Learning and Marketing

I had a great conversation with the Marketing Tech Blog folks on Blog Talk Radio yesterday.

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Douglas Karr and Marty Thompson of DK New Media were gracious hosts. One of the main reasons I accepted their invitation is that I think marketing and learning professionals have a lot to learn from each other. We have to stop thinking of learning as a separate thing from work. When you learn with and from your customers, marketing and learning are the same. Perhaps getting rid of the L word is a start. It’s all learning. Learning-oriented marketing, both internal and external, is both getting the message across and understanding the needs of others.

I’ve been watching marketing & training moving closer, just as work & learning get integrated in the networked workplace. I think many training departments in the future may become part of marketing. A great example of this is at  Intuit, where training is part of the marketing department and involves the customer directly. At Intuit, customers are paid to develop content, and as one person wrote in a chat comment, “The e-Learning has kept my CPA husband loyal to Intuit versus Peachtree, etc.

Perhaps marketing and learning can work together and figure out how best to deal with complex issues and problems without a “how-to” guide. Think of the future of learning as a business, not just a supporting department. It also keeps the learning function customer-focused and not merely process-dependent.

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7 Responses to “Learning and Marketing”

  1. virginia Yonkers

    I have taught both Marketing and Education for 20 years now. In one Marketing department I taught in, more than half the faculty also had degrees in education (most were adult education). The two fields really come out of social sciences and have the same theories, but different terms. I find it interesting, for example, that Rogers is used a lot by educators these days in terms of acceptance of educational technology, since I taught Rogers as a fundamental concept in marketing. Both fields require that you know who the target audience is and build on an individual’s strengths, identify what he or she needs (need gap), and follow up after the service (education or purchase). I often borrow emerging concepts from both and apply it to the other field.

  2. Douglas Karr

    Harold… first thanks for taking time and being on the show. It was such a refreshing conversation and we’re already moving on some of the thoughts and ideas shared! I love training being part or the marketing department. In fact, I’m a huge advocate of corporations moving to a CRO environment (Chief Revenue Officer) where sales, marketing, PR, customer service and training – basically anyone with close relationships to the prospect or customer – are in alignment within the organization. So many of the silo’d organizations create physical divisions between the messaging, knowledge and expectations of the customer. This would be extremely helpful.

    • Harold Jarche

      Human performance in most organization is an afterthought, if thought of at all. Various deparments handle certain components of it, as if you could 1) actually separate workers skills from their knowledge, and then 2) separate their attitudes. Here are some possible culprits:

      IT: for locking down computers and treating all employees like children, closing off a wealth of information, knowledge and connections outside the artificial firewall.

      Communications: for forcing employees to use approved messages that do not even sound human.

      Training: for separating learning from work.

      HR: for forcing people into standardized jobs and competency models that do not reflect the person.

      Original: http://www.jarche.com/2009/09/recombining-organizational-dna/

  3. Michelle Baker

    I don’t know where I stand on Learning actually being “part” of Marketing…I guess it depends on the organization. I worked for a company where Learning did fall under Marketing, and it wasn’t a great fit. In fact, there was a re-organization to get us OUT of Marketing almost as quickly as they moved us INTO Marketing…but that’s another conversation. :)

    I am, however, a strong believer that Learning & Development practitioners need to *be* marketers, regardless of the department we fall under in the grand org chart scheme of things. We need to know our message. Our story. Our program. Our brand. We must be able to articulate that program and its benefits to ALL stakeholders – whether the end users who will be attending training programs, their managers, or the executives who approve our budget dollars each year. We need to evangelize our message in a way that is meaningful and relevant for each distinct audience. At the right time. With the right tools. We need to understand how to measure response, engagement, and trends, and regularly assess our communication strategies. Is this really much different than what Marketing departments are doing to get our companies’ brands out there in the marketplace to drive results?

  4. Guy Greenbaum (@101i)

    As companies follow the move from monologue to dialogue, marketing becomes a Key Performance Metric at every level. At its best, marketing is effective teaching with measurable results. Marketing and elearning are a natural fit.

    As an Elearning Strategist, marketing is core to what I do in running muy own business. I’ve naturally extended this approach to the content I develop and the advice I bring to my customers. The ‘aha moment’ is there every time, and the results are fantastic.

    The opportunity is huge. Social media brought marketing into everyone’s personal life and made it intimate. Elearning has been behind the curve but there are tremendous developments happening right now that will bring elearning up to speed with the social web. Further, in this economy, seeing elearning as a cost center is not sustainable.

    Elearning should be seen as the best example of content marketing.

    Thanks for spreading the good word.

    Guy Greenbaum
    @101i