of dollars of additional monthly revenue, so it’s worth it.

Pro tip: Open a SEMRush account, audit your website and then cancel!

Your other option would be to hire a local agency that specializes in SEO for small businesses. Simply type in “SEO agencies near me” in a Google search bar to uncover a wealth of resources. However, if you’re patient and willing to learn, you can do-it-yourself.

#2 – Driving school marketing tips – PPC

driving school marketing tips PPC

No, PPC doesn’t stand for please pay constantly! It refers to pay-per-click. According to Google, when you purchase a PPC ad, your driving school will “be seen by customers at the very moment that they’re searching on Google for the things you offer.”

You will only pay when the customer clicks to visit your website or calls in. There are many Pay-Per-Click platforms you can use but the most known are Google Adwords and Bing Ads.

Benefits of PPC Ads

According to Digital Marketing Pro, there are many benefits of PPC marketing, but below are the most valuable for small business owners.

  • Fast results
  • Measurable results
  • Reach the right audience
  • Take advantage of business opportunities
  • Brand recognition

Pro tip: Read more about the advantages of PPC ads by clicking here .

Organic traffic is what your website gets over time. As stated in driving school marketing tips #1, you can increase organic traffic by improving your SEO. It’s an absolute necessity, but the results will be slow.

PPC ads can be launched quickly and the results can be very impressive. I’ve run a variety of PPC ads with an average budget of $1,000 per month. Generating $17-$25 in sales for every $1 we spent on Google PPC. Impressive results? You bet!

Google PPC: Search and Display ads

There are many different types of PPC ads, but the two most popular on Google are search and display. Driving schools are local, so the search ad option will produce the best results. When potential customers search for “driving schools” or “driving schools near me,” your paid search ad should display on the first page.

If you choose the right keywords and link to a highly relevant page of your website, you could even pop up as the #1 search result on Google. I know this from personal experience. When it does, it’s like winning the lottery. The Powerball lottery! It was thrilling the first time I saw my business rank #1 on Google.

#3 – Driving school marketing tips – Email marketing

Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the cheapest ways to reach your customers and potential customers. Plus, an email campaign can be turned around on a dime, meaning you can think of a new marketing idea in the morning and launch your new campaign by noon. It’s just that easy and email marketing is very targeted.

Of all my driving school marketing tips, email is probably the cheapest. It’s like fishing in a small pond with a big net, as opposed to fishing in a big pond with a small net. Your driving school can increase brand awareness, regularly communicate with your customers, offer weekly or monthly sales promotions, and so much more through emails. The biggest benefit to a driving school owner is that there are no postage, printing or production costs.

If you’re not taking advantage of this cheap marketing platform, you’re missing sales and leaving money on the table.

Email marketing services

There are dozens of email marketing services, but we have had the most success with Constant Contact. The monthly subscription fee is based on your total number of contacts; ours is currently $99 per month.

Pro tip: Look for promotions on Constant Contact and renew them regularly!

Constant Contact is very easy to use and their customer service department is very friendly, knowledgeable and super responsive. Once you design your email templates, it’s easy to adapt them for new emails to your current or potential customers.

How to grow your email list

Of all my driving school marketing tips, email marketing gets the best response rates. That’s because you can stay in contact constantly with current customers, while reaching out to potential ones. How do you do this? Continuously build your email master list.

Do this by adding a “Contact Us” pop-up box on the home page of your website. Also, collect email addresses when customers register for your services. You can also attend community events to collect leads, which I address in the next section of my driving school marketing tips.

How to schedule your emails

Each Monday, schedule your entire week of emails. For example, send out a “Road Test Tune-up” email every Monday morning at 10am to students who are eligible for their driving test and need a refresher lesson.  Once per month, send out a customer newsletter (two informational blocks + one promotional one), plus a customer satisfaction survey. Also, utilize annual holiday emails like Black Friday and spring break sends.

Now that you have an ebb and flow of email marketing, it should take an average of two hours per week to write and schedule a week’s worth of emails. Open rates run from 20% for newsletters to everyone and soar up to 80% for targeted emails to very specific customers. You will never see these rates with a direct mail campaign.

#4 – Driving school marketing tips – Event marketing

Event marketing drive scout

Of all my driving school marketing tips, this one gives you the most in-person exposure to the community and prospective customers. On the simple side, it means setting up a table with brochures, information, etc. during community events, like art festivals, etc.

On a more targeted side, it means getting in front of your core customers – parents of high school teens and the teenagers themselves. We used to attend art festivals, but I was fishing in a big pond with a small tackle box and not much bait.

High school events reach your core customer

Become a business partner at the high school and then ask to attend a home football game or two. Set-up right outside the stadium, or in a few lucky cases – next to the concession stand!

Also, attend events in the cafeterias of local high schools during National Teen Driver Safety Week (in October) and during prom season.

Benefits of high school events

So, what’s the benefit of attending local high school events? For one, it gives your driving school exposure to your core customers. However, you can take it a step farther. At every event, offer a free giveaway: One free class or package (valued at $200-$500).

Purchase an acrylic registration box and take it to all events. Because you’re close to your core customer, they are eager to fill out a register-to-win form. That form then becomes a valuable lead. Add all your lead information into your CRM software and email addresses into to Constant Contact.

Even though a potential customer may not be in the market for your services today, the more times you touch that customer, the more likely they are to purchase your services when the need arises. Event marketing provides exposure (reach) and then the ability to speak to them through emails (frequency). This will definitely help grow your driving school.

Pro tip: Google local high schools in your area. Then, look for the business partner page on their website. Join at a level you can afford. Finally, ask if you can attend events at the high school.

Events – Think outside the box!

Look for an authority on teen driver safety in your community. The local police department is a good start. An officer interested in keeping teens safe on the road might be willing to speak at one of your events.

Think outside the box to come up with exciting, signature events for your driving schools. Don’t forget to capture leads!

#5 – Driving school marketing tips – Set up a promotional calendar

Calendar

If any one of my driving school marketing tips can save you time, it’s this one! Why? Instead of coming up with new promotions time and time again, develop an annual promotional calendar and just tweak it every year to repeat successes and eliminate flops.

Run your biggest and best promotion of the year during the Black Friday Sale in November. Limit offer to a one week only offer. Other popular holidays for promotions include Easter, the 4th of July, and Labor Day.

For holiday-themed sales, promote them via email marketing and other marketing vehicles that have been successful for your driving school.

How to start an annual promotional calendar

First, start with your larger sales (like the holiday ones mentioned above). If you’ve run successful promotions, definitely re-run them. Once you have your major promotions in place, you can then add in new ones as needed. I definitely recommend a starburst (a coupon area on a website that can be updated ANYTIME) on one or more of your web pages. Website starburst promotions are great for last minute and planned sales promotions.

When developing your annual promotional calendar, start with the major sales promotions, and then determine what vehicles you will use to advertise them. For example, emails, website starburst, and flyers in your lobby for major sales.

Flyers are cheap to produce (consider producing two up on an 8.5×11” sheet of paper to save money). Be sure to have your office personnel hand them out to walk-in customers. You may also want to have flyers on hand for on-going promotional discounts, like repeat customers, AAA discounts, etc.

Finally, get a calendar and then write in your annual promotions. Plus, add what vehicles you will use to advertise your sales. At year end, review the success of your promotions and make tweaks to make them even stronger.

Driving school marketing tips – In review

review

So, there you have it. You don’t want to fish in a big pond. Instead, to save time and money, you want to fish in a small pond of targeted customers. To reach this desirable audience, be sure to take advantage of the following.

  1. SEO
  2. PPC ads
  3. Email marketing
  4. Event marketing
  5. Annual promotional calendar

About the Author: Steve Jones, CEO at Drive Scout

In 2009, I opened my first driving school with a $15,000 loan, used office equipment and my Honda Accord from college. Within three years, we hit one million in sales and were growing rapidly. After being unable to find a customized software solution to help us scale, I partnered with a brilliant engineer and built Drive Scout. Soon thereafter, I stepped down as CEO and started working full time on Drive Scout. I created this blog to share my experiences (both good and bad) to hopefully help your company become more profitable and easier to manage. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

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