Many learning and development professionals find themselves with the problem of how to encourage employees to engage with learning. Convincing people to “buy” things is usually in the purview of marketing; why don’t we use some marketing tools and techniques in L&D?
The primary focus of L&D departments is no longer training people to do their jobs and making sure they do them. Nowadays, L&D is updating traditional training practices and adopting new ways to enable and support both manager-led and employee-led learning. As the world of work is evolving and individuals’ learning habits are changing, new workplace learning approaches are required to support and underpin all the ways people learn in the modern workplace. It’s essential to start with three basic marketing principles: positioning, branding and generating demand.
A well-positioned L&D department will beat any doubt that the “buyer,” or learner, has about the quality or efficiency of the training solution. The L&D department that reaches its objectives is the one that clearly articulates what it does, why it’s relevant and how it helps employees perform better. It is important to be able to answer very simple question: “Why are we suggesting you get our help?”
To succeed in branding your L&D department, you must understand the needs and wants of your learners. It is important to start thinking about your internal L&D brand and how each piece of communication sent to employees and management conveys that brand.
Pre-work is a campaign. Materials such as the welcome letter, instructions and pre-course questionnaires will make each employee feel valued. It’s also important to advertise L&D activities and solutions using all possible communication channels. Focus your communication on the benefits and outcomes rather than the science behind them.
A good L&D brand will:
- Clearly deliver the message
- Confirm its credibility
- Emotionally connect its target audience with its courses and solutions
- Motivate the employees
- Create loyalty
Ultimately, demand generation gets everyone in organization excited about L&D activities. Demand generation programs can help your L&D department reach a new market inside your organization by promoting new training features, building “buyer” buzz and re-engaging employees.
Keep pumping out the good news after successful training courses. After the program, it won’t hurt participants to remind them what they can do with their new skills. In the absence of other information, the corporate grapevine will create the reputation of your course, so why not influence it with some positive messaging? As soon as you can, send positive news about the program out to employees and top management.
A shockingly large number of training programs fail because they have not advertised, managed demand, or communicated their work properly to employees and top management. At the end of the day, the L&D department in which you have invested so much deserves excellent marketing.