Top 7 Promotion Ideas for 2016

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Best Consulting BoothCropHere’s our list of all-new top promotion ideas for 2016. Separately, there are a number of best marketing practices that every program should be following for success. For that list, check out the LERN Club or email info@lern.org for our list of the 20 Best All Time Marketing Practices.

Now, from the packed standing-room-only session at the recent big LERN annual conference, here’s our latest list of the top 7 best promotion ideas that are new for 2016. The photo is of LERN consultants Russ Mills, left, and Julie Coates, center, helping a LERN member with advice at the LERN Consulting Desk at the conference last month.

  1. Call Them Boomers
    One of the biggest promotion tips of the decade, this no-cost tip can save an entire market for your program for the next two decades.
    Boomers refuse to identify with, or be called, seniors. So for your 50+ programs for older adults, start calling them programs for Boomers, says LERN’s Julie Coates, one of the top demographic and generational experts in the United States. Not older adults, not seniors, not golden-agers, not elderly, not codgers and codgerettes.
    And don’t call them “50+” programs, because this is the year the first Gen Xers turn 50. With generational differences so distinct now, Gen Xers often prefer to take avocational and leisure classes with other Gen Xers, not with Boomers.
  2. Do an entire web page for 3-4 year lifespan offerings                                                                                                                  If you have a winning course or offering that has a lifespan of 3-4 years, or more, create an entire web page on your website devoted to that offering. This is what successful programs do, including the University of Richmond, School of Professional and Continuing Studies.
    For offerings that are priced at $300 or more, this is a particularly good one-time use of staff or tech time.
    To illustrate, just three hot certificates compose 67 percent of UGotClass registrations, so the University of Richmond has a separate web page for each of those three offerings. Two of the hot three have already been in the top three for four years, and the other one is likely to be hot for the next three or more.
  3. Start highlighting 21st Century competencies
    With a whole new set of competencies, skills and job duties needed for business and professional people in the workplace for the next few decades, start highlighting those offerings that provide new 21st century competencies.
    The continuing education unit Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN, started doing this in its 2015 brochures. A sample from the Normandale brochure: “Earn this certificate and add a whole new skill set to your portfolio, and make a big difference in the success of your organization by acquiring data analysis (the certificate’s topic) skills.”
  4. Do more Data Analysis, you or LERN
    You have more data, now do more analysis of that data for promotion and marketing. If you do not have the staff time or ability to analyze the data, just ask LERN to do it for you. In 2015 LERN did its first social media critique, now has a data Dashboard available, can analyze courses by carrier route, and determine what course your customers should take next.
    Good data analysis can make, or save, thousands of dollars every year for your program.
  5. Gently Require Staff to do Social Media
    The phrasing “gently require” comes from Tanner Holsten, Mayo Clinic, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, in one of LERN’s UGotClass online courses on leadership. With social media being the language of younger and future generations, moving your staff to communicate with customers and potential customers through social media is becoming a more important retention and customer support function for lifelong learning programs. For those adults on your staff a little reluctant or not using social media yet, give them training, encouragement and “gentle” reminders.
  6. Move to a more Visual Brochure
    Last year LERN gave an international award for a Melbourne, Australia, program for a more visual print brochure. This year the Wayzata, Minnesota, community education program adopted a more visual print brochure layout for its Fall 2015 session. Enrollments went up.
    Print is here to stay, and so are images and color in your print brochure. We will see more programs move to a more visual brochure in the next few years.
  7. Suggest a UGotClass course before offering refunds.                                                                                                           Suggest a UGotClass online course before giving a refund for an in-person class, says Christina Draper of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.  LERN’s UGotClass online courses never cancel, even with only one participant. With most programs experiencing around a 20 percent cancelation rate for face-to-face courses, suggesting an alternative online course can reduce your refunds and lost customers

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