Commodifying your Certification Brand

You have knowledge that deserves to be shared. Companies around the world could benefit from your insight into improved work practices and performance. So you decide to impart that knowledge by developing a training brand. You start off local, but with great ambitions to reach workers and managers around the world, and heck, why not start a global movement?

Depending on your field of influence and peer community you might already have a wider reach. But how to scale effectively is a subject that needs careful reflection and planning.

Knowing your purpose

All successful brands have a clear purpose. They have identified the difference they want to make in the world and build their product around achieving it. This is especially important for a knowledge brand, as ultimately your purpose is to educate.

Think of your business purpose as the roadmap to your success. A manifesto that sets out your goals and objectives, and which differentiates you from competitors. You sell training workshops, but your business purpose is to transform lives of workers around the world.

Having a business purpose will help you:

• Do more meaningful work

• Stay focused

• Clarify your objectives

• Create a value-based business

Delivering content online

The knowledge sector has been transformed by online learning platforms. With access to educational and training materials readily and often freely available. You need to find the right platform to share a select content. Aside from your own website and posting articles on your own site, LinkedIN or another content platform, you might want to develop a webinar for prospective students, add taster courses on some of the multi-learning platforms, or use social media to reach your target audience.

Whatever you decide, the more content you have published online, the wider you reach and the more likely it is that Google will recognise you as an expert in your field and reward you with a better search ranking.

Horizontal or Vertical Scaling?

As your business starts to take off, your capabilities as a solopreneur become stretched. You must decide the optimal time to employ extra resources, or develop new products, which will keep your followers engaged, without draining your financial support.

There are two categories of creating a scalable business. Typically referred to when scaling network systems, but also work perfectly work for the purpose of discussing the scaling of a knowledge brand.

Horizontal scaling engages external resources to communicate and grow your brand and product. Bringing on licensed trainers or facilitators is one such way of growing horizontally.

With vertical scaling you are relying purely on your reputation. You might write a book, or undertake keynote speeches to help develop your knowledge brand.

Let’s take a look at some of the different ways you can scale your business horizontally and vertically.

Types of Horizontal Scaling for a Knowledge Brand

Licensed Trainers

Recruiting licensed trainers to facilitate your training sessions or workshops is one of the most effective routes to distributing your knowledge outside of your geographic or peer reach. Allowing horizontal growth and a future passive income.

I get a lot of workshop requests… too many to do on my own. And also, some clients want workshops in another language, which I can’t offer. I set up a Facilitator licensing program so that I could handle all the workshop requests. I didn’t want to hire staff to run workshops — as I wanted to remain a solopreneur as much as possible. The licensing program gives me the opportunity to shrink or expand my business without the stress of hiring and firing people. It also gives the Facilitators total flexibility.” Lisette Sutherland, Collaboration Superpowers

Building a profitable community

Your followers, or fans, can be your biggest campaigners, if you know how to delight them with unique and engaging content. If you already have a steady follower-base on social media and a database of past attendees, the natural progression is to start a community, where you can share and discuss topics, and promote future workshops and products.

App and game development

Gamifying your knowledge brand gives you access to potential clients and companies looking for internal training methods. Games and apps can be distributed at a much lower cost to the customer, although the upfront development cost to you is much greater.

Types of Vertical Scaling for a Knowledge Brand

Keynote Conference Speaker

Speaking in front of an audience may terrify you, but it’s one of the best ways to build your personal brand. If you don’t tell your story, someone else will; so keynote speaking is an essential part of the jigsaw in scaling your knowledge brand.

Write a book

Your objective is to boost your brand and become the go-to expert, so write a book. Simple? Not quite. Your book has to be unique, digestible and engaging, if it’s lend credibility to your brand. Writing a book should also contribute to your brand transparency; opening the door to PR opportunities, media interviews, reviews and writing gigs for industry media.


Podcasts are an ideal medium for communicating your message to potential clients and collaborators. Brand building is typically lacking in the educational industry and this is a good way of developing a professional identity and voice amongst your peers.

Example: if you are keen to get facilitators onboard then a great way to get known is by having an industry podcast.

These are just a few of the ways you can scale or commodify your knowledge brand. In our next two articles we’ll look at each option in more depth: the pros and cons and when is the right time to launch each new initiative.

Until then…!