Blog Post

Summary of “Grand Theft Marketing: Tools L&D Should Borrow From Marketing” by Bianca Baumann

Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2019

This talk was facilitated by Bianca Baumann in the ATD 2019 International Conference & EXPO and covered what L&D could learn from marketing.

L&D vs Marketing

In lots of L&D departments there is little thought paid to how trainings are marketed to students, especially if the training is mandatory. Lots of times a mass email is sent out to announce the training along with its due date but that’s it.

Marketing, on the other hand, cannot survive if it doesn’t drive people’s engagement and curiosity. Because of this, they have grown more proficient selling their products than L&D.

So, how do they market to their customers?

Some of the answers suggested by the class are:

  • Announcing benefits
  • Making it visual
  • Having a defined call to action
  • Choosing the right color palette
  • Doing research
  • Targeting emotions
  • Providing testimonials

So, what are the main lessons L&D should learn?

  1. Use Marketing Personas

Doing a solid target audience analysis by using marketing personas. A marketing persona is a fictional ideal user of your training based on the information you have of your learners. To create it you will have to do some research in order to ensure you’re heading in the right direction. This means that you will have to ask some questions to gather important data.
After you have successfully created your marketing persona it’s time to add more details to it but this time they pertain to how they learn. Some of the topics the speaker suggested we look into are:

  1. If your training is something that has to be downloaded, how often does it get downloaded?
  2. Do students prefer to access trainings on their computers or on their devices?
  3. When do people stop paying attention to your training? Do they complete the training?
  4. At what time of the day do they prefer to learn?
  5. How many times is your asset shared?
  6. How many times do people comment on it? What kinds of comments do they leave?
  7. Do people “like” (think social media) your training?
  8. Are there any learning trends?

All of this information will enable you to create tailor made trainings for your audience.

  1. Create a Learning Campaign

When it comes to companies trying to sell you something they don’t just try once and give up. For example, if I access a clothing store online the site cookies register my visit. Suddenly when I go to other websites I am getting ads for that shirt I saw, after that I might get an email, I might even get another ad in the regular mail. The marketing team makes sure I will get contacted at several point and in different ways in an effort to persuade me to make a purchase.
Now L&D, is very different. Many times we roll out a training and there is no follow up. There is solely one article, training, conference, and that’s it. The worst part is we expect it to stick without any reinforcement.

The speaker encourages us to decide on the content flow and what the access points will be. In other words, creating a learning journey where there is a plan to keep the content coming to learners at specific intervals. She then gives a detailed example of a campaign she created, how it was structured, where the touch points were, and how it went. She also explains how you can use the tools to personalize the learning experience so it can be targeted to the learning personas.

Bonus tools!

  • Canva: Easily create beautiful designs + documents. Use Canva’s drag-and-drop feature and professional layouts to design consistently stunning graphics.
  • Font Pair is a typography site dedicated to helping creators use beautiful typography for their creative projects. Our goal is to empower all to design.
  • WhatFont the Chrome extension. The easiest way to identify fonts on web pages.
  • Accessible color palette builder: This is a tool to help designers build color palettes with combinations that conform with accessibility standards.
  • Mailchimp is an always-on marketing platform for small businesses.


In Summary

Marketing is much better at selling things to customers than L&D. The two key takeaways for this session are: create detailed marketing personas and then an L&D campaign a la marketing. In this campaign, make sure your participants go through a learning journey where you keep reinforcing the lesson in a custom made manner by using the aforementioned marketing personas.

About the Author


My name is Pilar Luchaire. I currently work for Audible as a Trainer and Instructional Designer.

I am passionate about learning how to become a better leader and sharing my journey with others.

If you have any questions about my blog posts, training, ID, or just want to chat feel free to reach out to me!



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