Friday, December 19, 2008

Customer Training as Marketing

As I walked around our local grocery, I heard a voice, very professionally speaking about the hum of the store. As I rounded the isles toward the produce section, the voice was getting louder and clearer. I started to realize the voice was coming from above. Looking up, I see a large monitor playing an instruction video. The video was demonstrating holiday cooking techniques.

The first thing that came to mind was - wow -- isn't that nice! I then proceeded on my quest to purchase the items on my list. Now that I have had time to digest my experience, I have some interesting thoughts.

First, how much time do the grocery store owners think I have to spend in the store? the video was demonstrating an entire recipe. When I go to the store, my mind is set on 2 things. Getting in and getting out. The time it would take me to watch an entire dish being prepared is not in my schedule.

In-store broadcasting seems to be growing in popularity. From an instructional perspective it would seem we have the potential to share the broad spectrum video casting into something more targeted.

The grocery store topic could turn into a great conversation in and of itself. But, my point is not that. My point is to dive into how organizations are using Customer Training as a marketing tool. What methods are being employed? If my customers are walk in customers like a grocery store, what are my options for offering training? Virtual customers would seem easier, but maybe not. What about service providers such as Financial Consultants, Accountants or Wellness Counselors. In each of the services, there is often a face to face component of doing business while the bulk of the time is spent independently doing whatever it is that the customer or service provider does. How would training be applied to these businesses?

My other thought is that this concept could really be applied to some great lessons at the high school level. For example, as I type this, I can think of some great projects dealing with the ethical and economic issues of customer training as marketing. For example, where does the training stop and marketing begin? Also, what is considered training vs a marketing message? Having students design an training session as part of a marketing campaign would be an incredibly powerful lesson.

Thoughts? Please share.

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