So You Think You Can Market Your Training?

I sat down on my couch after a long meeting with a prospective client. What seemed to be a normal routine meeting turned out to be one tough cookie! More demanding then training itself.

People here don’t know me, yet. Being relatively new in this market, I still have a lot of heads to turn. It was easy to sell in my hometown, but this new market is more challenging than ever!

What can I do to actually ‘sell’ my training services? How do I advertise my services to generate the right response?

For trainers and training firms, it’s mostly word of mouth that does the trick. Satisfied trainees do the promotions for you. In reality, the words ‘Marketing’ and ‘Advertising” are not words that are commonly used among trainers. Especially when it comes to technical trainers, who are mostly IT professionals. “Why do I need marketing? Isn’t that supposed to be done only by the MBA professionals?” said a technical trainer when I asked him about his marketing strategy.

Lets face it: To ‘sell’ a product or a service is an art. Not everyone can convince a consumer/customer to buy something. Similarly, marketing is important for trainers to sell their services. It’s as important for trainers as it is for selling fizzy drinks, or shampoo.

So what ingredients do you need to marketing your training?

1. Content: What will they get out from it?

The first step towards effective marketing is the strength in the content itself. Whether it’s a product, a service or even a training course, exceptional content is the foundation of good marketing. Good training content attracts training candidates and organizations seeking training services.

To put it in simple terms, a candidate or firm will be interested in whether he is able to ‘solve’ a problem through your training session. If your training content is able to fulfil the desired outcome or to answer the burning question: “Will it resolve the critical issue(s) I am facing?” that is your marketing job done.

A few basic answers that a firm/individual is looking to have answered through marketing:

• Will I/my firm be able to save money and gain a unique position in the market after this training?

• Will it add to skill set/resume resulting in better pay or a higher career position?

2. Price: How much do I have to pay for it?

Tip: Make sure pricing for your training is done after careful market research. The following points are extremely valuable when pricing:

• How scarce is the training/certification that you are providing?

• How strong is your command on the topic?

• How valuable is your training and ‘certification’ in the market?

• What is the return value?

In order to get the right response, your price should reflect the value it’s providing in return to successful completion of the training and/or certification. If the provided value is far more astounding (and realistic) then the cost, organizations and participants will make sure to be a part of it, and will make an effort not to let it go.

This factor of marketing should be backed by ample case studies, success stories and industry experts’ inputs.

3. Promotion of Incentive (How to compel people to take the training).

At times, the content or price itself is not enough to draw or entice a firm or audience towards training. It’s a simple 5 letter acronym: WIIFM – What’s in it for me?

You might be thinking ‘A discount as compared to other training providers’, or a more commonly used one: “A discount on the next training you will be doing with us”.

While working for a firm in 2006, I was asked to promote a 3-month rigorous training program that was targeted for final semester students of an engineering university. While promoting the training, I felt that the trainer was not the incentive, even though he was a renowned industry expert.

Also, it was not the content as it made the students feel the burden of studies, especially in their already over-burdened and stressful final semester.

What made them go for it? A guaranteed job! We promised a position in our firm for the top 5 candidates. Isn’t that what every student looks for?

Promotional Material – Yes it matters!

Once you have identified all the above, and made a plan of how to implement it, put it on a piece of

paper or a flyer. Remember, the package, the cover, the box: it all counts. Handouts, newsletters, social media promotions, forum announcements etc. Everything matters.

Even attitude matters. Emoting positivity in every word, in every document and in every announcement, coupled with content, idea, price, and incentive, will create the right perception and identify the correct value addition you will be providing through your training.

Fahad Khan works as a “Sales Leader” for Building and Infrastructure Technologies at SIEMENS. He carries with him extensive Business Development, Sales, Marketing, Recruitment and Training expertise, which spans more than a decade, covering America and the Middle East. Apart from his ‘Clark Kent’ job, he supports start-ups with winning strategies and ideas to make a niche in the market.

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