- Aug 03
Managing a Growing Certification Program
As a certification becomes well known and gains traction, sales volume increases. Sponsors will now have two audiences to manage: prospects and certificants.
Each will require its own messaging. Both audiences, however, will need to be constantly reminded of the value that certification and recertification offer. Value invites participation and encourages recertification.
Growth is proof that a market exists for the certification. This favorable condition may attract competitors. To defend its market position, an existing certification program should use its headstart and deeper understanding of the target audience to assert its unique benefits in order to differentiate itself from the claims of newcomers.
This is a perfect time to survey the market to discover any unmet needs and to introduce new features and possibly new products, certificates or badges. The sponsor must continue to be agile, responsive and opportunistic.
Per Laura Knapp, author of The Business of Certification, a common mistake that sponsors make during the heady days of certification growth is to rest on the program’s laurels.
Staff is busy, sometimes harried, just trying to manage the daily challenges of a popular and growing program.
Meanwhile the test goes on auto pilot...but the market doesn’t.
The certification ecosystem is subject to the constantly evolving forces of supply and demand, hiring trends, advancing technology and new job specialties. The growing certification must be prepared to evolve as well.
The staff’s day-to-day interaction with prospects, candidates, certificants, employers and other channel partners is an invaluable window to market needs and expectations. Staff must communicate freely with those responsible for certification marketing and share observable trends, needs and gaps.
Exams should be reviewed on a regular basis during the growth phase to make sure that they continue to be valid, reliable and legally defensible. Changing job roles, informed by regularly updated job task analyses, will require adjustments to the exam.
A growing certification program is no longer burdened by the anonymity that dogged its early years. Now is the time to capitalize on hard-won popularity and greater visibility in the market.
This blog post talks about six essential marketing channels for certifications. Growing programs have greater presence, credibility and mindshare and will be able to more fully participate in channels like live events and publicity promotions.
Another benefit of growth is an expanding cohort of certificants who can be a source of testimonials and case studies, which were difficult, if not impossible, to obtain in the early years of the program.
Certification sponsors can tap the experience and insights of their certificants for the benefit of those who are newly certified or those thinking about certification. Career advice from seasoned practitioners is akin to mentoring.
For program sponsors, certificants can be a source of valuable evergreen content for webinars, blogs and email newsletters. Their input and contributions open up a whole new marketing channel that was nonexistent before the certification reach its growth phase.