Viewpoint: Teaching the secrets to online schools

  • Article by: JOHN EWOLDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2013 - 10:03 PM

DemandQuest is a training center that helps marketers and business owners get familiar with online sales tactics.

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Ted Kozlowski started his DemandQuest training facility three years ago to teach business executives how to increase their sales online.

Photo: JOEL KOYAMA, Star Tribune

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Most seminars that teach business executives how to increase sales online miss the practical, actionable steps, according to Ted Kozlowski, president of DemandQuest, a three-year-old training center with classes on harnessing the Internet customer.

“I started the school because I was sick of seminars where vendors offered only superficial information until you hired them for an additional fee,” Kozlowski said.“I tell all of my instructors, who are experts in their fields, to offer up the keys to the kingdom in their classes.”

A sales and marketing guru, Kozlowski, 35, has worked with a number of profitable start-ups in Silicon Valley. But he said the school offered a chance to help more people. It offers seven core classes and certification on Google AdWords, Google Analytics and search engine optimization and has trained about 3,000 business owners and marketers from businesses as varied as Psycho Suzi’s and Erik’s Bike Shop to Toro, Sun Country and Medtronic.

 

Q: Describe DemandQuest.

A: It’s a tactical training institute that teaches people the latest and greatest tools to market their businesses online. Universities do a great job teaching strategy, but they don’t do actual tactics and tools. They’re not nimble enough because things change so quickly.

We’re unique because all of our 30 instructors work full-time elsewhere. They can only commit to teach one or two times per year, but they do it for sharing and the love of teaching. We want them to give un­biased, deep training. And we offer good food, snacks and beer on tap.

 

Q: Are they giving away trade secrets?

A: Nothing proprietary is given away, but sharing is the nature of the Internet. The idea that one organization knows something that others don’t is not reality. Nothing is all that unique.

 

Q: What makes the school unique?

A: We’re the only stand-alone marketing institute. It’s pure education, not a means to get clients. Instructors are not allowed to use it as a place to get business.

 

Q: What’s the makeup of the classes?

A: Most are fewer than 40 students. A lot of the students are executives but there might be a dentist and an auto-body repair shop owner. All of the students introduce themselves to the class and the instructor, so at some point the instructor may say, “Hey, body shop guy, this is relevant for you.” We teach to the audience. I’ve fired instructors who couldn’t do that. Most classes are three half-day sessions, about 12 to 15 hours total.

 

Q: Are the classes for anyone?

  • Title: President of DemandQuest

    Family: Wife, Rachael; two daughters, ages 2 and 3

    Education: Grew up in Stillwater and attended local schools. Graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Edgewood University in Madison, Wis. He is on faculty at the Institute for Entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina, where he teaches owners of small and medium-sized businesses how to grow revenue.

    Experience: Senior consultant for Homestore.com, management and senior marketing positions with Network Solutions, Immunix (acquired by Novell), and Computer Associates; CEO and co-founder of Life Raft Consulting, a Web marketing start-up based in Charlotte, N.C., with offices in San Francisco and Chicago.

    Other activities: Stillwater City Council member, a director at Valley Outreach food shelf, skiing, boating.

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