A whopping 64% of learning leaders reported their people are not aware of the learning and development opportunities available in their organization.¹ This scenario alone is enough to bring L&D teams to tears. After working so hard to select, build and implement a learning management system (LMS) and then fill it full of fantastic, creative and engaging content, you realize no one is participating. Outside of the first few weeks after the launch, engagement and participation are stagnant. It doesn’t make sense. You worked so hard to give people what they wanted, but it just doesn’t seem to be catching on.
Your LMS launch isn’t the end of the journey, it’s the beginning. Once the technology, content, social collaboration and reporting tools are in place, it’s time to start drumming up excitement.
According to Bersin, “L&D functions, which are viewed as proactive and strategic, dedicate about 27 percent more resources to marketing and communications, portfolio management, and leadership.”²
It’s time to start thinking like a marketer!
Marketers know how to build brand awareness, create an authentic voice, identify and connect with audiences, promote products, communicate value, listen to customers, and increase brand loyalty. Sounds similar to what you’re looking for, right? Building a marketing strategy for your L&D offerings can help you captivate your audience and drive usage.
Don’t tell your friends in marketing this, but you don’t need a marketing degree to build a marketing strategy for your learning and development offerings. Here’s how you start:
1. Embrace branding. A strong learning brand communicates the promise you are making to your employees and shows them that you are a partner in their success. This all starts with creating a brand for your L&D function. A learning brand shows that you are invested in their skills development and career growth. You could go as far as to create a corporate university or as simple as developing a logo, mission statement and messaging. The most important thing is that your learners know who you are and what you represent. People feel a deep connection and loyalty to brands, and by giving your L&D function a brand you’ll elicit those same feelings.
2. Get to know your audience. One of the biggest rules in marketing is: do not assume. Don’t assume you know what your audience wants and needs. If you assume you know better than them, you’ll run the risk of offending them. There are very different audiences with very different needs and desires within your organization, regardless of size. Understanding what interests and motivates these groups is vital to marketing to them. Segmenting your audience into groups defined by common attributes will help you craft targeted messages.
3. Create campaigns that meet your audience where they are. Now we’re getting into the funky, creative part of marketing: campaigns. Without a communication plan to keep learning top of mind, your employees will move on to other things and learning will retreat to the back burner once again. This is where you and your team get to be creative by leveraging different marketing and communication tactics to meet your audience where they are. Think about how you can use social media, blogs, email and events to showcase and communicate new or existing learning opportunities. Campaigns go beyond a one-off email listing available courses, you have to think about your audience and what they want, and then tailor a message and call to action (for example, watch a video or take part in a survey) around their interests.
4. Communicate and listen. A thorough communication plan is one of the most important aspects of a good marketing strategy. Always remember that communication is a two way street. Sending out blanket company-wide emails about new learning courses and tracks and not asking for feedback isn’t the best approach. Consider using an anonymous suggestion box where employees can submit input and ideas around what is working and what isn’t working. Feedback is often a catalyst for change and success.
5. Measure, learn and course correct. Data driven insights are the secret weapon of any marketer. We collect an exorbitant amount of information, but rarely turn those insights into action. Track and measure your L&D marketing campaigns success to understand what messages are resonating with certain audiences. That data, coupled with LMS usage reports, is a great way for you to understand what is working, identify areas of improvement, and develop new content and ideas.
Building a marketing strategy for your L&D program is a surefire way to get your employees engaged and interested in what you have to offer. If you’re looking for more information, check out our whitepaper, “Why Learning and Marketing Should Be BFFs” for a guide to building a marketing strategy, complete with a marketing cheat sheet to get you started! And, catch the replay of our recent webinar, “Amplify the Value and Brand of your Learning Offerings.”
Questions? Comments? Ideas? Leave a note below!
¹ “The Real Challenge with Learner Engagement: L&D Has a Marketing Problem,” Bersin by Deloitte Research Bulletin, 2015
² “The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014: Benchmarks, Trends, and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market,” Bersin by Deloitte / Karen O’Leonard, January 2014.