Training businesses, like others, need to make sales to survive. Compared to other businesses selling services or physical goods, however, those who sell courses or professional development experiences seem to have a difficult time with marketing.
To effectively get their products into the hands of their audiences, companies need to use the most current tactics available to salespeople. From cold calling during dinnertime or spamming people who never signed up to receive your emails to digital ads and commercials during prime time television, marketing has progressed from its days of yore. There is much more finesse to it at present, such as online reviews, content marketing, and data optimization for campaigns.
Modern-day marketing is data driven. Targeting and personalizing communication with potential customers is a must. To sell more training, you don’t only need to increase spending or mix up your channels; often you can keep utilizing the same tactics with higher levels of targeting based upon the data obtained from researching results and hits from recent campaigns.
Training businesses often don’t realize what data they hold and how useful it could be in creating targeted marketing campaigns. If you want to sell more training courses this year, the first thing you should focus on is your customer database. Taking advantage of information gleaned from this source will be more efficient than increasing your advertising budget to attract new business. With an ultra-targeted approach, you can suggest courses tailored to the customers you already have and create positive associations about your business practices to future customers.
How does this work? If you send your marketing communication to the right people with the right offer at the right time, you are far more likely to grow course registrations, which in turn allows your business to grow. Your customers benefit as well by receiving only those communications relevant to them. Our inboxes are constantly filled with increasing amounts of promotional offers. You don’t like those spam offers that try to sell you something you don’t need, and neither do your customers. By sending them less frequent but higher quality promotional content that speaks to their desires and needs, you will build trust and ultimately get a better return.
The results speak for themselves—people who receive emails from segmented campaigns are 75 percent more likely to click on them compared to those sent through non-segmented campaigns.
So where do you start?
Start by considering the customer data you have. This might be within your Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) or your current training management system. It could even be in a spreadsheet. Likely you will have:
- attendee demographic and profiling information (for instance, location and job title)
- past courses attended, including their feedback on them
- courses they showed interest in but did not purchase
- the organization they work for and the training other staff have completed.
Once you understand what sort of data your training data your business is sitting on, you can start to create some creative marketing campaigns. Here are five ideas to help you sell more courses:
1. Promote courses similar to what registrants have already attended.
Within your CRM you may find you can dissect your contacts based on the courses they’ve previously attended. You can use this information to promote courses similar to the ones a potential attendee already completed. These could be courses about the same topic but at a more advanced level or a complementary topic.
2. Target people who haven’t yet purchased courses.
Many training companies will allow their website visitors to register their interest in a course, subscribe to a newsletter, or purchase a non-course option, like a consulting session. Within your database of contacts, you should be able to extract people who have taken one of the above actions but not registered for your training. These interactions are signs of intent that should be followed up with a campaign or phone call. Marketing automation can help scale this follow-up approach.
3. Target customers you haven’t seen in a while.
Target people who have attended your training in the past but not in the previous 12 months. This audience may be getting their training elsewhere, have moved to a new job, or simply not taken any training recently. You could email them a handful of recommended courses and a one-off “we haven’t seen you in a while” discount. If you find there are a lot of people filling this group, you could try putting together a course specifically for them.
4. Target key times of the year.
The training you offer may be seasonal. Certain times in the year may for numerous reasons cause a better return on your marketing campaigns. Numerous businesses, for example, have professional development budgets that they spend before the financial year ends. Sending some communications just before the financial year ends may be an untapped pot of gold for your business. Here are other ideas for training seasonality:
- Are they members of a professional body? They may need to submit their verifiable continuing professional development by a certain date but not have enough points or hours yet.
- When are they busiest during the year? They may do their training in the low season--for example, real estate agents during the winter.
- Do they need to know about new legislation or rules? They may need to stay updated on changes, which are often rolled out by governments and regulators in predictable cycles.
5. Start a referral program.
Start building your team of volunteer marketers from your most loyal customers. Send a campaign asking them to recommend the course to a colleague or run it privately in-house. You could even sweeten the deal by offering an incentive if they were to get one of their friends to attend your course.