Think for a minute about the industry your association serves. How do job seekers in that industry gain the skills they will need to qualify for a promotion or a new job? In some industries, it’s a formal degree program or nothing, but in others, the requirements are more flexible. As a result, associations have stepped in to offer a variety of certification and credentialing programs that help maintain professional standards and identify qualified prospective employees, including microcredentialing programs.
The National Education Association defines microcredentialing as “a short, competency-based recognition” and offers more than 175 of its own microcredentials for educators. Generally, microcredentialings programs offer single courses or a series of “stackable” courses that teach specific new skills in short bursts, sometimes as short as 15 minutes. Students can take one or all of the courses at their own pace, in their own time.
If staying competitive in the job market requires workers to upskill constantly (and evidence indicates that it does), associations find themselves uniquely positioned to cater to the needs of their members.
Younger members want skills training on their timeline with access on demand. They want the information they need to master a new project, qualify for a new job, or compete for a promotion, and they want it quickly. They want to access it from their favorite device, especially their phones. They want training from a trusted source. And they don’t want to spend a fortune on it.
Associations want to promote high industry standards, and they want to serve both the needs of their members and the essence of their missions. Microcredentialing programs are sticky. By that, I mean microcredentialing programs keep members engaged with the association throughout their training, even if it’s in short bursts. That engagement gives the association multiple chances to demonstrate its value prop while building ongoing relationships with students. Those relationships can produce loyal members, excellent advertising for the program, and higher membership recruitment and retention rates.
Whether you're embarking on a journey to launch your association's first microcredentialing program or seeking to refine your current strategies, you’ll need to attract as many students as you can. To do that, you’ll need some great marketing strategies.
To start, remember all the lessons you learned in Marketing 101:
· Define a clear value prop and include it in your outreach.
· Segment your audience based on their needs and experience levels.
· Tailor your messages to the audience segment.
· Personalize your messages whenever you can.
Leverage existing association marketing channels to reach your member base. You’ve already spent the time and effort to develop audiences for your newsletters, websites, and social media platforms. If the audiences overlap with the audience for your microcredentialing program, don’t hesitate to use the channel.
Here are 10 ideas to help you market your microcredentialing program:
- Engage Alumni: Encourage those who have completed a microcredential to share their success stories and experiences. Alumni can serve as powerful advocates for the program. Short videos and reels are particularly engaging. Producing them using your phone’s camera keeps costs down.
- Engage Your Industry: Share success stories from companies that have hired alumni from your microcredentialing program. Encourage other companies to use the program to train their own employees and to recruit from your alumni pool. Collaborate with related associations or educational institutions to expand your reach and credibility.
- Case Studies: If your program alumni are camera shy, share their success stories as case studies and show how they have benefited from your microcredentialing program. Highlight how the microcredentialing program can serve as a stepping stone to higher-level certifications or leadership roles within the industry. These real-life examples can inspire and motivate others to enroll.
- Career Center: Include your microcredentialing program in your career center with other training programs you offer. Use videos and professional graphics to make the microcredentialing page lively and engaging.
- Content Marketing: As part of your regular content-marketing efforts, create blog posts, articles, whitepapers, infographics, and videos that showcase the expertise and knowledge gained through the microcredentialing program.
- Email & Text Campaigns: Send targeted email and text campaigns to your association's members and potential candidates. Provide informative content, updates, and reminders about upcoming deadlines. Texts are very effective as reminders just before deadlines or when immediate action is needed.
- Online Advertising: Use targeted online ads on platforms such as LinkedIn and industry-specific websites to reach professionals outside your membership who could benefit from your program.
- Social Media Engagement: Regularly post about the benefits of your microcredentialing program on social media platforms. Develop interactive quizzes, assessments, or sample questions that give potential candidates a taste of what they will learn in the program. Conduct polls and share the results. Celebrate student achievements. And always respond to comments and questions.
- Networking Events: Organize networking events (online or in person) where professionals can learn more about the microcredentialing program, meet instructors or mentors, and connect with others pursuing the same path.
- Gamification: Incorporate gamified elements such as badges, points, and leaderboards to make learning more engaging and competitive. Gamification encourages members to complete modules, earn rewards, and track their progress. Online badges posted on social media also act as ads for your program.
Successful marketing is a combination of understanding your audience, delivering value, and maintaining effective communication throughout the journey.
Emma is the Marketing Manager at Rhythm. When she's not thinking about all things content-related, you can find her traveling or shooting 35 mm film.