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The LMS as a marketing toolContext, Management & Implementation 5781 views
The model of learning and development provision, up till now, has generally been a "Push" approach. Learners get told by the managers, or compliance, or whoever, that they should do a particular course (whether face-to-face or elearning).
As we move towards more of a "Pull" approach, with learners taking far more responsibility for their own learning, our training departments will find that they are in stiff competition with many other (often far easier to access) sources of learning.
For example, why would I choose to go on a Management Development course, when I can, for free, get access to an excellent set of management development resources, as well as an active community of practice? (ie. Manager Tools)
Why would I buy a course in HTML or CSS, or virtually any web programming language, when I've got free access to well-designed tutorials and resources? (ie. W3Schools)
Our L&D departments need to learn that they're now in the marketing game. They're not just selling to managers. They've got to sell to the learners themselves. This is especially true if your learners hold the L&D budget and can spend it as they like...
The Learning Management System has (or should have) a key role to play in marketing your training interventions.(I don't like to use the word "courses" and L&D is so much wider than just the course.)
Just think about the information contained within its walls:
- the content you're making available
- learner roles
- learner team relationships
- what learners are searching for
- what learners have bought or used
- when they did their purchasing / using
At least, the LMS should be collecting this data... Facebook's market value of $33bn is only that high because of the information it holds about its users. Why? Because it's highly valued by advertisers.
If our LMS's were doing their job properly, we'd see them looking less like process-driven, data entry systems and more like Amazon. In the image in this post (click on it for a larger version), I've highlighted some of the key things that Amazon does that could easily be transferred to an L&D scenario:
- Global search - available from the home page onwards
- Ubiquitous catalogue - with all products classified as learners would understand
- Products able to appear in multiple categories
- Promoted products appearing prominently
- Links to products that learners have looked at but not yet bought
- Links to products that the learners have expressed a greater interest in but not yet bought
- Links to products that are related to ones the learner has looked at
There's more that's hidden inside the system:
- Recommendations based on previous purchases
- Learners able to sort and filter search results by best-selling, ratings, price
- In our case, perhaps the ability to filter based on location, length, pre-requisites, level, qualification, whether online or face-to-face
I've been talking to a lot of learning technology vendors over the past few years, and I'm amazed how few seem to have understood the extent to which the learner is now in control, not just of their learning, but of the money that's being spent on it.
If they don't make their systems as easy to use as Amazon, Ebay, Youtube or even Wordpress - putting the user at the centre of the experience and building an effective marketing platform - then they will paint themselves into a corner that consists exclusively of "Push" training where budgets are held centrally.
I'm sure that's not a realistic way of doing business in the future?
I have a dream (from 2005!)
Why search is critical (2011)