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The missing ingredient in learning and development

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You may have noticed that marketing is a hot topic for learning professionals at the moment. Research has shown that applying marketing tools and techniques to your learning strategy can have a really positive impact on learner engagement, but how can we go about creating this?

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Last month I shared a 7-step process for how to solve low learner engagement with a marketing approach.

Unsurprisingly, a recent benchmark report from Towards Maturity tells us that the awareness of what marketing can do for L&D has rocketed, with 90% of learning professionals reporting marketing as a priority skill. What is surprising, is that only 50% said they have the skills they need to start applying marketing to their learning strategy.

This probably comes down to low confidence in the skills they already have.

I say this because learning professionals and marketers use many of the same core skills in their job roles. So, it’s likely that many learning professionals have more ‘marketing skills’ than they currently think.

I’ve picked out 3 key skills shared by learning and marketing professionals:

Creating content

Content is a core marketing activity, in fact, many marketers would say that engaging, relevant and useful content is their bread and butter.

Content creation comes in many different formats for marketers and includes website landing pages, email, blogs and social media. The skills needed to do this include copywriting, storytelling, creativity and knowing/understanding your audience.

Similarly, for many learning professionals, content is the foundation of a learning programme and it falls to us to create content that is relevant, useful and engaging for our learners.

In both industries, content is a really broad term and it can include pretty much anything from videos and games to articles and infographics. What’s important here however, is that the core skills needed to do this are the same.

All learning professionals need to do is use the skills they already have in a new way. Instead of producing content FOR your learning programmes, simply produce content ABOUT your learning programmes.

Journey planning

As learning professionals, we are constantly thinking about and planning the journey our learners go on when participating in our learning solutions. This includes everything from how our learners engage with the learning to ensuring a successful transfer of learning to the workplace.

Marketers do a similar kind of journey planning, just for customers instead of learners. Instead of a learning programme, marketers focus on the buyer’s journey, strategically planning how their target audience will find out about their product/service, and ensuring the right steps are in place along the way to help their audience become customers.

For both marketing and learning professionals, strategic journey planning plays an important role in their daily work and is another great example of where our skills crossover.

Applying journey planning to your strategy like a marketer, will make a substantial impact to your learner engagement. For example, you could think about how your learners find out about a particular programme, what information they receive about it, and how accessible and easy this information is to digest. Utilising this skill and having this mindset really will help you to create a ‘pull’ learning culture.

Long-term thinking

Thinking strategically about the long-term is another skill both industries are well versed in.

For learning professionals, it’s all about reinforcing learning, the transfer of learning, and creating a ‘pull’ culture where learners are continuously assessing their own learning needs and seeking relevant solutions.

It’s a slightly different process for marketers, who are more focused on re-engaging existing customers, so they keep buying, but the principle is the same. Both apply skills, techniques and approaches to keep the consumer interested and coming back for more.

There really is a wealth of skills that learning professionals already have, that can help apply marketing techniques to solve low learner engagement. From content creation, to journey planning and re-engagement. I think for many people it just comes down to having enough confidence to start using them.

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