Marketing Tips For Trainers & Learning Facilitators
Are you a member of the Learning Practitioners Association – LPA (formerly TrainerBase)? Are you making it work for you?
In this article Mike Morrison describes how he as made it to be number 1 listing in TrainerBase which has a significant impact on how many people look at your profile, and can enhance your ability to get hired.
Ok so you have ‘signed up’ but what is The LPA and how can you make it work for you?
Note – if you are a not yet an enhanced member you will not be getting the most from your subscription! I looked at the options and realised that the membership option for the highest ‘price’ provided by far the best value… No such thing as a free lunch… For this you get the all important “Search Engine Friendly” profile – essential if you want to be found by people Googling what you do rather than passers by on the LPA site.
If you are expecting work and purchasers to come beating a path to your door – then you have a misunderstanding of not only LPA but the marketplace as a whole. The Learning Practitioners Association LPA is a marketplace, a marketing tool, not necessarily a selling tool. This paper sets to outline how I have used the LPA to generate activity and how you can too.
What is the difference?
- Marketing is “everything a company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them”
- Sales is “income (at invoice values) received for goods and services over some given period of time”How can TrainerBase help you grow your business?
The Learning Practitioner Association and its sister site TrainerBase is primarily a marketing tool – the sale comes when you have created your place in the market.
So how can you use The LPA to better effect?
Raise your profile on The LPA and the The LPA search listings
Use yourThe LPA membership to help promote your website (increase Google position)Visit http://www.trainerbase.co.uk/edit/EditProfile_Rank.asp (view your profile position and purchase points) and look at your position. Where are you? Make a note of these figures. These will provide you with your benchmark, the ability to see the changes in position based on effort. No matter how low, do not be put off. All improvements will help you.
Next, search the database for your key words/ associated disciplines. You need to be on the first or second page of results. If not, there is little point in being listed. You may need to accept that you need to specialise for a while until you gain more points.
While you may aspire to being in the top 20 (absolute position <20) Your goal is to have a relative position or to be on the first page of results for your given specialisms. Be niche, there are 1000s of Management Development people. Best to be found than lost in an ocean of others. Then a client will use you for more general needs as the relationship develops.
For example if you search for ‘coaching’ you will find over 1400 trainers with this skill – if you are not in the first couple of pages for your ‘main offer’ there is little point being in the list. There are trainers with paid profiles on page 25!! Why??The members that ‘sign up’ and do not pay anything also start on page 25!!
Be bold… be brave … only select the things that you love and you excel at – remembers this IS A COMPETITIVE market place. You need to be seen over the ‘background noise’.
The more points you have the higher you show in the search results. Other less known ways of increasing you position in the listings is to minimise the number of “associated disciplines” that you offer. Focus on the ones you excel at. The ones you can use as a ‘hook’ for potential customers. If you claim to do too many you risk looking desperate for work – this is not a position of strength and will undermine your perception. All the others can be listed on your enhanced listing pages.
Be careful – the more associated disciplines you have the more dilute you are seen to be by potential purchasers.
Ways of earning points:
- Visit the site – each visit earns one point – so if you have Firefox or IE7 set up 2 home pages – each time you start your browser you earn a point
- Contribute to the forums – again that earns points
- Upload and encourage clients to put testimonials
- Upload resources you have – just be careful of copyright
- Refer other trainers – make sure they quote your reference
- Mention The LPA as a reference source on forums – any forum – but make sure you do it as a hyperlink. That usually means typing http://www.trainerbase.co.uk/ – tip many forums stop this so always include at least 2 sources of info with The LPA being one. This way it looks less like direct advertising.
- Be creative – find new forums, invest time giving quality answers. Build a reputation in that arena.
- If someone wants a resource and you have it – rather than send it – upload it as a resource (earn points) and promote where to get it (more points!).
- After each posting – screen grab a copy of the posting (alt & print screen) and paste it in your email software and sent to Ed – if you don’t tell him – it doesn’t happen! By the way the forums can be ANYWHERE in the world – not just UK ones – UK ones promote the services of The LPA, world wide help keep The LPA high on the search engines – good for you… good for me
Value of points
In the current FAQ section the value of points is given as:
- 1 point per visit to the site
- 5 points per testimonial uploaded to your profile
- 10 points for a posting on the forum
- 20 points per resource uploaded to your profile
- 50 points per referred friend that signs up to The LPA (if they then subscribe you get £10)
- 50 points minimum per article published (Those deemed useful will earn more points)
- 50 points minimum for promoting The LPA on other networks
- Apply for the CLP award (even signing up for ethical standards earns some points)
- Note this may be subject to change – so look up the current ‘rewards’
Don’t try to beat the system – work with it… if you upset The Directors, they will keep an eye on you.. work with the system and promote The LPA not just yourself.
You start your The LPA membership with 1000 points, then for each day that passes and you do not contribute you lose a point – so even if you just click on the website once a day you are holding your position….
You need around 1000 additional points to be a contender – so build a short/ medium term plan:
- How many resources can you upload, how many daily visits to the site, how many ‘mentions’ on forums and other sites? – aim for a 3-6 month plan. What are your long term (sustainable) plans?
- How many website visits per week? Each visit to the site adds points
- How much time per month can you commit to entering into discussions on the forums (this earns points)
- How many resources can you upload per month?
- How many mentions on other site per month? (each time you do this email the directors)
Treat this as a long term investment, not a quick return.
Shoot for the stars?
Being in the top 5 is not necessarily a strength – people will make assumptions about you, some are advantageous, some are a hindrance. How often do you ignore the first couple of results in a Google search?? But you do need to be on the first page of any results returned. This is the goal.
If you want to you can also buy points – But earning is a much more sustainable activity. I have seen people buy points then slide as other who have a more sustainable model gain ground – sure buy points to ‘get in the game’ but sustainability is the real name of the game. Build momentum first – then top-up if needed (to get in the game). This is not a strategy I have ever done nor will I do.
Potential purchasers will read your posts on to this and other forums – you are your own press agent – so be aware of your image – it is what you want your customers to know you as? Posting and answering questions is not only valuable ‘spare time’ activity, but it helps to raise your profile, and helps other LPA members and purchasers to understand your strengths. – this is all marketing!
One of the best kept secrets of the LPA profiles is the enhanced listing. This is for 2 reasons:
- Potential customers can find out about you really easily, see the course you run etc. it is a great shop window.
- Often your LPA listing will be placed higher in Google than your own site. This is because of the changing content and number of external sites pointing to LPA (hence the reason for posting on forums).
The real power of using the LPA profile is to have links to your own site, not just one to your home page, but several links to important pages with good content. From a purchaser point of view, they do not need to see your home page – your TB page becomes that, if they want more specific information – take them straight to that page. Keep changing and managing your profile pages, the search engines love changing content, and it will encourage people to re-visit. I have several people re-visiting to see what I change. Sometimes I change a lot, other times a little.
Google appears to LOVE multiple links from The LPA (or other places) to your site. The links from Google alone could easily cost you £100-£200 pa for quality links from a related high profile site! – why do you think links and adverts from sites like TrainingZone cost £1000s !!!
Talk to other members – exchange discrete links on their TB pages too! Link with people that offer compatible services – not competitive ones.
Building your database
Do you monitor and keep a list of people that visit your site? Do you have a newsletter? Are they added? Keep adding download/ resources – as people download – you get their data, the more you have the more people will visit…
While many visitors may well be other trainers – if they see you as an expert in an area, they may well approach you to partner for pitches, and if they have the lead and see you as a strength….well enough said.
Collect the data, follow up on the data, remember marketing is about building a relationship – one email contact is not a relationship!
Are you making the most of your investment?
If you are not using your membership to best effect you are wasting money. Simple as that!
Visit http://www.trainerbase.co.uk/VIP/RapidBI to see what I do – I’m not saying I am an exemplar – but the site DOES work for me on many levels. Please note my profile is written for the search engines as much, if not more than human visirors (but that is MY strategy, yours may be different)
Does this stuff really work?
I know this stuff works… I did it this way. I had stages of growth and targets – first was to be on page one for some searches My next goal was the top 20 trainer list, then the top 10, then the top 5 then number 1. In the same time frame I have seen parts of my business site grow from a Google rank of 3 to 5 – not bad for a small training site. Unique hits have grown from 10’s to over 10,000 unique visitors per month and growing. With increasing numbers come increasing sales….
If this works why share it now?
I have considered doing this for some time – but did not want to give away what was working for me – I estimate that only 5-10 other members of The LPA actually understand how The LPA really helps them in the long term.
In time other rankings will need to come into play – including I suspect geographic ones – are you ready? Many trainers for example will ‘work anywhere’ – but if the client has green policies they will more likely hire a ‘green’ supplier, and one who says I only work within 75 miles of x may well get the work above a person prepared to travel. Values are becoming increasingly important. Will your name be higher in the listing than your competitors? Will purchasers see you first – or will you GRAB their attention?
I wish you well with your LPA marketing plan.
Mike Morrison – http://www.trainerbase.co.uk/VIP/RapidBI
*Note the author & RapidBI have no commercial links other than being members of the LPA
** RapidBI has noticed a change in the UK training market and is no longer active on the site