Do as Marketing Does – Part 1 Motivation

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It is very clear that the changes that will impact learning and development in 2017 and beyond will require very different skills than what we depended upon in the past.   We need to look to other fields for practices we can borrow.  Learning from our colleagues will not only accelerate our abilities to serve our learners and organizations better, but the collaboration will enhance our efforts to integrate with the businesses we serve.

In 6 Things That Learning Professionals Can Learn from Marketers, Todd Kasenberg provides ideas that we can learn from our colleagues in Marketing.  I think he’s dead on with these suggestions.  The 6 things are:

  1. Address learner motivations to get engagement
  2. Be relevant
  3. Get your channels right
  4. Manage cognitive load
  5. Get then trying out (“trialling”) behaviors quickly
  6. Anticipate and handle the objections

Over the next six days, I’m going to flesh out each of these topics and how they  fit into the work we do in Learning and Development.

Address learner motivations to get engagement

Marketers, of course, spend much of their time working towards provoking the emotional response, knowing that about 75% of any “buying” decision (read “learning” decision and you’ll get the drift…) is dependent on emotional response.

I have spent much of my career in customer facing, sales positions.  In sales, you quickly learn that the customer makes buying decisions for a myriad of reasons.  They also make decisions to not buy ruthlessly – and often for non-rational reasons.  In reality, the quality of a product is usually well down the list of buying/non-buying decision factors.  Convenience, price, what my friends will think of me, will I look smart/dumb, will I be happier if I buy this are more powerful than quality.

Adult learners are motivated by intrinsic factors (increased job satisfaction, self-esteem, quality of life, and the opportunity to self-actualize) to a far greater extent than extrinsic factors (job promotion, compensation, threat of negative consequences, required events).

Do we consider talking about the consequences of not knowing what needs to be learned in safety or compliance courses?  Do we share real success stories as part of leadership training?  or do we jump right into learning objectives and how they are met?

Do we understand our learner’s worries, fears, ambitions, and desires?  Do we know why they have chosen the work they are doing?  What makes them want to get up in the morning, commute, and deal with the challenges their work presents them with?

Another factor in any buying decision is the reputation of the seller among the buyer and those she trusts.  What this means is what people think of Learning and Development matters in the effectiveness of learning.  Yes, this means L&D should drive a learning culture and building learning campaigns that promote continuous learning.  But is also means attending to some tougher questions:

  • Does senior management trust that the L&D leaders understand the strategic and operational needs of the organization?
  • Do learning interventions interrupt the workflow or enhance it?
  • Are managers bought into the learning strategy or do they portray L&D as a necessary evil?

Let’s face it.  Learning is hard work.  In the end,  training may be mandatory, but learning is a choice.  When we ask employees to learn something and to change their behavior because of it, we are asking a great deal from them.  So the motivation needs to be powerful.  Emotion and aspiration are the most powerful motivators.

Next: Do as Marketing Does – Part 2 Relevance

What do you think?

  • What do you do to help you learners to buy-in to learning?
  • Do you market learning to your organization?  How?

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.


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