A series of free training courses have been designed to enable businesses to crack overseas markets digitally.

The pilot project is part-funded by the European Commission’s European Regional Development Fund and the UK’s Department for International Trade.

Courses are being managed jointly by online experts from two North-East firms – Joanna Wake from Stockton-based RAW Digital Training and Steven Parker, managing director of Digital Allies in Houghton-le-Spring.

They have brought together experts from various digital marketing fields to deliver the courses in central Durham and Newton Aycliffe.

Businesses with a base in County Durham are eligible to access the free courses, which are targeted towards firms interested in exporting now or in the future, but they’re running for a limited time.

The masterclass subjects cover areas including social media, YouTube for business, e-commerce for international sales, how to plan your digital ROI and working with agencies.

Karen Berry, partnership manager at the Department for International Trade, said: “We have already delivered a number of these courses which have proved hugely successful, and all attendees have taken away new skills they can take into their business.

“The courses are due to finish in mid-February, but there’s still an opportunity to access six courses scheduled over the next few weeks, and we’d urge all businesses who either already export or are looking to export their goods or services to take a look.

“British goods and services are in demand around the world due to our reputation for quality and innovation. We want to see more of our businesses in the County Durham area exporting.”

Joanna Wake added: “It’s about giving those who have the capacity some extra skills sets, and make them aware of the power of what can be achieved.

“Years ago, you would have had to put a lot of up-front effort and money into trying to exploit and target overseas markets, when these days you can do a lot of it from your office here in the North-East.

“You can learn a lot, but you can see your potential new markets without travelling the world. And you don’t have a lot to lose by exploring worldwide markets digitally.

“Every company which exports around the world was once a small company. It’s about finding the opportunities to enable small businesses to grow.”

Attendees on the courses can also benefit from a package of support from the Department for International Trade, including high-level market intelligence.

Free courses remaining as part of the Durham Digital project include: One Day Social Media Masterclass at Finchale College, Durham, on Thursday January 18; Inbound International Sales at Finchale College, Durham, on Tuesday January 23; International Impact, Planning and ROI with Digital Marketing at The Work Place, Aycliffe Business Park, on Friday January 26, Working With Agencies at The Work Place, Aycliffe Business Park, on Friday January 26; a Digital Bitesize Day at The Work Place, Aycliffe Business Park, on Wednesday January 31; and E-Commerce for International at Finchale College on Wednesday February 7.

Those interested in the courses can either email isaac@rawdigital.training or book online at www.rawdigital.training/digitalexportdurham