1. Find out what to call your course
Whether you’re just working out how to market your training course for the very first time, or you have a long-established course and you’re looking to boost the number of attendees, the first thing to do is to work out what to call your course, i.e. what is its title?
By conducting even basic keyword analysis it’s possible to find out what most people out there are searching for online when they’re looking for the type of course you’re offering to the market.
For example, you might have always marketed your online university short course as “Engineering Level 1” because that’s what you’ve always called it internally, and that’s how you’ve always differentiated it from Level 2, 3 and 4. You also believe it’s totally obvious what that means if only people could be bothered to read what it says on your website! Does that sound familiar?
Website users are spending less and less time reading through pages and pages of your content in the search for their dream course, so the least you can do is to label it up in a way which will help them to make quick decisions.
People looking for the very course content you’re offering, might not find you simply because of the name you’ve given to your course. Basic research might tell you that the better way to market your training course is to call it “Engineering for beginners”.
By changing the name of your course to what you know more people are looking for, you’ll score some user experience points and you’ll increase your chances of new customers finding you.
2. Conduct little and often marketing research
You can also use a combination of online data and insights from your staff to work out what training course your market actually wants.
Use information from Google searches to determine not only what to call your training course, but what course content to offer.
Google shares a certain amount of data through its keyword generator tool which might be enough to help you to understand what component parts of your course offering are most sought after. This is a great way to spot new emerging patterns in demand.
For a far faster route which engages your people too, make sure your Admissions or Customer Service Teams are accurately tracking enquiries where people are contacting you to ask for course content you don’t current offer.
It’s so very easy for busy staff on the front line (who are having to deal with face-to-face walk-in enquiries as well as web form submissions, emails and phone calls) to not capture and keep a tally of what people are asking you for.
If no one is paying attention to this, you might eventually find yourself trying to market a training course that absolutely no one wants to buy any more. At the same time, your staff might have turned away hundreds of people all asking for a thing your organisation told them wasn’t available.
Not only will your people feel valued by being consulted, but they’ll also have a much easier job of selling your training courses if they are responsive to what people want.
3. Feature teachers in a video
Quite often in training organisations there is a disconnect between those who “sell” the courses and those who deliver the training. And yet, one of the best ways to market training courses is to give a taster of what the programme will be like. Once of the best ways to do that is to ask one of your teachers or tutors to appear in a video.
The shortest of clips of your teacher at work, or a talking head to camera explaining what your training course will offer is a sure-fire way to build engagement and interest.
Without it you are relying on marketing your training course by simply talking about it, describing it with words which doesn’t appeal to everyone (and as we know, not everyone reads everything).
If you can show people the room, the teacher and deliver a short Q&A based on the questions your admissions team have shown you to be the most pertinent, you’ll also help cut down on the enquiry process.
4. Create progression spaces around your training course
How to market training courses in 2016 is very different from how you would have done it even 5 years ago. Contrary to what many believe, Generation Z, those born from roughly 1995 onwards are highly community minded. They seek out connection to like-minded individuals, and they are keen and avid researchers. This generation is also quite goals oriented, so they don’t want to be doing anything that will lead to nothing.
If you are offering any form of training course, the presumption is that it is intended to lead the trainee somewhere – that they’re going to be able to succeed in a thing afterwards – that this training course is a means to an end.
Therefore, if you are interested in selling your training course, you should be equally interested in your students’ progression. So for example, if you’re a driving school, the progression space may be around car maintenance, where to get your first car, typical reasons why newly qualified drivers crash, the best insurance companies for newly qualified drivers in your country, etc.
If you’re an art school, your progression space might be an online gallery which sells or showcases students’ work, offers link programmes to other courses, offers critiques of gallery exhibitions or talks about the relative merits of certain materials and techniques.
By demonstrating an interest in the progression space beyond the narrow confines of the training course you’re marketing, you’ll prove your own connection and value within the industry, as well as potentially showcasing your students’ successes.
5. Maintain your website as a selling machine
Despite the brilliance of social media in diffusing your brand and creating positive and powerful engagement around your training courses and the progression which students enjoy, your website should remain the home of the fast and effortless transaction.
The decision by potential students to approach your organisation’s website often forms well away from your core website pages – either off-site on social media or other word of mouth, or on-site via your blog.
Once people arrive on your site proper, it should be a fair assumption that they’re ready to book. That still means providing your users with the information they need in a friendly and supportive user experience, but it’s important that key course information does not start cluttering up the booking process.
As technology continues to raise expectations, even those who love what you do could be tempted away if poor automated processes make it difficult or impossible for them to make it through to the course confirmation stage without having to ask for help.
It’s well worth the time and effort to adopt a programme of continual improvement when it comes to your website, whereby glitches and bottlenecks are removed from all your value-adding processes, from enquiry to booking to payment and confirmation.
Having a dynamic, intuitive website sends positive signals to your potential clients that you’re “on the ball” and a contemporary education provider. It also cuts down massively on repetitive manual tasks, freeing your staff up for spending more real chat time with other students.
Richard Bradford is MD of Disquiet Dog, a digital consultancy and marketing agency working uniquely with the international education sector.