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Navigating Corporate Training Success: Step 1 – Marketing
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Navigating Corporate Training Success: Step 1 – Marketing

For a lot of traditional corporate training businesses, a major hurdle is how to drive more sales leads through the door. It’s something that every business owner grapples with every day and in a lot of ways, it is the biggest indicator whether a business is able to grow and succeed. Being in the training space for the last 4 years, I think it’s probably the hardest to implement sustainably.

The reality is that a lot of businesses ignore the impact that marketing can have on their lead generation process and in the process lose out to smaller, nimbler and more agile organisations that have honed down their marketing chops. Understanding the impact marketing can have on an organisation is a key building block for any business.

In today’s article, we zoom into the impact of marketing. This is part of a series of articles that are coming out over February and March 2024 in order to demonstrate how corporate training providers can leverage marketing to grow and dominate their niche space.

So, whether you’re a corporate training provider or a freelance trainer, you’ll get a ton of value from the tips below.

Why Marketing?

In a nutshell, marketing aims to influence consumer behaviour. Whether you’re selling corporate training solutions or your time in the case of a freelance trainer, effectively you’re aiming to influence the customer to choose you over the competition. In the past, a lot of influence was driven by the local context and brands had a huge impact on whether you would win or lose the discussion.

In today’s world, the smallest company or an individual person can hold significant brand presence and the term marketing is not the domain of the bigger players in the market. Marketing has effectively been democratised.

Consumer behaviour is essentially a tricky puzzle. The consumer combines ideas from multiple fields to understand how they think about a potential purchase, then researches about a potential purchase, and ultimately triggers the purchase. Making an impact early in the buyer’s decision-making process will drive more leads and sales through the door and it’s very important for every business to have interaction points with a lead throughout the entire sales process.

Chet Holmes, one of the best marketing and sales gurus, speaks about the buyer’s pyramid. Essentially the concept is very simple. Only about 3% of people are in the buying now phase and those are essentially actively looking and willing to buy any product or solution.

The remaining 97% are spread over the remaining levels of the pyramid. He essentially breaks it down into the below:

1. Percent who are interested in buying “right now” (3%)
2. Percent who are “open to consider such a purchase” (6%-7%)
3. The amount who are NOT thinking about it at this time (30%)
4. Those who don’t “believe” they are interested (30%)
5. Those who are definitely NOT interested (30%)

Navigating Corporate Training Success

If you’re looking at the challenge correctly, that means that all folks need some form of marketing to drive their decision-making process. The active 3% have already decided that a solution or product is needed, all that is required to create a need that differentiates your product or solution from your competitors. The goal is to essentially remove obstacles for them to chose you over your competition.

However, the larger space is the 97% which is not in the active space but with the right intervention, can move closer to the top of the pyramid over time. Therefore, the channels of marketing have to be different for each category of the pyramid. It’s a very simple but effective manner to show how we all are within a purchasing spectrum and marketing is the fuel that gets us smoothly across each level and finally to the 3% that triggers a purchase. Regardless, whether you are a freelance training selling your expertise or a fully established corporate training provider, this should always apply.

Chet’s buyer’s pyramid is also applicable whether you are a B2C or B2B business. The concept translates well whether you’re selling iPhones or training solutions. The next question to answer is how we can interact with people through our marketing efforts to that at every level of the pyramid, there is an interaction point with your company and your solutions?

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Let’s Start at The Bottom

As we now understand the position of people on the buying spectrum, we need to understand how we can engage with them and to understand their current state of buying needs.

If we cut up the pyramid into it’s 5 levels, we could start at the base which is folks that know that they are not interested. That’s completely fine. Even if you’re selling the iPhones, there is a segment of the population that may not be interested but is the assumption that they are not interested final? Could they change their minds and in the future move into the interested or curious phase?

The answer is yes and if that’s the case, a marketing channel that might make sense is to “break the ice”. How do we create opportunities to drive more brand imagery with strangers and people that are not natural fits for our products and solutions. How do we create more talk about our brand?

How do we create more talk about our brand?

We then move into the next level of folks that don’t think they are interested. They might not know they have a challenge or problem to solve and this is where a majority of marketing efforts are directed to influence consumer behaviour. When the iPod has launched back in October 2001, most folks were not aware of their interest in having 1,000 songs in their pocket. Most of us were fine with CD players and with the Sony Walkman.

With an effective marketing campaign, you can influence consumers to now become leads for your business. This can be done in multiple ways through demo sessions, case studies, assessments and eventually people start associating certain products or solutions to your brand.

Network and Connect the Middle

As we start to move to the middle of the pyramid, it’s about how we can demonstrate more value and to showcase why it makes a lot of sense to make a purchase. I look at this category as a timing issue. It could be that they are not ready or have not received budget approvals but there is a niggling feeling that this solution is useful in solving a challenge the consumer might be experiencing.

In this phase, marketing is all about connecting with consumers on a deeper level. Speaking to them directly will allow us access to uncover the opportunities and to eventually convince or influence them that the time is right for a purchase. During this phase, we have to be very creative in terms of removing obstacles for the consumer to eventually purchase what we are selling. How do we make it easy for them? Is the process convenient or cumbersome?

Having subject matter expertise is also very effective at this stage as you can communicate that to the customer in this phase. Some examples are demo calls, sales calls and personal direct calls to customers. Customers at this stage will definitely be interested and having domain depth is an added advantage so it makes sense that businesses refine their core messaging.

Some folks like to call this your stadium pitch. If you were standing in front of thousands of customers, what would you say, how would you say it and what is the key takeaway that you want the customer to leave with.

It goes without saying that in today’s super connected world, it is getting harder and harder to grab and keep people’s attention long enough for them to buy. Delivering value is critical at this stage as you need to educate the customer and Chet often refers to this as education-based marketing. It is a unique channel of marketing and not only delivers value to the customer but also establishes credibility in the space.


Understand the buyer’s pyramid is a fundamental shift in how any business should look at a customer. We are all on a spectrum and there is a potential value add to each level of the pyramid. Even when we think that a customer definitely does not have an interest, the passive approach would be to totally ignore them but consumer behaviour changes over time and as businesses we need to understand that and not rule them out.

The next step is to figure out creative ways to engage customers at every level of the pyramid with the eventual aim to take them higher up to the apex. In our next article, we will deep dive into marketing activities businesses can specifically take to address the different levels and hopefully create a sustainable process for an effective marketing strategy.

One more last note: if you’re a Malaysian L&D provider or freelancer, reach out to us at and we can discuss about having you onboarded as a partner on TalentStore! Training success starts with access!

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