3 “big rules” of 21st century marketing

July 30, 2010

In a recent post I talked about some signs your marketing is outdated. Today I’ll share some tips on updating your marketing for the 21st century:

Big Rule #1: Make it about people.

Build community. Clients, customers and prospective students and program participants are bombarded with options. Every day. Give them a place to belong and they’ll not only come to you, they’ll stay a while.

Eliminate the sales talk. It’s old. It’s tired. It’s annoying. Yes, you still need to sell services or products, but fast-talking sales pitches are out. The pushy sales approach is now considered harsh and insensitive to the other’s needs. Well, it always was that way, but now people have completely lost their tolerance for it.

Add a human element. I started talking about this when the first edition of 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program came out in 2002. Some people balked then, saying they didn’t have time for that; it took too much effort and there was not enough return on investment (ROI). My answer: If you don’t have time for other people, why would you expect them to have time for you? It’s about people. For example, on your website, list the names of people who hold positions of leadership. People want to connect with other people, not with some big (or small) organization they know nothing about.

Big Rule #2: Build trust

Give away a sample. Ever been to one of those big-box grocery stores and they’re giving away samples at the end of every aisle? Why are they doing this? Because people love to try new things. If they try it, and they like it, they’ll buy it. If they’re not sure, the chances of them buying it goes down. How do you do this if you have a service-based business? Offer a free workshop, webinar or class. Let people try you without risk.

Ask for testimonials. Ask prior clients for testimonials about your work. In order to be considered reliable a testimonial has to have the name, and preferably also the organization (or at least the city) of the person giving it. Testimonials need to be authentic in order to be credible.

Stick around. Doing consistent marketing over time is what gets results. People will trust you more once you’ve been around a while. In my experience, it takes at least a few months of consistent marketing, relationship building and community building before much happens. I’ve had clients come back to me years after an initial conversation or short contract. If I wasn’t still around, they couldn’t work with me, now could they?

Big Rule #3: Leave a digital footprint

Have a web site. Are you laughing when you read this? I still meet services organizations that do not have a website. Seriously! There’s no excuse today not to have a website. If you can’t afford your own domain, then start a blog through a service like WordPress or Blogger.

Use social media. You don’t have to be a social media addict, but it does help if you have a web presence. Social media isn’t going away. Learn to use it to your advantage, rather than resisting what is here to stay.

Be “Google-able”. Where do you look when you want to find out more about a product, service or an organization? On line. Where do you think other people look when they want to find out about you? The same place. You don’t need to pay a lot of money for “SEO optimization”. Just be out there. A website and using social media are good way to start.


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New York Times: Learning a language on the web is trendy

July 29, 2010

“The Internet, with its unparalleled ability to connect people throughout the world, is changing the way that many people learn languages” writes Peter Wayner in Learning a Language From an Expert, on the Web, an article from the New York Times (July 28, 2010).

The article touches on 2 of the themes that emerged in my study Global Trends in Language Learning in the 21st Century:

  • Using technology in language learning (new trend)
  • Taking an individualized, learner-centered approach (new trend)
  • Saying that learning languages is easy (outdated myth)

The way we learn languages is changing at a rapid pace. A new school year is approaching. What techniques, methodologies and approaches are you going to use that are appropriate for the 21st century?


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7 signs your marketing is outdated

July 28, 2010

Marketing and promotion has changed tremendously in the past decade. Here are some indicators that your marketing is “sooooo 20th Century!”

  1. Buying print ads. Unless your ad is very targeted to an audience that reads the print material, and offers a direct benefit, print ads have lost their impact.
  2. Direct mail. The campaigns have a very low return on investment.
  3. Cold calling. People resist telemarketers like the plague.
  4. E-mail spam. Do you hate spam? So does everyone else. If you do mass e-mail, you’re not only outdated, you’re likely losing customers because you’ve ticked off the person on the other end.
  5. Spending money with no deliverables. Spend your marketing dollars on things that will get you a trackable return on your investment.
  6. A “Buy me! Buy me!” approach. There’s no faster turn off in today’s world.
  7. Focusing on your products. If the writing in your marketing materials start with “This service…”, “This course…”, “This program…”, or “This product…”, your writing style is outdated and likely to make others tune out.

If you’re still doing these things, your marketing may not be effective because it’s not current. If it’s not current, it won’t have an impact in today’s world.

Next time I’ll share some simple, easy ways to make sure your marketing and promotions are optimized for the 21st century.


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Global Trends in Language Learning in the 21st Century: Webinar Follow Up

July 27, 2010

With participants, from Canada, the U.S, Romania, Germany, Guatemala, this was an amazingly international, multicultural and interactive session! Thanks for everyone who joined in today.

If you couldn’t make today’s webinar on Global Trends in Language Learning in the 21st Century, generously sponsored by Elluminate, don’t fret. I’ve archived everything for you.

Webinar recording
Check out the webinar recording. Note that this link may ask to download Java onto your computer. If you click “yes”, you’ll be able to access the recording, slides and all the chat that happened during the session.


Click here for a copy of the handouts from the webinar.

Research report

This webinar was based on a research report that’s been archived in 3 countries now. Click here for a post with links to the full article.

Original webinar info

Want the information about the webinar? See this post.

I’ve archived the slides on Slideshare, here:


“This was the first time I attended a webinar, apart from all the conference calls organised at my place of work. I found it interesting, first because it shared information from my area of expertise, and also because it addressed a stringent matter of all teachers nowadays- how to take the leap into the 21st century without getting severely bruised.” – Anca Costea, Little London Nursery School, Bucharest, Romania.

“Sarah Eaton set out the results of here research in a very well structured and informative talk that provided many useful ideas for engaging language learners – especially younger learners – more effectively.” – Carl Dowse, Germany.

“My work in family literacy is backed up by emerging trends of the 21st century according to Dr. Eaton’s meta-research. In all fields of learning, we need to keep current on why people are formally or informally motivated to learn and how they would like to be equipped to do so. This webinar advances us towards a clear plan of taking action towards a literacy that allows all learners to communicate through thoughts and actions and respectively be able to reflect upon them.” – Tracy Howk, Literacy for Life Foundation


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Proven tips on motivating others

July 24, 2010

Those in leadership positions often need to motivate others to take on a new challenge, perform a task or simply behave in a certain way. There are a number of ways to motivate people around you. The two broadest categories of motivation are extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

First, let’s look at extrinsic motivation. This type of motivation is based on some external reward or punishment. An example of an extrinsic reward would be, “If you get me that document by lunch time, I’ll give you a piece of cake.” This attempts to lure the other person with the promise of something desirable, providing that they do what you want them to do.

Then there’s the opposite, the treat of punishment, if the other person doesn’t do what you want them to do. An example is, “If you don’t get me that document by the end of the day, I’ll punch you in the nose.”

You can see how that might be ineffective. While negative extrinsic motivation may result in the other person doing what you want them to do, it also breaks down respect and trust. You can’t build a solid, long-lasting relationship based on the threats, or the feeling that you’re going to be subject to punishment if you don’t do what someone else wants you to do. Negative motivation that is predicated on the threat of violence is particularly damaging.

Let’s look at intrinsic motivation. This calls upon people to take action for themselves because they themselves choose to do so. Intrinsic motivate wells up from deep inside a person and does not depend on any external reward or punishment.

Naturally, this type of motivation is much more powerful. And it’s also much harder to achieve. It requires time to build a relationship of trust and respect. Even then, there are no guarantees that others will be mobilized to do what you want. That’s the whole point. The other person has choice and control. How do you motivate people intrinsically? Give them more choice and control!

Here are a few tips to help motivate others intrinsically:

  • Make them feel good about what you need them to do.
  • Give clear, explicit instructions. Don’t assume that they will know what to do.
  • Give them a manageable challenge.
  • Give them some control and a choice.
  • Create an environment of trust and respect.
  • Take a cooperative attitude. Help, but don’t do it for them. Let them know they are helping you by doing what you need them to do (on time).
  • Do not compare them to others.
  • Minimize extrinsic motivation. There is no reward other than doing the right thing.
  • Offer praise when it is due.
  • Point out their strengths, abilities and talents.

To motivate others in this way involves a focus on them, not you. Stop thinking about what you want or need and start thinking about what the other person wants and needs.  Allowing the other person to maintain some autonomy will help you build an excellent relationship over the long term.

Accept that sometimes, the other person may not do what you want, regardless of the tactics you use. When that happens you will need to decide if you’re going to resort to extrinsic motivation or if it’s worth it to let this one go and try again next time.


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

Printable Resources for Adult Basic Skills

July 23, 2010

Looking for some free, printable resources for adult literacy, ESL and basic education learners?

The site offers links to a plethora of resources, which are all categorized by topic. Go check it out at Printable Resources for Adult Basic Skills (Here is the URL: http://www.skillsworkshop.org/other.htm)

This is a veritable gold mine of resources for teachers and tutors.


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Photo tips and ideas for language and literacy programs

July 23, 2010

Your marketing materials need photos. Period.

I’m a big fan of using professional quality photos in your marketing and promotional material. They really are worth it. If you really can’t afford to use pro quality photos, get out your digital camera and start clicking. Here are some tips.

Tips on taking and using marketing photos

  • Take high resolution photos. You can always shrink them later.
  • Keep your photos updated. – Every 2-3 years.
  • Make sure your photos are appropriate for your audience (culture, age, context)
  • Get permission from your photo subjects to use their photos.

Ideas of things to take photos of for language or literacy program marketing materials:

  • your students relaxing on school property
  • your students in class
  • your students on excursions or participating in activities
  • the school’s facilities
  • the graduation ceremony or year-end party
  • your school staff, faculty and administration
  • a typical homestay family and their home


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

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