How to create product training

About product training

In general, all kinds of products have a life cycle. After the launch of a new product, it has to be sold to the right users, who need to use it in the right way for maximum value (and at minimal risk). Maintenance or other support might be needed to increase its life cycle and usability. Some products even need proper handling to be decomposed and recycled. Having the right level of product knowledge can be critical in all these situations. Therefore, good product training can be essential in different situations.

Huge variety in the range of product training
Training products can vary from a simple app to an enterprise software system, from coffee capsules to space shuttles and everything in between.

Product training is suited for consumers and/or professionals
The specific product knowledge that’s needed can vary depending on the role people have in relation to the product. Maybe you have to launch a new smartphone, sell a new medicine, learn to use a new software application, service the latest hybrid car or dismantle a nuclear power plant.

Reasons to use product training
People in different roles need different product knowledge, at different moments and in different contexts to achieve the best result. Product training can be seen as expensive, but believe it or not, ignorance will often cost much more. In many cases, product training can also become an additional revenue stream or increase brand loyalty. Therefore, effective product training can be critical to the success of a product. So, smart design and the delivery of product training is not only a real challenge but also an exciting and rewarding task.

The most important features of product training:

  • Strangely enough, the main focus of product training is not on the product or on product features! The main focus of product training is, in fact, connected to ‘the job’ that marketeers, sales reps, users, support agents, maintenance reps or product dismantlers have to do in relation to the product: launch it, sell it, use it, maintain/support it or recycle it.
  • Product training should be designed with a clear understanding of the target audience. A product might require different versions of product training, depending on the users.
  • Product training supports a need for those involved with the product – it closes a knowledge or skills gap that can’t be closed in other ways, such as manuals, quick start guides, checklists or other performance-support solutions.
  • The training is easily available at the moment it’s needed and is easy to access in the context of the target audience.
  • Good product training might need to focus on the knowledge, skills and attitude related to the product – this has to be clear at the start and taken into account during the design phase of product training.
  • Depending on the type of product and how fast the features or versions of the product might change, it’s important to choose a design that makes it easy to update the content of the product training.
  • As with all training, it should be relevant, engaging and inspiring.

aNewSpring supports the following features for product training:

  • Events
  • Blended learning
  • Social and Mobile Learning
  • MemoTrainer™ as retention tool
  • Conditional learning activities
  • Certificates of participation
  • Hand-in assignments
  • Video hosting
  • Catalogue
Product training platform aNewSpring

Reasons to use product training

Get the most of the product

Use product training when users need additional knowledge or skills to get the most out of the product and they also need to be aware of the risks related to the product.

Go beyond manuals & lists

When performance support like manuals, quick start guides, video tutorials or checklists don’t provide the value or instruction you are looking for, product training can offer a solution.

Provide guidance

Use product training when marketeers, sales reps, maintenance professionals, support agents and dismantlers need additional knowledge, skills and the right attitude related to the product to do their job in the best and safest way.

Extra value and revenue

When having the ambition to offer additional value to product users with training as an additional revenue stream related to the product (there might be no basic need but it delivers additional value)

To build brand loyalty

Use product training when you want to build more ‘experience’ and brand loyalty related to your product. Think of a Barista workshop for the users of a high-end coffeemaker or a grill workshop for the users of an expensive BBQ.

Legal or safety requirements

There might be external requirements that make product training mandatory. For example, when the product can only be used by formally qualified or certified users, after training. The reasons can be, for example, legal (banking) or safety (medical equipment) related.

“For product training, think in terms of learning journeys – learning is not a single event,
it is a journey to become proficient.”

Ger Driesen, Learning Innovation Leader at aNewSpring

How do you design product training?

The essentials

  • Start with a good analysis: Do the users of the product need additional knowledge, skills or a different attitude to use the product for maximum added value and in a safe way?
  • Do professionals who are engaged with the product need additional knowledge, skills or a different attitude to do their job related to the product in the best way they can and safely?
  • Is training the best solution (value for money, return on investment) to solve these issues or are alternatives more effective, easier or cheaper? For alternatives, think of ‘performance support’ like manuals, quick start guides, checklists and video tutorials. As a learning professional, you can also do a fabulous job and add value to design these performance-support solutions without having to create product training!
  • In addition, analyse the context of where the product training will be used by customers or professionals. When, where and under which circumstances do they need their product training? What is the easiest way to learn in these circumstances. Think about the medium or blend that you choose and how easy/hard it is for the learner to get access to the training.
  • Choose relevant content for your product training related to the ‘job’ that users or professionals have to or want to do related to the product

Tweak your training

  • As a learning designer, you probably have to work with Subject Matter Experts (in this case, product experts). Try to combine product expertise with learning design expertise for the best result.
  • Design product training with the ‘five moments of need’ in mind. Mosher and Gottfredson show that there are different moments of need related to learning and so, each offer should be different. The five moments of need are: 1) When something is new: you’ll have to learn it for the first time to get started; 2) More: when you need more breadth and depth related to your job; 3) Apply: when you really have to apply what you have learned in different situations; 4) Solve: when to solve something, something unexpected or unintended happens; 5) Change: when situations or features change.
  • Design with Pareto in mind. Pareto is known from the 80-20 rule (originally: 80% of the land in Italy was owned by only 20% of the people). Applied here, you can do 80% of the ‘jobs’ related to the product with 20% of the product-related knowledge/skills. Finding those 20% and using them for your product training can be a very smart approach, especially related to the first (new) and third (apply) moments of need.

Make it awesome

  • Let the product itself deliver the product training when possible! If it’s possible, you can ‘embed’ the training into the product. Think about the ‘getting started’ tours of software applications, computers, smartphones or TVs. A lot of today’s products have digital components to apply this principle. However, also think about ‘low-tech’ solutions: the label on your shirt explains how to wash it properly!
  • If this is not possible, think of creating access to the product training directly from the product. We know about many medical and technical devices containing a barcode or QR code that gives direct access to product training on a mobile device on scanning.
  • Include user stories in your product training – what does the product mean to them, what is nice, etc. It might also be important to include life-saving experiences related to the product.
  • Include personal stories from professionals related to the product: who are the people behind the product; how is their professional passion related to the product?
  • Make it interactive – include or add a ‘social’ (media) channel to the product training to create interactivity and an exchange of knowledge and experiences between users and professionals.
  • Try to create an experience and ‘atmosphere’ in your product training that matches with the experience or atmosphere of your product. Think about brand, style and language.
  • Use your pride related to the product for your product training. You should be as proud about the product training as you are about the product itself.
Patricia van der Have

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+31 (0)10 2447460
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