Are you on the fence about whether or not to create a certification program for your organization? There is a good reason to pause. Developing, launching, and then maintaining a certification program is a huge responsibility. Required is an investment of time, money, and other resources. If you’re still in the consideration stage, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you think of all that’s involved.
The purpose behind this post is to shift your focus. Instead of thinking about the amount of work that’s involved in planning a certification program, let’s discuss the major benefits you’ll get from developing such a program. If you’re on board, but other stakeholders aren’t, you can use the following compelling reasons to get their buy ins.
Without further ado, let’s discuss the benefits of developing and launching a certification program.
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1. Build Brand Awareness
Your certification program gives you the opportunity to reach more people than you would otherwise.
Think about it: Without a certification program, what will set your association apart from the others out there? It’s tempting to say that your customer service or your commitment to your members is what sets you apart. However, a prospective member won’t likely know about these benefits until they’ve joined your association. Instead, you’re likely to lure new members based on what you can do for them.
What better way to prove your value to that prospective member than promoting your certification program? You’ll reach people who may not know about your association at all, but are drawn to the promise that your certification program offers, i.e. “Learn X and Improve Your Career.” To the career-driven individual who’s aiming for that promotion, your certification program can provide them with the necessary skills to advance to more money, more knowledge, and more status.
Your certification program can also market itself. Here’s how:
Let’s say you run a pay per click ad campaign for your certification program. John sees your ad, signs up for and takes your course, and earns a certification. He now has a digital certificate (just like the secure ones we provide here at Accredible).
John shares his digital certificate on his LinkedIn profile to show proof of his new skills to prospective employers. Gladys, a prospective employer, sees John’s certificate on his LinkedIn profile and wants to learn more about your association. She reads about you and then decides that all of her employees should take your certification program.
In additional to his professional profile, John also proudly shares the digital certificate to his social circle on his personal social media updates. John’s friend Sally is really interested in learning the same skills. When she sees that John’s learned these skills from your association’s certification program, Sally signs up. It’s the circle of life.
To achieve greater awareness for your brand, nothing works quite as well as a marketable certification program.
2. Market Your Other Services
Once you have a certification program in place, you can use it as platform to promote your other services.
Let’s use another example. In this example, Mary takes your certification program but isn’t actually a member of your association. Throughout your program, you can extend invitations to Mary, asking her to join your association at a reduced fee. You can promote relevant services, such as your mentorship services, at the right time within your program. Even if Mary doesn’t join while taking your program, she’s still on your mailing list and you have other chances to compel her to join. You can send testimonials case studies of other members that are similar to Mary to help her see the extended value of your organization.
Eventually, Mary may join because you’ve built a relationship of value and trust with her. It starts with your certification program.
Some of your prospective members need to scratch an itch first before they can think about potentially joining your organization. Your certification program will address an immediate need while also providing additional opportunities to build a relationship with that prospective member.
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3. Engage Your Community
Have membership numbers started to dwindle? Churning members indicate that your association isn’t providing enough value.
A definite way to demonstrate value is to create your certification program. Not only will you provide those in your industry with the opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge, you’ll reinvigorate your community of members.
If the motivation behind your certification program is to engage your current members, be sure to do this:
Before even developing your certification program, ask your current members what type of program they would be interested in. You can do this through quick surveys on your website or emailing the surveys to your members’ list. Let their answers guide you to creating and developing an in-demand program that will receive the highest amount of buy-in from your current members.
4. Fill a Need in Your Industry
If you spot an unaddressed need in your industry, why not be the answer? No one knows your industry better than you. You’re qualified because you have a passion for your industry and no one else has come up with a solution.
Many certification programs are driven by this simple scenario: Someone asks a question and no one has answered it yet. Or, in a variation to this scenario: Someone asks a question, some other association has answered it poorly.
That variation happens quite frequently. Perhaps you’re not the only association within your industry to offer a certification program. Even if there are other, similar programs out there, you can still create your own (better) program, and be assured that none of them will have your same perspective.
5. Create Another Stream of Income
One of biggest benefits you’ll gain from launching a certification program is financial. You can use your program to open up another stream of revenue.
However, revenue should never be the driving force. Why? Simply creating a program just to make money will ensure that you’ll cut corners to make the largest margin of profit. However, if you’re making a program to help your members and/ or elevate the industry, you’ll draw the right people to your program (i.e. the ones who won’t demand refunds or write negative reviews because they feel shortchanged).
You may opt to offer a free certification program for your association. That doesn’t mean you can’t monetize it. Perhaps you’ll use the free certification program as a way to advertise other premium courses, or to promote your membership services as discussed above.
6. Collect Testimonials and Case Stories
Testimonials can fuel the ongoing efforts to market your association, and your certification program can be the perfect environment to cultivate such testimonials.
Your certification program demonstrates your association’s value quite beautifully. People who take your course and benefit from it can now serve as ambassadors, not just for the program, but for your association at large. That’s because your association conceived, created, and administered the certification program, so the success of the program reflects your association.
After you’ve issued certifications, make it a point to ask for testimonials. Ask immediately upon course completion while your program is still top of mind. For example, send a congratulatory email and then ask for a review or testimonial of your course.
Before you go, be sure to check out these additional posts:
- 7 Ways to Streamline Your Online Learning Program
- How to Better Attract and Engage Millennial Members
- 6 Tips to Manage Your Certification Program
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