Eventually, we’ll open up. Eventually, we will have real LIVE students in a real LIVE classroom. The Post-Corona classroom may be different, but many things will not change. Below, we’ll examine both.
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, here’s the new twist, Attendees have to feel confident they’re not risking their health by showing up.
This order is tough to fill – or is it? Every day classes are held across the country that have great value. Many struggle for adequate attendance, and, of course, some are canceled.
And now the Corona Virus has added new components to the equation when I, or any other agent, consider attending class in person. The good news is that there are things we can do to fill the seats. So without further adieu: here are 10.5 Tips for Post Pandemic Class Promotion…
1. Safety. Whether it’s social distancing when it comes to seating, mask wearing in class, or a higher sanitation consciousness (in the classroom, the common areas, the restrooms), agents will be concerned about the safety precautions you’ve instituted. So, be completely transparent about everything you are doing to insure the safety of anyone who graces your classroom. Agents/students will be anxious (meaning excited) to return to a live setting. They will also be anxious (meaning nervous) about it. It is YOUR job to make them feel comfortable returning to a classroom setting. So, while marketing your event, market your pre-cautions.
2. Continue to offer online/virtual classes. Just because I’m nervous about coming back, doesn’t mean I should be shut out of the education loop. We’ve all learned a ton of lessons using ZOOM, Adobe Connect, and the many other formats we have come to know and “love.” Don’t throw that option out just because the doors have re-opened. There are agents who actually preferred the online courses to showing up in person. Let’s not lose them.
3. Study other models. The Real Estate business has never really been very good at looking to other businesses for “advice.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the words, “Well, real estate is different,” I’d have A LOT of nickels. But maybe, just maybe, some of what is being done in the education sector is applicable to the RE classroom. Maybe corporate America has a few solutions when it comes to bringing their people back together. And maybe, and this is a stretch, the government has a few productive ideas (yeah, I know this is WAAAAY out there).
4. 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.
5. 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: repetition. Long ago, in a marketing class, I learned about 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, video, blog posts, social media, phone, word of mouth).
6. Have a detailed content description. A rule of thumb here is that 25-35% 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. AND….. the biggie is that the content needs to focus on the BENEFIT derived from attending the class. “What’s in it for me?” is the question of the day. Surely, your instructor should be valuable when it comes to helping here.
7. W.O.M.M. Yep, Word Of Mouth Marketing. We all send out emails (heck, I am sending one to you right now). And here is what we know: most emails do not get read. Most of mine don’t (this list has barely a 25% open rate), most of yours don’t either. The most successful courses have one thing in common, they have what I call a “spark plug.” The “spark plug” is that person who would rather die than have an unsuccessful class and will do everything in their power to prevent it from happening. Spark Plugs get on the phones, they go to office meetings, they sell the importance of agents being at the course. They sell it to area Big Wigs, to Brokers, Owners, Managers. They flat out sell it.
8. Sell the Broker – Sell the agent. Course providers who were most successful found a way to get area Broker/Manager folks on board. The office boss can go a long way to encouraging their agents to enroll in a beneficial course offering.
9. Board support. If your group has an Education Committee or a Board of Directors, these groups can be instrumental in helping fill the seats. They can begin, by the way, by enrolling themselves. Too often our “decision makers” are good at talking the talk, but rarely show up for the class.
10. 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.
10.5. BONUS!!!! Safety. Reread #1.