Author: Dilyana Hadjeva
"How should I promote my customer training?" That is the main question I get asked when I talk to customers and one of the biggest challenges I am seeing in the customer education space.
The answer is that you need to have a customer education strategy before you start building your training program. You also need to have a marketing strategy to be able to promote your training program effectively.
After developing and promoting your training, it is frustrating when no one signs up to take it. Especially when the reason you have built it is that customers asked for it in the first place. The "build it and they'll come" mindset does not work for a few reasons:
Now that we established that you need some kind of a marketing strategy for your training program, let's put our marketing hats on and look at what are some attainable ideas you can put into practice immediately.
What better way to get a sense of the value your training program brings than hearing directly from your target audience? Start with a controlled experiment: Make a list of your top 20 customers, including those who have repeatedly asked for training, and ask them to take your program. Picking up the phone may sound time-consuming but it is the most effective way because it makes this outreach very personal and they will be more likely to agree.
Taking the time to talk to them shows that you care and it will help strengthen the relationship with them. Position your request as their benefit, show them you highly value their opinion, and treat them as your most trusted advisers. Enlist your customer success team to help, if you have one, because they are always looking for something unique and exclusive to offer to customers as a token of appreciation. After all, there is a direct correlation between customer retention, product adoption and customer education so you need to make sure you get it right. An added bonus is that you may be able to get a nice testimonial out of this that you can later use to promote the value of your training program.
Before you start planning your marketing campaign, make sure you have value propositions that connect to your target audience on an emotional level. When crafting them, try to answer two key questions:
In other words, what is the value to your prospective learners? Professional growth, skill development, increase in productivity and cost efficiency.
The next logical step is to plan a promotional campaign around your training program. Your marketing team is your new best friend. Work with them to discover which communication methods work best: Emails, webinars, blog posts, press releases, social media posts and podcasts are a few options. Understand where your target audience "hangs out" and focus on those.
Email is still an effective lead generation channel in B2B if it is planned and executed well.
Planning an email campaign that promotes an exclusive offer puts a sense of urgency around it.
For example, the first 50 students who enroll and complete their coursework will get one-year exclusive full access to any new training content we release. Or, the first 10 students who enroll and complete their coursework will be featured in our newsletter. The incentive should be something your learner's will value.
If you are trying to promote to both existing customers and prospects, make sure you customize the message and the offering because one size does not fit all. For customers, hand-pick courses relevant to their expertise level and offer them as a learning path. For prospects, promote courses that would teach them the fundamentals of your product and show its value.
Run a webinar where you can invite as guest speakers the customers that have already gone through the program. Focus your presentation on the outcomes and if possible, quantify the results. For example, "Productivity increased 15% as a result of this course because we learned how to automate this one task," or "We saved $1,500 a month because since I took the training, I can create the workflows myself and we don't need a consultant anymore." Your attendees will relate to that because your active users want to enhance their product knowledge, improve their efficiency and save money.
Leverage content marketing as a strategy because it will not only bring visibility to your training program but also establish your company as an industry expert. After all, you have put the time and effort to pour your knowledge into a structured educational program with the sole purpose to make customers more knowledgeable and independent. Write a blog post, create an eBook, publish a customer success story, and include an infographic to convey why providing high-quality training is critical for customer retention and product usage.
Pro tip: Don't just use your company's content marketing channels to spread the word, find your industry influencers and reach out to them to see if they are willing to write about the success of your program or ask customers to share their experience going through your training program.
Establish a close-knit community that provides access to individuals enrolled in your training program. Use it as a forum where learners can connect, share best practices, discuss ideas, and ask questions. Start hosting a series of events that feature subject-matter experts in your industry. Make the access exclusive only to the community members and use this as a value proposition to drive people to your program.
Establish it as the go-to event for gaining knowledge and expertise in your industry. Plan and facilitate a training event with live sessions where attendees get something extra compared to taking your training program online.
Keep learners active and immersed in your program. Share their progress on a leaderboard and have an annual award ceremony (even if it's virtual) where the most active learners get a trophy or a medal. This will also encourage participation.
As a marketer, I love the challenge to think of different ways to influence the prospects' decisions. When it comes to marketing, there is no perfect formula because there are so many variables in the equation:
One thing is for sure, you can't possibly foresee all the variables and expect to put out a communication that connects the same way with every single person. However, you can keep trying by experimenting with the subject line, the call to action, the format of content, and the day and time to send out your communication. By trial and error, you will get to know your audience better and you will figure out the approach that works best for you.
Even the longest journey starts with the first step so as overwhelming as this may look, take the first step and keep walking. Learn more about crafting strategies to promote your customer education training.
Originally published: June 1st, 2018