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Beyond Opinions: The Unseen Power of Market Research in Certification Success (Part 1)

In my previous article regarding common Mistake #1 new programs make, we explored the critical importance of aligning stakeholders on key decisions before beginning exam development. Central to this alignment is a shared understanding of why the certification program is being developed, or more precisely, what business problem(s) it aims to solve.  

Organizations create certification programs for a multitude of reasons, including but not limited to: 

  • Helping employers identify qualified job candidates 
  • Increasing brand loyalty and credibility in the marketplace 
  • Driving product adoption 
  • Enhancing organizational visibility within the industry 
  • Improving customer satisfaction and retention 
  • Decreasing support costs 
  • Protecting public welfare and safety 
  • Driving industry-wide best practices and performance standards 
  • Elevating the status and visibility of a profession or industry 

A well-designed certification program can help an organization achieve a number of these goals. For instance, IT companies often launch certification programs related to their products to ensure their partners employ qualified staff, which in turn helps to reduce support costs and increase customer satisfaction and retention.  

However, securing stakeholder consensus on the program’s goals is just the beginning… 

The real challenge lies in determining how best to meet your organization’s business objectives while addressing the specific needs of the market. The common “if-we-build-it, they-will-come” mentality has led many Test Sponsors astray, resulting in programs that failed because they targeted the wrong job roles and/or measured the wrong skills.  

When you build it and they do not come…

Case in point: A Test Sponsor in the call center industry developed a certification program to help professionals stand out and increase their hiring prospects.

The certification program targeted upper-level call center managers. However, after launching, it became evident there was a significant shortage of upper-level call center managers in the market.

Potential candidates did not see the value in the certification, as it wasn’t necessary for getting hired or promoted. The certification failed to align with the actual needs or demands of the industry because the Test Sponsor targeted the wrong job role for the certification.   

Moral of the story: Engaging in market research – even informally – can save you a significant amount of time and money as well as help ensure your success. Furthermore, conducting market research doesn’t need to be an expensive or time-consuming process, especially these days.  

Curious to learn more about how the most successful certification programs conduct their research quickly and cost-effectively? If so, stay tuned for my next LinkedInarticle in this series on how to conduct effective market research when starting a new certification program or reimagining an existing one.  

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If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to like and share it. Also, I’d love to hear about your experiences and key insights from working on a new certification program. Share your stories and let’s continue learning together!  

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