Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 10:15am
Marketing Your Certification Credential
By Andrea Van Hook
Editor's Note: This column appeared in NRRTS Directions Magazine, volume 1, 2015.
Congratulations, you’ve achieved your certification! All of that hard work has paid off. Now what?
It’s time to start marketing yourself as a certified professional. If that thought fills you with dread, you are not alone. Most people hate marketing themselves. But if done right, marketing leads to more referrals and opportunities, which is probably why you wanted your certification in the first place.
On the RESNA website, there is a helpful page called “Marketing Your Credentials,” with some tips and templates that you can download to help you with your marketing efforts. You will find:
- A press release template
- Certification logos (ATP and ATP/SMS)
- Logo guidelines
- A candidate brochure that you can use with other professionals and your employer
- A consumer-oriented brochure that you can use with clients
- Powerpoint slides describing certification that you can use in presentations
How to get started
First, let everyone know that you’ve achieved your certification. Here are some suggestions:
- Tell your boss. If your employer has a marketing or communications staff person, ask if it’s appropriate to let that person know as well. (If you own your own business, take yourself out to lunch to celebrate and skip to the third bullet.)
- Ask your boss if he or she can send out an e-mail announcement to the entire staff. Don’t assume that they will know how to describe your credential. Use the press release template to put together the e-mail for them, so it’s easy.
- Immediately start using your credential (ATP, ATP/SMS, RET) in your e-mail signature line and have it added to your business cards, along with the logo.
- Familiarize yourself with the certification logo guidelines. You poured blood, sweat, and possibly some tears into getting this certification, so use the logo everywhere you can.
- Check the “Find the ATP” tool on the RESNA website. Make sure your information appears in search results and that it’s correct. Search by state, city, certification, and anything else you can think of, and check the results. Contact the RESNA office if there are any issues.
- Customize the press release template with your information and send it to your local newspaper and the local business journal, if there is one. Most publish news about recent hires, promotions, etc., and have submission guidelines and forms for this type of news. Look for that and follow the instructions. If it’s an on-line publication, send the link to your boss and others you know once your information is posted.
- Yes, you need a headshot. It’s great if you can get it professionally done, but any smartphone takes a good picture. Have a friend or a colleague take the photo – no selfies, please! Dress professionally and stand in front of a clean background, just like school picture day. Smile. Use a simple editing program like “Paint” to crop or resize the picture if necessary. The picture needs to look like you (the way you are today, not 20 years ago) so people can recognize you. For some folks, taking a picture of themselves is an anxiety-ridden endeavor; sorry about that. The good news is, you can use the headshot for about two or three years before you should do it again!
- Let any groups you belong to know your good news, including your church community, volunteer organizations, the PTA, etc. Post the news on your personal Facebook page (along with your new headshot). You never know where a referral can come from.
Now, keep it up
Marketing doesn’t stop after you’ve let everyone know! Make marketing an ongoing part of what you do professionally. Some ideas:
- Download the consumer education brochure available on the RESNA website and use it! Print out color copies at home if you have a color printer, or take the digital file to a Fedex Kinko’s. You can also order printed copies for a nominal fee from RESNA (there’s an order form on the website). Hand the brochure out to clients and their families and/or caregivers. Explain what your certification is and how it helps them. For example, you can explain that they will always get advice on the best technology for their particular needs, regardless of the products that you may be representing.
- Reach out to local senior citizen groups or disability organizations in your area and offer to do a presentation on assistive technology. Use the Powerpoint slides available on the RESNA website in your presentation. Remember to bring plenty of business cards and the consumer education brochure!
- Using the Find the ATP tool on the RESNA website, look up other assistive technology professionals that are in your geographic area but focus on a different specialty than you. E-mail them to introduce yourself, describe what you do, and ask for their information so you can do referrals. Chances are they will start referring to you as well.
- Join LinkedIn. Seriously, it’s time. Set up a public profile (using that great headshot) and join some groups that are focused on AT (there’s a RESNA group, by the way). You can make connections and learn more about different types of technology, plus share your own knowledge.
- Let people know when you’ve taken a continuing education class or have read something interesting. Keep an e-mail list of people who could send you referrals, and send them occasional updates and links to articles that are relevant. Don’t overdo – you don’t want to be a pest; once a quarter is plenty. (Side tip: make sure you know how to use the bcc function on your e-mail client so you don’t give away all of your contacts to others, or worse, have someone hit “reply all” and blast everyone you know with their own details.)
Yes, marketing can be a pain – and you’re hearing this from someone who does it for a living! The good news is that with certification, you have achieved something worth telling people about – you have independent verification that you are a serious, committed, and knowledgeable AT professional. As my mother always said, “Let people know you’re fabulous – it’s not bragging when it’s true.”
If you have any marketing tips that have worked for you, we’d love to hear about them. E-mail email@example.com post them in the RESNA LinkedIn Group.