Pursuing higher education as a business owner to improve your grasp on brand promotion doesn’t necessarily mean spending thousands of dollars pursuing time-consuming college degrees. A few readily available and well-planned courses can add rocket fuel to your business acumen.
Time and money are always scarce when you’re running a business, but you don’t have to spend a ton of either to take a few classes. With a modest commitment, you can move to the front of the pack of those in your industry who truly understand the complicated and constantly evolving issues surrounding business promotion in the modern world.
Consider these courses to increase your knowledge and skills.
Marketing and Branding
The Nike swoosh. The McDonald’s golden arches. The Coca-Cola script font. There are certain brands that are so powerful, they are ingrained into the American consciousness. All of them have one thing in common: brilliant branding and marketing that worked so well, the products and services behind the brands are so ubiquitous, we think of their names when we think of their products.
Branding and marketing can make good products great, and a lack of a comprehensive strategy can make a great product join the long list of failures that were outdone by inferior companies who simply understood how to market better.
Creating an unforgettable, trusted brand – and marketing that brand to the appropriate demographics – is a skill that must be learned. While good business instincts may be hereditary, marketing and branding are constantly evolving skills that must be first learned and then honed in a constantly changing marketplace.
There is no way to determine if having a great product is more important than having a great brand. Your product is your brand. You don’t go to get a hamburger. You go to get McDonald’s.
Without a strong social media presence, you don’t have a modern promotional campaign. Having a Twitter account and a Facebook page isn’t enough. The venue in which a relationship between a business and its customers is played out in the modern era is on social media. That is where you will hear complaints and criticisms. It’s where you’ll receive praise. It’s where you’ll engage your customers in dialogue, promote your business, advertise your webpage, and even find some of your best employees.
Understand social media means more than having a knack for writing witty Facebook posts. Integrating your business completely into the digital meeting places of the Internet is a serious and complicated skill that must be taught and can be learned. Social media is now the most direct and personal link you have available to you for building and maintaining customer loyalty.
No longer a novelty for young people with too much free time, social media is serious business for all businesses that want to be taken seriously.
Advertising and promoting used to be a fairly simple game that involved consistency and discipline, and the ability to place limited resources in the right places. New media, such as blogs and podcasts, however, have changed all that. Placing ads in newspapers and magazines that fewer people read everyday, and putting commercials on TV that are going to be DVR’d and fast-forwarded through can no longer be considered a strategy.
There is a whole new world of landmines and opportunities online. Do you have an app? Is your website built with responsive web design? Do you even know what responsive web design is and why it’s absolutely necessary to build webpages that can be opened correctly and easily on both PCs and mobile devices?
The world has already gone digital, and it is quickly going mobile. A single college course can help you keep up.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a strategy by which designers build web pages to increase the likelihood that they will be ranked higher on the major search engines.
Virtually all evidence and studies suggest that the overwhelming majority of people click the top link Google provides after entering a search query. There is a huge dropoff for the second link, and almost no one clicks the third or anything below that. Your website could be the best in the world, but if it’s buried in the search engines, no one will ever know about it.
SEO uses links, keywords, metadata, content, and structure to convince the engines that your page is authoritative and credible – exactly the kinds of pages they want to put at the top. SEO is complicated and competitive, but a college-level course will put you way ahead of the pack.
If you have a business, you have a service or product to sell. If you’re going to sell it, eventually you’re going to have to write something about it – whether it’s on a blog, your website, a brochure, an email, or a post on Facebook.
Creative writing classes not only give the absolutely necessary practice needed to write well, but stoke the imagination and bulk up the part of your brain that thinks critically and imaginatively. Writing is a natural talent, but courses can bring novices up to an impressive level, all while improving your overall critical and creative thought process. A good writer is always a boon to a good businessperson.
If knowledge is power, for businesspeople it’s a superpower. Education can be the difference between success and just getting by – and it doesn’t have to require a major investment in time or money. A few choice courses can trigger a metamorphosis in the style, capabilities, and earning potential of every business owner.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Simon Pielow