Is Your Credentialing Program Positioned For Success?

You’ve read in recent blog posts that successful credentialing programs respond to and relieve market pain.

Research identifies the primary problem that their market will pay to solve.

Payment is important because it signals a problem worth solving. It also speaks to intent. A motivated market willing to pay for a solution drives the longevity and financial viability of any credentialing program.

Credentialing should always be considered a business, an exchange of value. The sponsor’s solution to relieving or eliminating market pain provides real value to prospects.

Per Lenora and Joan Knapp in The Business of Certification, the success of a marketing plan for a certification program rests on creating value for customers, as defined by the customers themselves, not the credentialing committee.

Positioning exists in the minds of your candidates and customers

It depends on differentiation, the degree to which both groups perceive something unique about your certification compared to those of your competitors.

Differentiation could be based on subjective factors like the prestige and credibility of your brand.

It could also center around the uniqueness of the knowledge and skills tested.

Per the Knapps, it could even be based on convenience such as the availability of online testing or nearby testing centers.

It’s All About The Value

Here’s a painful dose of reality. Test candidates don’t care about you. They don’t care about me, and they don’t really care about tests.

They care about outcomes.

Specifically, their own outcome, which springs from core desires that can include recognition, achievement, status, money or a fear of losing (or never getting) any of the above.

Your certification delivers value when it delivers an outcome.

If you offer a certification that is general in nature, one that serves as an entrée to your industry, you could invite prospects and newcomers to a quarterly webinar to talk about outcomes related to your certification, like where it could lead certificants and the career opportunities it might present.

If your certification is positioned as an elite credential for advanced practitioners, the value received would likely be internal, the prestige of joining an exclusive group.

To properly position your certification in the minds of your prospects, your value proposition must convince them that they’re moving toward an outcome that satisfies their core desires.

So sponsor a credentialing program…what are you selling, really?

You’re selling an outcome whose value is perceived by your candidates in the form of benefits:

●  Internal: Internal benefits relate to increased pride, self-esteem, exclusivity, prestige, etc. Internal benefits are often prime motivators for certificants in professional associations.

●  External: Career advancement, raises, promotions, titles, perks and bonuses. External benefits are common motivators for test candidates in IT/software credentialing programs.

●  Peripheral: Benefits provided by the credentialing organization such as exclusive networking events, coaching, job boards, salary surveys, etc.

All of these benefits should be promoted, but the one that will resonate most strongly will be the one that delivers the desired outcome. And that will vary based on the industry.

Per Lenora and Joan Knapp, peripheral benefits are welcome but not essential for the prospect’s desired outcome. These benefits can be easily copied by competitors.

Your certification will be harder to copy when its perceived value aligns with an outcome. That outcome is often associated with the relief of removal of market pain.

Value perception is at the core of positioning. Position your credentialing program in your prospects’ minds as the one solution, the one outcome worth paying for.

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