By Don Resh
In the mid-1990s, the e-course format was designed and named, distance learning. During these early years, learning institutions, particularly universities, were chief users of this format. Primarily due to the large hardware investment required at that time. Now, thanks to technology innovations and cost reduction, people can give and attend e-Courses without leaving their chair or selling their first born. No parking issues, travel expenses, or travel time required. Another benefit to e-learning is that your listening skills will reach new heights very rapidly.
In 2003, technology allowed a single conference line to expand from 30 to 150 participants per line. Affordable conference lines were previously only available in certain states. Now most states have jumped on this bandwagon with reasonable rates.
Currently, a 24 by 7 conference line is available for about $600 a year. An alternative is to rent the line by the hour. This can range from $10 to $20 per hour depending on the features desired. You can also share a line with one or two other businesses to reduce your cost. I advocate finding line-share partners who are in different time zones. That makes sharing considerably easier.
No-cost teleconference lines at available from many vendors. Most of these services have problems that range from automatic disconnect if no voice is detected every 8 to 10 minutes, to being blocked from entering the call because of overstressed lines. I suggest that the leader of the conference dial in 5 to 10 minutes early to secure the line, however, this doesn't guarantee that all participants will not experience over-trafficked, busy lines.
Actually, e-courses will never take the place of "being there" for all people. The skills and experience of the e-course leader or host can also make or break the learning experience. There are just as many e-course leader styles as there are people. If you have never participated in an e-course, I suggest attending four or five before deciding if this is what you want for your business.
Here are some tips to help you promote your e-Course.
If you publish your own e-Newsletter, e-Zine or printed newsletter, add an e-Course announcement section.
Contact other newsletter and e-zine editors and ask to have your program announced in their publications. You can trade ad space, your ad for their ad; exchange ad space for participation; offer a commission option; purchase the ad or pay per click-through. I don't recommend paying for click-throughs unless top notch tracking systems are in place. In order to attract co-operative advertisers, make sure their target market and yours match.
You can also use pay-per-click through search engines like Google's AdWord program. If you use this technique, I advocate purchasing ad analyzer software (about $100) or a service (average $19.95/month) to maximize time and eliminate mistakes.
Post notices all over your web site - especially your main page - about your e-Course program. Remember, posting announcements is essentially passive marketing. You will still need to pull visitors to the site.
Create and publish Internet articles on the subject of e-courses. If you don't feel capable of writing good articles, hire a ghostwriter. Allow five to ten weeks for this process to begin pulling visitors to your website. The number of articles distributed will proportionally determine your return. This is one of the top Internet marketing methods used by successful businesses today.
Since e-Courses do not require people to be physically present, attendance is now possible globally. Therefore, you will want to disseminate information about your e-Course opportunity globally. Find places in other English-speaking countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. If you speak a foreign language, you can even offer the same program in that language. Spanish speaking e-Courses are in high demand.
Mention your e-Course on other e-Courses that you attend. You can slip it in with a question or when presenting your personal information to the class.
Add a promotional snippet about the program to all your outgoing e-mails, called signatures in Outlook. Choose HTML format for your signature and add a picture of the leader/host along with a link to where interested readers can register or obtain additional information.
Participate in market-rich discussion forums, billboards or chat rooms. If blatant advertising isn't permitted, sell gently through your signature or indirect questions.
Write a press release for each e-Course you offer. Become a member of PRWeb. Membership is free and this top-rated website attracts a very high percentage of media personnel. Your press release will get picked up and published on scores of news services.
Accumulate a list of all the local newspapers that offer free community event announcements. Make inquiries into their deadline and submission requirements. You will also want to ask how you can confirm their receipt of your information. They don't intentionally leave information out, but they move at a rapid pace and things do get lost in the shuffle. But remember, most community listing ads are for free events.
Use a three-ring binder to keep track of your advertising information. You can also save the information in your e-mail folders and your Internet browser favorites in a separate "Community newspaper" section.
Add your announcement to your telephone answering machine script. Change it whenever you are offering a new e-Course. Give instructions as to how to register - and it's important to make this process as easy as possible for them. Don't forget some marketing tidbits like "what's in it for them" if they register and do it now.
Use free e-Courses or offers to provide a preview of what they're getting and attract participants to register for longer paid programs. Offers can include: e-books, e-courses, special reports, or even relevant white papers. Offering a transcript of the course or an audio copy is another great offer.
List your class in e-course directories. Some directories require that you attend their specific e-course moderator's course. A big pain in time and expense in the short-term, but a good investment over the long haul.
If you hold speaking engagements or even when you participate in other events, seminars or workshops, give out brochures on your e-Course. This works particularly well in networking groups, too. Take the flyers to your libraries, senior and civic centers.
By the way, names of e-Courses can seem confusing at times, however, there is a standard for what to expect depending on the name. A tele-seminar usually has very little interaction between host and attendees. It is set up to instruct and participants can only listen. Sometimes a brief Q&A period is spaced in-between topics.
On the other hand, an e-course provides more time for participant to participant or participant to leader interaction. It has a higher ratio of free forming. An e-course format copies more of the workshop atmosphere. An e-program is an e-course delivered over a period of time, like a class at a learning institution. The term e-Course is a compilation, or overview term, of all electronically delivered learning programs.
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About the Author :
Don Resh is CEO of WebForce, Inc. A more detailed bio is available at: WebForceSolutions