I have been observing certain tendencies in the area of training, consulting, coaching in personal, professional and spiritual development in the Romanian market, since 2004, which I would like to share with you, and I will do that from the standpoint of marketing and particularly positioning. I confirmed my beliefs in a discussion with Phoebs last night at Offline 2.0 .
The observations start with the fact that a training company externalized PR to ana agency, which I think is a great idea. This is a good example. I’m going to write now the opposite example.
As a fundamental basis for promoting a product, there has to be a market. This market started to develop since about 11 years ago, with the first NLP and TA training, in Bucharest, Iasi and Timişoara. Since then, it has grown, as it is natural, and there has been a diversification of the needs. First, there was a certain market of people interested in self-knowledge and self-development, then there were niches and now I think we can well say there are different markets. This calls for a certain fine distinction and selection of the tools and approaches at hand to promote your product (it doesn’t matter if it’s a training, an event, a multimedia product, a website or a service).
I have been monitoring for the last 2 years the announcements made on the dezvoltareprofesionala yahoogroup, the events that gather professionals offering services in these fields (Business Edu, Empower, The International Psychology Fair, Body Mind & Spirit Festival, etc.), the economic & dedicated press, the web communication of the training companies and professionals and I would like to underline a few commonalities concerning risky approaches towards these fields.
There are different needs: personal (emotional intelligence, financial intelligence, self-knowledge, creativity, motivation, life coaching, efficient learning, relationships, leadership, stress & anger management, personal branding, etc.), professional (soft skills, expertize training, web 2.0 communication, business coaching, persuasion, sales, career management, team-building, management, etc.) and spiritual (meditation, relaxation, channeling, oriental-influenced training, regression therapy, astral projections, transpersonal psychology, etc.).
Any product can be placed, theoretically in many baskets. You could do that and get away with it… until 2007-2008. But not anymore, in my opinion. In reality, any product can belong to only one of these categories and the raw method of determining that is who pays for the training and why.
Can you really hope that maybe, for example, at a 2 days 300 euros training in advertising will come students or nannies? I don’t think so. At such a training, might participate young professionals already having some experience or some companies might pay for the instruction of a hired professional.
Can you really hope to get a company to pay for a stress management or a creativity training for their employees? Less likely. What cannot be measured cannot bring ROI, therefore it’s more likely people will pay out of their own pocket to cover their own need for self-growth. When I presented a project dedicated to reducing stress in organizations, Călin Fusu asked me what is it possible to get done to increase the stress of the employees.
Also, you cannot expect that seriously career-driven professionals or companies would pay to explore dreaming, past lives, future lives, parallel universes, talking to spirits or healing the chakras.
In political marketing, there is a principle: focus on the people who have the intention to vote. If you sell one kind of training, nobody can argue with you that it would be useful or interesting, but the actual case is: will somebody pay for it?
For example, I would be interested in taking war photo classes, or survival techniques in extreme conditions, or coaching training, but I wouldn’t pay for it, for the simple reason it’s too out of focus for me. I am a marketer and a profiler. You could get me to participate at a training in web promotion, on entrepreneurship, maybe even on legislation, but you will never ever get me to pay on a training I have no perception of bringing me money in less than a year. You won’t, because you can’t. It doesn’t serve my need. Although I might agree it’s interesting or useful or I might even like it, but I won’t pay for it. And before sending messages to the market, take a moment to think who you’re addressing to.
I’ve seen a lot of people confounding personal development and professional development, or personal development with spiritual development. First of all, when for example you’re holding a training based on certain principles or convictions, if they have a spiritual connection, it might raise conflict. I, for example, don’t believe in future lives, or past lives, or parallel universes. I don’t believe in ghosts, or UFOs or talking to angels. I just don’t. I know about that because I have seriously researched these fields and from a scientific standpoint, they have been proven to be frauds, misleading tendencies or easily explainable events through other theories. That doesn’t mean I discount anyone who thinks different. I respect everyone’s right to their own opinion. And one of the things I value most in true personal development is the respect for each person’s model of the world. When you truly appreciate that and don’t adopt an attitude like: “You’ll see that I’m right and you’re wrong and actually I am more enlightened than you are because I am more open-minded!”, you can truly respect the next person.
If you have a product which falls into one category, market it properly, if you want to be intelligent. Otherwise, it’s SPAM. And you’re entering into competition with others who might consider it unfair competition. If you know you can’t do a good job, at least hire a professional. One of the worst things that can happen is having one provider thinking he’s offering one kind of product when in reality he’s addressing to a whole different market.
I’m sick and tired of forum announcements, press releases, training descriptions, events announcements which can only prove the lack of seriousness of the people promoting it. Some people, to get some fun, watch sitcoms. I read comunicatedpresa.ro – and I don’t refer to the service, which actually is a genius masterwork of Alin Zăinescu, for which by the way I have the greatest respect – I refer to the nonsense that semi-professionals having the arrogance to consider themselves PRs publish each day in the business sections.
I don’t care if you got your training with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, or International Coach Federation, or the Romanian Government, or Richard Bandler, or Dalai Lama. Market yourself properly or get ready to waste your time and your imaginary customers’ patience with SPAM!