Questions to ask before using a trainer

In addition to running a marketing agency, I also do quite a lot of training and coaching work. One of the projects I have been working on recently involves delivering training courses for unemployed people in marketing, market research and customer service.
The photo above was taken at a full-day training course I delivered this week in Hull. I was training a fantastic bunch of people who are all currently unemployed, but are keen to start their own business. It was a really mixed group of budding entrepreneurs. For example, one of them hopes to start a business selling sweets. Another one wants to sell Lego and other collectable items online. There was also a building maintenance expert, a children’s party organiser, and a fantastic photographer who specialises in photographing new born babies.
I do these type of full-day courses on a regular basis, and I always make a point of incorporating a large section about customer loyalty and customer retention, because I feel it is very badly neglected by most mainstream marketing trainers.
I think part of the problem is that many people who deliver marketing training and consultancy aren’t really ‘marketing’ experts at all. At least not in the way that I understand marketing. And many of them, quite frankly, aren’t very good trainers, and just see the work as a ‘nice little earner’.
I have met with many people over the years that do consultancy, coaching, mentoring and training around marketing. Sadly, many of them are former sales people who have a very non-strategic approach to marketing, which is really just glorified ‘selling’ with a bit of academic theory thrown in, just to make it look like they are ‘marketers’.
A true marketing expert will understand the strategic basis behind marketing, and how it fits into the overall company vision and long-term corporate plans. They will understand that not only do you need to win new customers, but you also have to play the ‘long game’ and implement strategies to KEEP the customers that you have already got.
Before you decide to hold a marketing training session for your own staff, I strongly advise you to check out the credentials of the person doing the training. Are they really true ‘marketers’ or just glorified sales people? Do they have qualifications in marketing (for example from the Chartered Institute of Marketing)?
Are they experienced trainers, and do they have a recognised qualification in teaching and/or training? Do they understand business strategy and how to apply accepted strategic models to business planning? And have they got experience of setting up and running their own business (there is a massive difference between doing marketing for someone else’s company, and in setting up your own company and making it genuinely successful).
Always ask these questions first, before you waste your valuable training budget on charlatans and people who don’t understand the true strategic basis of marketing, and the crucial importance of customer service and customer loyalty.

Darren Bugg is a marketing and customer service expert with 30 years’ experience working in this field. He holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Innovation, in which he specialised in the subject of customer loyalty. He also holds an accredited qualification in teaching and training. His new book ‘The Loyalty Gap’ will be published in the Autumn.

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