In our three sessions at DevLearn last week, Bianca Baumann and I shared some “L&D Strategies from the Marketing Playbook“. Among the things we talked about was an introduction to some of the marketing tools and techniques you can use to enhance any L&D project or strategy. Here are a few of the things we discussed along with some resources to help you get started.
If you’re not already familiar with personas, a marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For both L&D and marketing purposes, personas can help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience. Personas add a few key items that are missing from a typical learner needs analysis. One important thing is the fact that personas are defined by their goals. Creating effective, engaging learning requires more than just a collection of demographics which is why I like how personas help us take into consideration the needs, experiences, behaviors and goals of our audiences. As Bianca says, what they see, what they feel, what they experience.
Developing personas can help with:
- What tone, style, and delivery strategies to develop
- What topics and targets you should focus on
- What content to create
When I talk about using marketing techniques in an L&D context I often ask people about the one thing they’d most like to steal from the marketing field. One of my favorite answers to this question was their “efficiency of messaging”. Take a second to think about how much a good marketer can communicate in a 15-30 second ad. If I could only choose one skill to have as an L&D super power it would be amazing writing skills.
A great book that touches on this is Steven Pressfield’s “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is And What You Can Do About It” In short, he tells us to streamline our message and make it emotional. Streamlining means to focus your message, to pare it down to its simplest, clearest, easiest to understand form. While this seems obvious, I know I’m on the receiving end of plenty of things that don’t follow this guideline. Tapping into emotions is an important way to reach the subconscious “Lizard Brain” that drives the majority of human behavior.
As Patti Shank says in her book Writing & Organize for Deeper Learning, “Readability is a good proxy for learnability.” To get a sense of how you’re doing try checking your writing with the Flesch Reading Ease Formula which is designed to indicate how difficult a passage in English is to understand.
- Hemmingway App – Checks the readability, spelling and grammar of your text and show you how and where to make improvements.
- Readable – Another option similar to Hemmingway for checking your writing
- You can even get feedback from the Microsoft Word Readability Scores
Titles & Headlines
One easy thing for L&D pros to do is to rethink the titles you are using. Like the lead paragraph in a news story, your title / headline is one of your single most important ways for capturing people’s attention. If the title/headline is boring many people will never get any further. In our workshop, we use a couple of headline / title tools to rewrite a few common course titles to try and take them from boring to bravo.