What can L&D learn from marketing?

by Viv Cole on January 29, 2012

For months I’ve been immersed in the zone where marketing and learning overlap – helping marketers become as confident and astute with digital media as they are with traditional media. Although Marketing and L&D departments tend to attract different types of people, in essence both roles involve communicating in a way that is designed to change people’s behaviour. And where two fields of expertise overlap there’s learning to be had… here’s 5 points to start with: 

1. Brand is all important

For marketers the brand is almost more important than the product/ service (the sizzle is more important than the sausage). Hence the brand needs to be nurtured and nurtured consistently. Think about your internal brand and how each piece of communication sent out to learners and other stakeholders conveys your brand. One company that has taken the importance of internal branding to heart is Information Transfer, hence its multiple elearning awards for securing widespread e-learning adoption

2. Pre-work is a campaign, not a one-shot-kill

It’s not unusual for trainers to complain that participants on a workshop have not done their pre-work. If you genuinely want people to complete pre-work you need to do more than send one email. Apply the thinking of customer relationship management to the task of getting pre-work done i.e. tailor your messaging to what people are interested in, track the results of what they’ve responded to/ done already, follow up with tailored messages.

3. Focus on the benefits not the process

Whilst it’s probably of great interest to you that the learning design has followed Kolb, ADDIE or some other worthy instructional model, it’s not interesting to your participants. Focus your comms on the benefits and outcomes not the “science bit”.

4. Testimonials have more impact than KPIs

Horrifically unsupported generalisation but most people make decisions by emotion and then rationalise the decisions later. We know that KPI data is not famous for inspiring emotions. Sponsors and future participants are far more likely to be swayed by testimonials/ stories of how people found the programme/ have achieved as a result. Testimonials/ quotes that sound unprompted/ independent of the programme carry extra bonus gravitas. Cherish them and share them.

5. Keep pumping out the good news

When you’ve run a great course, probably the first things on your mind are reading the feedback forms, feeling the job satisfaction and then trying to get home before the adrenalin slump makes you a danger to traffic. Utlimately you need to retire to the sofa with some really simple non-hotel food. Whilst you’re at the point of exhaustion, your participants have still yet to get minds back to work, so it won’t hurt to remind them and other relevant stakeholders about what a great course it was and what they can do now. In the absence of other information, the corporate grapevine will create the reputation of your course, so why not influence it yourself with some positive messaging? As soon as you can, get positive news about the course back to your stakeholders.

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