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6 marketing principles L&D should know

Shine a light on your learning, engage your audiences and motivate them to drive their own development with these powerful marketing tips.

Cassie Gasson Chief Marketing Officer

6 marketing principles L&D should know

With the skills landscape evolving and shifting to and fro, embedding a culture of self-directed learning should be priority #1 for L&D teams as they look to give employees the resources, freedom and autonomy to drive their own development.

For that reason, learning needs to be tailored, relevant and engaging, otherwise, it’s not going to hit the spot.

But what if they can’t find what they’re looking for? And what if they’re not aware of the opportunities available in the first place?

Learning campaigns need to be easily discoverable and accessible, with punchy messaging, attractive visuals and a seamless journey that entices your audience from the ‘intrigue’ stage to investing their time in developing a skill. 

Sounds like marketing, right? Well yeah, it is. “All we’re really doing is marketing learning internally to our audiences”, as Nate Rowlan puts it, and that’s why we’re sharing the 6 marketing principles that L&D should know. 

1. It’s all about connection

The most successful brands build personal ties with their customers and build deep-rooted connections. They nestle in their audience’s conscience as the reliable, accessible, go-to solution to their problems and desires. 

Tired? Starbucks. Hungover? Deliveroo. Taxi? Uber. You get the picture. But how can you elevate your L&D brand to that level?

Sure, we’re not selling coffee - or pizzas - but we are offering opportunities; new skills, new knowledge, and an avenue to incentives like pay rises and promotions in the future. 

Those opportunities matter. To everyone. So, be brave with your L&D branding. Be unique; unexpected, even. Other internal comms are your competition, and the prize is your people’s adoration. When you tap into your audience’s emotions, speaking like them, thinking like them and offering all the solutions to their sticking points, you create brand loyalty, engagement and advocacy, and you can enjoy the bucketload of benefits that come with them. 

Not sure how to do that yet? Ask! Get your people’s feedback, find out their pain points, make sure they know they matter and keep evolving your offering as you go. 

2. Content is key

You don’t have to be an SEO boffin to know that the internet, Google and cookies have changed how we search for, discover and consume content forever.

People want - and expect - slick access to the content and solutions that matter to them. So, what keywords will your people be searching for on a particular topic? Do you need to tone down the cuteness of a title to make sure as many people are finding it and engaging with it as possible? Is it discoverable on the go? And can they seamlessly move to related, personalised content once they’re done?

Of course, the quality of content matters too. Punchy, bite-sized, visually appealing resources have cemented themselves as an L&D industry favourite, but spend time refining and updating your content to make sure it appeals to a wide audience - today, tomorrow, and for years to come.

3. Pillars, clusters, and the links between the two

‘Pillar content’ is a marketing term for a comprehensive, long-form piece of content that provides high-level answers to one core topic and all its related sub-topics in one hit.

It isn’t bite-sized, or often, the most gripping read, but it’s crammed full of keywords that draw people in, ready to be whisked away to their desired destination.

Those shorter, more focused destinations are called ‘cluster pages’ in the marketing world, and they sprout from the pillar like branches from a tree.

Getting that structure of branches right and keeping them healthy so people can flow through them cohesively are the building blocks for an engaging, addictive, valuable user experience. 

So, pin down your core topic and start to plot out the related sub-topics, making sure each one serves a purpose and solves a problem, with slick links and personalised recommendations in between.   

Go through your existing content to find resources that align with the pillar topic, updating and optimising them as you go and keeping a keen eye out for any gaps. Offering a wide variety of formats is key here too, so serve up infographics, videos, quizzes and the like to keep things diverse and fresh.

4.Multi-channel approach

Marketing messages are delivered through channels. Think email, print, billboards, search engines, social media etc. In our modern, connected world, we all receive information through a wide array of channels, and effective marketing pinpoints and targets the channels your audiences engage with most frequently.

Again, as with pillars and clusters, whether you’re primarily using email, a comms platform, your LMS or otherwise to share messages and promote learning, the cohesion between each touchpoint is key to increasing engagement and reach. That’s why marketing language and strategies have shifted from multi-channel to ‘omnichannel’ approaches. 

The success of these approaches comes back to marketing 101: understanding your audience’s preferences and problems so you can provide the right solutions, at the right time, in the right format. 

If email is your organisation’s tried and tested comms approach, can you get internal influences involved to add some pizzazz? Try new things, test their results, and continually improve and tailor your approach along the way. 

5. Get data-driven

‘Data-driven’ has become quite the buzzword. But, that’s with good reason, in marketing and L&D. 

To maximise engagement and change behaviours, you first need to understand them. Modern LMSs come packed with rich data and analytics that paint a vivid picture of your people’s preferences, interests and motivations. Data you can use to improve your overall learning experience and make sure you’re cutting through the noise - a shared goal for L&D professionals and marketers alike.

Even if you’re at the start of your data journey, as you begin identifying trends and patterns in engagement, completions, content formats and all the other variables in your L&D tapestry, you can target gaps and sweet spots, building a strategy that resonates with your people and delivers results, with all the data to back it up.

Maximising the value of your data and linking it to business goals and impact is the tricky part, and we created our Data Lab offering to help organisations do just that. But, when you start gaining those insights and proving L&D’s impact with transparency and accountability, the knock-on effects for organisation-wide buy-in are huge.

6. Test. Refine. Repeat

Whether we’re talking Rome, a blockbuster marketing campaign or a showstopping L&D strategy, none of it was built in a day.

Data, as mentioned, plays a huge part in the iterative process, helping you test, refine and improve every element of your learning experience. What content and campaigns are landing well with your audience? What gets the best engagement?

User feedback is imperative here too, and by combining these you can drill down on what went well, what needs tweaking, and more importantly, why.

Looking for more inspiration to market your learning?

Take a look at our latest blogs here, or head on over to Marketing Studio - the service we created to help our customers upskill their teams and apply marketing principles to turbocharge their learning strategies.

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