5 ways to use marketing to boost your talent strategy

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Last time, we explored different ways to work with key stakeholders to acquire stakeholder buy-in as you work to upskill existing talent. In this post, we’ll be exploring five simple marketing tactics you can leverage to spark interest in your L&D, boost learner participation and raise the profile of learning in your organisation.

With the star of our #WhatsYourTalent story, our fictional L&D Manager Tom, of course.

If we told you that, according to research by Deloitte, 65% of L&D professionals say their learners aren’t aware of the learning opportunities available at their organisation, who would you look to for ideas on how to change this? Your business leaders? HR? Line managers? The learners themselves?

After discovering that many of the employees at NewWay Training are not aware of available learning opportunities, he’s left scratching his head on how to change this. He of course knows that sending an email will likely get ignored, and just taping an announcement in the work kitchen area just isn’t going to cut it.

As we discussed in our previous post, collaboration with the stakeholders mentioned can help to establish a thriving culture of learning in your organisation. However, Tom realises there’s another department he can look to for tactics to boost awareness of learning opportunities.

And that’s marketing.

After chatting with the marketing team, Tom notices the parallels between the challenges of marketing and those of L&D:

  • Connecting with the target audience (in Tom’s case, his learners) Providing a ‘hook’ to hold their interest (the desire to learn) Influencing behaviour (enrolling on the course)
  • Providing a ‘hook’ to hold their interest (the desire to learn)
  • Influencing behaviour (enrolling on the course)

Let’s take a look at five possible marketing tactics Tom could leverage to spark interest, boost learner participation and raise the profile of learning at NewWay Training.

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1. Get to know the people

No savvy marketer would embark on a marketing campaign without first understanding the target audience and the same is true when promoting learning opportunities. In marketing, research would be carried out by conducting surveys and questionnaires with different groups, interviewing individuals, sitting down with focus groups, and examining secondary data such as official figures, market share and competitor performance.

For Tom, the beauty of marketing L&D is that his audience is internal, meaning he can really get to know his learners through the simplest of methods. First, he sets about identifying how he wants to categorise different segments – here he chooses to do this by department – and collects key information through questionnaires, surveys, interviews and even just an informal chat with different employees while making coffee. By doing this, Tom is able to identify learner pain points, find out what motivates them and ask about overall goals.

Now that he knows this information, he can work to ensure learning opportunities are relevant to the group he is targeting, resulting in greater intake, uptake and engagement. In Tom’s case, the focus at NewWay Training is on developing the talent of leaders, so he is sure to target those within the organisation with ambitions for leadership are his key focus.

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2. Demonstrate the relevance of learning

Research by Bersin by Deloitte reveals that the modern learner is overwhelmed, distracted and impatient, with a mere 1% of a typical work week dedicated to training and development. It is crucial, therefore, that Tom constructs a strong case for the leadership programme; after all, such time-poor employees need to know that any precious hours invested in training and development are really worth it.

He starts by putting himself in the learner’s shoes and asking that all-important question: “What’s in it for me?”

After considering this at length, Tom then outlines to employees how the training will improve their everyday life at work by teaching them skills relevant to their specific roles. For example, since moving to a more digital approach, managing remote teams is of paramount importance for new managers. By showing potential leaders how leadership training could help them to achieve their ambitions and equip them with the skills necessary to their role, this gives them a solid reason to get on board.

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3. Personalise communications

Anyone can send out a stream of emails and decorate the coffee machine in garishly bright posters, but how can Tom ensure he’s not just making a load of noise into the void?

By personalising his communications, that’s how. Let’s take email, for example. Despite the advances of technology and social media, email marketing is still as powerful as ever. Did you know that for every £1 spent, email marketing generates an average £38 in ROI? This is precisely why, in the same report, 9 out of 10 marketing professionals declared email as either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to their business.

But it’s not just new learners who can be hooked via email. Tom finds that in fact, a simple reminder email along the lines of: “Hey, it’s been a while since your last class…” with a recap of all the skills they learned (and how these have been applied since) is an effective way to put learning firmly back in the forefront of the recipient’s mind and results in some learners coming back for more.

After years at the organisation, Tom knows his people well enough to know what communications they prefer and when they like to receive them. This is key for shoring consideration for personal preferences and ensuring his message reaches them at the right time, and in the right way. 5-Ways-to-Use-Marketing-3.png

4. Champion ambassadors for learning

One of the most effective tactics Tom uses is to champion those in the organisation who are already employing the skills they’ve learned and getting them to share their stories. Those in more senior roles prove to be particularly powerful ambassadors for learning, as their stories prompt staff to start joining the dots between a good learning programme and career success.

As the people who employees know and trust, leaders are the perfect social influencers to drive positive behaviour change – which is why, with the rise of technology, influencers are such powerful means of marketing today (and the reason why you can’t scroll for more than a few seconds on social media without coming across a well-known figure promoting a brand or product).

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5. Share success stories

Tom never rolls out learning programmes in one hit; instead, he likes to ensure that his L&D programmes really work by piloting with smaller, more manageable cohorts in the first instance. Not only does this allow him to collect feedback and work out any problems that occur, but it also enables him to share case studies of successful projects to encourage others to get on board. While it does take longer than rolling out all in one go, it really does make the difference between an average training programme and a really great one with proven success.

As an L&D manager, Tom embodies the very qualities he hopes to inspire in others. By channelling his passion for learning every day, speaking with enthusiasm and showing real openness towards learning from others, his attitude consistently serves as a key example to drive others to do the same.

It’s what makes him so great at what he does. ## In Summary... By demonstrating the importance of continuous learning in all we say and do, we can foster the sort of learning culture that truly outperforms those organisations without one. With upskilling and reskilling at the top of the Global Sentiment Survey this year, it’s important that we focus on developing existing talent and making people aware of the learning opportunities available in order to do this.

Remember, get to know your audience. Spark interest. Demonstrate relevance. Personalise your communications. Champion your ambassadors for learning. Share success stories. And above all, make sure you really believe in your own message.

After all, we never really stop learning. That’s why L&D matters.

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