Lessons from Marketers – Introducing a new short blog series

A laptop and a mug on a desk with the word marketing clearly written on paper

Lately, every major Learning and Development event seems to come complete with a set of speakers covering the same topics:

  • Engagement theory
  • Varied ruminations on what ‘good’ ROI looks like from training
  • The need for disruptive and effective content
  • How to train/retain/engage the Millennial generation

Whilst all of the items on this list are undoubtedly important when it comes to running a successful learning and development programme, it also strikes me that the challenges faced by the L&D community are ostensibly no different from those faced by marketers.

Insofar as dealing with problems such as a diverse audience; disparate geographical location; and the challenge of getting people to take action, L&D and marketing have a lot more in common than you might think.

And the similarities don’t stop there – we’re not just talking about getting appropriate material out to the right people (and let’s not forget that at least some of what’s circulated by training department is mandatory – not so with marketing collateral!), we’re also talking about the ways in which L&D departments gather and interpret data to demonstrate the effectiveness of their activities.

It occurred to me during the course of this year’s LT Summer Forum, that so often what is being heralded as ‘out of the box’ or revolutionary thinking in the L&D space is in fact established thought to those who share my profession. For example, the idea that ‘return on investment’ is measured using a strict set of standard benchmarks simply isn’t a helpful one. As marketers, we’re well-practised in educating businesses of all kinds about the need to determine what constitutes good ROI for them. With such a wealth of data available from digital systems, and so many metrics from which to map success, it can sometimes be difficult to assess what is useful information and what is just noise. This principle is the same when we talk about ROI in corporate learning. As an industry, it’s widely accepted that ‘success’ represents more than just ticks in boxes or course completion rates – but how should L&D departments maximise their understanding and analysis of the effectiveness of their campaigns?

The short answer is that it depends on their goals.

Once you lift the lid on the big question around ROI, there’s a lot to discuss. And we’ve decided that there are a few topics that could do with some thought and input not only from our learning industry veterans, but also from the department of yours truly. So, as marketing professionals we wanted to share our best practice approaches with the Learning and Development community, and in doing so we are excited to announce a new short series of blogs exploring principles of marketing and how some of these might apply to L&D.

After all, regardless of the sectors we work in and the standards we prescribe to, as consumers of modern life, our expectations already flow between industries and experiences. Benchmarks around quality, user experience and best practice that might be set in one arena are then applied to another – however unconscious this may be. With that in mind, rather than working in silo, we’re throwing caution to the wind and blurring the lines between the worlds of marketing and learning and development, as we share hints and hacks on everything from ROI and effective campaign planning, to appropriate content and optimising for conversion.

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