Digital content training – six questions to ask before you book

It takes a little insider knowledge to make sure you choose the right training supplier. Here are the questions you need to ask.

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It’s the day of your in-house digital content training. The whole team is committed from 9-4. Diaries cleared. Phones off. It’s important stuff, after all.

But things aren’t looking good. At the first coffee break, there’s hushed concern amongst the team. Where are all the examples from your website? Why doesn’t the trainer want to talk about specific copy points? And what’s with all the generic material?

It didn’t need to be like this. All it takes is a little insider knowledge to make sure you choose the right training supplier. Here are the questions you need to ask.

1. Does the trainer schedule a pre-course briefing?

At the very least, plan to spend around an hour briefing your trainer on what you want from the course. We talk to our training clients about all sorts, including:

  • Skills and experience mix – where are the team’s perceived strengths and weaknesses?
  • The impetus – what’s triggered the training? By understanding your commercial motives, your trainer can make sure the course fits perfectly.
  • Processes – from briefing to publishing, your trainer needs to understand the way you work.
  • Plans – what’s coming up that could affect your team? That could be anything from new systems to changed responsibilities.

If you’re not having this kind of discussion, you’re on the way to buying a generic course. Which is bad, right?

2. Will the trainer use your own material in the course?

Expect your trainer to ask which areas of your content they should focus on. If your team don’t write any news copy, they’ll know to leave it out of the course.

But if product descriptions are proving tricky, make sure to include them in at least two or three exercises. Your trainer should ask for specific examples – double-checking if they’re relevant – as well as requesting material such as your tone of voice guide or initial drafts.

Trainers who say they’ll simply pick some content from your website aren’t thinking about what you really need.

3. DOES IT COST MORE TO customise the course?

Does it cost more to deviate from the standard syllabus? That’s a clue you’re buying a pre-packaged course in disguise. An experienced trainer should always be able to incorporate new material without bumping up the cost – unless the subject is way outside their area of expertise. And that’s a whole other blog post.

4. WILL the attendees have their say on the course content?

So, you’ve identified a skill gap, and worked with your digital copywriting trainer to construct a session that addresses all the main issues. But what about the people who’ll be going on the course? Don’t they have any input?

At the very least, ask for pre-course feedback – this helps to boost engagement levels when you actually run the course. However, it’s also an honest admission that the management team don’t always have all the answers – the best pre-course feedback will throw up interesting avenues to explore, or highlight a hidden niggle.

5. Is the trainer a digital copywriter, or something else?

Lots of non-copywriters offer digital copywriting courses: user experience (UX) people, marketing consultants and general digital trainers.

We’re all for healthy competition, but does it make sense to hire someone to run a course outside the area of their expertise? For example, would you book a UX course that’s run by a digital copywriter? Probably not. So check out your trainer’s credentials: their content writing portfolio and training client list are good places to start.

6. Can you see the work in progress?

If you need to see a draft of the course before the delivery day, ask. A good trainer will be happy to do this, and talk you through the parts that are still in development. If your trainer is reluctant to share, start worrying – it’s a sure sign that the material doesn’t inspire their confidence, let alone yours.

Want to avoid the pitfalls when you book digital content training?

Talk to Alan. He’s been running in-house digital content courses for years, for clients including AXA, Balfour Beatty, RBS Group, Thales and Vodafone – as well as public sector and agency teams.

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