Are you looking to improve the marketing for your L&D programmes? Or maybe you’re kick-starting out on our marketing journey but have no idea where to start. Then this blog is for you. With years of experience in marketing for learning®, we’ve boiled down your journey into six simple steps:
The first step of embarking on your marketing for L&D journey is to change your mindset. Adopting a marketing mindset means challenging some deep-rooted L&D beliefs and thinking differently. There are 10 “C’s” to a modern marketing mindset and although L&D could do with enhancing all 10, there are three we think are critically important:
Customer centricity. Marketers always put the customer first. And as an L&Der your customer is your audience (or your ‘learner’ if you must). You must put them first in all you do to overcome the age-old engagement problem once and for all.
Commercially focused. L&D are rarely commercially focused, mostly because we aren’t asked to be. But that’s not good enough – we must hold ourselves to a higher standard and start considering the business impact our learning offering has.
Collaborative. All the best marketers network around the business. They know what’s going on in other business units. They know what matters to other people in the org. And it’s time L&D took this approach too!
The truth is, personas are the backbone of great marketing. It involves getting to know your audience thoroughly, understanding their wants, needs, fears and pain points. And helps you accelerate your L&D function in 3 key ways:
Creating a human connection. Modern audiences expect personalised experiences, and when we have thousands of learners, creating that personalisation is tough. Personas help bridge this gap, and enable you to create personalised communications, en masse.
Increasing relevance. We often call out boring emails (“there’s a new course in LMS!”) And personas are key at helping you transform those yawn-inducing emails to comms that will actually get learners butts a’movin.
Easier identification of the right channels. Where is your audience hanging out? Tough question when you’re considering your entire audience, isn’t it? But with personas, that question becomes a lil’ easier. Meaning you can focus your attention on the channels that really work.
If you want to learn more about creating your own learner personas, check out this nifty guide 🍍
Once you’ve got your personas firmed up, you’ll quickly realise that each persona goes through an unique decision making journey before deciding to get involved with your learning offering. Your audience will go through five steps throughout their learning journey, which is outlined by the acronym AIDAL:
But at each of these stages your personas will have different goals, thoughts and feelings – which is what we map out in a decision making journey. Using your personas alongside decision making journeys is a great way to make your marketing for learning more sophisticated (and work harder for you!)
Whether you like it or not, you have a learning brand. Yep, even if you don’t have a unique logo, colour palette or visuals – you still have a brand. It’s the thoughts and feelings your target audience conjures up when thinking about your L&D offering. So it’s important to take ownership of your L&D brand, crafting the narrative you want to convey.
But why is this so important?
As the ‘face’ of your function, an L&D brand will help you build trust with your audience. A carefully crafted L&D brand will set an expectation of high quality learning that will have a positive impact on your end-users future. And that’s the impression we want to give, right?
Strong branding gives audiences something to latch onto and advocate for – and in turn builds a sense of community. It’s a unifying feature for your target audience to relate to – without it being another human being (because that can sometimes feel a bit odd and fan-like… can’t it?)
Branding conveys your message to your audience. And your message should define why they should learn and what they’ll get from it. It sets expectations and builds enthusiasm about learning.
All too often L&D takes a sporadic approach to communicating their learning. Pushing out messages on an adhoc basis, or when a new programme launches. Learning campaigns change this, they ensure you take a long-term approach to increasing engagement. According to marketing gurus HubSpot:
"Marketing campaigns are organised, strategic efforts to promote a specific goal. They typically involve a combination of media, e.g. email, print advertising, and social media."
Your marketing for learning campaigns will have one unifying tagline or focus topic. This might be related to a specific area of your learning (i.e. a significant initiative) or just raising awareness of your entire learning offer. But please do not create a campaign for every programme launch! Seriously, the programme based approach to marketing is getting us nowhere, so think holistically when it comes to campaign ideation.
Last but not least, you need to consider the tactical application of your marketing strategy. This is when we start thinking about the tangible elements of your promotion tactics – like your emails, videos and posters. But to get the most out of your marketing tactics, you need to harness a few key skills:
If you truly want to boost engagement, you must focus on copywriting. Because whether we’re writing marketing comms, course descriptions or emails to your colleagues – we’re all copywriters aren’t we? And effective copy will evoke emotions and instigate action among your audience… so it’s critically important you get it right!
This guide from HubSpot is a great starting point for new copywriters.
Follow Dave Harland on LinkedIn - copywriting tips and a hilarious guy!
Read the 10 lessons for writing great copy by Roger Horberry and Gyles Lingwood.
Storytelling is one of the best tools in a marketers arsenal – and it’s also one of the oldest methods of teaching. So it’s no surprise that we’re huge advocates for it when it comes to marketing for learning. Stories build human connections, increase memory and recall, and influence people. If you aren't confident with your storytelling skills – this nifty storytelling guide (complete with marketing for learning examples!) will help you.
The last step to rolling out your marketing is choosing the right channels. Typically L&Ders fall into one of two categories when we discuss channel selection:
Those that assume email is the only channel we can use.
Those that want to follow all the trends – without any rhyme or reason!
And both of these are incorrect ways of thinking. You do have more channels, and you shouldn’t follow the hype without reason.
When choosing your channels to promote your learning offering, ask yourself 3 key questions:
Have you explored all possible channels? Remember you can promote your offering through emails, chat channels (i.e. Teams or Slack), your intranet, posters, leaders, stakeholders and many, many other channels. So grab a pen and paper, and get brainstorming all of the channels you can use!
One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is to go to where your audience is hanging out. Don’t expect them to come to you! So check your decision making journey, where they spend their time — and market to them there!
Question yourself about why you’ve chosen a particular channel. Are you following a trend or a hype? Or will it actually help you boost awareness and engagement with your audience? Sometimes it can be tempting to try the newest tools and tactics, but if they don’t help you reach your goals: DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME!
So there you have it, six steps to successful marketing for learning implementation. But if you need a lil more help on implementing these six steps, why not check out our marketing for L&D masterclass? Which is designed to give you everything you need to become a marketing for learning pro #YoureWelcome