The UK training industry is very fragmented. Whilst there are some larger training providers out there, there are also many more much smaller training companies using a handful of associates, as well as a host of ‘one man bands’ serving small geographical or sectoral niches. Many of these businesses fail to grow beyond a small client base built up over the years through personal contacts within their particular sector. This is true whether or not we are talking about management development/training, sales training, customer service training, health and safety training or any other specific area of business training.
How do you break out and market yourself as a larger organisation capable of handling accounts with major UK or international businesses? How can you generate new clients and build up your business so that it doesn’t just depend on your or a handful of associates, so that you have an asset to sell when you retire?
Clearly a blog post isn’t going to answer all these questions in great detail, but here are some areas to consider:
- You must have a plan
The business planning trainers out there will tell you that without a plan you are going nowhere. If you don’t have a business plan, then write one. A useful starting point is the GROW acronym:
- Goals: where do you want to be? Set some SMART goals which give direction to your business. Without goals you are rudderless.
- Reality: where are you now? Be honest – does your product do everything you say it does? How do you compare to the competition? Are you operating in the right market? Are you price competitive? These sorts of questions will help you to focus on the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
- Options: What can you do to bridge that gap? What actions are available to you to improve your competitiveness and help you to achieve your goals?
- What, where, when, who: Create a SMART action plan which translates your options into clear, well defined actions with timescales and responsibilities. Sit back, admire your handiwork and then start doing it.
- Specialists make more money than generalists
Focus your business on your key strengths. Instead of trying to be everything to everybody, find a profitable niche which makes you stand out from the competition. In the longer run you are likely to generate more profit from being a well-focussed specialist than trying to be all things to all men.
- Use every opportunity to be the expert in your field
Whether it’s through speaking engagements, blog posts or social media, people in your target market will want to gain advice and be thought-provoked by somebody who they regard as an expert in their field. So ensure you are at the very least up to date with developments in your industry; better still be at the head of the pack. If people view you as a trusted voice in their field, then a small proportion will eventually buy from you.
- Continuously measure ROI and refine
Every marketing activity has a cost – whether directly, or indirectly through time spent. You must be as certain as possible what activity has contributed to each new piece of business. Do more of what works and drop what is proven to be non-productive. Measure the return on investment on each activity – ultimately every pound spent can be justified if it generates more than a pound in net profit after tax (although we’d like more than that!)
If you’d like a free marketing review then please give us a call and ask for Eric Hartley. Eric has fifteen years’ experience in marketing within the training industry.