Don't Sell Your Course Descriptions Short.
I don't want to be a pain. But chances
are your course descriptions are too damn short!
Why is that?
Because you're underestimating the
job a proper course description has to do.
Selling training is about overcoming
inertia. It's about coaxing fat and happy cube dwellers out
of their comfort zone and getting them to trek across town,
maybe across the country to your training site. It's about
convincing get-ahead career jockeys that learning new skills
is worth missing that high visibility strategy meeting. It's
about overcoming the dread that Rocco,the office bully, will
chortle "Where's Mary today -- at training again? You'd think
she'd be able to do her job by now." It's about persuading
cocky know-it-alls that they really don't know it all -- and
die hard workaholics that they really aren't too busy to sharpen
All of which is why an abbreviated
"It's about Russia" course description is not going to do
Let's look at some excuses that folks
offer for short changing their course descriptions -- together
with some appropriate fixes.
- "There's not enough space for long
Then make the space. If you're
trying to cram 48 course descriptions into an 8-page flyer,
stop the presses. Think about going to 16 pages, 24 pages,
even 48 pages to sell your courses for all they're worth.
Remember that old direct marketing
dictum "the more you tell, the more you sell." If you're
insistent about saving budget money and trees, try going
to a thinner paper stock. In 25 years of testing different
weights of paper, I've never, ever seen a drop off in
response by going to a less expensive grade.
As for concerns that customers
will find page after page of long course descriptions
unwieldy, just be sure to incorporate plenty of navigation
elements. That way, no one will have to wade through content
that doesn't apply to them.
- "If somebody wants a complete course
description, then they can go to our Web site."
Yes, space is cheap on the Web.
And hyperlinks offer a great way to let potential buyers
bore down to an almost encyclopedic level of detail --
while sparing casual visitors from having to scroll themselves
But it's arrogant and unrealistic
to require prospects to bounce from one promotion medium
to another. Good direct marketers know that every promotion
effort must stand on its own.
So, at the very least, be sure
and include complete descriptions of your popular gateway
courses in both your print and your Web promotion. Limit
any efforts to abbreviate course descriptions to your
All of which brings me to the most
exasperatingly wrongheaded rationale of all.
- "It's a short course. So all we
need is a short course description."
Arrggggh! This thinking is consistent
with the fallacy that customers value short courses less
than long courses. In fact, customers prefer short courses.
Only course developers prefer long courses.
It also assumes that there's a
lot more inertia to overcome associated with getting somebody
to leave the office for five days as opposed to, say,
one day. But who's kidding whom -- justifying the first
day away is always the hardest.
You see this wrongheaded thinking
at its worst in the case of half-day "showcase seminars."
Take a look at the course description the next time you
get an invitation to one of these presales events. Chances
are it reads something like this:
AM: Coffee and Pastries
8:45 AM: "New Millenium Leadership"
Michael Blotz, VP Research
9:45 AM: Q&A and networking
Armed with this "course description"
salespeople are ordered to recruit a room full of movers
and shakers, and berated when they don't.
Would you abandon your job responsibilities
to attend this event based on the information provided?
Would anyone? Does it help that the event is free?
OK, so it's a good idea to use rich
course descriptions when you're selling public courses. Does
this also apply in the case of technology-based learning?
Generally, yes. Why? Because there's also a lot of inertia
to overcome associated with getting folks to load courseware
on their corporate Intranet -- or even to go through the hassle
of installing a CD ROM on a standalone PC.
All of which begs the question "if
compelling course descriptions are so important, how does
one construct them? Stay tuned. We'll treat this tricky topic
in a future E-Visory.
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