By Erin Boettge
Alright, you’ve launched your employee training program… now what? The contracts are signed, the technology has been implemented, and now you are tasked with making sure people know about it and use it. It seemed so easy until you had to start doing it.
How do you market your training program to your employees in a way that makes them actually want to use it? Well, it’s not as difficult as you might think and you’ll be able to see the results of your marketing just by watching your utilization go up.
As the manager of your online training program, you likely spend a significant amount of time developing goals and metrics and thinking about ways to increase utilization and ensure impact, value, and return on investment. What is often most challenging and yet most important is marketing.
While marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, it does require some effort. Here are 5 tips to create a marketing plan for your training program and make training more exciting, effective, and fun!
1. Identify your audience
In order to build a marketing plan, you need to think like a marketer. The first question every good marketer asks has to be – who am I marketing to and why should they listen to what I’m saying?
Below are some examples of “audiences” within your organization that you might want to consider, and the topics they’re most likely interested in. Use them as a template to help you create tailored messaging that conveys the value of training. The idea is to help them understand how training can help them become more productive, effective and successful.
Executives. Organizational leaders are always working to improve business processes, develop future company goals and assess current performance. They might be interested in learning about strategic thinking, goal setting, leadership skills, change management, how to drive business results, and more.
Managers and Supervisors. Managers are directly involved in day-to-day operations. They are responsible for performance and productivity, setting goals, ensuring adherence to company policies, and much more. They can improve their management and leadership skills by focusing on team building, ethics, coaching and counseling, time management, delegation, and so on.
Human Resources. HR professionals are at the front lines of a range of complex employee relations and compliance issues. They are interested in learning about hiring and recruiting best practices, legal matters, conflict management, regulatory compliance, diversity, employee engagement and performance appraisals.
IT Professionals. Your IT team needs access to continuous learning resources to keep up with technological advances. They might be interested in IT topics such as cloud computing, IT security, desktop applications, web development, and data storage.
Sales Professionals. Your sales and customer support teams deal directly with customers, so they need to develop specific skills related to maintaining good relationships. They’ll be interested in learning about problem solving, negotiation skills, customer service, professionalism, presentation skills, business ethics, etc.
Marketing Professionals. Marketers are focused on improving you company’s image and getting as many potential customers as possible. They can use training resources to learn about marketing best practices, pricing strategies, social media, branding, event planning, advertising and so on.
Individual Contributors. The rest of your employees will be interested in different topics depending on the focus area. You can reach this audience by offering training resources on business essentials topics such as personal and career development, performance excellence or decision-making.
You can add more “audiences” to this list based on your organizational structure and departmental needs.
2. Establish program goals
Your entire marketing strategy will stem from your program goals. so you’ll need to make sure that your program and organizational goals are aligned.
What are the strategic and business objectives you want to accomplish? What success criteria have you set for your program? Without clear goals, you won’t be able to develop a marketing plan. In fact, the first step to market your training program should be to set specific training goals.
3. Determine metrics to measure success
You need to know what success looks like for your program. Is it increased usage and awareness? Maybe it’s a measurable increase in positive customer reviews for your customer service team. Whatever the metrics you want to use, establish them up front and commit to measuring them.
Keep in mind that the marketing materials you send out to employees should reflect the goals you need to meet. So if you’re looking for those positive customer reviews, for example, you’ll want to market training material that focuses on improving customer service skills.
4. Create a marketing strategy and action plan
You’ll need to do this with your goals in mind and let those guide you through designing, planning and executing your marketing/communication strategy. Once you’ve identified the tactics you want to use, you’ll need to determine:
Purpose. Is your marketing tactic to inform, remind, instruct, create buy-in, increase awareness, or improve participation?
Method. What medium will you use to communicate? Newsletters, flyers, posters, web pages, intranet banners, email, presentations? You’ll want to vary your method of communication to keep your employees interested.
Time frame. Determine a schedule for each tactic: monthly, quarterly, pre-launch, etc.
5. Sustain your efforts
Once you’ve launched your marketing plan, you’ll need to ensure that your strategy is effective, and that you are actually increasing utilization of training.
Stop and ask yourself these questions:
– Are your objectives being met?
– Were the tactics appropriate for your culture?
– Have you seen an improvement in skills?
Don’t forget to have fun, keep it fresh and try new tactics to meet all of your employee training program objectives!
To learn more, check out our on-demand webinar with Training Magazine, full of tips for marketing your training program effectively:
Erin Boettge researches and writes on a variety of business topics, including workplace dynamics, HR strategies, and training trends and technology.