Whatever marketing strategy you had at the start of 2020, it’s clear that, by now, it’s very little useful (if at all). The global health crisis has changed everything. Luckily, in the case of online learning, it is not all bad.
True, companies generally have to watch their budgets a lot more carefully, and individuals from various areas of activity have suffered significant financial losses. It’s difficult to thrive in a struggling economy.
However, unlike the hospitality business, for example, online learning has the advantage of not only still being possible but also highly sought after. People who have put their own self-development and professional reconversion on the backburner for a long time now see these endeavors as both urgent and useful.
So let’s explore a few tips for acquiring new customers for your courses in these turbulent times.
Adapt your content to the market requirements
If you are lucky and your curriculum just happens to be what everyone is looking for, it’s great, but odds are you will have some tweaking to do and probably some altogether new material to create. Look at what the studies are saying, ask for feedback from your intended audience, and come back to them with courses that are in line with what they are looking for.
For example, a recent survey has uncovered that a staggering 61% of women are planning a major career change as a result of the current crisis. That’s a huge audience with a clear intention to learn. It’s an excellent opportunity for online learning designers and entrepreneurs.
The key is to find out exactly what the most sought-after skills are and move within a timely manner.
Harness the potential of online communities and events
A lot of what used to be ‘in person’ has moved online, from conferences to book launches. Even book signings have found a way to happen remotely as authors sign bookplates (small stickers that get attached to the title page) and send them via traditional mail. A lot is going on in the virtual space in terms of getting people together, and this is the right time to be present in those communities to get your message out.
However, it’s crucial that you prove your worth by being a valuable member of that community, sharing relevant content, and supporting other members before launching any marketing campaign. These online groups can be pure gold for sales but are also utterly unforgiving if they feel they are being taken advantage of.
Promote your business in the local virtual community you are part of
Yes, one of the great advantages of online courses is that you can have customers from all over the globe, as long as they have a device and an internet connection. In today’s crisis, however, local communities have begun to rally together to ensure that their small businesses actually stay in business.
It’s wise to join the entrepreneurs in your area and promote yourself as a local brand. People know that if they buy from you, chances are you are going to spend that money in the same geographical space as them and support the local economy.
For example, if you reach a number of attendees for a particular course, you are likely to celebrate by getting a lovely cake from the bakery closest to you. People are keen on helping each other — and small businesses — locally, so you should profess your coordinates.
Make short promotional videos for yourself and your courses
Right now, people are very tired of reading stuff – the rules and regulations of sheltering in place, the numerous updates, and (for parents) the endless e-mails coming from the school boards are enough to make anyone lose all patience with lengthy, wordy presentations.
Videos are a lot easier to follow, not to mention engaging and with entertaining potential. As a result, it’s much better to package your marketing messages this way.
There is a really popular app that is meant to be an addition to the ever so present Zoom. It’s called Loom and helps you make short videos that are fantastic for conveying business messages that are actually acknowledged. It’s all very easy and works well for all involved.
Read more: 9+1 Tips for making a video for your course
Make it easy for your customers to choose you
Speaking of ‘short and painless”, it’s now more important than ever to present your product as a solution to your clients’ problems without a gazillion ‘needs assessments” prior to showcasing your course.
People don’t have a lot of time and they are pretty stressed out in the little they have so it’s essential that you do your homework very well (and without inconveniencing your potential customers). Identify their pain points and then skillfully package your course as the most natural solution to them.
It does take extra work, but the results are well worth it as you will be regarded more like a partner than as a vendor and that is highly beneficial for long-term relationships and recommendations.
We live in turbulent times and many businesses are struggling. Entrepreneurs have taken a big hit, but they are also flexible enough to change gears and find solutions to stay afloat and eventually come out on top. There is an opportunity in every challenge, and following the tips above will help get a positive outcome out of a difficult time.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and INDIE. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.