Picture this: You have lost count of the number of hours you spent typing emails, on the phone and in meetings, but you have finally managed to confirm that the world's greatest business coach is coming to speak in your office. You organise the refreshments, spend time making sure the conference room is perfectly laid out and check the projector is working properly. Finally your speaker arrives, and to your utter dismay, no one turns up! Later, when you ask your colleagues why they missed it, some say they were too busy, some thought it was next week and some would have come but they had no idea it was happening at all.
As an L&D professional, you already know how beneficial ongoing training and learning opportunities can be for staff working within an organisation, but the challenge is to make sure other people know this too.
Everything that wants our time and attention needs to market itself. This is why even the most popular film franchises release trailers, and why insurance companies have cute animal mascots. So why should we expect an organisation's training opportunities could be any different?
To help with this, we at Speak First have put together a few tips for how to adopt a marketing approach for training and learning opportunities in your organisation.
1. Make sure everyone knows what's happening
As the example above shows, organising a great opportunity for your staff is not enough - you have to make sure they know about it. This can be done through emailing your staff, putting posters around the office or discussing it in team meetings.
Make sure you clearly include all of the important information. A photo of the guest speaker is less important than saying the date, the time and the location. Or for an online seminar, make sure you include the website and login details.
2. Be results focused
You know how useful your training sessions can be, and how much of a priority your staff should be making them, but in our increasingly busy world, it is not always easy to convince people to sit through a seminar on Impact & Influence or on Personal Effectiveness when they have a number of other projects to work on and deadlines looming.
To address this, start talking about the practical positive impact that the session will have. If your session is on Sales & Business Development, then say how previous attendees have improved their monthly sales figures. If it is a session on Presentation Skills, draw attention to the contract your company won after someone who attended the training last time gave an amazing presentation to your clients.
Your staff's time is important and they want to know they will get something worthwhile out of engaging with your organisation's training, so make sure you promote the benefits of your sessions.
3. Get the Senior Leadership on board
Managers know their teams best and are the biggest way that people discover which skills they are lacking or need to boost. Even though it might be your job to organise training, you need the company’s leadership on board to encourage staff engagement.
Unfortunately, 69% of L&D professionals say that getting managers involved is one of their biggest challenges1. This is disappointing since the same study shows that three quarters of employees would take a course that was assigned by their manager.
Just like with other staff, one way to engage senior leadership is to start marketing the positive impact and results of the training to them. Using a specific upcoming event may be helpful, such as a presentation or conference, as this turns the training from an abstract concept to something directly helpful in the short term. You may also want to run training specifically aimed at senior level staff, which will give them a first hand experience of what you have been organising, rather than asking them to promote something that they do not fully understand.
4. Let your training sessions build their own brand
Due to the power of brand recognition, we all know what a meerkat is going to try to sell you, even before it speaks and we do not need to read the name to know which fizzy drink has the red label with white writing. This is an important tool for marketer, and one that you should be using too.
If every time you make a new poster for a training event it looks wildly different from the last one, it is harder to recognise when people skim the notice board while waiting for the kettle to boil. However, if they know that the poster with the orange border and red heading is always the one about training, they may be more inclined to have a look.
It will also help if you have a specific place to put notices about upcoming training events, so they do not get overshadowed by the upcoming office barbecue.
5. Ask for feedback and use this next time
After you have run successful training for your staff, make sure to ask everyone for feedback. Not only will this help you when organising training opportunities in the future, but it will give you useful information to help you to market the next one.
Using a positive quote from an attendee, or saying that 95% found it very helpful with their daily work, will help show the naysayers what they have been missing out on.
These are all small changes you can make, but by adopting a marketing approach you will be able to engage your staff more in your training.
Check out our training courses to find some engaging programmes for your organisation.