Employees only have 1% of a typical work week to focus on training. This is one of the major challenges L&D is grappling with, as outlined in the Bersin by Deloitte’s infographic, published a few years ago.
In response, L&D professionals have sharpened their skills of content creation and curation, keeping it short, sweet and relevant. But there is one skill most specialists shy away from, that has a major impact on their success – marketing. If you approach learning initiatives with a marketer’s mindset and treat learners as customers to be captivated, then the 1% weekly time spent on training can be even more productive.
More than you would think. Marketing is a competition for people’s attention and so is L&D. In a time when consumers (read learners) are overwhelmed by choice and lack the time, both industries strive to surpass the same challenges:
In order to drive behavioral change, you need to stir your learners’ curiosity, get them excited and convince them to “buy” into your learning initiatives. In the words of Valerie North, former senior HR Business Partner at Hilltop Securities: “We knew we could buy the best learning tool in the world or create the best content, but if we didn’t market it to our associates, they wouldn’t use it”.
At Moonstar, we studied marketing extensively to identify the best practices in developing a communication strategy for any learning initiative.
While it might not sound overly complex, you’d be surprised how few L&D professionals actually craft a well-designed marketing strategy for their L&D efforts. Here are Moonstar’s top four tips for captivating learners.
According to research, 51% of executives would be willing to encourage employee learning. And what better way to secure commitment than by sending a tailored message from top management? You can go beyond the simple email and release a short video of senior executives sharing their words of encouragement. In marketer’s jargon, this is a teaser for the learning program. A telecommunications company noticed an incredible boost in learner engagement after employing this tactic. Following a video message from the COO, challenging employees to take one hour a week and learn, 94% of employees enrolled in digital courses and put in an average of 4 hours of learning per month. If learners notice that management supports learning initiatives, they will be more than eager to jump on board.
Time-starved employees need to know that every minute spent learning is worth it, so build a strong case for your initiative by answering the burning question “What’s in it for me?”. Emphasize the skills they will develop, show how learning will make their jobs easier and help them accomplish their goals. Think like a marketer: be specific and tailor the message to your different audiences. For example, for retail training it could be “You will discover a simple and effective three-step process to dealing with unhappy customers. You will practice your empathetic response and hone your problem-solving skills. In doing so, you will be able to handle difficult conversations with greater ease and compassion.” Make sure your learning initiatives are designed to deliver on these value propositions.
Sometimes, organizing a kick off meeting to launch a new initiative is difficult, so generate momentum in the digital space. Craft a catchy email series to stir your learners’ curiosity. For example, you can create a persona that your audience can relate to. Outline her name, story, goals and struggles and show how training will help her overcome obstacles. Make it emotional, easy to connect to and elaborate the story with each new email. Alternatively, take advantage of the engaging training content you have created. Challenge people to reflect on the topic and prompt discussions on internal forums with stimulating questions. Once you get people talking, the launch day will become a much anticipated event.
Follow in the steps of our kindergarten chain client and create visually appealing materials – whether it’s a poster to announce the initiative, a flyer to outline the benefits or a Learning Experience Platform user guide in the form of a catchy infographic. When you create visuals, be sure to customize them according to your company’s brand – including logo and colors.
The most trusted form of advertising is a recommendation from someone you know. Identify influencers among your audience and have them spread the word. Usually, they are early adopters, people inherently passionate about learning. Alternatively, collect testimonials and share them to inspire other learners. Don’t forget to make these visually appealing as well: use company’s colors, add pictures and names (if you have permission). Testimonials help you share success stories and are a powerful way to get buy-in even from initially unresponsive learners. If possible, seek to get testimonials from people in senior roles, since their position grants them more authority in front of their colleagues.
Incorporate storytelling. As Seth Godin put it: “All marketers tell stories”. Storytelling is a proven way to hook people’s attention and keep them coming back. Like a marketer, frame your communication as a story (of success, of overcoming challenges) as often as you can. This will help you spark emotion and generate momentum. Your learners will commit more when they can relate to someone’s experience and see the benefits for themselves.
L&D professionals spend only 15% of their time promoting learning initiatives. Adopt a marketer’s mindset and craft a purposeful communication strategy. Flex your creative muscle. Treat learners as customers and captivate them.
Marketing your learning initiatives is just the first step of a successful skilling and reskilling strategy. Content and delivery are equally important. Ensure your employees have a truly transformative learning experience with Moonstar’s Experiential Learning Platform and its digital learning content.