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The Internet has added new terms to the marketing dictionary: SEO (search engine optimization), CTR (click-through rate), conversion rate, hits, advertising banners, e-newsletters, etc. These are only a handful of the marketing terms applied mainly to Internet marketing.

Other terms are still important in Internet and traditional marketing: goal-setting, segment identification, brand identity, product lifecycle, and the four P's: product, price, place and promotion.

It's not unusual for us to be pros in our jobs and encounter new or even traditional marketing terms that we have not heard before. Even if we have, it appears there are different definitions for the same words and phrases, depending on who is doing the defining. What are your definitions?

Walking marketing dictionaries, we await your definitive responses. If you can't deal with definitions, nouns or verbs because you have a problem of your own, let us connect you with 100,000 “MarketingProfs Today” live references to show you how to resolve the problem. You will receive a complimentary copy of our book, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing.

This Week's Dilemma

You Say Marketing, I Say Mahketing

I have worked in a software company as a marketing support professional for the past three years. My responsibilities include making business proposals, creating marketing collaterals, and developing presentations. This is my first job and I'm ready to switch over to another company. Every time I go to an interview, I'm asked questions about goal-setting, target-setting, segment identification, and such. My present profile doesn't identify such terms, though in every interview I've been asked about the same terms.

What is your definition for these marketing phrases?

* Segment identification

* CTR (click-through rate)

* Unique selling proposition (USP)

—Marketing Support Professional

Previous Dilemma

How do you convince management to budget for training?

Our large teleco used to partially reimburse employees for college classes, but they cut back on those benefits to stay afloat and avoid layoffs. I'd rather keep my job than have training benefits.

The training benefits aren't the same as sending employees to professional training, conferences, and seminars; but our budget was slashed there, too. Despite these challenges, it has me thinking about training's role in business.

Outside of receiving training to learn your job when you first come on board, what is the value of training? How do you convince the powers there is a fundamental need to budget training for employees?

—Jim W., Product Manager

Summary of Advice Received

Jim, many marketers face this situation since the dot-com bust. The approach is quite the opposite of what data and readers are saying. The more money spent on training, the more successful a company will be. Enlightened leadership does make a difference. Therefore, try to get buy-in as high-up as you can.

Fellow readers offer thoughts on how to make training valuable in your organization and keep it that way.

1. Consider training an investment, not an expense.

2. Take advantage of internal resources.

3. Spend the money, then ask for more.

4. Find free training through vendors and the Internet.

1. Consider training an investment, not an expense

Many articles and studies say top-performing companies that pour money into training come out on top in financial performance and in key measures, including retention and recruitment. Bob, a training manager, suggests linking training to the business, as it is a critical part of corporate strategy. When done right, it provides great ROI for the business.

Another reader believes that Jim has identified the problem because of his asking “what is the value of training?”:

One can assume that his company is experiencing some tough times and that all costs are subject to scrutiny and justification. That is just it... training is obviously being seen as a cost by the management and not an investment. I would imagine that it is because somebody is not doing the numbers and showing management what the return on their training investment is.

If these numbers are done and he can prove that training will help the company's bottom line, then he may find that management will budget for training. If there is no direct and discernable return on the training investment, then, technically, this is training that should be done at the employee's expense, because it is most likely more about personal growth than business imperative.

Another company reduced its marketing budget and spent the difference on training. When cutting advertising and marketing dollars, often the funds go toward customer-service and retention-related training. One such company succeeded, as explained in Inc Magazine (July 2001):

Starting three years ago, he [CEO] beefed up employee training and compensation. And to pay for it, he slashed his marketing budget from about $100,000 a year to $30,000. The goal: make customer service the number-one priority. “We became less interested in getting people in at a discount to impress them and just concentrated on impressing them,” he says.

Since then, daily revenues at most of the chain's stores have risen from about $800 to as much as $1,550, for a total of $3.1 million annually. And per-store profits have risen a remarkable 50%.

Though high-quality training isn't cheap, it doesn't mean that cost should be the only measure on the program's quality. Michelle Brown explains that training that enhances an employee's value has a high price tag, but it isn't pricey when viewing it as an investment:

For instance, if you're willing to hire an expert at $60,000 a year or so, how about instead investing $25,000 to add the skills to the qualifications of an existing employee? In such cases, where possible, you avoid the cost of new employee training. To boot, it sends a message to current employees that the company is committed to their professional development. The price tag is small when you factor in the time spent searching and interviewing potential candidates.

The ROI from training is much more than financial returns. It also offers a better chance of retaining good employees.

2. Take advantage of internal resources

Many teams hold weekly brown-bag lunches where employees gather in a conference room and take turns presenting their knowledge. This helps in several ways: it trains other employees to act as a back up when the expert is on vacation or out of the office; it also gives them a better understanding of their team's or department's work.

The brown-bag lunches can be done on a team, department, or other level. Two teams could team up and educate one another. Ann Harding says her team and another had a “ride-along”:

My team handles production issues, and the other team is the training team that develops the materials for the software product we use. Once or twice a week, one of their employees sat with one of mine, hence the “ride-along.” Their team would experience the phone calls, the handling of the issues, and how we used the systems. While watching my team, the training team learned how the help files were used and the kind of information my team needed whenever researching an issue.

Query your department to determine who has what expertise. Each person could take turns doing a presentation or conducting a class on the topic. Also helpful is to have teams teach other teams what they do, as it broadens the others' perspectives of the company and what those teams go through on a daily basis.

The training material that comes from these presentations or brown-bag sessions could be stored on the intranet or other repository for new employees and later referencing.

3. Spend money, then ask for more

Ask for more money than you think you need, spend it all and request more. Mary Powell, training director, encourages spending training funds several months before the end of the fiscal year and then asking for more before it's over:

Though the chance of the answer being “no” is high this late in the game, you're showing there is a greater need for funds than in past years. In doing so, you set the scene for a possible budget increase for the next fiscal year.

Another tactic is to ask for more than you need. Joe Bledsoe, training manager, explains that asking for more is going to get you closer to what you want than asking for exactly what you want:

It's much like negotiating a salary for a new job. The applicant might have a base number in mind with all the side benefits included, such as $50,000. When the negotiations begin, she might start by asking for $52,500. The company could agree to it or counter with a lower number. In either case, the probability of meeting or exceeding the goal is better than average. So aim high with the training numbers, but not to laughable numbers.

If a budget is small or nonexistent, it takes time and patience to build it up with this method. However, in a few years, you might have a decent budget and metrics to prove the difference that training is making on employee and company productivity.

4. Find free training through vendors and the Internet

The Internet is a gold mine of resources. Many resources, including colleges such as MIT, offer copies of their courses and tutorials online at no cost.

Enter “free online courses” in a search engine, and add additional keywords if you have a subject of interest, such as “free online marketing courses.” Also, try substituting “courses” with “classes.” A savvy employee could easily search the Web and pull together a mishmash of tutorials to make a complete course.

Has your company spent a lot of money on software or a product? Try talking to the vendors, suggests a reader: “They want to keep your business and might offer to provide training materials or free training. Just because they didn't provide it when you bought the product doesn't mean it's not there.”

When times are economically difficult, it doesn't mean you have to stop training. Instead, it means working harder to continue training and getting the staff to train each other. One reader says, “Learning is adding value.”

Marketingprofs can be a resource for training material

MarketingProfs offers new articles every week to help you make the most of your marketing efforts. Some of the material is bound to make a great addition to a marketing toolbox or class.

Is there an area related to marketing or your job in which you wish you had more training? Or is there another area in marketing in which you need help? Send us your dilemmas and we'll get a collection of experts on the case

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hank Stroll (Hank@InternetVIZ.com) is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.