It’s no secret that as instructional designers we are often curious how the work we create is received. Have our endeavors succeeded in creating good onboarding, enabled a sales executive, or helped a company avoid costly compliance transgressions? Unfortunately, whether vendor or internal trainer, we do not always have the opportunity to follow our projects through the paces from implementation to results. However, we can learn from marketing how campaigns, customer personas and attentiveness to user engagement can impact success.

In some of the recent blogs and e-books that identify training trends, we see the expansion of gamification, video and social media as an aspect of how we love to learn. No company is immune to the fact that we draw our impressions, examples and conclusions about our jobs from multiple sources. We believe it is an opportunity for instructional designers to espouse the techniques used in the marketing world to create consistency, brevity and brand engagement in the training they produce.

Marketing Design vs. Curriculum Design

Marketing campaigns do not follow the rules of curriculum design. We, the consumers (learners), are not immediately told the topic of the campaign or its objectives. The creative designer behind the campaign understands the importance of creating a connection between the consumer of the content and the impact that product or service may have. Marketing, like good training, must scale to reach a wide audience. It must cross geographic and cultural barriers to be successful. We realize that good training can engage on a content level with the concerns and aspirations of the learners it tried to educate before diving into the main learning objectives.

Marketing professionals understand for a campaign to succeed it must align with a customer persona. What are the interests of the audience we target? How does the data we gather on our consumers educate us to where and how we target our efforts? We see commonality in these personas with how we define our learning audience.

Think about a rapid needs analysis. At its core, it follows good marketing practices to look at constraints and opportunities that surround the learner. What has worked and not worked in the past? What best practices can we identify to reach our objectives? The vitality of learner personas rests in the gathering of data, building up a database and refining our understanding through each project.

Learning from Each Other

The world of marketing is changing our conceptions on interactivity. Design does not rely on clicks and swaps as a way to create engagement. Those are just a couple of the methods we use to present content.

Engagement starts with the content itself—its relevance and immediacy to the learner. We encounter subject matter experts who feel a need to surround learners with quantities of content. We can learn from the brevity and consistency practiced by our copywriters. The cost savings are immense as training seat time is reduced and we believe better engagement will impact our training results.

The marketing world can also learn from instructional design. We understand that adoption of new ideas must, at some point, go through the prism of knowledge and skills. It is our hope that as instructional designers we will know how to learn from the scalability and impact of marketing campaigns. The methodology of audience personas holds promise for our institutional knowledge about our learners. We can and should redefine and expand our definition of what it means to engage our learners in meaningful ways.

Is your organization borrowing lessons from marketing? What tips and tricks have you learned?

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