For this week’s Q&A, Debbie LaChusa gives us some insight into how she made the switch from a career in advertising, to crafting online training courses. Debbie loves to help individuals maximize the potential of their businesses by offering up her extensive experience in affordable, easy-to-access online training courses. We’re excited that her courses are now available at Coggno, so we decided to pick her brain. We think you’ll be just as impressed as we are.
Take it away, Debbie…
Tell us a little about your professional background.
Well, I’m actually one of those people who does for a living what I studied in college! After getting my degree in Marketing and Advertising, I started my career working in advertising agencies. I spent 13 years doing that and held just about every position the agencies had to offer. After that I hopped over to the client side for a few years serving as VP of Marketing & Public Relations for the American Council on Exercise, an international non-profit. About that time I realized I was spending way too much time at work and not enough time at home with my kids, so I made the decision to start my own business as a marketing consultant. After spending six years consulting with corporations and non-profits I decided to start packaging my experience and expertise and sharing it with independent business owners—people like me who were working on their own. That’s been my focus since 2005. In addition to consulting and coaching one-on-one and with small groups, I’ve created and sold information products, written several books, and produced and sold online training programs. This year I launched The Business Stylist Marketing Academy to provide affordable, 24/7 access to my business, marketing, and branding courses. I love teaching online courses because it has enabled me to reach and help more people than I can working one-on-one. In fact, in the past year and a half more than 3700 students have enrolled in my online courses.
How did you become interested in professional and personal branding?
I was always involved with branding when I worked in the advertising agencies. And, when I went out on my own, I realized if I didn’t find a way to set myself apart I was going to have a tough time attracting clients. When I launched my first Internet-based training business—the first company of my own to carry a branding other than my own name—I quickly realized the benefits. I went from unknown to having a successful online business in about a year. All the while having other “generic” coaches or consultants asking me how I was getting the results I was getting. I realized it was because I had a platform and a point-of-view and it was more interesting than just being a generic marketing consultant or coach. From that point on I made branding a central focus in my own business as well as the work I do with my clients.
When did you begin teaching marketing and branding courses?
I actually taught my first marketing course back in 1995 when I was still working for The American Council on Exercise. In 2002 I taught my first marketing teleclass for a coach training organization. And in 2011 I created my first video training course that I offered through my own website.
Do you have any stories to share about how branding can either help or hurt you?
I don’t know that I have any stories to share but I have seen how much branding can help, over and over again in my own business and with my clients. It’s helped me and my clients get noticed and become successful more quickly, attract speaking invitations, guest blogging invitations, and media coverage (which is all free marketing). I’ve also seen how clients who previously hated marketing and sales suddenly get excited about marketing because they’re so excited about their brand. Conversely, I do think it can hurt you if you don’t take the time to develop a strategically sound brand. I’ve seen too many business owners just come up with a clever name, but it doesn’t mean anything and it doesn’t really represent them or what they do. The danger in that is it may not be believable or attract the right clients. A brand is more than a clever name. It’s a point of view, a positioning, that is represented by a meaningful and memorable name. The name in and of itself is not the brand, and I think that’s where many people get it wrong.
What would you say are the top 3 steps to take for a strong and positive personal or professional brand strategy?
First, you need to identify what you want your business to stand for. You need a strong point-of-view. A unique positioning. An idea that’s compelling and sets you apart.
Second, you need to brainstorm creative names to represent that idea and point-of-view.
Third, before you adopt a brand name, you must do some research to make sure no one in your industry is already using the name. The whole idea of a brand is to be unique, to have a name that not only represents who you are and what you do, but that no one else is using.
How did you first hear about online training?
In the mid-2000’s I studied under a number of Internet Marketers and many of them were doing online training in one form or another. However, I didn’t become aware of the type of online video training courses I currently create until I was invited to join the faculty of an online academy in 2013.
What prompted you to begin writing online training courses?
I had made the decision in 2012 that I wanted to start teaching more, but I wasn’t quite sure how or where. Then, in February 2013 I was invited by a major online learning website to create video courses for their platform. My first course became their top selling and rated marketing course within six months and I’ve been focusing on creating, marketing, and selling online training courses ever since!
Do you feel that online training in the business industry / sector is a good companion to classroom education?
I think it’s better in many ways. It’s more convenient to learn online on your own schedule and from your home or business computer than to take time off work to go to a class. Additionally, online classes are often taught by professionals working in the field they’re teaching, so they’re able to teach real-world application and not just theory. That’s extremely important in the business world. I studied marketing and advertising in college, and I learned a lot of theory. But I didn’t really learn how to do what I do until I started working in the industry.
Do you plan to add more online training courses to your current library of courses?
Yes, if there is demand for more courses I will definitely consider adding more.
Coggno offers premier LMS platforms. Coggno just introduced Subscriptions. Coggno Subscriptions make it easy for you to provide your employees with an entire library of relevant quality training courses. Courses are instantly available for you to start distributing in a custom branded training management system that is provided for you.