Now is a time of great opportunity for training suppliers that are willing to turn on a dime and focus their efforts on our new reality. Everyone has suddenly gone remote, ending traditional classroom training, at least for a while. As a training supplier, you now have a large captive audience with the time and desire to engage with learning. Here’s an overview of this opportunity and short-term actions you can take to maintain, or even grow, your revenue.
Working Remotely, Social Distancing and Losing My Mind … It’s Time for Training!
Training is a good use of everyone’s time and a diversion from the chaotic feeling of finding one’s personal and professional life upended and adrift. Even better, it can be a highlight of someone’s day, because completing a course or a program is an accomplishment.
Here are some of the immediate training opportunities where your marketing team is likely to find a big audience:
- Certifications, continuing education units (CEUs) and other career advancement training.
- Company-specific and compliance training.
- Job-required skills training.
There is also an emerging reality that lifelong learning is not a choice but a necessity.
No one expects everything to go back to the same type of normal. It’s obvious that many activities will move online. It’s still unclear how job definitions and requirements will change. As a result, many individuals will be motivated by job and career pressures to learn new skills sooner rather than later. It also gets them “out of the house” and moving forward.
You have two compelling goals: to protect your immediate income and to build your competitiveness for the future. For each goal, identify your three best courses, based on attendance and revenue, and concentrate on them. Resources are limited, and this focus guarantees you the greatest return for your effort.
Pivot to VILT to Protect Immediate Income Loss From ILT Courses
If your training is instructor-led, no doubt you are experiencing an upswing in cancellations and a standstill in registrations. To protect current income, your organization must convert your instructor-led training (ILT) into virtual ILT, and the webinar is your best choice.
There is a long list of differences between ILT and virtual ILT, but here are a few major ones:
- Duration: No one will sit through a six-hour webinar. Chunk your content into one- to three-hour bits or shorter, if possible.
- Built-in interaction: Encourage interactivity with questions, whiteboarding, breakout sessions, labs, discussion forums, games, and other tools.
- Blended learning: Provide a value-add with pre- and post-training deliverables, such as a reading, eLearning supplement, pre-assessment, white paper, case study or instructional video.
If the course supports certification or CEUs, you stand a better chance of avoiding rebates or credits, but don’t be short-sighted. If customers are vocal, work something out. If you come to a solution with one of them, it’s likely the rest will ask for the same thing.
One strategy is to proactively reschedule ILT classes. Pick a date at least three months out, and notify everyone that it has been rescheduled. This approach will reduce cancellations. Also, virtual ILT is not just for just for people who registered for an instructor-led class. Remember, you have a captive audience. Gear up your marketing, and reach out.
Build Competitiveness for Tomorrow by Repurposing ILT Content
If you’ve been in this industry a long time, you heard a thousand times that the future is eLearning and traditional ILT is going away. But ILT never disappeared. It’s been slowly shrinking, but it’s still popular. With this crisis, however, there will be a monumental shift away from ILT, even when things are back to a new normal.
Almost everyone is developing a newfound comfort level with virtual conferencing, remote learning, eLearning and microlearning. We’re at a tipping point. There are new cohorts entering your target market with a different outlook and expectations for the training experience. For instance, many have grown up with the mobile phone. They are adept at using it to search for and consume information, and now, they are comfortable with learning on not just a tablet but a smartphone. If you want to engage them, your course material has to be optimized for a small screen.
These generations’ predilection for mobile also introduces new competition for their time: If they need information, they may first access peers, YouTube or other internet sources. We all know about this tendency, but it’s growing every day. Not only must content be mobile-friendly, but it also must be better than the competition.
Start rapidly repurposing your content for online and microlearning delivery. Chunk it into logical bite-size pieces, and continue your quest for interactivity. Most research agrees that around two minutes is the ideal length for microlearning and videos. While it’s hard to slice up an ILT course into two-minute increments, you can move in that direction. If you have not yet adopted a modern learning management system (LMS) that supports all forms of microlearning and blending, now is the time.
Also consider moving to a subscription model. Not only is online content more profitable, but the subscription model, done correctly, translates into predictable revenue. A modern learning platform can give you the subscription tools you’ll need to scale your business easily so that you can maximize the return on your investment.
Training Companies, Carpe Diem!
The future is uncertain, but at least we know where the training industry is heading. Be ready when it gets there. Instead of getting down, get up on your toes, and pull your organization with you. View this time as a blessing instead of a curse.
We do not know what the world will look like tomorrow, but we do know that it will belong to those learning companies who are making lemonade from lemons and embracing change rapidly to grow their revenue and increased customer lifetime value.
Everyone else, not so much.