You have spent hours, days, and weeks creating your new contract training course. You have thoroughly researched the subject, carefully chosen your target audience, and painstakingly designed the curriculum. What now? This time and effort will have been for nothing if you don’t have any learners. How does someone who is not a marketing or sales professional market a contract training course?

If your institution has a marketing division, then the first thing you should do is consult with them. These professionals can show you how they do what they do. They might be able to adapt marketing materials geared toward academic students (undergraduates, graduates, and individuals in continuing education) to a corporate audience. If your school does not have a marketing department for itself but does have business courses, consult with professors and instructors who teach marketing or business. Instructors in business courses often have a professional background in their fields of study.

You can still have a great marketing plan without those resources. Look into marketing your course via social media (especially LinkedIn and Facebook), or your own website. Content marketing–an online form of marketing that promotes the brand by creating interesting and relevant content but refrains from sales pitches–is an excellent option.

The following marketing models might help you as you design your course marketing strategy.

1. Value and Benefits

True, their employees would get training, but what’s in it for the company? You need to show prospective clients why they should invest in your course. Present evidence showing how training from courses like yours leads to improvements for a company. On a broader note, several states offer tax incentives to companies for employee training as part of a jobs creation initiative.

2. Problem/Solution

Identify a problem the business currently has that your course addresses directly. Demonstrate how your training is the solution to their problem. Do a little bit of research to see what that specific company needs: more employees certified in X, a more efficient onboarding system, etc. Focus your marketing around that solution.

3. Social Proof

Social proof is a psychological theory holding that an individual who does not know the correct behavior in a given situation will mirror the actions of the people around her. (Example: Vasily is an international student who is attending his first American college football game. When a cheerleader prompts the crowd to begin the wave, he is unsure why everyone in the stadium rapidly stands up only to immediately sit back down. When the wave reaches his section, though, he imitates the other audience members. He looked to others for guidance on proper behavior in an unfamiliar situation.) How do you leverage this phenomenon in marketing? Present prospective clients with examples of other companies who invested in similar training modules. Use testimonials from both learners and executives to show the value of the training.

There are many other ways that you can market your contract training course, but these should get you off to a promising start. One additional note: nobody likes a sales pitch. Focus on educating your potential consumers instead of selling to them. Once you demonstrate the benefits of (or need for) your training program, they will understand its value.

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Author Rick J. Stern

Entrepreneur Rick Stern built Xenegrade Corp with a focus on service to educational organizations. With an MBA from Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester and over 20 years continuing education management, his experience provides valuable insight into the needs, demands, and trends of the continuing education market.

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