I’ve been talking for some time about what a marketer’s skillset (and mindset) can do for L&D.
We all know engagement is our first hurdle on the way to a ‘pull’ learning culture, and marketing is key to that. After all, how are our solutions going to be successful when learners don’t know where or how to find them, or when they aren’t excited about them?
A massive 95% of L&D professionals listed marketing and communications as a ‘priority skill’ in the last Towards Maturity benchmark. However, we’re still seeing a big gap when we compare this to the 50% who said they already have the skills in-house. Some organisations have addressed this with a new role - what I call the ‘L&D marketer’. But what I’m hearing, from the heads of L&D I’ve been speaking to, is that many companies simply don’t have the budget for it.
I think it’s really important to remember that ‘marketing and communications’ is not one or even two skills – it’s made up of many skills and abilities. And you’ve probably got some of these in your team already.
So, if you don’t have extra to spend, and you want to get started right away, here are some ways you can use the skills you already have to get new results.
Focus on your aims.
Setting out your goals for your in-house L&D marketing is the first step to deciding what skills will be needed.
A great place to start is identifying one key area that you’d like to improve – for example, email communications, or online course bookings.
Once you’ve decided what to focus on, you’ll be able to identify the skills needed and put together a small team or working group to take ownership of the project.
Play to everyone's strengths.
We know the most cost-effective way to transform your existing team is to evolve what you've already got, rather than starting from scratch – so once you’ve established who has adaptable skills within your team, ask yourself, how you can capitalise on them?
Finding the similarities between existing L&D skills and marketing skills can help you think about how these can be developed. For example, if you have someone who can write exciting course introductions, they may well be able to write engaging promotional emails; and if someone else is good with LMS reports, perhaps they’ll be great at monitoring activity on your L&D intranet. If someone else on your team surpasses in carrying out learning needs analysis, they might be the perfect person to carry out user research – looking at things from the learner’s point of view to understand drivers and motivations for engagement.
If you create a checklist of the essential marketing skills for your project, you can even cross-reference what skills and experience your people have, and match these against what you need.
Use careful planning.
Once you’ve identified a number of ways you could spread your message within the organisation, work out which methods you’re going to use, and create a plan that weaves all of these together. For example, you could decide to use storytelling, either through text or video; internal email and magazines, or even in-house mini-roadshows.
This is also a great opportunity to assign responsibility for different tasks, based on the marketing skills you identified in your team at the start.
And don’t forget to check on your strategy regularly, to make sure it’s flexible enough to adapt – keep testing to find out works best, and what could be changed to get better results.
Stay tuned in.
Finally, the internet is full of good advice for marketers. HubSpot, Intercom, Buffer, Hootsuite and Quicksprout are just a few that have great free resources you can access. And while some of it won’t be relevant, there may be a few approaches that you can bring to your work. Personally, I love Hubspot’s blog – it always gives me some fantastic ideas of what we can be tying into learning.
There are, after all, many similarities between L&D and marketing – both work to a strategy, and both strive for engagement. See if there’s some wisdom here that you can take away from some of the marketing industry’s most respected voices.
Using marketing approaches can be fantastic for your engagement and delivery, and doesn’t have to be expensive. By using your existing skills and knowledge, you can adopt a marketer’s mindset, without having to actually bring one into your team.
Some of the above are quick wins and some are the first building blocks for longer-term change. However, L&D can achieve great results with a bit of planning, and a lot of critical thinking about ourselves and our skills.
A great place to start is with our Marketing Metrics for L&D download - a fantastic free tool to help understand your learners and the new ways of communicating with them that can improve your learning solutions and results.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.
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