What is your certification’s
market opportunity?

Your association wants to market its professional certifications, which can be more or less of an uphill battle, depending on your industry.

In healthcare, education, and law, it’s very likely that someone who holds a license will also have a professional certification. But in fields in which licenses aren’t required, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted that only 3% of employed professionals held certifications in 2015.

Occupations with the highest percentages of workers with a professional certification, but no license:

Percent of workers with a professional certification, no license, 2015 annual averagesTotal, all occupationsArchitecture and engineeringHealthcareCommunity and social servicesInstallation, maintenance, and repairComputer and mathematical0%2%4%6%8%10%Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There’s also a correlation between level of education and likelihood of obtaining a professional certification. Among professionals over 25 who have advanced degrees, 4.7% also hold certificates, whereas only 1.1% of those with less than a high school degree have one.

What does all this mean for your organization?

  1. Don’t lose sight of the opportunity. If only a small percentage of individuals has been certified, it means there’s a large percentage for you to pursue.
  2. Get to know your current customers. Custom research can prove valuable in uncovering insights you can use to gain a marketing advantage.
  3. Clearly define a target audience for each of your certifications.
  4. Look for potential certification candidates in unexpected places. Test new media tactics, such as publicizing your certifications in novel places and trying innovative social media approaches. Also, try targeting potential customers using parameters other than “professional work title.” (See our earlier post on “Hidden audiences: Where to find them and why they matter.”)
  5. Meet your target audience where they are (education level, work experience, etc.). Make a strong case for the value of your certifications.

And, perhaps most fundamentally, make sure your audience understands the value of your brand.

We promise, there are opportunities out there for expanding your reach. Finding and capitalizing on them may just take some creativity – and a fresh, objective look at your audience and strategies.

Stay tuned to Backe social, where we’ll continue to explore the challenges that professional associations face today and tomorrow – in our Professional Associations series.

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