Course promotion is one of the biggest challenges training organisations face. The training world is becoming increasingly competitive, so attracting and engaging delegates becomes a struggle to be heard above the noise. And that’s when all eyes swivel towards your content marketing efforts.
Define who you are
This is an absolute basic – but something most training companies won’t have considered: Who are you? What is your brand personality? And how does it differ from your competitors?
This personality should be evident in everything from your brand colours and logo, to the copy on your website. And it must be consistent. Remember, our voices don’t change, but our tone might.
Think about Pepsi and Coke. Two pretty similar products (you can absolutely taste the difference, by the way), but marketed in two very different ways. While Coca-Cola is inclusive and family-friendly, Pepsi is brash and bold and adolescent. These are strong brand personalities crafted to appeal to specific target markets.
In a crowded field, you’ll need to create a personality that fits you – and please don’t fake it; phoney personalities are easy to spot. Did anyone really believe petroleum companies cared about the environment and going green, or did they believe it was a cynical PR stunt?
As a starting point, consider what delegates want from their training company. Probably, they’re looking for one that’s approachable, knowledgeable, and if not caring then encouraging. Now, you’ll need to find ways to demonstrate those sort of traits – on your website, emails and social media accounts.
Speaking of which…
Go where your delegates are
When it comes to promoting your training company, it’s a good idea to maintain a social media presence on all platforms – and it’s not just to keep every communication channel open; any delegate will expect any professional company to do so, so there’s a reputational element to this.
Firstly, choosing which channels you use depends on what type of content you’re creating. As a training business, platforms like Instagram and YouTube are unlikely to be your go-to social site – these sites are ideal for those offering incredibly visual products and services.
Sure, keep them going if you’re on these sites, they help inform and engage your followers, but you’ll likely Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter, is where you devote more of your time, energies, not to mention your advertising spend. That’s not a bad thing – that’s where your audience is.
Once you’ve determined the social media site of choice, consider what it is your target market want to see on there. Hint: They’re not on Facebook for a sales pitch. Videos and images perform very well, as do articles that emphasise your industry authority. The content you offer should be informative or entertaining (or both), engaging and highly shareable, to really raise awareness of your brand.
Answer the questions delegates asking
What’s a business blog even for? Well, beyond company announcements and search engine-optimised content, it should help lift the veil on your company and further reveal your personality. But it should also be a resource. A repository of all the information potential delegates need; all the answers to all the questions they’re asking. Pro-tip: Use keyword planners to find out precisely what terms people are searching online.
There are tons of good reasons for doing this, too.
For one thing, accurate, informative and quality content is precisely what Google is looking for when it ranks pages. The more informative and accurate your blogs are, then, the higher the likelihood that you’ll feature on Google’s first page. That’s good for your business.
Another reason for maintaining a first-class business blog is to highlight your authority. You know what you’re talking about; you understand the training industry; you get what delegates want from their courses. Now prove it.
Finally, consider why you visit the same sites day after day? Probably because their content broadens your horizons. It offers a new perspective; a different opinion. By answering the right questions, you help educate and engage both existing and potential delegates. This helps nurture your customer base on an on-going basis.
Use all the tools available
Staying on top of your marketing activities is a full-time job. Heck, some of you probably don’t even have the time to dedicate to any meaningful marketing campaigns and rely on the support of an external agency. That’s great; that’s one ‘tool’ you could use.
But if you do your own marketing, or if you’re preparing to start, then you’ll absolutely want to take advantage of all the tools at your disposal. Thankfully, there are a few out there that you can use to get ahead of the game (and on top of your workload).
Generally, there are two sorts of tools you’ll want to start using.
- Tools that tell you stuff
- Tools that do stuff for you
So, for instance, Google Analytics is an excellent ‘tell you’ tool to implement on your website. It serves up all sorts of data about your visitors, such as how they found your training business, how they navigate your site and even what sort of things drive them away (and costing you custom). You can then use that information to make tweaks to your online presence.
Automated marketing functions are widely available on advanced training management software, and can be classified as ‘do stuff’ tools, since they, well, help you get more work done. Once you’ve defined a trigger action, they will automatically undertake key tasks, such as posting to your social media channels.
However, one of the most useful automated tools is email automation.
That’s because email isn’t just a ridiculously popular channel. It isn’t just the number one way that people like businesses to communicate with them. The fact is, email is relevant at all stages of the sales and marketing process. You can promote your organisation and your courses, and encourage repeat custom through clever use of automated email marketing.
Give something back
We all want something for nothing. Content marketing offers the ideal opportunity to offer this to your website visitors and social media followers.
Engage and attract delegates. Position yourself as an industry authority. Drive traffic to your site. Well-conceived and well-executed content marketing can achieve all these objectives (as well as assisting with your online presence and search engine optimisation).
Ah, there’s always a ‘but’.
But a major problem for many businesses is that they treat content marketing the way they treat all other forms of advertising: Sell-sell-sell.
In the world of content marketing, sales are not quite secondary, but a lot more subtle. It’s what social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk calls the ‘jab-jab-jab-right hook’. Think of those three ‘jabs’ as the pieces you create that aren’t strictly designed to sell, but rather to act as bait at the end of your fishing line, attracting people to your business. But the fourth piece of content; the ‘right hook’? That’s the sell.
After all, think about the sort of content you enjoy reading? It’s unlikely to be hard-sell copy that demands you ‘buy-buy-buy’, but you’ll likely be more open to a sales message if the rest of the brand’s content is bang-on.
So, what should you be offering potential and existing delegates?
- Informative and/or entertaining content
- Actionable insights
- Snappy visual content like videos and infographics
- Thought leadership pieces
Memorable and shareable content always offers value to your audience. And that must be your starting point when creating for any format: Consider, define and know what your delegates will get out of all your content. And then create it.
Dave Evans is managing director of accessplanit, the UK’s leading training management software provider for over 15 years. They specialise in developing innovative automated solutions for global training companies and L&D departments.
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