February 20, 2023

How to Convince Your Boss to Pay for Skills Training & Education

How to Convince Your Boss to Pay for Skills Training & Education

It’s happened. You’ve got a coveted job in the social media industry, either working for an agency or as part of a social media team for a private business. Everything is going great, until you want to pursue continued education and additional skills training, but the cost doesn’t fit into your budget.

You think your boss should be for ongoing skills training and education so that you can stay at the top of the game, but they don’t want the extra cost. It’s not uncommon, unfortunately, for businesses to prioritize other education and further education for other departments but bypass social media or marketers altogether.

So if you want to convince your boss to pay for skills training and further education— and they should— keep reading to learn why.

Why You Need Skills Training & Continued Education in Social Media

Social media is everywhere, but just because you have a Pinterest account to save recipes and Halloween costumes doesn’t mean that you know how to run high-selling Pinterest campaign strategies. Supervisors sometimes forget that.

Social media marketing requires specialized skillsets for each individual platform, and that’s just for the organic marketing; PPC advertising is in a whole different ballpark.

Unfortunately, a large number of social media and digital marketing professionals don’t have the opportunity for ongoing training.

Access to knowledge is an enormous barrier to ongoing success, especially since the social media landscape changes so rapidly on a year-by-year (and sometimes even month-by-month) basis.

And realistically, if you want your social media work to stay competitive, you need to be getting access to ongoing education so you can stay on top of all the latest and greatest when it comes to new tech, tools, platforms, and strategies. While there’s plenty of great content for free online, at the end of the day it doesn’t hold a candle to more formal and structured skills training like you’d get from an established course, conference, or masterclass.

How to Convince Your Boss to Pay for Skills Training

You know you want more skills training as a social media marketer (or even as a general digital marketer) so you can either wear more hats or excel at the work you’re already doing.

Let’s go step by step through the process of how you can convince your boss to pay for that training.

1. Look Up Company Policies About Continued Education or Formal Training

The first thing that you should do is check your company policies and benefits surrounding skills training.

Some companies already have programs established that may cover formal degrees, conference tickets and travel, or certifications. They may have a list of approved training available, or they might have an application process.

Check what criteria needs to be met in order for you to take advantage of these programs. It may require you to stay with the company for a certain period before and/or after the training is paid for.

You may find that you don’t even need to convince your boss to pay for the training you want; it might already be approved. If so, ask your boss and HR about the programs so you can get started immediately.

If there’s nothing already listed in the company benefits, it’s time to go to step two.

2. Create a List of Training Programs You Want to Participate In

Before you even think about approaching your boss for a formal request, think about what you want to ask for.

Look up courses, training programs, conferences, and certifications you’d like to complete.

Write them down in order of your priority, putting the classes you most want to take at the top of the list.

Next to each course, write down the following:

  • Exactly what you would learn
  • How long it takes to complete
  • When the course would start
  • The cost, including costs like necessary travel or lodging

This will help you determine what you think your boss would be most likely to say yes to, and it gives you an idea of where you’d like to start.

If, for example, the company you work for has an extremely tight budget, looking at a lower cost online course that you could complete on weekends would likely be a more realistic ask than a week-long conference requiring hotel + travel and you being out for a week.

3. Create a List of Reasons Why You Need the Training

Even if your company has a budget ready for continued education for employees, you’ll likely be asked to show the value of what you’ll learn to get approval.

Keep in mind that what may seem obvious to you as a massive benefit may not necessarily be seen by your boss the same way unless you explain it to them.

It’s important at this stage to noy only focus on why you will benefit from the training, but how it will impact your company.

Consider using a feature-benefit approach here. You can explain what you’ll learn and how it will be advantageous to the company’s bottom line.

Perhaps, for example, you want to learn how to manage Promoted Pins. You know Facebook Ads already, but Promoted Pins is currently outsourced to a third-party agency. You can learn a skill that would make you more valuable to the company (and, eventually, to other potential employers, but don’t say that part out loud), and the best part is that you could save the company a ton of money on agency fees.

Or maybe there’s a copywriting course you want to take so you can create stronger social media content. The idea is that the content you’re creating becomes more effective and the brand sees more results ranging from engagement to sales.

While the biggest benefit for you is that you can grow your skills and advance your career, your boss needs to see where the dollar sign comes into play for them.

4. Consider the Payback Period & ROI

Speaking of bottom lines and dollar signs, you’ll want to really focus on the financial gains that the company could receive in return for getting you this training… and you’ll want to balance it against the cost of said training.

Your boss may be less-than-thrilled about sending you to a week-long conference that costs $2000 + plane tickets + hotels. That’s a big investment, especially since you’ll be out of office the entire time. You need to prove that you’ll be worth it.

Put together some rough figures that show how the company could benefit financially, including how long it will take for them to earn their investment back and what ROI is possible.

Examples could include:

  • Attending a tech conference could help you discover new social media marketing tools that you can make your marketing more effective. By discovering how to use them, you could work much faster and prevent the need for the company to hire a second employee to help you manage the social platforms.The $4,000 needed for you to attend the conference once is a heck of a lot better than a $40k+ a year salary every year.
  • Taking a social media strategy course could help you learn new cutting edge strategies to help you grow your brand, build engagement, and drive sales. This can help you edge out the competition and give you a more powerful ROI.
  • If you work for an agency, you can make the argument that having every team member receive social media certifications or social media marketing diplomas would be appealing to clients. A one-time investment for each employee could build trust at the client-level, it becomes a strong USP, and it can help you land more contracts.

5. Look Up Hard Data & Create a Report

At this point, assemble a basic report that shows the top course you’d like to take, and the benefits for the company. Starting with just a single training opportunity can be beneficial so that your boss isn’t overwhelmed by the total costs. Make sure you highlight the ROI and payback periods that you addressed above.

You can also use some additional third-party data to help you sell your case, explaining why you need the training. A few examples that you might be able to use include:

  • When explaining why you want to take a YouTube marketing course and to add YouTube marketing to your company’s strategy: 54% of all people want businesses to create more video content, and it’s important to give the audience what they want before our competition does.
  • When trying to explain why you should get certified in Facebook Ad management: The average user clicks on 12 Facebook Ads a month, making them a highly engaged audience that we’re not yet trying to reach.
  • When trying to explain the value of adding education funds to the budget in general: 61% of adults in the United States seek career development opportunities when considering job opportunities, so having employee education opportunities could also help the company attract top talent overall.

6. Schedule a Meeting

Have a meeting with your boss. If your team is more casual, this could be as simple as heading in and asking if they have time to chat. If your team is always busy, however, setting up a scheduled meeting will make sure they have time to hear you out.

Let them know when you schedule the meeting that you’ve got an idea that you think could benefit the company and that you’re excited to share it. This starts the meeting off on the right foot, positioning it as benefiting the company instead of just you.

When it comes time for the meeting, make sure that you’ve got your data ready. If your boss would respond well to a printout with the information, you can go that route. Some might prefer to have you email the links afterward; you know your boss best, so go with your gut.

In general, pamphlets or flyers for the training you want to take are a good call to bring with you, along with a breakdown of any ROI that you’ve calculated.

7. Stress In Your Pitch That You Want to Stay Put

When you’re asking to receive training on the company’s budget, remember to find ways to stress that you want this training not just for you but the company.

Your boss is going to be much more likely to approve the training cost if they’re confident that you’ll stick around long-term to make it worth their while. The last thing they want to do is invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into an employee who will use it to jump ship.

8. Be Ready For Objections

Before the meeting, take some time to think about what objections your boss may have. Being ready to overcome some of those objections can help you convince them faster, especially if you can do it on the spot.

Common objections might include:

  • They don’t want you to miss work for an event. You can offer to have the social media calendar scheduled through third-party scheduling software and approved before you go. You can also assure them that you’ll spend at least one hour a day checking and responding to engagement.
  • They’re busy and don’t have time for you to spend time at work to complete the course trainings. Let them know that you’re happy to do it on your own time, or remind them that this will actually help you work faster and become more productive once training is complete.
  • They’re on a tight budget already. Remind them of what they can gain financially with the investment long-term. Offer to help them find room by looking at the overall marketing or social marketing budget and seeing if that can help cover the cost.
  • If you want training so will everyone else. Remind them that investments in training can help retain your top performing workers across the board, and that there can be a system set up so that every employee can receive approved trainings up to a certain dollar amount every year or every other year.
  • We don’t have a system to determine what training should be covered. You can offer to help create one so that they don’t have to. Mention that you’ll do research and offer to talk to HR if necessary so you can see what other companies offer.

What Not to Do When Convincing Your Boss to Pay for Training

As you’re trying to convince your boss to pay for your skills training, make sure that you avoid all of the following:

  • Imply that you’ll leave if they don’t pay by strongly suggesting that “every other company pays for this”
  • Go in defensive assuming they’ll say no
  • Expect an immediate answer
  • Wait until the last minute to ask, making it so that you have to get an instant yes to book tickets or reserve your spot in a course (many times, this requires approval of multiple departments which may take weeks or months)

Final Thoughts

Ongoing education and specific skills training for social media marketers isn’t just useful; it’s necessary. The industry changes so much and so quickly, and there’s a seemingly endless amount of knowledge you need.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask your boss to pay for skills training. The worst thing they can say is no, at which point you can decide if you want to invest in the training yourself and potentially find a new employer who will invest in you and your career, too.

Looking for a good place to start with skills training for social media marketers? Check out our social media courses here.

Jonathon Tanner

Jonathon Tanner

Co-CEO and Co-Founder

Co-CEO and Co-Founder of SMC, earned Social Media Educator of the Year from SMMI. With vast experience in social media strategy and content marketing, he's also a co-founder of other businesses. Specialising in growth strategy, Jon has a background in management consulting specialising in M&A.

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