Lifelong learning and continuing education consumers are demanding less interruptive marketing, and more useful, engaging and inspirational substance — content marketing.
Marketing without hard selling.
But where does the content come from? It's likely that you and your colleagues don't have a lot of extra time to create content but that doesn't mean there is any less demand for it.
But there is a solution: Use what you've got. Chances are, you have a lot of great content just waiting to be tapped into.
Here are some ideas for existing content, or content that requires little work on your part, that you can start taking advantage of right away:
Knowledge, tips, how-to's or projects from instructors or Subject Matter Experts
It's a common misperception that if you give away content for free, people won't sign up for your courses or programs but the fact is, the exact opposite is true. If you give people a taste of what you have to offer, they will see want more and you'll have already made progress in positioning your program as the leading authority.
Have an upcoming class on Indian cooking? Ask the instructor to put together a simple recipe and share it on your website, blog, through social media or in an email marketing campaign to promote the course. A certificate program on Excel or Quickbooks could warrant a short article on What to do this year to make tax time easy next year, a list of 10 things you didn't know you could use Excel for, or 8 ways Quickbooks makes your life easier.
Bonus: If you already have a collection of articles, charts or other materials from your instructors or SMEs, start thinking about the new ways and places you can use them.
Every photograph, project or otherwise is a piece of content just waiting to be utilized. Have students or instructors share photos on your program's social media platforms and then include information on how people can participate in similar courses or programs. If the course or program in question includes a lot of movement, perhaps a short video would serve you better.
Bonus: Hold a contest on your social media platforms asking students to submit their work for use on your website or in your next brochure. This idea works particularly well if you offer courses in photography or if your courses or programs lend themselves to great photos, i.e. travel, birding, gardening or anything to do with desserts, which are among the most shared photos on Pinterest.
Student or Customer Testimonials
Whether you ask for them at the end of a course or program or get them through Facebook or LinkedIn, student testimonials are one of the most powerful weapons in your content marketing arsenal. You can use them in brochures, email marketing and on social media.
Bonus: Use photos of the people offering the testimonial whenever possible to create a connection with the reader.
Student or Member Achievements
Do you offer programs for entrepreneurs? Or perhaps you focus on workforce development and help people to find careers in new industires. Whatever it is your program specializes in, your students and their success speak volumes to those who are deciding whether or not your program is the right place for them. Show them by sharing stories of students who have gone through your courses or programs and what they are doing now. You could use these in brochures, on your website and even create a space devoted to them on Facebook, Tumblr or Pinterest.
Bonus: Ask the former students to offer up some tips for success.
Hopefully these ideas will help you to start thinking about the content you already have and open the doors to easier content creation in the future.
Before your organization begins pumping out the content, consider who and where your consumers are. Think about age, education level, interests and anything else that makes them tick. Once you’ve thought-out the different people you’re trying to reach, you have to determine where they’re spending time. Are they pinning on Pinterest, watching videos on YouTube or liking articles on Facebook? Knowing who and where the people you want to reach are will help you create and refine your killer content marketing strategy.