Using Video for Non-Profit Marketing

November 1, 2010

If your literacy or other non-profit organization has a website, adding video is the 21st century way to promote your programs, demonstrate your successes and generate more awareness and interest in the work you do. Online videos:

  • demonstrate an awareness of 21st century marketing
  • have the potential to reach more people in more places
  • help you incorporate social media into your advocacy work

YouTube has a program for non-profits to help them promote their programs better.The service is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia. They say that they plan on adding more countries soon:

YouTube Non-profit program in the US

YouTube Non-profit program in Canada

YouTube Non-profit program in the UK

YouTube Non-profit program in Australia

The program includes a listing on the Nonprofit video channel, and the ability to post opportunities on the Volunteer Platform.

Even if you don’t live in one of those countries check out the website. They have links to globally available resources such as:

  • Nonprofit tip sheet
  • Adding a call to action in your videos
  • Tips on how to run video campaigns on YouTube
  • Ideas on how to use other Google tools (and YouTube is one of them) to promote your non-profit or charity

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


7 Keys to an Effective Language Program Marketing Strategy

June 3, 2010

A marketing strategy is a map that gets your program where you want to go. It gives you a plan to promote your program, target the right students and allocate your resources wisely. They say that trying to grow your program without having a plan is like going on a road trip without a map. You may get somewhere, but will it be where you wanted?

Marketing strategies are useful in any organization dedicated to generating revenue.  In the case of language education, they’re also useful for recruitment purposes and increasing enrollments, even if you’re not expected to make money. Some people may tell you that you need a program degree or a marketing expert to prepare a strategy. While these things may help, you can outline a basic plan yourself, even if you don’t have a program background or the resources to hire a consultant. Common sense, a clear head and a vision of where you want your program to go can do wonders for helping you prepare a good, solid marketing strategy. In fact, the process of creating that vision can create marketing opportunities you would otherwise miss, simply because you are able to clearly describe your program anywhere, any time.

Here are 7 essential elements of a successful marketing strategy.

1. Define your program. What are you offering? Define it clear, simple, objective terms. Depending on what it is you are selling, your definition may be one line or several paragraphs. You want to be able to concisely answer the question, “So, what programs does your school offer?” If you fumble for an answer – or don’t have one at all – your marketing efforts may never be sufficiently focussed to help prospective students decide on you. Depending on what you’re offering, your definition may be one line or several paragraphs. If you offer more than one type of program, consider having  a broad, but concise definition for all of it, along with brief definitions of each individual type of program.

2. Highlight the benefits. How will your student benefit from your program? This can be tough to articulate. One way to do this is to ask yourself, “If I were a student, what would I get out of this program? What good is it to me? Why would I want it?” Another way to think of it is, “For what problem does this program provide a solution?” For example, if you manage a small language program benefits to your students may include personal attention and a friendly atmosphere. If you offer specialized courses in pronunciation, that is another benefit for students.

3. Be clear about the strengths and weaknesses of your program. Let’s be clear. Every program has limitations. Trying to be all things to all people may hurt you in the long run. We may like to think that the market for whatever we offer is limitless, but the reality is that the better we know exactly what we offer, the more likely we are to attract exactly the right student.

4. Know your competition. Take the time to find out who else is offering similar courses.  In today’s world, there are very few totally new ideas, products or services. It is in your best interest to know who else is offering something similar to you. Remember these tips to success: “First, best or different.” If you are the first one ever with a new idea, product or service, lucky you. If not, you want to either be the best at what you do, or offer something slightly different from your competition.

5. Determine who your market is for your courses. This may seem self-evident, but all too often, program managers say, “Well, everyone is a potential student!” That’s not true. After you define your program and assess its strengths and weaknesses, then you are in a position to ask yourself, “OK, who needs this most?” Whoever needs it most is your best target market.

6. Establish a budget for marketing, promoting and advertising. This is often the hardest part. Some people say that 20% of the gross annual earnings of a program should be funneled back into promoting it. Often, language programs are reluctant to put a number on how much they want to spend on marketing. In this case, one of two things often happens: either you overspend or you miss excellent opportunities to promote your program.

7. Keep track of what you spend on promotions and the results. This takes time. The idea is to track what works for your program and what doesn’t. You can speculate all you want, but unless you have numbers in front of you, the idea that you have is just a hunch, not fact.

A final reminder: marketing and sales are not the same. I like to say that marketing is about people and sales is about dollars. Marketing takes place over a longer term is closely tied to building relationships. This takes time.  Even if you don’t have huge dollars to invest in marketing your program, the time you spend developing a strong, effective marketing strategy is an investment in your program, your future and your success.  Write your own road map to success and then enjoy the journey!
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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Specialized courses: Essential for a healthy marketing mix

April 28, 2010

In 1982, W.P. Kinsella wrote Shoeless Joe, a novel that was later turned into a major Hollywood movie starring Kevin Costner. The most famous line of the book is, “If you build it, he will come.” The basic premise of the book is that if you have an idea or a dream, go with it. The rest will take care of itself.

While this feel-good book, and the movie it was made into, may smack of naïveté on some level, the main principle is one that we can use in marketing our schools. If you build a specialized program, based on a sound curriculum that you can deliver well, the students will come.

Is there something that your school does better than any other in your area? Do you have a program to train foreign language teachers? Do you offer a specialized course in medical or veterinary terminology, for example? How about a course in business communications? If you have at least one course or program that differentiates you from other schools, you can focus on being the best there is for that specialty. You can still offer basic language training or other programs, but having a specialized niche will ensure you a unique market share, and add both revenue and students to your program. It can also add flair and a sense of uniqueness to your program. I’ve seen programs that offer English and sports or English and activities such as surfing, and they truly set themselves apart from the hundreds of other English programs in the world.

Specialized courses often referred to as “ESP” or “English for Specific Purposes”, in the English as a Second / Additional Language field. Together, generalized and specialized courses combine to form your marketing mix. Finding the right mix can boost your revenue significantly.

Specialized courses deserve special attention in your marketing plan. For example, if you offer a program for language teachers from foreign countries, you could easily research the contact information for language schools abroad and add that information to your database.  Then you have the tools to do a targeted direct mail campaign to those schools that would catch the attention of those teachers and school administrators.

Also consider that specialized courses likely require specialized curricula. You’ll want to ensure that whatever materials you are using fit your niche market really well.

Generally, it takes longer to see results for specialized programs. That is because it may take prospects longer to find out about your niche and respond to your marketing. I’ve seen more than one niche program fail because administrators gave up on it too early. One semester or session is not enough to test the market to determine if there is a demand for your specialized course. These types of program may require extra attention in their infancy, simply because their target market is very specific.

You may want to dedicate a certain amount of time (for example, one hour a week for an entire year) just to marketing this particular program. This may mean contacting associations, schools or other audiences with an interest in your niche to advise them of your program. For example, if you have a program to train teachers, then a direct mailing to teachers’ associations abroad may help you promote these courses. It may cost you time to build your mailing list, or it may cost you money to buy such a list. You won’t see a return on your investment until participants begin to enroll.

If you persist, within a couple of years, you can have a booming program.  The trick is to carve yourself a niche and be patient while the world discovers your uniqueness. If you build it… they will come.

This post is adapted from “Idea #5: Carve yourself a niche” in 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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