4 actions to raise L&D’s profile

Doug Marshall on how marketing techniques can make a difference to L&D teams

Marketers and L&D professionals have much in common. They both need to communicate memorable messages. Their work involves encouraging behaviour changes. And they’re both navigating digital innovation.
L&D professionals are therefore already well-placed to use marketing techniques. After all, they can be used to make a better case for a budget, to get better engagement for learning programmes, and enhance the reputation of the L&D team. Here are four marketing actions that can be used to elevate the success of an L&D department. 

1. Plan like a marketer

Planning is crucial in marketing just like it is in L&D. A good marketing plan includes a diagnosis of the current situation, SMART objectives, and a strategy with the tactics, actions and monitoring to achieve the objectives. This kind of structure can be used in plans for L&D teams too.
Encouraging colleagues to tell stories of how they’ve put training into practice – its impact can be very powerful, especially on video
Diagnosing the current situation can involve researching the performance and behavioural outcomes of learning programmes as well as areas such as how well people understand the scope of what L&D teams can provide. This analysis will provide a guide to what should be the SMART objectives in the plan. The strategy sums up tactics and actions to achieve the objectives. 
Tactics for promoting a learning programme will include the media (such as video) and which channels are to be used to communicate the message. The actions state who has ownership with the deadline for completion.

Lastly, the plan should feature how to monitor and measure success, to continually assess the success of learning programmes and how they’re being promoted so they can be assessed and adjusted accordingly.

2. Articulate the brand
Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying ‘Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room’. How can L&D leaders influence the reputation of their team and services?
A good brand often encapsulates a promise. Keeping promises to the organisation will obviously enhance the reputation of the L&D team.
Make sure departmental values are well-understood, kept to and repeated to key stakeholders.
Use research so learning programmes are seen to be addressing needs such as a skills gap, performance enhancement or behavioural change.
Deliver tailored, consistent messages about the value of L&D services to key stakeholder groups in the places that they’re likely to be.
3. Segment audiences
In marketing, segmentation targets specific groups of consumers who perceive the value of services differently from one another. This might include C-suite, HR and L&D colleagues, department managers, and a wide range of employees with different learning needs. Segmenting these different groups enables the delivery of specific, relevant and consistent messages to each group.
For example, this might include highlighting evidence of:
revenue increases as a result of training to the CFO;
how training has impacted employee retention to HR;
performance improvements to department heads and
internal career development to employees.
4. Optimise content
To ensure communications about courses and resources are found, consider where colleagues are likely to be; this might be Slack, Teams, the LMS, a notice board or staff meetings.
Storytelling is an important technique in both marketing and L&D. Encouraging colleagues to tell stories of how they’ve put training into practice and its impact can be very powerful, especially on video. When considering other ways to convey a message consider the audience. For example, a finance director might prefer an insightful dashboard rather than reading a long report.
These are a handful of marketing techniques that L&D professionals can use. To better understand these and other marketing techniques, a great way to start is a conversation between L&D professionals and their marketing colleagues. Learning from each other and adopting a collaborative approach could be a great way for marketers and L&D counterparts to learn how to improve outcomes for both of their teams.
Doug Marshall, MD, Achieve B2B Marketing.


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