Effective Training Follows the Same Principles As...Marketing?


After reading the recent post on Brandon Hall Group’s blog about the parallels between marketing and learning, I was excited to discover that others in the industry think the same way we do about the future of learning. As we expand—no pun intended— our product offerings, we’ve often looked to digital marketing and marketing automation for inspiration.

The question remains...

Did marketing borrow from training, or is training now borrowing from marketing?

It's both.

Having worked both in traditional and digital marketing, I’ve watched my profession shift to more customer-centric, personalized tactics powered by data and technology. Customers had gotten too smart, too savvy. It no longer worked to shove our messages in front of a mass audience, hoping that a percentage of them would be convinced of what we had to say. Even Don Draper couldn’t convince us of traditional advertising’s value anymore.

Customers started to demand more personalized solutions. They started trying to solve their own problems and doing their own research to arrive at their own conclusions. An aggressive pitch was no longer persuasive. Educational content that consumers can find and consume on their own time to guide them to their conclusion, however, is very effective.

So, you might say marketing borrowed from training when we started to use words like educatecoach and teach. Marketers went a step further to use automation technology to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time - a difficult yet important aspect of engaging today’s consumers.

This is where training is starting to borrow from marketing. We’ve written on our blog about just in time learning and Learning Campaigns, and why they are better than traditional classroom training or even a one-off eLearning module.

Our Day-to-Day is Always Evolving

As technology advances, equipment may be replaced or processes updated and streamlined. Any of those situations can impact how an employee goes about his day-to-day. There is always something new to learn.

Several Parallels Exist between Marketing and Training

  1. Getting and keeping the attention of your audience is harder than ever before.
  2. Audience members expect any content they consume will help solve their unique problems. Just as smart marketers are creating Buyer Personas to guide their efforts, training professionals should create Learner Personas to deeply understand their audience.
  3. Audience members want to consume that content when and how they want. This means that content needs to be easy to find, available 24/7 and optimized for multiple devices.
  4. You can’t assume your message got across after one touch. It requires repeated reinforcement.
  5. Your job as the content creator is to be helpful. In marketing, you’re providing information to help someone make a decision. In learning, you’re providing guidance to help someone complete a task or do their job better.
  6. Learning Campaigns are similar to marketing lead nurturing campaigns via marketing automation platforms; multiple touches, scheduled over a series of days or weeks, are set to deploy automatically and collect performance data of each step.

If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.

photo credit: Luke Peterson Photography

Will Holland