With so many different educational organizations offering continuing education programs today, how can you make sure students not only find you, but also enroll in your program? The answer is simple, marketing, marketing and marketing.
You can have the greatest CE program available, but if you don’t market it properly, you might not have enough students. Before you delve into effective marketing practices, first you need to determine your budget.
Having a solid marketing budget in place is crucial to ensuring your CE program reaches its audience. You budget should target three key areas: brand marketing, direct marketing and internal communications.
Brand marketing creates awareness around your program, while direct marketing works to encourage action, like enrollment. These two areas will provide you with the return on your investment. It is also important to save some money for internal communications to keep internal audiences aware of any key issues, as well as to educate them on your CE program’s brand voice.
- Know Your Message
Now that you have a marketing budget, it is time to put it to work. The first place you want to start is with your marketing message. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your key selling point?
- What makes your program unique?
- Who is your program for?
Once you have determined your key marketing messages, you can begin to craft your CE program’s brand story. Think about how you want to talk to perspective students. Remember, don’t talk at them, talk with them. Since a majority of your communication will be online, it is important not to lose the personal touch. Imagine a conversation you would have with a student in-person and build your messages from there. If you show perspective students that you understand where they are coming from, they will feel more connected to your program.
- Create a Strong Web Presence
Your website is the cornerstone of your program, and as such it also needs to effectively represent your brand. It should not only be user-friendly, but should also tie-in to your brand messaging. Don’t just make it a repository for classes; use it as a marketing tool. The same also goes for your social media. Make sure you are communicating a consistent and timely message across all platforms, and track replies and engagement.
- Tell student stories to show your diverse student population and course offerings
- Provide a way for prospective students to ask questions and find answers
- Highlight teachers and classes in engaging ways
- Provide a welcoming and inviting atmosphere that encourages enrollment and request for information
- Create Buzz
One of the best ways to increase enrollment is with a little bit of buzz. The key to buzz is to use tactics that quickly grab attention and send prospective students to sign-up for classes. Think about what you could offer that might increase awareness and garner excitement about your program.
- Offer a chance to win a scholarship
- Provide interactive webinars or hangouts that let students talk with counselors, current students and professors
- Partner with career sites as an industry or category expert
- Build Relationships
Putting out a strong message and creating buzz are great, but you can’t just stop there. You must spend the time to cultivate relationships with anyone who engages you on social media, via your website or through your direct marketing efforts. By building a strong relationship with students, you show that you truly care about helping them succeed.
- Answers questions in a timely fashion, even during the weekend
- Respond to comments on your social media platforms, either directly or through private messaging
- After sending out requested information, follow-up to answer questions or provide additional help
- Track, Track and Keep Tracking
Want to know if your messages are reaching your audience, or which messages are the most effective? Then be sure to utilize tracking and analytics for all your communication, including your site. Tracking and analytics provide you with instant feedback on whether or not someone is opening your emails, clicking on links or finding what they need on your website. This is most effective way of truly knowing how and if your message is being received.