Many of our clients come to us needing support to grow the number of people taking their tests. They often want to reach new and different audiences or could be frustrated by a stagnation in their programs. If you find yourself in this position, you are not alone. And the good news is we’ve learned a lot from our decades of experience partnering with clients to grow their credentialing programs.
We know that adopting new technologies and innovative approaches is a great way to achieve growth. But we’ve also seen that just as important is how you communicate these innovations and their benefits. The credentialing organizations that tell their story clearly and effectively are the ones that succeed and grow, attracting new test takers and building deeper and longer lasting relationships with them.
Whether you want to extend your reach into new geographies, more diverse groups, different generations and experience levels, or with additional qualifications and tests, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top tips to help you expand into new markets.
1. Start with the basics and highlight the value
I have a confession – I live and breathe credentialing. And while I know having a passion for my profession is nothing to be ashamed of, I also know I run the risk of getting into too much detail with those who are less familiar with the subject. If you are a credentialing enthusiast like me, it’s a good idea to start with the basics and clearly explain the benefits of your credential to current and future test takers, and the organizations that employ (and often fund) them.
The value of credentialing will be different for every industry, but some benefits are common to nearly all programs. Promote all the advantages in your marketing materials for example, the value during the recruitment process of having validated and verifiable evidence of competence, knowledge, skills, or experience. Be sure to mention the ongoing benefits in role as well with enhanced reputation and confidence for credentialed individuals, plus opportunities for continuing professional development to keep pace with new technologies and skills.
Download our guide, How to Market to Your Test Takers, for more advice on how to promote the value of credentialing.
2. Broaden your appeal with flexible credentials
The workplace is constantly changing, with new roles emerging and more individuals switching specialism mid-career. Employees need to keep up to date with new skills and technologies, and employers want evidence of those skills – as well as the focus and work ethic needed to support them.
A micro or stackable credential is a professional qualification that can be earned by completing component parts over a set period. And an increasing number of professionals are choosing a flexible stackable credential over a more expensive degree or similar qualification that can take a long time to earn. This is an innovative and relatively new approach to credentialing, and PSI has supported the successful introduction of stackable credentials into both the IT and healthcare sectors.
Stackable credentials meet a growing need in the changing market. It’s well worth considering whether your organization could successfully grow your market with a new stackable credential.
3. Uncover new opportunities with different age groups and experience levels
Because jobs and careers are evolving so rapidly, there may be opportunities to broaden the reach of your program that you don’t yet realize. One option is to offer new qualifications or tests for a younger entry level audience or older mid-life career changers. Defining the career path in your industry will help you identify these gaps and start to develop programs to fill them.
Whether it’s finding underserved markets or unmet needs, our team of Subject Matter Experts and psychometricians has supported clients to find new routes of access into previously untapped markets. Journey Mapping – which examines every step of the credentialing process, with an eye to removing friction and improving satisfaction – is another great way to find opportunities where test takers might benefit from other services.
4. Be clear about online proctoring to demystify the unknown
With online learning, remote working, and technology that makes life more convenient, expectations around work and personal development have changed. People expect convenient access to credentialing programs with the option of remote testing that eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming travel and technology that delivers a positive test taker experience.
However, with any new technology or significant change, there will be understandable questions and potential concerns. Many people are more used to taking a test in a physical test center with an in-person proctor and remote testing with online proctoring may be new and unfamiliar to them. This can lead to increased anxiety, so it’s important to explain what it involves in a bit more detail. Again, focus on the benefits in your marketing materials such as the ability to conveniently schedule and reschedule tests.
5. Offer flexibility with multi-modal testing options
Multi-modal testing, where test takers are given the option to either take a test remotely with an online proctor or in a physical test center with an in-person proctor, is becoming the norm. Before the pandemic, 90% of testing was in-person. Now that test centers have reopened, only 20-50% has returned to in-person testing.
Test takers appreciate and are beginning to expect the opportunity and flexibility to choose the testing approach that works best for them. It may be that they will benefit from accessing the technology available at a test center, or they have caring responsibilities that make it far easier to take a test at home. If your organization doesn’t currently offer multi-modal testing, have you considered it?
6. Extend your reach with continuous testing
One of the many benefits of secure remote testing with online proctoring is that it gives organizations and their test taskers the opportunity to move away from the rigidity of a fixed testing window to the flexibility of continuous testing.
Not only is continuous testing more convenient for test takers, but it also reduces the administrative burden on your organization. Pressure is reduced by eliminating the need to support large numbers of test takers through a small number of testing windows during the year. This approach also means more people will have access to a test and your testing volumes are likely to increase as a result.
These are just some of the ways we partner with credentialing organizations to embrace the opportunities and meet the challenges that inevitably come with change. If credentialing organizations wish to develop and grow, they must respond to change and meet the transforming needs of their test takers and potential customers in an increasingly competitive market.