How to Market Internal Corporate Training

How to Market Internal Corporate Training
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Market Internal Corporate Training More Effectively
How well do you market internal corporate training strategies, value propositions, offerings, and learning journeys to your target participants?  Sadly, our organizational culture assessment data found that most employees do not understand or appreciate what their talent development organizations have to offer to build their skills, knowledge, and careers.  That is a shame because learning matters.

Our employee engagement research tells us that opportunities to learn and grow have a direct impact on levels of employee loyalty, advocacy, and intent to stay.  Interestingly, the most recent research also found that tenure has a significant impact on employee development needs and interests. Here are some highlights:

  • 70% of employees aged 25 and younger and 60% of those with less than one year of experience at their current organization believe that promotion and advancement are more important than opportunities for development and training.
  • As tenure and seniority increases, however, employees value training and development opportunities that deepen their skill sets and expertise over promotions.

And regardless of tenure:

  • Employees who had access to a formal development program were 21% more engaged than employees whose organization didn’t have a formal development programs.
  • Almost two-thirds of exiting employees cited “no opportunities for learning and career growth” as their main reason for leaving. 
  • Of employees who participate in learning and development opportunities at their organizations: 71% feel more motivated, 55% feel more empowered, and 64% feel more equipped to do their job.

When employees have access to learning and development opportunities, it’s good for them, and it’s good for business.

Best Practices to Market Internal Corporate Training More Effectively
The rest of this article assumes that you need to get the word out to fill and support open enrollment training programs for individuals at your company.  We make this distinction because customized training programs designed for intact teams within companies do not usually require marketing.  They require a thorough and consultative discovery process with leaders and participants to assess, design, and deliver learning solutions that meet specific learning and business objectives.

Assuming you have already created a clear training strategy with your key stakeholders that aligns with both business and people priorities and know how to design and deliver value at the individual, team, and organizational levels, here are the basic steps to take in order to market your internal learning and development programs more effectively.

  1. Create 3×3 Relevance and Value Add
    Similar to designing programs for intact teams, the first step to effectively market internal L&D offerings is to ensure that each and every program is highly relevant to (1) the target participant, (2) their boss, and (3) the company as a whole.  For learning and development opportunities to make sense, they must directly help employees be better in their current and future roles. 

    The higher the relevance and the more compelling the individual and organizational value, the easier it will be to catch people’s attention.  And the higher the relevance, the less you will need to worry about a robust marketing campaign once word gets out.  Word-of-mouth will drive interest and enrollment.

    If your training programs are not filling up, start by assessing the level of value they are providing compared to people’s day job. 
  2. Know Your Audience and Meet Them Where They Are
    A key facet of any effective communication is truly knowing what matters most to your audience — their preferences and their needs (see relevance above). Tailor every message to the employees who will benefit from your offerings and ensure that their managers understand what’s in it for them and their team.

    A key ingredient to effective change management is meeting people where they are.  Whenever possible, actively involve target participants in designing the training strategies, instructional design, training rollout options, and reinforcement plans so that they feel fully supported and committed to your approach.

    You will know you are headed in the right direction when your workshops have wait lists, key stakeholders are singing your praises, and leaders and their teams are asking for more help.
  3. Use Multiple Communication Channels
    Do you understand how and when important information is most effectively shared and consumed at your company? Some organizations rely on emails, others on learning advisory councils, newsletters, or face-to-face meetings. Invest the time to find the channels, frequency, and timing that will best influence your audience.  Then be concise, consistent, engaging, and compelling in each and every communication.

    You will know that you are headed in the right direction when employees know what is being offered, to whom, and how to sign up.
  4. Focus on the Compelling Reason Why
    Do not underestimate how busy and distracted most employees and leaders are today. To be heard, your communications must be clearly worth reading compared to everything else on people’s plates.  According to Gallup only half of employees thoroughly read what their leaders send them, and only twenty percent of employees strongly agree that their leaders communicate effectively. 

    The compelling reason “why” (your unique value proposition) is the most critical part of your marketing approach. You want your audience to be so thoroughly convinced of the value to them (compared to their daily responsibilities and deliverables) that they will be driven toward action.

    You will know you are headed in the right direction when your target audience can articulate what’s in it for them.
  5. Make Finding What People Want and Signing Up Easy
    You’d be surprised how many training functions have an arduous or confusing registration process that entails multiple approvals and hoops to jump through.  Eliminate or minimize this as much as possible.  Then ensure that offerings and their benefits are clearly curated by need, role, or topic.

    You will know that you are headed in the right direction when learning and development offerings are easy to find, register for, and participate in for the target participants.
  6. Track Results and Continuously
    Just like any marketing campaign, you should measure what is working and what is not working and adjust as you go. At a minimum, you should be measuring and promoting participant satisfaction and knowledge gain.  When it makes sense, hopefully you can also measure skill adoption and business impact

    You will know that you are headed in the right direction when you consistently know the effectiveness of your marketing campaign and the perceived value of your training programs.

The Bottom Line
If your L&D offerings are struggling to fill, start by assessing the level of relevance at the individual, team, and organizational levels.  If they appear to be appropriately aligned, then use some marketing best practices to get the word out.  Then make your value visible with participant testimonials and metrics that track how you are adding value.

To learn more about creating an effective learning and development function, download The Top 10 Training Best Practices for Effective Learning

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