“A Levels” from McDonalds? A lesson for Internet marketers

McDonald’s is one of the first companies within the UK to start offering qualifications deemed to be the same standard as at A-level. Whether you actually need such a high level qualification just to flip a burger is debatable. However the idea is that different companies start offering a variety of qualifications which are then portable. At the moment employers know the value of an A-level or a GCSE but they don’t know the value of a training course held within a particular company. For instance you might get a certificate just for turning up without demonstrating any particular knowledge.

The new standards of qualifications from within particular companies is meant to address this problem. The idea is that accredited companies will be able to award particular qualifications the standards of which will then be understood making them portable from one company to another.

Already though, there is an outcry about this idea. Negative comments about qualifications in burger flipping or in the case of FlyBe “Trolley Dollyology”, are already being made across a wide range of media. The reasons for this is a lack of trust. People tend to see making burgers as a relatively straightforward, menial task. But we forget that McDonald’s is a multi-billion-dollar corporation and you don’t achieve at just by cooking burgers. Similarly, people who criticise air stewardesses as being “Trolley Dolly’s” were probably very grateful for their expertise, experience and qualifications when that British Airways plane crashed on to the runway at Heathrow. Until we actually experience somebody else’s expertise it is often very difficult for us to understand or realise that they are indeed highly qualified and valuable to us.

The reason why there is so much negative publicity around the new qualifications being offered by McDonald’s and FlyBe is the low reputation of people who flip burgers or hand out drinks during short-haul flights. We therefore are less likely to trust any qualification these people have gained in the course of their work. Is a diploma in burger making really as valuable as an A-Level, we ask.

But, for instance, once we experience the expertise of a flight attendant during a critical time, such as an in-flight heart-attack, we truly appreciate them for what they are – and we are really glad they took that in-house course in first aid. Equally, when we see someone in a McDonald’s handing out a burger we do not truly understand the management training programme they may be on. And that management programme has helped turn burger flippers into senior directors who propel the business into ever increasing profits.

So what does all this mean for Internet marketers? It means that people will not trust you and will not believe that you could help them until they experience your expertise. In other words, you have to really demonstrates your expertise to them before they will consider buying anything from you. Many online marketers attempt to achieve this with free give-aways. However the things they give away are usually, frankly, rubbish. What you need to give away in order to demonstrate your expertise and gain the trust that you need people to buy from you is something that has real value, something that truly demonstrates your expertise so they experience it.

Giving away a few hints and tips is not enough. You need to give away something of really big value. That way you demonstrate your expertise, your potential customers experience your expertise and in doing so you enhance your reputation. The result is they see you in a much more positive light and are therefore much more likely to buy from you.

The problem with the likes of McDonald’s and FlyBe is that the experience we have as outsiders is at a very superficial level. And that’s why these qualifications have attracted so much derision today. If people only experience your products and services at a superficial level, you too could be treated with derision.

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