Direct-to-consumer brands are reinventing fairly mundane products off the back of engaging and exciting marketing!
Whether it’s mattresses, tooth brushes or even toilet paper, promotion is being used to turn the products we perceive as boring into things we’ll shout about to friends and family. So, maybe there’s no such thing as a boring product, just boring marketing…
But what does this have to do with L&D?
Well, learning fails without engagement.
And when people aren’t engaged with learning, or we’re struggling with buy-in, we presume it’s an L&D issue.
In reality, it’s a marketing issue. We are not communicating the value of what we’re offering effectively enough to get people to want it.
Learning is an easy sell if you think about it. This is something that’ll improve your performance and make you better at what you do. Which will help you progress in every sense of the word.
Luckily, there are some marketing techniques that lend themselves to driving engagement in learning.
We shouldn’t rush into action until we understand the problems we’re trying to solve and the journey our audience is going on.
That’s where The L&D Marketing Funnel comes in, and we’ll summarise the four stages for you here.
Awareness: We don’t seek a solution unless we’re aware of the problem we’re solving! So, we have to communicate the business challenges or performance problems we’re solving to our audience.
Activation: Getting people to take that first action or step to engagement, like signing up for a live class or opening a course.
Retention: But it doesn’t stop there, we need to keep them on the journey until we see the desired behaviour change or performance improvement.
Ask questions like, have they now got the skills they needed? Have they dropped off, and do we need to re-engage them?
Referral: Our learners have seen the value and are now our biggest fans, shouting out the benefits to others.
Ever wondered why people queue round the block for Apple products? Or why Tesla had a high market cap when the market share for electric vehicles was low?
The answer is brand!
And a good brand is more than a flashy logo or vibrant colours, it’s the sum of all the interactions people have with L&D in the business.
This means we essentially have some kind of learning brand already, the question is whether we’re aware of it. And if we’re not aware of it, let’s be honest, it’s probably not very good.
L&D teams need to take control of how that learning brand is received and start shaping it…
Who is it for?
Don’t go with a broad answer like your employees. You need to build a more specific persona of your learner!
What roles do they do? Where are they from? Which behaviours do they typically display?
Why does it exist?
A great why connects us: the individual, the business, and the L&D team.
So we need to define why L&D exists in the business and build a mission or vision statement that gets others on board. Connecting the L&D mission to the overall company one is another great way to do that.
What’s your brand identity?
A great brand name can not only create excitement in the business – especially if you tie it back to that why and mission – but it offers a visual identity for people to connect with.
What’s your tone of voice?
How do we speak? Informally or with authority? Friendly or very down the line?
This’ll inform how we create content, the ways we describe L&D and the guidelines we set for others to talk about learning.
People spend an average of 144 minutes per day on social media, and yet we so rarely use it to promote learning to our target audience.
So, why don’t we?
What’s stopping us creating an Instagram page to share highlights from learning resources and driving our internal customers to follow it?
That’s just one example of how we can tap into existing behaviours to drive learning!
We shouldn’t be dragging people to where learning is but taking the learning to where our people are.
So, ask them which social media channels they use, deliver value-adding content there, tag relevant people so they’re more likely to share and learn what impact it has.
First of all, we need to find them! And there are a few things to consider:
What’s their reach? And not just in terms of quantity, but the quality of the people they reach?
How much engagement do they get? When influencers are posting in channels like Slack, do they get a lot of engagement? That’s great validation of their influencer capabilities.
Do they have the experience and authority needed in the organisation?
And remember, hierarchy isn’t directly tied to influence! You don’t need to be high up in the org chart to influence others.
We all want to be recognised for our abilities, skills and achievements among our peers, it’s why we post on social media or share useful content in the first place.
But L&D can give influencers a platform to share what they know. And it’s not about trying to change them because we want it be in their voice and feel authentic, but we can give them the platform!
It might come in the form of our company blog or Instagram page, but it’s essentially about amplifying their influence.
And co-creating content with them is another way to do it!
We’ve seen great examples through HowNow customers, like internal influencers creating a video around the consequences of GDPR non-compliance. Filmed on a phone, nothing flashy, but people watched it because their colleagues starred in it.
Think about how you use Google. A moment of need arises, and you search for the answers.
You’re hoping that there’s content that meets your intent. And you’re often lucky that brands are fighting to optimise their content for that term and give us the answers we need.
But as L&D professionals, how much thought do we put into keywords and search intent?
Go and speak to your end users. Ask them to describe a problem and listen to how they respond. The language they use will help you optimise content to meet their intent in moments of need.
It would be a shame if all that good copywriting and well-branded content went to waste.
But too often, it does! Because our calls-to-action are an afterthought! We don’t consider how we’re going to encourage and compel people to take the desired action.
Good news is, there are four best practices you can follow to improve your CTAs.
Use Value-focussed calls-to-action: What sounds better: Enroll now or Become a better public speaker? Definitely the latter, because it communicates the value of signing up.
Position your CTA at the point of decision: – Let’s say we’ve just shown someone a video or success story about how a course transformed someone’s life. The moment after that is the perfect time to use a strong CTA, as it’s when someone is likely to make a decision.
Use social proof: Convince your audience that similar people have benefited from it. Whether that’s ‘join the 200 people who…’ or a direct testimonial from a real person.
Make the CTA stand out: Use odd shapes, bright colours, eye-catching contrasts – consider how, in that moment and context, you can get more people to click.