If we build it, they will (not) come

26 Jan

As a marketeer who relatively recently made the transition into the world of enterprise learning, I spend quite a lot of my time being surprised.

Surprised at how good some of the solutions being delivered are (portals, apps, video, storytelling, point-of-need learning); surprised at how unhelpful some tried-and-tested (and found to be ineffective) solutions are – and how they’re still being pushed onto learners; and surprised at how many people are creating amazing things, but aren’t sharing these with anyone.

I’ve spent the last 8 years of my career as a signpost. Not literally; but everything I’ve done has been to the same ends – show someone that something exists, show them how compelling that something is and get them to spend time or money with it.

Thinking about this, I’m reminded of this excellent short film about signs and signposting – which also touches on my love for storytelling, but that’s a post for another day.

If you take only one thing from reading this post; I hope it’s this: you can build the best app/portal/site/tool/resource in the world, but if your audience doesn’t know about it, they won’t use it. You have to market it.

So, some handy content marketing tips that can help you get people to the things you’re making.

Email newsletters
Many people will say email is dead, but until Outlook and Lotus Notes are banished from our workplaces forever, it still remains the number one channel of communication (and bane of many people’s lives) for most office-based people. So make your email helpful, useful – heck, maybe even entertaining! Cut through the clutter and get noticed.

But how? Well, make your subject line unexpected – you want people to open your mail and if it looks like corporate spam, they won’t. Take cues from places like Buzzfeed: ‘3 ways to make your life easier’ is sure to get a better open rate than ‘NOTE: productivity focus’ or similar. Make the content itself compelling, use imagery, be single-minded about your message and include a strong call to action: tell your users what you want them to do: ‘Be inspired by your fellow leaders’ ‘find out how to make Lync work for you’, etc.

Find out where your audience is spending time and attention
There’s no point in sending out email newsletters if your target audience is a group of workers who spend all day out in a field without access to a device, for example. Maybe they listen to the radio. Maybe they spend time in a canteen where you can put up posters or table talkers. Make sure your communications plan is tailored and specific, but most importantly that you understand the challenges that your audience faces.

Lean on social networks
Yammer and other enterprise social networks are just starting to bed in for a lot of organisations. By all means, start engaging early adopters on these channels, but don’t forget about those people who don’t use them. Look instead to other channels with a better level of adoption; for example LinkedIn.

Find your solution’s USP and link it back to your user
Think about how your solution is making someone’s life easier, their performance more effective or their time better-used. Then tell them about it.

Think about language
Never, ever talk about yourself when you’re trying to get someone to engage with a solution. Golden rule number one of ad copywriting: the word ‘you’ is far, far more engaging than the word ‘we’. People ultimately generally only care about how something will be useful or helpful to them, they’re not bothered that ‘we have launched a new performance support app’ – but they might just care about ‘your job made easier: download the performance support app and get more done today’. It’s all about understanding those challenges that your audience face and turning the solutions to these into the benefits of your products.

This post is just the green shoots poking out from the ground when it comes to content marketing. If you want to know more about how to better engage your learners, start to think like a marketeer. A good place to start is e-Consultancy, or hit me up on Twitter if you want more insights.

I’ll be talking at Learning Technologies about how I use storytelling and content marketing to engage learners at BP this week, so stay tuned to #LT15UK for more.

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