Coca-Cola is easily the most recognized soft drink brand on the planet. So, with this type of brand fame, will the company stop advertising? Not on your life. The point is this: Even the huge brands understand that marketing must continue, because consumers always have choices.
And here you are just trying to get staff within your own organization to sign up and complete eLearning coursework you have designed and developed. Or, here you are, having developed some amazing training and development programs that you are attempting to market to other organizations.
Obviously, you will never be a Coca-Cola; You may not even ever be a mid-sized company. But you can take the brand marketing strategies that they use and apply them to your own situation.
Here is a look at some great strategies to market your eLearning coursework/program, both internally and externally.
One of the beauties of an in-house marketing initiative is that your target market is clearly defined with finite boundaries. And they are easier to contact – you have names, email addresses, phone extensions, and the opportunity for face-to-face conversation.
There are still issues, however: they are busy; perhaps they have had poor experiences with other eLearning training programs; they may be burned out. No matter how phenomenal your program may be, people will not just engage because they are announced as available. In fact, studies show they will not. You have a marketing job ahead of you. Here are some of the strategies and tactics you can use:
Identify Your Audience Specifically
Obviously, when you developed this program/course, you had certain staff members in mind and you had goals for their learning outcomes. Who are your targets? The sales department? Customer service? Department supervisors? New employees? Just like any marketing campaign for a product or service, the target market has to be clearly defined, their “pain points” and needs identified, and methods found to ensure that they will find value in what you are offering. Is your demographic primarily millennial or Gen X? These things may all impact your message., so do a bit of research before you develop a strategy.
Brand the Program
What value is your eLearning going to bring to your audience? Once you have identified the value, you can “brand” it effectively. Will the training make their jobs easier and more effective? Will it develop new skills that could be a path to promotion? Focus not on your organization’s goals but rather the value to the “customer,” as all good marketers do.
If you have an engaging program that incorporates humor, interaction, and inspiration along with serious training objectives, you are far more likely to generate the interest you want. Shooting an email out with a snippet that is entertaining can “capture” your audience.
Another tactic of brands is the use of testimonials of happy consumers. If you have learners who have completed the program, or even parts of it, and who have come away satisfied, use them. You can create videos that can be sent out to other targets. GameDesigning.org is a platform that promotes coursework in animation. Very prominent on its site are videos of students who speak to how much they have gained from their coursework. Live testimonials are powerful indeed, especially when they are coming from others within the organization.
Take Personal Action to Promote
What is stopping you from setting up short meetings with target employees? Calendar these with supervisors and managers. Give the targets a “taste” and a “teaser” or two of what is offered. Tell them what’s “in it” for them.
Make it Easy
Don’t just make the sign-up process easy. Explain the flexibility of completing the modules on their own time, when it suits them. Ensure that navigation through the course/program is totally streamlined. Make sure that the course is cloud-served so they may access it remotely on any device. The more options learners have for participation, the greater the chance they will choose to do it.
You have launched and completed an initial marketing campaign for the program. It is not the time to sit back and hope. It is the time to keep yourself and your “brand” visible to your audience. Reminder emails, blurbs in company newsletters; personalized emails – all of these things will help to keep the “brand” in the minds of your targets.
You’ve spent a lot of time developing a training program that is worthwhile. It is a product just like any other, including Coca-Cola. Keep it in the front of your customers’ minds.
Several years ago, a family-owned, small town bank decided to create a banking software development team. The idea was not just so that their own bank would be able to utilize the latest in banking technology, but so that they would have a product they could sell to other banks as well. They set up a sales force to market the software, but they also set up an eLearning training program for the employees of banks that purchased the software. It was a great success, primarily because of the training that accompanied the product.
If an eLearning program you have developed would be valuable to other organizations and you are ready to market it to them, you, too, must adopt many of the same strategies that marketers use when they promote a product or service.
Determine Your Target Market
Is your program niche specific? Or is it more generalized? If you have developed a program for team building or leadership skills, for example, you have a more generalized course that will cross sectors. If, on the other hand, you have developed a program that relates specifically to HIPPA regulations in the healthcare industry, you have a niche-specific product.
Identify your target market and create customer personas, just as any marketer would do. Who is your typical learner? What are the needs of that learner? How does your course provide solutions for those needs?
Develop Marketing Materials That Are Teasers
Begin marketing as soon as the course is developed, or, better, just before it is completed. Movie producers create “trailers;” publishers “tease” readers with previews; a new restaurant or business engages in “coming soon” marketing all over social media.
Teasers are powerful, because they give target audiences a “taste” of what is to come, generating interest that is far greater than normal marketing materials. They are visual, which always garners more attention, and they can speak to the value that a program will have for the learner. They see the relevance to their situations.
Be a Guest
Pull in all of the “markers” you can. Get influencers to make mention of your course to their audiences. Make every effort to guest blog or to give interviews that will promote the course. Shoot videos of learners who can serve as brand ambassadors and offer incentives for them to promote your course with their social media communities.
Be a Personal Brand
In your guest blogging, in your interviews, and in other materials you develop, be an enthusiastic, personable, entertaining individual – someone that others find appealing and, at the same time, an expert in the field of the training coursework. Have a website dedicated to this and any other coursework you have developed; maintain a social media presence on those channels where learners and/or their organizations hang out. Every presence you have – your website, your blog, your social media platforms – must show you as an expert.
Harness The Power Of Email Marketing
Whether you are marketing to individuals or organizations, craft your email marketing strategy carefully and well. Make sure that the subject lines of your emails are intriguing and engaging. Fill your emails with “teasers” and drive readers to your dedicated site and/or blog. Make it easy for learners to enroll or for organizations to request more information or schedule an appointment for an initial presentation.
You Are The Best Marketer
No matter who else you may enlist to help market your course, you are the best person to provide the details. After all, it is your course; you designed it; you understand its value and the solution it provides. And, in the end, no one else will be as enthusiastic about it as you are. Enthusiasm is contagious.
Independant inbound marketing consultant with 5+ years in the industry, including coaching and developing e-learning courses. Bylines at the Huffington Post, Tech Cocktail, Hackerspace by Lifehacker among others.