Marketing in learning and development – a charity success story

Marie Duncan shares how she discovered the art of utilising a marketing strategy in engaging learners and promoting learning activities

As a young pup in learning and development, or “training” as it was back in the day, if you’d told me that having a marketing strategy would improve the function of what I was doing I’d have looked at you like you had three eyes and green hair.

A marketing strategy would improve the function of what I was doing

In those days the Internet was still in its infancy and email was king. I professionally grew up with the understanding that to advertise and generate interest in training events, that the direct and effective medium of electronic mail was the key.  This status quo remained as my years in L&D rolled on and I saw the same strategy reinforced and used by many of the training and event organisers I worked alongside.

As a member of the Charity Learning Consortium I regularly attend their events in London where a variety of speakers and thought leaders present on a range of topics. A number of months ago Issy Nancarrow of Nancarrow Partnerships presented on marketing in L&D. She began by asking us to identify points of contact and I began wondering if she’d lost the plot. This was a room of L&D professionals after all, didn’t she realise she was in the wrong event?

As the discussion went on a penny so large dropped that I’m surprised it didn’t knock me out. I got truly excited by what I was hearing and learning and have understood from that moment on that we in L&D shouldn’t assume interest or intention to learn, but instead should be selling our wares and generating excitement around our activities through ways beyond email or internal intranet.

I returned to Glasgow and within days the team had completed a ‘points of contact’ exercise, shown below:

Being part of a creative team is wonderful in these moments as ideas flowed and an early strategy began to emerge.

Some of our recent developments:

  • We have discovered the Mailchimp email service and that the art of using email isn’t dead – it’s just got better. If you don’t have a bulk email management service in your life, you need it
  • We now wrap new learning development solutions in a marketing strategy. Before we launch a new course, tool or concept we consider the time line and plan in advance. When we launched the new eLearning platform we engaged with managers first, sent out teaser emails, took a spot in the staff newsletter and developed a poster campaign. We also ran a competition for the 100th person to log on. It was remarkably successful
  • We are developing an L&D specific logo that is in line with the organisational one. We will use this to brand our materials, intranet page and communications.
  • We plan to give out branded note books at induction for new staff to use during their early months to capture key learning
  • We have been giving out spot prizes and thank you cards for teams first to all complete their online compliance learning. This ensures we are engaging them with our LMS, meeting targets and raising our profile simultaneously
  • We are asking staff to feature in photo images for use in course development and are using video to capture testimonials that we can use to promote future events
  • We are exploring the use of screen savers to promote and advertise organisational activity

This list is not exhaustive and we have further irons in the fire. Over just a couple of short months I feel that we have turned a considerable corner in the way we view our task of learner engagement and will continue to grow and nurture this aspect of our practice.

Marketing as part of a learning and development strategy… who knew!?

Click for more the Charity Learning Consortium.


About the author

Marie Duncan is Learning & Development Manager at Kibble Education & Care Centre. You can contact Marie through Twitter @marielearns or


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