In a recent episode of the GoodPractice podcast, Ross G and I were joined by Yvonne Chen, VP of Marketing at Udemy for Business. We talked about modern marketing tactics and how these can be used in an L&D context to raise the profile of learning initiatives.
I see so much value when our clients put these approaches and strategies into practice, and our conversation inspired me to pull together the highlights into a series of quick tips. Read on to find out how marketing can boost your L&D interventions beyond the initial launch phases, and help you achieve learner engagement over the longer term.
Unless you’re dealing with compliance projects, your learning initiative will be competing for attention with all the noise and day-to-day pressures and priorities in your organisation. Thinking like a marketer can help you position your learning project effectively, by answering the “what’s in it for me?” question. Think about how you will introduce it to your audience, and ensure you include:
– An overview of the core benefits
– What will people get from taking part (e.g. an ability to work smarter, or improvement of specific skills)
– Why is it relevant to them right now
Getting these marketing messages right, up front, will really help your learning initiative stand out.
As any good marketer will tell you, tone of voice is critical – it helps define your brand. It’s how you set the tone for customers and has a powerful impact on how they will perceive your product or service. When it comes to L&D projects, the language you use is important too. Consider how you will first introduce your learning project – how will you describe it to make it as interesting and engaging as possible? Does the language need to be formal and corporate, or can you adopt a more informal, friendly style? Get feedback on how you initially present your learning project – ask people what they ‘get’ from reading about it and if they want to find out more.
Human curiosity is a powerful thing and something you can take advantage of with the right marketing approach. Rather than telling people the whole story about your learning project right away, ignite their interest by running a pre-launch, or teaser campaign. This is a commonly used marketing tactic designed to generate buzz before the ‘big reveal’ takes place.
The key is to share content that introduces your learning campaign in an engaging way and gets people talking and asking questions about it. For example, if you are developing a new suite of e-learning, you might want to give people a sneak peek with snippets or highlights as part of a targeted teaser campaign. The point is to generate a buzz, get people interested and wanting to find out more.
If you can harness the power of word of mouth across your organisation, your learning project will really start to take off. Social sharing on your company’s internal networks will help you achieve this. Encourage people to share and talk about how they are getting involved. For example, Citi used internal social channels to get employees sharing examples of how they were taking part in the award-winning #BeMore learning campaign – designed to encourage everyday learning by taking on a variety of development challenges.
Once you successfully grab people’s attention, they’ll want to feel that your campaign will reward them in some way – even if it’s just giving them a way to be first in the know. For example, you could allow people to sign-up for a course or suite of e-learning early, rewarding them for their involvement and keeping your objectives in their minds at the same time.
When it to comes to effective marketing strategies, good design leads to better results. In L&D, we can take advantage of this too. If you can, use eye-catching design to create a strong visual identity for your learning campaign. This gives a good first impression and creates a lasting impact on your target audience. Be consistent – apply the same design principles throughout, so people begin to feel a sense of familiarity with your learning project and recognise it quickly and easily. Use the same visuals on your emails, print materials and any other collateral for your project.
Email is a great way to publicize your learning project and should be an integral aspect of your communications approach. Alongside email, there are a whole host of channels you can use to get the word out successfully. Share content in areas that already get a lot of online traffic in your organisation, including your intranet, LMS platform and social enterprise network (e.g. Yammer, Slack or Skype). Put together a communications plan of how you will use each of these channels to support the launch and ongoing promotion of your learning initiative, and create a variety of content (e.g short articles, explainer videos, infographics etc) to support your aims.
Marketing can help L&D keep the momentum going around learning projects. Most learning projects will see a good initial spike of interest and engagement when they launch. But without a well thought out plan for marketing activity to follow, initial interest can quickly fizzle out. Think about what you can do to keep up the momentum and don’t just stick to using email as your only means of communication. For example, why not send out a series of updates to tell people how popular your learning intervention has been so far, what it has helped participants achieve and how people can sign up or find out more. You could also share success stories on a periodic basis (perhaps as short articles or video testimonials), featuring people who have participated and experienced positive benefits.