Asheville-based Internet marketing company JB Media Group is approaching a major milestone with the launch of an online school to complement the JB Media Institute’s more intensive, in-person digital marketing course. Founder and director of strategy Justin Belleme‘s hope is that the new online platform — although delivering the same cutting-edge curriculum — will enable JB Media’s team of subject matter experts to reach a new crop of small-business owners and other individuals aiming to improve their online presence.
Enrollment is open now, and the first class is on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
From pens to keyboards
“When we first decided to create the JB Media Institute, we dreamed of taking the program online after a few years of refining the curriculum,” Belleme says, explaining that the gestation period did indeed take several years. “After two beta test classes, we feel that the program is ready for our local launch.”
Belleme’s course uses three learning formats — audio/visual presentations, teleconferences and Web forums — to present timely lessons on social media, search engine optimization, public relations, online advertising and performance metrics. But how does a paid course compete with the myriad free or cheap options for online learning?
“Our agency is really working on the edge of the newest trends in digital marketing,” Belleme says, “and a lot of courses online are taught by academics or people who are a little bit behind the times when it comes to the latest trends. If something changes, we’ll teach something new the next day — or even the same day … so we have to keep up [with changes to industry best practices] on a daily basis.”
“As tools evolve, new sites and apps emerge, studies are completed, and updates happen on sites like Google, Facebook and more, I review the new information and present it to the students,” adds Sarah Benoit, director of training and lead trainer at JB Media. “Some topics change more quickly, so social media content and search engine content are typically hot topics each month. Topics related to strategy and tracking also change fairly quickly these days, as Google launches a variety of new tools inside Analytics and the Search Console. … We are teaching students how to use tools, but we are also teaching them how to make smart decisions about communications technology.”
Same content, different setting
In addition to more personalization and real-time answers, the in-person course includes 54 hours of instruction and discussion over six weeks. Belleme likens the intensity to that of several college summer classes at the same time.
“It’s more conversational, and there’s also a greater sense of accountability, because you are asked to present a marketing plan at the end in front of the class,” he adds. “That really pushes people to get it done and carve out the time to really learn.”
The online program, on the other hand, doesn’t include a group presentation but affords time flexibility for those who can’t attend afternoon sessions in person. With 18-20 hours of instruction (since class discussions are omitted) spread across three months, it’s conducted at a much more leisurely pace that’s geared toward small-business owners, according to Belleme.
JB Media Institute’s three-month online course, beginning on Sept. 15, costs $720, but tuition will increase with each graduating class up to a maximum of $1,250 per pupil in 2016. In-person students are charged on a sliding scale that ranges from $1,500 to $2,500 for the six weeks. Visit jbmediagroupllc.com for more information or to enroll.