Do As Marketing Does – Part 2 Relevance

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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.

Be relevant

“Our learning programs need to be shaped by this same thinking that is prevailing in marketing – we need to deliver, just in time, that, what the learner needs to accomplish tasks and change behaviors.”

Of the six things that Kasenberg proposes, this the one that I feel the L&D profession has a good handle on as a goal for transforming our work and deliverables.  Microlearning, self-directed learning, embedded learning are the hot topics at conferences and across the internet.  But our focus seems to be on the end products not the processes that will get us there.

What we can learn from marketing is how they build integrated campaigns.  Google Analytics provides instant information about what we as consumers care about and targeted micro ads are created delivered into nearly every web page we surf just as we are thinking about a topic.

But the real secret is in between the data collection and the delivery of the ad.  Individualized customer profiles, big data,  and predictive analytic algorithms aid marketers who then create an array of actions across multiple channels in an effort to present you with the right message at the right time to impact your decision to buy their product or service.

Am I advocating for throwing out ADDIE, SAM, Agile or any of the other instructional design processes we currently utilize?  Not necessarily.  Though changing labels can be beneficial.  What needs to change is the nature and quality of the inputs to our processes.  For far too long we’ve been depending on limited amounts of information that has questionable quality.

  • We really don’t know our learners – not like a social marketer knows me.
  • We are just starting to understand how humans learn and how to apply that knowledge to what we design.
  • We have very little insight into how our learners are interacting with our learning experiences.
  • We have next to no factual knowledge of how/when/where our learners learn.
  • We seldom have measurable data regarding the performance changes we are trying to effect.
  • We seldom make data-based decisions regarding the experiences we design

It’s no wonder we have a difficult tying our results to business objectives.  We have no data to do so.  Even if we had the data, generally we don’t currently have the skill set to analyze it.

The success of microlearning, embedded learning experiences, and the other current hot topic solutions will likely be equivalent to most of our past efforts if we don’t radically change the inputs into our processes.

Relevance in today’s world is ephemeral.  There is an expectation that knowledge will be available when we need it.  We don’t have some remember something we learned 6 months ago nor do we value learning something today that we’ll use 6 months down the road.

Relevance in today’s world is personal.  Marketers try to know customers better than they know themselves.  They know our patterns of behavior, the history of 0ur actions, who we associate with, what we believe.  Social learning tools have some of this information.  There are initiatives in the works, like the xAPI data interoperability standard, which will make collecting it easier.

Relevance in today’s world is actionable.  Every marketing effort includes a “call to action.”  If a customer can’t take an action toward a buying decision in the moment, the likelihood they will return to take action is very low.

Next: Do As Marketing Does – Part 3 Channels

What do you think?

  • What “Calls to Action” do you think could work with learners?
  • Are you currently, or exploring, implementing follow-up activities to assure application of concepts?

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

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