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?

A: They’re not designed for someone who’s just starting out. It is advanced training. We’ve had students with little social media experience but who have marketing experience.


Q: What is the most common mistake that marketers make with online sales?

A: Measurement. Very few people are measuring results effectively enough to allow a company to shift strategy. A lot of people are good at giving Google and Microsoft money, but brands don’t always do a good job of measuring their results. That makes it hard to build an effective campaign. Companies look at the number of site visitors per day or the bounce rate [those who go to only one page before hitting the back button], and they think that’s measurement. We look at how many of those visitors are likely to buy something and why.


Q: What’s a no-brainer online marketing strategy?

A: Paid search and online advertising is better than social media. It’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to market yourself. A lot of organizations spend a lot of time on social media because it’s free, but they’re not paying money for online display ads or a paid search ad on Google and Bing [the sponsored ads that are highlighted at the top of the search].

Social media requires a lot of strategy, and it’s hard to be effective. It’s not that Twitter and Facebook can’t be effective advertising. It’s just more challenging.


Q: What do the classes cost?

A: They range from $250 for eight hours to $650 for 16 hours. It’s a lot cheaper than paying a company $500 per month to get your company on the first page of Google search results.