For some time now, I have written about the relative effectiveness of niche marketing (see "One-to-One Programming Deserves One-to-One Marketing," Medical Meetings, June 1997, page 70). The concept behind niche or database marketing is that CPE providers must study the various constituencies targeted for their programs, products, and services, and create differential campaigns for distinct market segments. All kinds of variables should be considered when zeroing in on your most highly qualified prospects--that is, those individuals most likely to attend your programs, purchase your products, and/or use your services. Key variables include recency, frequency, and monetary value of participation. Other factors might include age, gender, and geography. Just as we have come to appreciate that not all prospects are created equal, so too must we understand that not all programs are evaluated by the marketplace in the same manner.

Internally Vs. Externally Driven CPE In my previous column, I introduced the concept that adult learners divide CPE activities into two discrete forms. Thus so must we. I call them "Chore" and "Choice."

Chore: Participants in Chore CPE are there because they must be. Chore CPE enables participants to comply with certification and other requirements. Chore CPE can be thought of as "compliance CPE"

(licensure, credentialing, clinical privileging, risk management), and as such it is externally driven. It also provides the baseline information, education, and training necessary to do one's job well. Like most chores, this type of CPE is essential, although not necessarily exciting. Our customers will therefore look to attain this education as efficiently as possible.

Choice: By contrast, those engaged in Choice CPE participate because they want to. Choice CPE compels participation--it stimulates and excites. The prospect for a Choice CPE program is an individual motivated not by the stick but by desire. Thus, Choice CPE is self-directed. It is CPE for which the prospect anticipates not just an activity but an experience.

Marketing Implications Having made a sharp distinction within the CPE product line, what then are the marketing implications? Goethe put it best when he said, "Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." In marketing we refer to the "things that matter most" as the copy platform. The copy platform should present those compelling factors that you believe will most powerfully influence your prospects' decision-making processes.

How might the copy platform differ for a Chore or a Choice CPE program? Having asked this question at a number of recent workshops, I can report consensus among CPE providers. For Chore programs, the copy platform should focus on cost, convenience, and credit. In sharp contrast, Choice CPE should highlight cutting-edge topics, highly respected faculty, and attractive locations. Though both are CPE programs, they have radically different copy platforms.

Copy Platform--The Business Card Test Once you identify the copy platform for your offering, you will want to frequently reinforce these key selling points. What one seeks to accomplish in the copy platform is either a sense of excitement (Choice) or an anticipated fulfillment (Chore) about an offering. When you have distilled your copy platform, take my business card test. Write your ideas on the back of the card. If you can't fit it all on, go back to the drawing board. You have yet to perfect your copy platform.

I encourage you to categorize your CPE programs, products, and services into Chore and Choice. Can you identify the unique selling propositions of each? Is this reflected in your copy platform?

In my next column, I will continue this analysis of the Chore/Choice model by examining the financial implications and strategic value of each product line within the marketplace. *