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Marketing Certification: Establishing Value for the Credential


Written by Georgia Patrick

The following paper was presented at the CESB 2000 Certification Symposium held February 8, 2000 in Alexandria, Virginia. 


This is a summary of the success factors for creating value and visibility for a certification or professional credential.  


What makes something or someone valuable? What are attributes of value? They are:

  • Useful

  • Differentiates – something special or not like other things

  • Connects with the human experience, mostly achievements, such as

    • Gains in knowledge or the security of knowing something Gains in financial security – the paycheck or bigger income

    • Gains in quality of life – being better off tomorrow that you are today

  • Observable or relevant to daily experiences

When we talk about establishing value for a credential or certification, specifically, what is the point of view we need to keep in mind? In other words, who is most directly affected by your credential?

  • Those who have earned it?

  • Those in your field who have not yet applied themselves to earn it?

  • The employer of those certified and merely practicing in the field?

  • The customer of the employer? or

  • The “public” (which is several billion folks globally?

Suppose you wanted to double your program in one year. What would that mean to you? In credibility or prestige? In cash flow? In long-range earnings? (Recertification, for example)


Do you know how to achieve that kind of growth? If you want to grow your certification program, you first need to answer the following questions about your credential, organization, and the profession it serves.

  1. What is the big picture? How many people practice what you certify? What's the total potential number of people who should seek this credential?

  2. How many of that total have you certified? Are you representative of most?

  3. How many do you expect to enter the field or profession in the next 2-3 years? What is driving this growth?

  4. Why did you start your certification? Not the history, but what told you the credential was needed?

  5. Do you know the outcome or results of your certification? Another way to ask this question is — can you tell me a story about those who are certified by you in comparison with those who are not certified? Can you talk in specifics?

    1. Salary difference?

    2. Performance difference?

    3. What is the job title of someone with your certification and what do they do? In other words, if I were to be their job shadow for a week, what could I expect to see them do?

Some ways to achieve significant growth:

  • Help people find you and make it easy for them to have a conversation. Use your website and the power of the Internet.

  • Make things convenient. Don't make people work to have a simple relationship with you.

  • See if your certification stands up to the five quick questions people ask:

    • Will this save my time? Will this save money?

    • Will this make me money?

    • Will this keep me out of trouble?

    • Will it make a difference in my life?

  • Be the authority in your area of certification and be prepared to explain your uniqueness, potential and “responsibility” in many public settings, e.g., Congressional testimony..

  • Take a look at your marketing materials... and your web site... and the letters you write... and the presentations you make, and see if communicates, clearly, in terms we've just discussed.

  • Compare your marketing with any of the 1500 or more other certification programs in this country.

Finally, it is vitally important for you to have an Information Strategy for the Information Age. You have a financial plan for your money. You have a calendar and a watch for your time. You have a strategic plan for your operations and future options. You have a human resources plan or policy book to guide your search for employees and ways to keep valuable employees with you. For the fastest growing resource in your business — information — a plan is also needed. People are out there surfing the web and learning how to use search engines. They are looking for answers, looking for jobs, looking for ways to advance their career, looking for many things to make their life more convenient, if not more enjoyable. If you are not looking at your materials and messages as others do, every day, you need to make this a priority. If you do not understand that customer loyalty is one click away, this will be a very hard lesson in the next three years.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Georgia Patrick is President of The Communicators, a marketing and innovation management firm located at 10072 Vista Court, Myersville, MD 21773. She is a nationally-recognized expert on credentialling and the marketing of credentials. Ms. Patrick can be reached by calling (301) 293-3350 or by email


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