Uncovering L&D’s secret weapon

Written by James Barrass-Banks on 22 November 2018 in Opinion
Opinion

James Barrass-Banks shows TJ one of the reasons that L&D has marketing jealous and how you can maximise that advantage.

Reading time: 3m 48s.

This advantage is not a new technology that is going to boost your engagement and your ROI by a gajillion percent. It’s not a radically new service. It’s something very simple that is sitting next to you. The advantage is understanding your audience and then segmenting them.

From a marketing perspective, if you’re seeking to increase engagement or convince an audience to take an action you need to have a thorough understanding of your audience. It’s part of good business strategy, as this article explains and it has a real impact, marketers saw a 760% increase in revenue when they segmented their email campaigns. 

L&D and marketing operate in a similar way in that are seeking to persuade and change behaviours through a variety of different tactics. The key difference is that one has an internal audience and the other has an external audience. 

As a result, both need to understand that audience. L&D is able to get a deeper understanding than marketing ever can because not only is the audience for L&D a lot smaller, it’s also in the same building.

If you can understand your audience to such a degree that you know exactly what type of content they like to consume, how they like to consume it and when they like to consume it this will put you at a clear advantage in terms of allowing you to personalise not only your programmes but also the messaging around them. 

With 261 working days in the year that’s 261 lunches you can have with different members of your audience to get to know them better and increase the effectiveness of your activities.

The challenge of a Learning & Development professional is that they have a large internal audience despite only being one person. To help get around this we can use a marketing tool of audience profiles.

A marketing stat shows that email personalisation increased open rates by 26% which could make a huge difference for you when generating engagement or feedback. If you are unsure if your assumptions about your audience are correct or if you want to better understand what messages are going to work best for your audiences, you can go and ask them.

This is the luxury that L&D professionals have that marketers dream of. They can go and talk to their target audience almost at will. You can take them for lunch or have a chat as you make the tea. With 261 working days in the year that’s 261 lunches you can have with different members of your audience to get to know them better and increase the effectiveness of your activities.

The challenge of an L&D professional is that they have a large internal audience despite only being one person. To help get around this we can use a marketing tool of audience profiles. In marketing you develop customer profiles by sitting down with focus groups, in-depth interviews and questionnaires with different segments of people, all of whom have a different set of needs and pain points.

This allows the creation of several different audience profiles all with their own unique characteristics. All of which will help you make your activities more targeted and more effective.



From a practical standpoint start by using your existing knowledge to define clear audience segments. This means audiences which are clearly different from one another. You could do this by grouping people by seniority or by department. You are looking for three to five, if you have more it’s likely that there are overlapping characteristics, if you have less it’s likely that you need to add more detail.

Once you have those segments in mind start writing a description of them and include the following, although changing these to fit your specific requirements is advised:

  • Goals
  • Motivations
  • Challenges
  • Pain points
  • Preferred method of communication

These characteristics are ultimately the factors that are important for you to know so that you can make your activities more effective. Now that you have your assumptions in place start having lunch with people and see if your audience profiles are correct. Ask questions, learn more about them and constantly update and refine the audience profiles.

Knowing your customer will help you to make the work you do more relevant and more personalised.

Helpful resources – To support you with your journey towards strong customer profiles below are a few resources and examples:

This Experian whitepaper gives a detailed breakdown of how marketers create audience profiles.
This is an example of a customer profile.
This is how you can take a customer profile and make it actionable.

Good luck and use your audience to your advantage. 

 

About the author

James Barrass-Banks is a digital consultant with a thirst for knowledge and a love for growing & developing people. You can read more insights on his blog here.

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