This message is on the “red-headed stepchild” of most corporations: training. Sometimes it is even “homeless,” and relegated to the marketing, sales, or human resources department. And since it’s usually underfunded, training execution is often underwhelming.
The beautiful thing about training and education is that it’s relatively inexpensive, far less investment than advertising or marketing, where you pay to reach your audience through various media. Instead, your audience (your enterprise) is easily accessible. And you don’t need to be perfect in your presentation—usually a high-end production is not needed. It may be the smartest investment you can make.
FIVE WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR TRAINING AND EDUCATION
#1.) Reach out to everybody.
Train every person in your enterprise, not just your sales or technical people. That includes executives, administrative staff, and line workers. It’s crazy (and wasteful) not to do this. What’s the harm in educating your COO on your offerings? And as a bonus, when the executives “drink the Kool-Aid” and are trained, the rest of your organization gets the message that it’s important to master your brand and product. Challenge yourself to ask why everyone isn’t trained.
#2.) Ask more and certify.
Want to get the attention of the people you train? Require them to pass your online modules or tests. It may sound tough, but it’s smart. Make sure everyone is certified. It will be a point of pride.
I met with a top executive, and when he found out our company had created their IS training, he jumped out of his chair, ran down to his office, returning minutes later with his IS Training “diploma.” He was so proud of his certification that he had made sure everyone in his department displayed their diplomas as well. Bonus suggestion: For any in-person dealer or distributor training event, require participants to be certified in advance to attend. This raises the level of engagement and reinforces that your brand values itself.
The Bombardier Recreational Products CAN-AM brand specialist program trains salespeople on selling techniques targeted specifically to customers in their state. Those who successfully complete the training earn certification.
#3.) Tell the entire story, including customer psychographics.
It’s not only about your products or services; educate on your story, history, technology, marketing, and how you stack up against the competition. And you must unlock exactly who your customers are. Train the enterprise on their demographics (age, salary, location, job, etc.) and their psychographics (their mindset—for example if they are traditional, techy, or risk-takers)..
The Macallan trains employees, distributors and trade professionals all over the world in 11 languages. In addition to training on its premium whiskies, The Macallan educates learners on its rich history and brand story.
#4.) Train and promote you.
It’s great to learn all about products and technology, but if a person doesn’t truly value the company itself, it’s a waste. Educate on the exciting future of your company; its resources, culture, worldwide locations (if it has them), and its environmental and corporate responsibility. Give people powerful reasons to remain with the brand.
#5.) Bite-size chunks.
Remember, in school, trying to stay awake through an hour-long lecture? Or enduring a company’s 90-minute training video? Those days are over. Our preferred training method today is micro-learning. Create learning modules that are five minutes or less to meet shorter attention spans.
These are considerations to help your brand receive the attention and respect it deserves. Be the rare company that trains and educates everyone who represents it. This may be your smartest investment in differentiating your brand in the eyes and hearts of customers and the enterprise.
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Barry LaBov is founder and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training. He is a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year recipient and author of numerous business books, including the upcoming Power of Differentiation. Since 1981, LABOV has differentiated and launched products and brands around the world.