Though in learning now, I started my career in Direct Marketing and Loyalty Card Marketing and Product Development (yes, apologies for calls interrupting your dinner and your exploding mailbox…) I pivoted into HR and led the L&D Technology Products and Implementations for a Fortune 500 Bank. Having to re-invent myself and learn rapidly, I’ve become both fascinated and intrigued at the parallels of marketing and learning. More importantly, I’ve become convinced that L&D could use some marketing love!

But what marketers figured out (and where L&D professionals could benefit) was how we used data to get the right offer to the right customer at the right time while delivering an aspirational customer experience. The result? Engaged customers, changed behavior, and customers coming back for more.
Everyone in L&D and HR is currently obsessed with employee engagement. This has only been increased by everyone trying to figure out how to capitalize on both digital and social transformations, and their impact on employees, work and the workforce. Despite this, nobody is buying what we’re selling in L&D. We need to appeal to our learners, but “appealing” is a marketing problem, not a learning one.

Deloitte data says that nearly 7 out of 10 people they surveyed indicated they’re having a hard time getting workers to engage with L&D offerings.

engagement1

I believe the key to achieving success is treating our learners like customers, and then understanding just who they are – the demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, and buying experience/behaviors. You then use that knowledge to cater the message and experience – delivering compelling, relevant offers and products that are meaningful and aspirational.
To understand your customers, I suggest you start by creating learner personas by segmenting your learners based on demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, learning needs and touchpoints. Google definition of a Persona: A persona, (also user persona, customer persona, buyer persona) is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of a specific segment.
You might have 2 personas, you might have 10. But the goal of a persona is to group your learners into categories around goals, challenges and how they operate.

Here is an example.

tucker

Here are 5 marketing practices you can use to increase engagement after defining your customer.

  1. Brand – develop a compelling aspirational brand and value proposition that is relevant for your employee segments. This includes compelling creative (look and feel), communication and messaging. (Think Nike!)
  2. Design – personalize the experience and make them want what you are “selling,” and make it personal. (Think Apple!)
  3. Market – target, make the offer and sell. And make them want to come back for more. (Think about the last time you went to Amazon to buy those killer heels. It starts with serving up relevant experiences, and more expensive shoes with each interaction!)
  4. Listen – get feedback, measure, and use the data collected to adjust. (Simple as thumbs up or down!)
  5. Loyalty – build a continuous relationship with your employees by communicating regularly. (All the retailers above do that well!)

The results
Understanding your customer, the employees, are the key to ensuring you deliver the right experience and get the engagement you expect for your L&D programs and technologies — and a return on your investment. Feel free to check out my recent ATD Webinar on How to Think Like a Marketer. It provides several specific marketing techniques learning practitioners can leverage in their daily work.

So, what are you doing to better understand your employees and encourage them to engage with what you are selling? We would love to hear your ideas!

Sorry to break the bad news. Your degree doesn’t matter. Your BA or BS doesn’t mean I should hire you. Your MBA doesn’t mean you know how to run a business. The name of the school you went to … meh. Your degree doesn’t matter. At least not as much as you think it does.

As a former HR Professional and veteran of HR tech industry, Degreed crystallized something I have always felt but didn’t put words to – your degree simply doesn’t matter. It is true your degree is an important record of your training on the fundamentals (math, history, language, bowling, etc.) and learning how to think critically. It is an important step in lifelong learning but it simply doesn’t matter as much as what you have learned since you graduated. Your BA isn’t as valuable as your recent learning in determining readiness or qualifications for a job. Your MBA doesn’t make you a better manager than someone who has helped grow a business and stays current with reading on entrepreneurship and leadership.

Simply, your degree doesn’t matter as much as your lifelong learning. Jeff Weiner summed it up well at a recent conference, “increasingly I hear this mantra: skills not degrees. It’s not skills at the exclusion of degrees. It is just expanding our perspective to go beyond degrees.” Degreed is “jailbreaking the degree.” Degreed is offering a way to demonstrate the learning that does matter.

Having started my career in Human Resources and having built and scaled global Customer Success teams at several fast-growing companies, I have had the opportunity to interview thousands of people. One of my favorite questions has always been, “Why did you go to college, what did you study and how did that lead to where you are today?” A three part interview question? Cue eye roll, I know.

For me, it had nothing to do with the school, the level of degree or even the subject. That’s interesting, but candidly, has never mattered to me that much. What I do find interesting is the insights into the individual and how they have leveraged that foundation to learn and grow through their career. “Oh… I have a degree in history because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I have always been interested in the Civil War. But after graduating, I …” or “I have a degree in math because I love technical analysis but after graduating I found that I hate being stuck in spreadsheets all day so I ….

The honesty in many of the answers can lead to an interesting discussion. The way candidates connect higher education to their career and lifelong learning is a great indication of what they are bringing to the table. It is an interesting insight into the Why of their career. It is almost rare anymore to find someone who went to school and received a degree in the same area as their current profession. Art History majors celebrate! There is hope.

Even if your degree is perfectly aligned with the job you want, I want to know what you have been doing since.

The problem? Many recruiters and HR organizations are still measuring you by your college degree because that’s the standard they have had to measure learning. I know I am not the only HR professional or hiring manager that knows the degree isn’t an effective measure of your skills and capabilities. I doubt any effective hiring manager is making offers on a degree alone. But that is all most of us have known. Or it was anyways. Now we have Degreed.

Imagine if you could demonstrate everything you learned since your degree. All of the relevant articles, papers, and books you have read that equip you to succeed in your job. Imagine a record of the conferences, webinars, and workshops you have attended that have helped you prepare for the job you want. If you could represent that to your organization, or future employers, wouldn’t that be more valuable than saying you have a history degree from 10 years ago? Wouldn’t you want that Corporate Recruiter to understand what you have learned in since? That’s meaningful and something that I would want to hear about when interviewing you. Meet Degreed.

So what have you been learning since you graduated?

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