Home Mail

Training Officer Tip Archive

November 9, 2005 - "Marketing" Isn't a Four-letter Word (It's your opportunity to shine!)

Somewhere along the line, "marketing" became a bad word in training offices around the world. We don't know who started it, but the term gives many training officers the willies. It shouldn't. Marketing is a big part of a training officer's job, and it shouldn't make you uncomfortable. If you do it well, it will make you stand out above your peers.

Marketing Training Programs
As a marketing of quality training, our work is not done as soon as we get an order. Why? Because often our clients do not have a ready-made audience for their programs, so they are responsible for filling the sessions to make sure they run. So, after we do our job of marketing, you still have to do yours. Sound unfair? Maybe, but we see it as an opportunity for you to shine as an effective training officer.

Many of our clients have employee populations is in the thousands. Some are in the hundreds of thousands. That's a lot of potential enrollees for your trainings, but filling classes can be a frustrating exercise. What are some strategies and tactics that you can employ to get your employees to bust down your door to enroll? Kelly O'Brien of TurningPointe Marketing helps large organizations like government agencies build their internal marketing prowess and keep training offices humming. Here are a few ideas that Kelly has found to be successful:

1. Recognize who the real buyer is. First of all, the people filling your programs are buyers, whether they're paying real money for the class or not. They still have to invest with their time, commitment, and get approval to attend. And the real buyer may not be your attendee - it could be her boss or department head. For each "target audience," you need a tailored marketing approach.

Rule of thumb: always look at least two levels higher in the organization beyond the person attending your programs for the real buyer(s). And then consider what's in it for them to give you business. If you don't know, set up a meeting to find out.

2. Be buyer-centered, not program-centered. Remember the WIIFM Factor? It applies in marketing, too. People's eyes glaze over when you use technical trainer-speak... words like "blended learning," "action learning," "edutainment", "experiential learning", and so on. These terms may get you excited, but your target buyer could care less. What they want to know is, "How will this solve _________? If I invest in this program, will I (or my staff) be better able to ____________?"

Rule of thumb: keep asking and answering "so what?" until what you come up with really matters to your target buyer. And don't take your own word for it - test your assumptions by asking sample buyers what they think.

3. Stay in regular touch with information that matters to your target audience - not just when you're trying to sell something to them. Think of it this way: if you only hear from a friend (or family member) when they want something from you, you might be less inclined to return their calls or emails. But if they regularly check in, share news, send you helpful or interesting things (articles, links, etc.)... there's goodwill and a relationship that gets built up over time. It's not all one-way, but more reciprocal.

The same thing is true of the relationship you have with your target buyers. And, yes, you do have a relationship - it might not be a good one, but it exists for better or worse.

Rule of thumb: "touch" your target audience with a short article of interest, a regular newsletter, a phone call, lunch, etc. at least monthly. The more important your "client" is, the more high-touch your contact should be. So a face-to-face meeting or telephone call is higher-touch than email or something through the mail.

4. Create a system of marketing strategies, not unrelated tactics. An isolated tactic, like flyers or email announcements, does not a marketing strategy make. Strategy means that you're making wise decisions about how and where to invest your resources that move your target buyer through levels of commitment in the buying cycle. So you can't expect someone to be a long-term, repeat buyer if they're not ready to trust that their investment is a good use of resources. Start by building their trust (and this takes weeks, months, and years - depending on the degree of commitment), before you ask for the sale. You have to earn the right.

Rule of thumb: Pick one or two rock-solid marketing tasks and execute them religiously. Test their results. Adjust. Rinse and repeat. Think habit. Think system. Save yourself the stress of haphazardly trying a bunch of ideas and then getting frustrated because they "don't work." These things take time to root and blossom, but if done right, they'll bring results.

5. Prepare before you go "on stage" with your offer. The biggest mistake you can make is to rush out and start marketing. There's a proper sequence to the steps of constructing and deploying a marketing plan that actually works. Sure, you can experiment with a flyer here... an email announcement there... but you won't fill your classes that way, consistently, over time. Chances are, you'll do a good job at saying exactly the wrong things - either shooting yourself in the foot, or simply confusing your target buyer.

Rule of thumb: There are five sequential steps you must take, if you want to fill your programs consistently, reduce your enrollment headaches, get the resources you need for your department, and win buy-in for your programs. To find out what these steps are and how to get started, Kelly has a free 20-page Marketing Success Guide waiting for you to download on TurningPointe's website. You can get it at http://www.turningpointemarketing.com/.

The above strategies are proven to work over time. In the government world, we've recently begun a new fiscal year. In the corporate world, the new calendar year is right around the corner. In other words, now is the right time to reinvent yourself with a new outlook and new approach to marketing your internal training. There's a ton of upside to giving these strategies a shot, including better attendance, increased goodwill among employees, higher stature for your office, and an easily justifiable future training budget. What are you waiting for?

Forward to a friend
Copyright © 2008
Home   |   About Us   |   Services   |   Tips & News   |   Information Request