The internet has become one of the fastest growing methods of advertising, and businesses are always seeking effective ways to reach new customers. Continuing education students are an excellent market as they can vary both demographically and geographically.
The link between continuing education programs and local businesses seems like a perfect match. As with any media, however, there are both advantages and disadvantages to selling advertising on your website.
It may be obvious that a benefit to advertising on your website is an increase in revenue. Continuing education programs are usually cash strapped, work with a skeleton staff, and are very often self-sufficient. Many programs would like to be a profit center, but often charged with at least covering their expenses so they do not become a cost center to their parent organization. However, selling advertising on your website would generate additional revenue.
When a customer searches the internet for local businesses, the likelihood your program website may appear in the search results increases because some of those companies appear on your website. Depending on how the advertising is integrated, search engines may include your website as a result. This additional exposure could greatly increase the traffic to your program website.
As a part of the advertising agreement, the businesses advertising on your website may be open to placing a URL link to your program website. This reciprocal URL arrangement increases the number of local customers who see your website and as a result could increase traffic as well.
Continuing education programs are very often considered as part of the community. Many times they are even viewed as a community agency or government related entity. This is probably most true when the program is based in a school or college that plays an integral part of the community. Ad displays for local businesses on your website can reinforce an image of one that demonstrates support for the community.
“There are both advantages and disadvantages to selling advertising on your website.”
Increased revenue may be an obvious goal with advertising, but the cost of generating the revenue must be taken into account. If staff are required to perform the sales function or the process of integrating the ads into the website, that additional cost may surpass the additional revenue. At the very least, it is possible that the cost of obtaining advertising does not warrant the effort.
Even though the advertising agreement may be strictly a financial arrangement, to the community the relationship between the two entities may appear as a sponsored role. In other words, the community may view the continuing education program as recommending the product or service provided by the business. In most cases this image may not cause concern. However, a company that has or gains a bad reputation in the community may find that elements of that same reputation are transferred to the community education program. Guilt by association is an uphill battle to fight, and even more difficult, to win.
Determining pricing for advertising may also be difficult. Logically a continuing education should be able to charge the going market rate. However, once again if there is a community image to the program, there may be an expectation that rates should be lower than market. It is possible that many in the community may even believe that the program is funded by local tax dollars making price setting even more difficult. Even if the parent organization has a link to local tax dollars, the image that those dollars also benefit the continuing education will be strong.
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