By guest expert, Lea-Ann W. Berst
Innovative companies often seek competitive advantage by empowering their people with knowledge. And learning initiatives that blend formal, informal and collaborative elements can be very effective at achieving that goal.
But convincing people to learn and collaborate isn’t always easy — especially when new technology is being introduced. That’s when a thoughtful marketing strategy can make a big difference.
Leading Learners to New Technology
As an activation marketing consultant, I often step in and promote workforce learning initiatives — helping organizations build awareness among appropriate employees, and motivating them to sign-up, participate and evaluate these experiences. That’s what Expertus asked me to do when one of its enterprise customers rolled out its next-generation LMS.
Although the customer is a pioneer in the software industry — and ExpertusONE is a significant improvement over the customer’s legacy learning platform — there was no guarantee that employees would engage in training designed to accelerate user adoption.
I wasn’t surprised. Resistance to change is a challenge I see regularly. It takes creativity, insight and persistence to overcome that hurdle. From obtaining executive support, to convincing learners it’s worthwhile to take part in education programs — success depends on creating a focused, integrated marketing plan. It also depends on preparing the way long before a new system goes live.
Marketing as a Change Management Tool
If you face similar challenges, keep in mind that technology adoption is really about organizational change. And organizational change doesn’t happen without relationships. It’s vital to understand the importance of relationship-building when developing and implementing every phase of a marketing program like this.
Here are my planning guidelines:
- Detail what to do before, during and after the learning initiative timeframe
- Weave-in elements from the company culture, for context and clarity in brand positioning
- Gauge the level of executive buy-in. Without it you can’t be successful at influencing learners
- Adhere to corporate guidelines for employee communications
- Identify what your learners want and need, and message around it
- Understand the pain points that drive your audience
- Speak to what is relevant in their lives
- Find out how and when learners prefer to receive internal communications
- Increase impact by developing stories that showcase personal benefits and awareness
It’s vital to develop effective messaging and choose diverse channels to communicate across business units, countries and cultures. Formal corporate community managers and internal events are a logical foundation. However, you may want to extend your reach and drive deeper engagement by adding social channels and regional communicators to the mix.
Tactics Must Be Unified
Although you’re likely to share information in diverse formats, it’s vital to maintain consistency across channels, to build brand awareness and avoid confusion. In other words, aim for a clear core message, and reinforce it across all points of presence. Whether you are showcasing event teasers, promoting giveaways, distributing an executive email blast, sending invitations, developing registration landing pages, creating a user interface for collaboration activities, performing internal polling, or crafting responses to user feedback – don’t forget to reinforce your message in every tactic.
Evaluating the impact of a technology adoption marketing program depends on your ability to gather, access, analyze and respond to available qualitative and quantitative information. It’s important to think ahead about the kind of data you’ll need to gather. I’ve come to realize that good reporting not only informs decision-making and product/process improvement – it also sharpens my marketing approach, and in the end, the results I achieve.
Evaluation benchmarks and program analytics are key — especially when virtual learning delivery replaces traditional classroom training. Your metrics should be designed to demonstrate success factors such as:
- Increased enrollment rates
- Lower no-show rates
- Reduced per-learner costs
You may also want to:
- Assess how soon learners apply new knowledge/skills on the job
- Utilize participant feedback for marketing process and LMS product improvement
- Calculate the savings for travel and logistics. This can be significant — especially when learners are located in multiple countries and times zones.
Every company is different. Every learner is unique. Individual needs, interests and schedules will naturally shape the learning solution, the budget, and the marketing campaign required to drive adoption. However, to make the most of an LMS roll-out, change initiatives must be based on respect for the corporate culture, and understanding of business goals.
It’s vital to develop a brand persona and rhythm that fits into the business context — with communications that clearly demonstrate relevant, meaningful benefits. In the end, more users will embrace new learning technology more quickly — and that’s a compelling business advantage.
About The Author: Thanks to our guest contributor, Lea-Ann W. Berst, founder of Sleddogg Marketing Management. Lea-Ann is a marketing consultant specializing in strategic approaches and activation management. With decades of global corporate and consultative experience in product and brand management, Lea-Ann is well-versed in designing targeted messages that enable an effective sales force delivery. What sets her apart? Lea-Ann utilizes existing organizational strengths across the business she works with to help cross-functional teams harness their expertise to create and execute effective marketing tactics.