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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I have just developed an online course (Basic English Revisited: Tips from a Working Editor). It is available online through CoursesOnline but/and I also want to market it myself. It is $20 for students and $35 for others. I have been doing Yellow Page mailings of my flier with details. Better way to go? It is an easily digested six-session course of interest to anyone who has to write "stuff" of any kind and doesn't get it's vs its or affect vs effect or principle vs principal. THANKS!

Answer from our Guest Expert Laura Wiegert of Creative Consultants

What a great idea to put together a basic English course online!

Now let's let everyone know the right way to write!

Give Your Audience Some Food for Thought

Start positioning yourself as the expert in this field. When people see you as a writing guru, they'll naturally turn to you as the head chef for the "write" information.

Start by giving them a taste of what's involved in your course to whet their appetite and make them want to learn more. For example, do a mailing on your "Top 10 Spelling and Grammar Mistakes." This could be in the form of a post card or flyer that lists the most common English and writing tips you see (such as it's versus its or principle versus principal). Give them tips on preventing these mistakes in their writing. Cater to their desire of wanting to be as professional and as accurate as possible in their writing.

What this does is starts positioning you as an expert among writers and editors. By sending meaty mailings to your targeted audience, they not only receive a marketing piece that's interesting and informational, but one that's quite appetizing. These people will want more, and when they do, guess who they're going to turn to? You, the writing expert!

Break It Down into Several Courses

If you want to do a series of mailings instead of just one, break it down into "chunks" of information. For example, send tip numbers 1-3 of the "Top 10 Spelling and Grammar Mistakes" in the first mailing, numbers 4-6 in the second mailing, and 7-9 in the third mailing. For the 10th tip, make them go to your website to get it!

Start using this "tip" concept as your positioning strategy. Incorporate tidbits of information on every written piece that comes out of your office. Print a one-line grammar tip on the bottom of your invoices, quotes, letters, ads and other correspondence (of course, not forgetting to list your website and/or contact information too). Consider putting your top 10 list on the back of your business card or creating a separate business card just to showcase the list and to market your online course. This is an easy way to get your message out and continue to show off your knowledge in this field.

Whet Their Appetite with Classified Ads

Another cost-effective marketing option that'll help spread the word about your online course is classified advertising. Find one or two key writing and editing publications that are geared to editors and/or the audience you want to reach. In these magazines, you can place a small classified ad in the back for a pretty low rate that often yields great results. Use the same "tips" concept. For example, start out with a teaser such as "Affect or Effect? Learn the difference in our cost-effective online course." And provide the URL and contact information. Or offer them the entire Top 10 list free when they go to your website.

Keep Serving up Your Marketing Online

Make sure you continue to market your class online as well. A great option that ties into the positioning theme we've been talking about is an Internet site on Top Ten Lists at http://www.topten.org. There, you can submit a Top 10 list to the website, and visitors can click on your topic to get the list and more information. The site welcomes submissions in several different categories, and yours would be a great fit. As an added bonus, if the site creators like your list, they'll e-mail it to thousands of subscribers who receive tips such as this every day. And best of all, this is free!

If you follow these positioning tips, you'll be headed in the write direction to market your online English course! Good Luck!

Laura Weigert, Creative Consultants

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