Tips on Launching an Online Program

By: Lindsey Allbritton

As the Program Manager for a Foundation, I was recently responsible for the launch of a new Virtual Training Program. It has been quite the learning experience for someone who isn’t familiar with the backend of technology. This was a very new project for me, but knowing what I know now, here are a couple of tips I would recommend for anyone who takes on a similar project.

  1. Learn the language
    First, seek advice and information from any and every one at your company that may have more

    Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    experience with technology. I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but when it comes to knowing which formats are more compatible with which system, well, my Business Management degree didn’t prepare me for that. Keep in mind that your audience likely isn’t an expert on the language either, so learn enough information that will allow you to accurately answer any questions about the format of your program, because believe me, they will ask!

  2. Research your options
    Now that you’re somewhat familiar with the technology needed, research the options that best fit your organization’s budget while paying close attention to your audience. If you settle for a low cost file format that isn’t compatible with the majority of your users computers, your launch won’t be successful. If your audience is anything like mine, I have both extremes of the spectrum that I need to tend to – 18 year olds graduating high school and entering the industry, all the way to 65+ year olds that have been in the field for over 40 years. You will have to internally determine the perfect balance between your organization’s needs and your audience’s needs, and that takes research.
  3. Determine how long your program will be accessible to customers
    It’s critical to figure this out prior to launch because once you launch and the first person purchases, you’re stuck. Depending on the material, you may want it to be a one-time log in, 30, 60, 90 days, or even lifetime access. What are the pros and cons of each timeline? Is this information that once one person purchases, they will be able to share with their peers? If so, it may be in your best interest to limit the time your program is available.
  4. Develop a Marketing Plan
    Create a strategy of how you plan to inform your market of the launch of your new program. Speaking of technology, social media channels are an obvious answer to this. Of course we have to take our audience into consideration here too. There are still people who are anti-technology and still like the smell and feel of turning the page of a magazine. If your organization has a printed publication, use it! Take full advantage of every marketing channel you have and determine which creates the best results.
  5. Launch and Accept Feedback
    With a new program comes a curious and excited audience and it’s important that you’re available to answer questions or concerns. Don’t post to Facebook or send an e-mail blast at 4:45pm or right before you meet your friend for lunch. Engagement in a timely manner can be everything.

The Virtual Training Program launched a few months ago and has been successful thus far. With my above pointers to get you started; you’re bound for a successful launch yourself!

LindseyAllbrittonBio

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