Promote Your Customer Education with Meetups and YouTube

Written by Bill Cushard

Published on June 3, 2016

One of the scariest moments for a customer education professional occurs after a course is done, and it is first made available to customers. The course is placed in on the web site and customers can register. Once it is published, you are left to wonder, “Will anyone buy it?” It has happened to the best of us. Two weeks goes by and no one registers for our course. Then we ask, "How can we market this course to get people to register?” Let's face it. Customer education professionals are not marketers and our marketing teams (if we have one) are too focused on marketing our products and not training. We are often left to ourselves to figure out how to generate demand for our courses. 

This is a story about how Marko Gargenta took a content marketing approach to promoting his training courses. His approach was so successful that he eventually sold his company, Marakana, to Twitter and it became Twitter University. 

In this post, I summarize the key takeaways from a talk he gave. I cover the high points and suggest a few actions you can take right away to start promoting your courses. To get Marko's full story, I suggest you watch the entire video.

It Started with Ads

One of the obvious ways to promote training is to run display ads on Google and other search sites. A less obvious approach is to use sponsored updates on services like Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook, each of which have many options for targeting messages. These can be effective, when written and targeted well. But as Marko describes in his talk, the problem with running ads is that the moment the ad campaign stops, the lead flow stops. It does not live on. Marko wanted to find something that worked in the long term and do it with something his company could own. 

After thinking about this more, one realizes that when people go to find something, they usually start with a search on Google, especially when it comes to learning new technologies. Marko asked, "What does Google want?" Google wants people's search results to produce valuable content that people are actually searching for. This is what keeps people coming back to Google. Marko decided they should produce useful content for people to find. 

It's All About Meetups and YouTube

One of the first things Marko did was start hosting Meetups about the technology that Marakana had courses in. Meetups are discoverable on searches and provide an opportunity to establish credibility. The meetups were working, growing to attendance rates between 50 and 100 people. That is a great number, but meetups are not scalable much beyond that. Marko decided to put a video camera in the back of the room, record the meetups, and post them on YouTube. Quickly, he started seeing video views get to 1,000 per video.

That's 10X. 


Once the videos were up, traffic to the Marakana web site started to grow and sales of training courses increased. The meetups and video strategy worked because it raised awareness, established Marakana as a credible source for open technology training, and drove people to the Marakana website where the course catalog was prominent. In fact, meetups became events just to get video footage for YouTube.

The meetup strategy was so successful that it became the key demand generation engine for launching new training courses. For example, if Marakana wanted to offer courses in a hot new technology, it didn't just create a new course and start offering it. Marakana started a new meetup on that topic, recorded the sessions, and put them on YouTube. If people started showing up to the meetups and watching the videos, Marakana would start selling a course on their website. Meetups and YouTube videos created the demand for more in-depth training.

This is a great story because it shows the value of offering a service for free, how that builds credibility and community, and how it drives people to want more paid services, in this case training. 

Here is the process that Marko implemented. If you want to promote your training courses, take a version of this process and adapt it to your needs.

The Process and What Actions You Should Take

There are many lessons in this talk, and I will not cover them all here. I recommend watching the entire video. But I do think there are a few key takeaways that can help you get started right away.

Step 1 - Start a Meetup: Start a meetup in your market space. The meetup could be on your technology or it could be on the underlying work function your product serves. For example, if your company sells marketing automation software, start the marketing technology stack meetup. If your company sells project management software, start the project management meetup. 

Step 2 - Create a Backlog and Be Consistent: Make sure you create a backlog of topics and speakers, so you get run the meetup at a regular and consistent cadence. Don't do two meetups and then stop. Consistency is key to growing an audience

Step 3 - Record Sessions and Get Them On YouTube: The video does not have to be perfect. Start recording with a smart phone if you have to, then build into improving the quality as you go.

Step 4 - Add Calls-to-Action On All Free Stuff: During meetups and on the YouTube descriptions, tell people how they can find your training. 

There are many ways to promote your training. Some approaches cost money directly and others require nothing more than your time and some execution. This content marketing approach is a low cost way to increase awareness of your training, build credibility in your space, and drive people to your course catalog to learn more. The best part is, the content you create from this approach lives on and remains discoverable on Google whenever people search for a learning solution in your market.

We did a webinar on the subject of marketing your customer education programs earlier this year with guest Sarah Bedrick from HubSpot. If you are interested more in the topic of marketing your training, that webinar might be worth a watch. The recording is available on our website.

View Webinar

Originally published Jun 3, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated Jun 3, 2016