Think Like A Marketer: The LD Edition

Chelsea Rowe Business Development, Chelsea Rowe, Driving Productivity, Learning, Learning and Development

Let’s face it. So much of what we do in the HR/talent management space is marketing. Holland Dombeck McCue has drawn the parallels between recruiting and marketing like an artist, and if you’ve missed it… well that’s just a shame because “recruit like a marketer” is damn good advice.

“Think like a marketer” is also damn good advice for L&D pros.

Consider this classic quote:

“If the marketer does a good job identifying consumer needs, developing appropriate products, and pricing, distributing, and promoting them effectively, these goods will sell very easily.” – Philip Kotler

Isn’t that also true for what we do? If the L&D pro does a good job identifying the training needs, developing appropriate content, and then pricing, distributing and promoting that training content effectively, generally  the content will sell.

In case you were skimming, that’s 3 separate steps:

  1. Identify the need;
  2. Develop appropriate and engaging content; and
  3. Price, distribute, and promote.

In L&D, the first 2 steps come very naturally to us. We’re good at sniffing out training needs. We’re also pretty good at instructional design (though, not all training gets this right… that’s a different rant for a different day).

Step 3 is where so many of us miss out. This is the step where you really put on your marketing hat. Pricing, distributing, and promoting. This is where we tend to think that our job ends and marketing’s job begins.

This might sting—if you’re not all over step 3, you’re missing out. How can that be? Even the most elegantly designed training initiative will not help you make the case for more L&D $$$ in the company budget if you’re not proactively pricing, distributing, and promoting the value you add to your company and its employees.  That’s where the real marketing comes into play.

So to make sure you don’t miss out on the value created when you start acting like a marketer as an L&D pro, here’s how you can begin to think about it:

Price – Demonstrate the ROI by finding a way to use the dollar amount in your budget to meet the identified needs and demands of your company and then find a way to also address some wants it costs you to deliver. Smart L&D pros will leverage LMS platforms to measure learning outcomes where it makes sense.

Distribute – This one is easy. The L&D programs you offer provides zero value if no one knows they exist.

Promote – Build reputational ROI for the L&D solutions available to the employees at your company. A good place to start is by identifying a specific group inside your company that is underutilizing your services. If that underutilization is due to needs you’re not meeting, find a way to meet those needs. There’s a strong chance that underutilization is because key leaders in that area don’t have a strong understanding of how you can help solve their problems. Build relationship internally, solve problems for people in your company, and build that reputational ROI, which will help you distribute.

While your marketing team can help you appropriately package the sweet stuff you create, the job of pricing,  distributing, and promoting L&D in your company rests squarely on your shoulders.

FOT Note: This rant is brought to you by the good folks at Meridian, who like us enough to be an annual sponsor at FOT for all content in our learning and development track (and don’t expect that we run any of this by them ahead of time). They’re also up for having fun to the extent that they’re sponsoring the Learning and Development Hangout Series. Tune in for this month’s LD Hangout tomorrow (4/21) at 2PM EST. And be sure to register for Thursday’s webinar here, where we’ll discuss how to Bootstrap Your Training Function: 5 Ways To Make Learning Matter In Your Company.