Effectively marketing your online training courses can be one of the most challenging aspects of building a training business. As subject matter experts, you are expected to know the topic you are teaching but to be an effective training business person, you also need to know how to attract and sell prospective clients on your services. Here are a few tried and true rules and tips to keep in mind.
1. Identify your market (be specific!) - To begin marketing, you must be certain of your market. Be very specific. If you say "Anyone can take my course" then you should start marketing door-to-door. A well defined market might be "Electrical Engineers who require annual continuing education courses".
2. Know your audience - Who is the typical buyer? What are their motivations for buying your course? What problem does your course solve for them (CE credits, hard to find skills etc.)?
3. Do what already works - If you are effectively marketing classroom based training, the same marketing techniques will work for online courses. Putting your courses online doesn't create a new market for you, it creates a new audience of consumers. Don't assume you have to do all your marketing of online courses through online methods.
4. Make it measurable - Use promo codes, tracking codes and coupons to help identify what tactic you use is effective and what is not. Make sure you plan time to tally and measure the results so you can use that data to refine your message and focus on the most productive tactics.
If you follow those rules, it's hard to go wrong. Here are a few tactics that have been most effective for our customers.
a. Email blasts & Newsetters - Your best clients are your existing clients. Send them helpful, simple informative emails (not more than monthly) that let them know about new courses and special offers. Email is (almost) free and has fast, measurable results.
b. Direct mail - Direct mail (yes, I said that) post cards and tastefully written (ONE PAGE!) letters to your target market. We are on the Internet now, direct mail is dead right? WRONG! You get dozens of email ads every day but how many letters do you get? Direct mail can go to new contacts the CAN SPAM law don't allow you to email.
c. Business to Business - Find associations and organizations that would benefit from offering your courses and get them to promote the course for you. The right affiliate partner can produce thousands of new clients.
Notice, nowhere did I list a great flashy website. The internet is clogged with websites. Yes, you should have a site but don't spend more than 15% of your marketing budget on web design, it simply won't pay you back. Web advertising can be highly effective, (DigitalChalk get's over 80% of it's business from online ads) but it can be expensive per new client unless your training packages sell for several hundred dollars or more.