Christine Hohlbaum

Article Summary:

How to set up a teleclass to promote your business.

How To Set Up a Teleclass

Are you looking for a new, cost-effective way of reaching your target audience? Enter the teleclass.

Distance learning has taken a new twist through so-called teleclasses which serve a dual purpose: they instruct the participants about something they wish to learn while allowing you an expert platform to market your product or service. If your clients won't come to you, you can come to them through their phone lines. We're not talking about telemarketing, but a voluntary, one-hour course on a topic of choice.

What is a teleclass?
Also known as a teleseminar, a teleclass is essentially an interactive phone call with any number of participants on a specific topic. It is called a semianr or class because the participants are there to learn something. "Tele" comes from the Greek, meaning far off. As the host of the call, you offer a toll-free number (or a regular number for international participants) and a PIN code for the particular teleclass you have set up. Most often, it is a complimentary service you offer to attract customers to your Web site, storefront or catalogue.

Why do a teleclass?
Think about it. People make purchases based on a feeling of trust. Why is Wal-Mart so successful? Because people trust they are getting everything they need at the lowest possible price. Whether this is true or not is immaterial. It is the feeling which propels them to buy. Conducting a free course on the phone gives people a good feeling that they are getting something useful for the time they spend listening and interacting with you.

How do you set one up?
Here are the steps:

1) Choose a Sponsor
In the best case scenario, you want a sponsor to help you promote the event. Partnering with the owner of a well-visited Web site forum is one way to spread the word. In the spirit of cross-promotion, ask the Web site owner to send out a special announcement about the teleclass in his or her next mailing. If you are an active member of the forum, post the event or offer a few "teaser" postings to attract more participants.

2) Select a Conference Call Service
Determine who your target audience will be. Are they US-based or does your business have a global presence? If you require an international line, you will need to make certain the conference call service you select has that option. Consider whether you will need recording capability as well. Piggyback on your hardwork and success by selling the CD of the call afterwards for a set price. CafePress.com handles the manufacturing and shipping of many promotional items, including CD's. Your profit margin is drastically reduced using this venue, but you won't have the hassle of mailing each individual CD. An alternative is hiring an assistant to do order fulfillment. As your popularity grows, you may wish to consider this option.

3) Marketing Your Teleclass
Who is your target audience? Who is your ideal participant? Design a demographic profile. Determine where these people hang out. The best way to reach them is to conduct an internet marketing campaign. Through viral marketing you can reach thousands of people fairly quickly. Ask everyone you know to pass on your teleclass announcement.

Tip: Be certain to provide time zone assistance to ensure people don't miss the calls due to a time mix-up.

4) Offer a Free Incentive
Charging nothing for the teleclass is often not enough to attract people to the call. Build in a teaser by offering a free eBook or other complimentary item which they will value. You can ask your sponsor or some other business to provide the giveaway as a means of cross-promoting, or you can provide a promotional item directly from your business. Participants will view it as an exchange for the time they have invested. Provide a promotional code during the call which they must e-mail to you in order to receive the free item. By doing so, you can track who actually participated in the call and offer follow-up announcements as deemed appropriate.

5) Prepare a Script
Prepare a few key points you would like to address and offer ample opportunity for participants to ask questions. Make the teleclass as interactive as possible. It will guarantee return customers and support the elusive word-of-mouth marketing we businesses seek to attain.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum is the author of several books, including a turn-key marketing program, The Author's Companion: A Self-Guided Course on Book Promotion. She has been published in over 120 publications and offers affordable PR consulting for authors. www.authors companion.com.

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