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- Who: Amanda Walls
- Website: cedarwood.digital
- Course Topic: Digital Marketing
- Interesting Stats: 6-8 attendees max for online training
What market does your online course serve?
Our digital marketing courses are designed to help upskill individuals and businesses across digital marketing. Several courses are available from product-specific courses such as SEO, PPC, Paid Social, etc. Through more holistic digital marketing training for individuals and customized courses for businesses. We work closely with businesses to tailor a range of training to suit their needs and their specific verticals.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
A better understanding of digital marketing. Especially if you are new to it and aren’t too familiar with how it works, it can be great to get an overview. Alternatively, if you take one of the more specialized courses, then you will develop a more specialized skillset. This can be invaluable in areas such as SEO or PPC, where there is a lack of formal training and current practices are constantly being updated. In these instances being able to attend courses such as this are handy. That’s because you know your knowledge will be up-to-date and relevant to your industry.
If you are looking at the tailored courses, the most significant benefit is being able to upskill your business all in one go to a similar style. This can again be invaluable if you’re looking to improve the digital awareness of your business.
How did you get into the market?
I decided to start working in training after I had experienced difficulties of my own trying to find trained staff to work at our digital agency. While we had a lot of graduates who were very keen to get involved, they had very little training. There was a real shortage of good courses that I could send them on to bring them up to date with the latest skills.
This was how I came up with the idea to offer training. Essentially we needed to train our staff and put a plan in place to do that. Then we thought we could roll it out and offer it to other businesses with a similar need to train their staff. New staff or staff may be looking to develop a specialism within their role.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
I decided to go with a mixture of online and face-to-face learning. This was predominantly because I enjoy the face-to-face side of learning. I feel that individuals take a lot away from this. The online learning side of things makes it a lot more accessible, particularly in a post-COVID landscape.
Online learning is also more digestible. You can serve it up in bitesize chunks rather than people having to commit one or two full days to attend a training course. This allows people to fit it into morning, afternoon, or lunchtime to suit them. This can help to boost attendance rates for your courses.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
I didn’t have any doubt before launching it because I felt it was something we needed anyway. We had a genuine need as a business to have a good training platform for our staff and a way to train them. I didn’t have any doubt about putting it together. What I would say, though, is it was hard to work out the formats initially. Understanding which format would work best and what days/times was also a challenge. In the end, we got there with this and decided that rather than having set times/dates, we would await inquiries. Then build courses that worked best around the individuals/companies enquiring.
What’s your online course like?
We have a natural mixture of content within the courses. Each one tends to be different, given the bespoke nature of our training needs and how fast the industry changes. We are constantly changing course content to keep up with the latest trends. This can often mean that courses that are only a few months apart might have slight changes to the content in line with the latest practices or, potentially, from an SEO perspective, algorithm updates.
How long did it take you to create your course?
In terms of course creation, this did take quite a while. I think the most challenging part was the planning stage. We pulled together all the information we needed to include in the course and worked out in which order we wanted to set it out. The second most challenging part was considering what we could and couldn’t include in the course. For example, SEO is such a vast topic. Condensing it into a half-day or one day is tough. This took planning, and we had to drill down to understand what we needed to include in the course and what could be an optional extra.
Once we’d identified what we wanted within the course, we shelled it into a PowerPoint presentation. This allowed us to understand how long the slides were going to be. It also ensured we had covered all bases and structured it well. From there, it was very much the case of filling in the information, sending it through for a proofread, and then running a test course on our staff to ensure it flowed well and adhered to timelines.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).
To launch the course, we had three methods initially. We set up a page on our website dedicated to selling our courses. When we set this up, we did some trial and error to try and understand how we could best sell our courses in this way. We also looked to cross-sell to our existing digital marketing clients looking to upskill their internal teams and throw some marketing budget behind it from an SEO/PPC perspective.
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
We work across multiple traffic strategies. Our primary source of inquiries is search engine optimization. We work closely on our website to optimize our page to make it as relevant as possible for training terms. We also showcase our expertise, authority, and experience in this sector by providing a range of case studies so businesses and individuals can read success stories from our training courses.
It’s working well. During COVID, there was a definite drop-off in online training courses. Still, as budgets start to come back into play, we see increased demand from businesses looking to have their teams trained accordingly. This is excellent news as it’s helping to upskill an industry with a desperate skills shortage.
What online course platform are you using?
We run all of our courses over Zoom – so we don’t use a platform. The courses are set up in PowerPoint, and then we run them through Zoom as a presentation. The platform works well for us as we can create breakout rooms so we can simulate group exercises, we can utilize whiteboard features and other elements to help indicate significant learnings, and we can also have a good level of interactivity, so as a platform this has always worked well for us.
Are there any features you wish it had?
I don’t think there are features that it would benefit from, rather I think to get the most out of the platform, it’s essential to be honest, and upfront with attendees at the start about how they can get the most out of the section. Explain the level of interactivity, the best way to ask questions, and how to interact with the group. This goes a long way to ensuring that attendees feel comfortable interacting the way they would in a 1-1 environment.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
It was the most readily available at the time that we needed to use it. At the start, we weren’t aware of what scale we would need to run training, and we were already using Zoom for our training internally. It made sense to continue with the same platform.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
We don’t utilize any other tools for our online training courses as we try to keep them as organic as possible and encourage users to share their real-life issues and concerns rather than going through too many case studies and examples – this also helps to improve their takeaways as attendees often go away with something that can be directly actionable for their business, so they walk away with added value.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
I couldn’t name any specific courses, but what I would say from a training course perspective and learning is that I’ve found that my attention span struggles past about 25 minutes per topic – so if I’m learning online, I tend to like to do it in digestible chunks – and I’ve tried to apply these concepts to my training courses, ensuring that we don’t do too much all in one go and that we try to keep topics to digestible time limits so that we don’t lose the attention of any attendees.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
Initially, one of my biggest mistakes was trying to get too many people onto one course. At one stage, we had nearly 18 registered for an online course, and when I jumped on, I realized that it just wasn’t going to work. Everyone felt like they didn’t want to speak up, it was hard to hear other people, and it was hard to see everyone on the screen. So at times, there were attendees who had their cameras off and may have been unengaged with the course – it was a nightmare.We restrict all of our courses to between 6-8 attendees max for online training, and the outcome of this is much better. - Amanda Walls Click To Tweet
What has creating your course done for you personally?
Creating a course and training is a great way to develop your knowledge and confidence on a topic. I found that creating course content in itself has helped me to build and expand my knowledge, in addition to learning new things at the same time!It’s also great to give back to the community and have a way to upskill our staff, in addition to providing a service that other businesses can genuinely benefit from. - Amanda Walls Click To Tweet
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
At the end of every training session, we ask clients to fill in a feedback form. This plays an integral part in understanding how they found the training and what they have taken away from it. We also tend to check in with them 3-6 months later. We ask how they have applied this knowledge. Then we get some great feedback on real change implemented across organizations.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
Planning is critical, as is understanding your target market. What do they need, and how can you create a course that answers their questions? One that lets them walk away with really actionable input?In addition, when pricing your courses, consider your maximum number of attendees. It can be easy to get carried away with more significant attendance numbers. - Amanda Walls Click To Tweet
This doesn’t always make for a great learning experience, so factor this into your calculations.