Know your target audience and build relationships throughout the organization.
These are the two basic strategies at the heart of marketing, according to Melissa Smith and Maria Chilcote.
In their article, Take the Mystery out of Marketing Your Learning Function, the managing partners and owners of The Training Clinic maintain that marketing is a skill, which commonly eludes many in the learning and development sector.
As a result, they offer the following advice for L&D professionals looking to create seamless marketing efforts:
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Assess your Audience
To determine the training needs of your company, constantly assess. Use performance analyses, target population analyses, goal analyses and task analyses to differentiate your company’s training needs from the organizational or environmental problems that can hinder performance.
“We partner with management throughout this process—not only to learn from them but also to educate them about the root causes and possible solutions for non-performance,” writes Smith and Chilcote. “In other words, we help them move beyond ‘training’ as the only answer when addressing performance needs.”
To reach the managers and directors who do not understand exactly what L&D can achieve, it is very important to be proactive. This means “making sure they know who L&D is before they know that they need you.”
To accomplish this, learn about their goals, as well as their pain points. Once you grasp these, you can help create an appropriate plan to achieve a desired performance. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Be proactive and take the initiative to insert yourself into other departments.
It is vital to develop connections throughout the organization. According to Smith and Chilcote, this translates into the following:
- Work with management to assess, develop and deliver training.
- Provide subject matter experts with the skills to improve training delivery.
- Get executives on board to develop performance improvement initiatives.
- Coach supervisors to reinforce on-the-job training.
Training champions are individuals who grasp the importance of training and will go out of their way to advocate for L&D’s efforts. To grow these relationships, try the following:
- Spend time with different departments.
- Visit with managers every week or every month to stay abreast of what is happening in each department. Ask about the business and any existing knowledge gaps.
- Whenever possible, attend manager meetings and offer to help managers achieve their business objectives. And whenever possible, highlight your successes with other departments to show how your L&D department improved that part of the organization.
And to reinforce your department’s successes, create a recognition program for departments who are “using training right.” This not only gives your department a platform, but it also allows you to communicate your successes to a broader audience.
You already have what it takes to be a successful marketer of the training department within your company. And by following the steps above, you will undoubtedly find success for your L&D function.