by Marcia Yudkin
With the seminar business in upheaval and time slots available for educational events in busy schedules shorter than ever, it's no surprise that teleclasses are surging in popularity. Some individuals and companies offer free telephone seminars on carefully chosen and strategically described topics to attract people who are good prospects for their paid products and services. Others charge $19.95 to $195 for a seminar-by-phone session.
Most of the following promotional ideas for teleclasses
apply to both free and paid teleclasses. I highly recommend that you
make arrangements for
professional recording of your teleclass, so that you can promote the teleclass before it takes place and promote the teleclass CDs and audiotapes afterwards, for as long as the information on it remains current.
1. Announce the teleclass in your own newsletter. This is the primary way that Joan Stewart, veteran presenter of dozens of teleclasses, gets paid registrants for her sessions and sparks sales of the recordings. Stewart schedules her sessions for Thursdays because her Publicity Hound Tip of the Week newsletter comes out on Tuesdays. For best results, plan to announce the class in more than one issue of your newsletter.
2. Tell other newsletter editors about your teleclass. Identify ezines that reach your targe taudience and let them know about your upcoming class. If your event is free and promises valuable educational content, editors may very well simply pass along the information on it to their readers. If you're charging an admission fee, you may have to offer editors affiliate commissions on that fee for them to feel motivated to notify their readers about your class.
3. Buy ads in the best, most targeted newsletters you can find. The editorial coverage referred to in tip #2 is valuable, but iffy. Purchasing ads guarantees that you get a message about your teleclass in front of your target market with exactly the right wordingat exactly the right time. How to identify appropriate newsletters in which to place ads? Asking Internet-obsessed people who belong to your target market yields the best leads on this.
4. Run pay-per-click search engine ads. The Google AdWords program lets you stop and start ads on a dime, inexpensively putting your brief message in front of people searching for certain phrases that you define. If you can time your teleclass for the period when people are hunting down the same information in droves ("mold prevention" during a widespread, prolonged rainy spell, "last minute tax tips" in April), all the better for pay-per-click search engine advertising.
5. Post a notice at your web site. This relatively passive method of promotion works well for high-traffic sites or for teleclasses that regularly repeat. Make sure you call attention to the timeliness of an upcoming event through placing your teleclass announcement in a box on your home page or otherwise emphasizing your listing visually. Try not to leave outdated teleclass notices up at your site!
6. Distribute articles related to your teleclass around the web. If you do a web search for "submit article" and add a word or phrase for your topic, you'll turn up dozens or hundreds of web sites that welcome the posting of relevant articles that may include a brief promotional paragraph at the end with a link to your site. Use this method to promote the recording of your teleclass rather than the live session, since once posted, articles tend to remain up for years.
7. Investigate announcements in discussion lists and on discussion boards. If you regularly participate in a certain topical discussion group and have a free teleclass to promote, ask the moderators if you can post an invitation for the group. When I did this on one list where I'd been a long-time member, registrations began arriving within minutes. For a paid teleclass, it might be worthwhile creating a free "lite" class that sets the stage for the paid one in order to use this promotional method without complaints.
8. Contact the media for publicity. Teleclasses count as "events," which in turn may qualify as newsworthy when the event content relates to the readers, listeners or viewers of a certain media outlet. Research deadlines carefully, and send a press release or flyer about your teleclass before those dates.
9. Offer a transcript as a free downloadable report. Turn a transcribed teleclass into PDF format, and you can persuade many of the above marketing channels to spread the word about it. Try this especially for a repeated teleclass that includes a hefty proportion of questions and answers, so that people who read a particular transcript might still want to sign up for a live session.
10. List your class in teleclass directories. These include:
The last of these requires you to take a 6-week training class before the site will list your classes, and one of my clients who did this found both the class and the listings there worthwhile.
Marcia Yudkin <[email protected]> is the author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity and 10 other books. She runs a private member site, MarketingforMore.com, which supports business owners who are growing their businesses and includes a monthly member teleclass. Learn how to avoid the most common pricing mistakes in her free report, "Charge More & Get It," available from http://www.marketingformore.com/survey.htm .