Congratulations to our Digital Marketing School’s Summer Graduates!

asheville internet marketing institute studentsThe wrap-up of an in-person Institute session always feels bittersweet. On the one hand, as an administrator of the Institute, I’m thrilled to see our students (now alumni!) walk away with their heads held just a bit higher. Our graduates are more confident, not only in their understanding of Internet marketing, but also in their abilities to begin putting that knowledge into practice for their own companies. The feeling is bittersweet, because I’ll miss spending time with the new friends I made over the course of our 6 weeks together learning about social media, SEO, online PR, online advertising and strategy/project management.

Since becoming the Institute Community Manager in January of 2015, I’ve had the pleasure to help facilitate five in-person sessions, and below, I’ve included some reflections on this most recent Summer Institute session. If you’ve participated in our Institute before, you may relate to my observations. If you’ve yet to partake in our online or in-person Institute, perhaps you will see a little bit of yourself in the tales of our students who made the decision to spend the time to define and refine their digital marketing efforts.

Tailoring Discussions – B2B vs. B2C

One benefit of the JB Media Institute is the personal attention students receive from our instructors. We typically have about an average of 8-10 people in our Asheville-based classes and an average of 12-15 people in our online classroom. With such a small group, we’re able to really hone in on the digital marketing strategies that make the most sense for our students. In the 2016 summer-session of our in-person cohort, the businesses represented by our students ranged from a large hospitality group, a piano and storage dehumidifier manufacturer, a local advertising agency, a budding actress and filmmaker, and an up-and-coming beer bread mix maker! A strategy that works for the manufacturer whose goal is to reach more piano technicians might not work for the company targeting home cooks who are looking online for prepackaged baking mixes.

But the overarching principles of our Institute – i.e. establishing your brand identity and voice, creating and maintaining a solid, user-friendly website, and recognizing that not every online marketing channel is necessarily a fit for your business – apply to any and every Institute attendee.

It’s our job as administrators and instructors of the Institute to steer each business in the right direction while also teaching the fundamental skills necessary to navigate today’s online marketing channels.

The What, the How and the Why

When our Institute students share the actionable Internet marketing plans they created for their final projects, a common theme often appears. This year’s summer cohort was collectively inspired by an observation made by author and speaker Simon Sinek. Institute guest instructor Glenn Geffcken showed Sinek’s TED Talk called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” during his “Branding and Intended Audience” class. In his talk, Sinek urges people to define the “What, How and Why” of their brand. For example, Apple Computers’ “WHY” is that they believe in thinking differently and challenging the status quo. “HOW” Apple does this is by making beautifully-designed, simple and user-friendly products. “WHAT” they do is create computers. Defining your brand in these three ways seemed to resonate deeply with almost every student who shared their marketing plan with us, and we were excited to see each business so focused on building a solid brand identity that could serve as a foundation for successful marketing efforts.

The Institute as a Digital Marketing Road Map

We often advertise the JB Media Institute as a packaged product: 6 weeks of comprehensive digital marketing classes. However, the most tangible take away from the entire Institute experience is the Internet marketing plan our students create after receiving our instruction. Sometimes we refer to this plan as a “digital marketing road map.” In short, we give you the entire map through our series of classes, and we teach you how to read all aspects of that map. After spending time in the Institute, it is up to the students to decide what roads are the right ones to lead them to their destination (in this analogy, it’s a successfully implemented online marketing strategy!).

If continued guidance is needed after the Institute wraps, graduates of our in-person program have the option to sign up for a monthly subscription for continuous learning online. For $79 a month, Institute graduates can participate in weekly live calls with our Lead Instructors, submit questions to our online forum, receive updated recorded versions of our presentations and how-to videos, and gain access to our job opportunities board.

So here we stand: halfway through 2016. Is your business ready to tackle a comprehensive marketing strategy in the remaining months of this calendar year? If not, consider joining our next online Institute starting the week of Sept 12. We’ll also offer our last in-person Institute of the year starting in early October. And last but not least, we’ll be hosting a half-day bootcamp covering the topics of website usability, content marketing and social media distribution in Asheville on Tuesday, August 23 (more info coming soon!)

What are you waiting for? Contact us to learn more about all the ways our Institute can help shape the message of your brand or business.