Having recently attended the RAPDD Summit, I have had this bug in my ear concerning class promotion. Knowing the importance of filling the seats, I thought some research outside of our industry was in order. What follows is the result of that research.
The three biggest challenges facing every class (at least from the student perspective) are: money, relevance and time. Income is down, budgets are tight and I (the student) am swamped. So in order for a student to want to attend a class it has to have one HUGE overriding benefit – VALUE! The class must be worth the money, worth disrupting an already loaded schedule and worth the guilt of being away from the family and/or clients. And it would be awesome if it helped me be better at what do.
This order is tough to fill – or is it? Every day classes are held across the country that have great value. Most struggle for adequate attendance, some are canceled.
The good news is that there are things we can do to fill the seats. So without further adieu: here are 5 Tips for Class Promotion…
1. Spend enough time on marketing. Seminarists find that a minimum of 6-8 weeks is needed to maximize the marketing effort. Keep in mind that it may take several weeks of preparation to execute your marketing plan, so that increases your time commitment prior to the event to up to 8-10 weeks.
2. Contact prospects more than once. It’s like the real estate business. Agents know that the only way to get people to want to work with them is through a series of contacts over time. In his session at RAPDD, Zan Monroe discussed the 8 in 8: eight messages sent in eight weeks. As a Realtor who used this in my career, I can tell you, without reservation, it works. In the absence of eight messages, I believe a minimum would be four. I like what I call a “synergistic marketing mix,” using several methods (email, snail mail, website, social media, phone, word of mouth).
3. Have a detailed content description. A rule of thumb here is that 25% of your marketing piece should reflect the content of the course. Remember, we’re trying to show enough value to overcome money, time and commitment issues so our marketing must show enough compelling content that a potential student wants to register.
4. Track registration leads. Like any good marketer, we must know what is working. The only way to know is to ask. Each registration is an opportunity for market research. Drop a separate identification code in your ad pieces making it easy to gather that information upon sign up. By the way, keep selling after the sale. Notify registrants of late breaking news about the class (things like changes in anything, any hot news about the course content, where else the instructor is teaching leading up to the event, etc…). Also, consider small incentive rebates for students who refer others.
5. Use you instructor in your marketing. Most instructors are savvy enough to aid in your marketing efforts. Promotion on their websites, individualized video clips about the class, blogging about the topic on your website are reasonable requests. Get them involved.
Surely there are more ideas than just five. We didn’t touch on using each other as resources, response rates, web content, satisfaction guarantees and much more. Nonetheless, maybe you grabbed a little something from the five.