TV Blog: Budgeting For, Valuing, And Getting The Most Out of Continuing Education, Conferences, and Seminars

When marketing a small or mid-sized business, most business owners focus on promoting specific products or services they offer, and of course this makes sense. People need to know what’s available if they’re going to consider doing business with a company. However, there is one big factor to promote that people often fail to take into consideration when marketing their companies: their team.

Particularly in businesses that engage in a lot of face-to-face interaction with their customers, it’s not enough to sell people on a product or service. We have to also sell prospective clients on our team members and ourselves. One way to do this is to maintain, enhance, and expand our team members’ skills by providing continuing education opportunities and chances to attend and participate in conferences and seminars.

Consider, from a prospective client’s outlook, how you would feel if you asked, “Who will be managing my project? How do I know they’re qualified?” and heard this:

“Joe will be in charge of your project. He’s been with us five years, has a Master’s in Business Administration, and just came off a project with very similar parameters, so he’s well suited to the job.”

That sounds ok, but consider how much more competitive your company appears (and is) when you can answer like this: “Joe will be your Project Manager. He’s been with us for five years now. In addition to an MBA from NYU, Joe completed two ongoing education courses last year about managing large-scale projects in your industry. Additionally, he’s attended the annual [Your Industry] seminar for the last three years and will be presenting at next year’s [Your Industry] conference, discussing ways to make client dollars go farther in the new normal economy. He’s the best in the business, easy to work with, and a real asset to our team.”

In the second example, there are a few key factors at play:

  1. The client hears that your company is invested in its people as a means of providing better quality to your clients.
  2. The client (and your team) can see that you know your team members’ CVs well and value them not only as employees but also as professionals.
  3. The client hears that you are taking his/her concern seriously and taking the time to answer thoroughly instead of simply assuring him/her that your is qualified.

Taking the time to plan, budget for, and value continuing education, conferences, and seminars shows your clients that it is important to your company that your team is always well informed and trained on the latest techniques and ideas. It also demonstrates to your team members that you value them and are invested in their careers. This leads to more confident clients and team members who feel appreciated and valued, all of which creates a better working environment with lower attrition and better results for your clients.

A few parting tips for planning next year’s training budget and marketing activities:

  1. Ask your team members which conferences they want to attend and why.
  2. Ask your department heads which team members they would like to have take part in continuing education courses.
  3. Have each department provide your marketing representatives with updated CVs that include all ongoing training in process or completed as well as all seminar attendances and presenter credits so they can promote your team as being as well-trained and up-to-date as they truly are.

How do your team members view continuing education, seminars, and conferences? Do they see these events as opportunities or obligations? We want to hear from you!