It doesn’t matter how great your e-learning programme is, if you don’t market it to the right people, get buy-in and get people to actually complete it, it will be a complete waste of time and money (two commodities that are in short enough supply today!)
So assuming you’ve got educationally sound content and your online delivery is engaging, how do you market your e-learning programmes, particularly when it isn’t mandatory or compliance based?
In my mind there are five key points to remember: start early; get support from the top; secure buy-in from your managers; get buy-in from your learners; and don’t stop.
1. Start early
Don’t wait until you have a shiny new e-learning package ready to roll-out across the organisation. The marketing communications plan should start at the same time as project implementation. Inform people that the project is under way, highlight project milestones and tell them when it’s due to be delivered. Most importantly – explain why you are investing in e-learning in the first place and sell the benefits of this mode of learning. Use internal communications campaigns such as staff magazine, intranet, staff briefings, posters etc. to inform staff. Use external communications campaigns such as website, posters, leaflets etc. to inform external stakeholders, if necessary.
2. Get support from the top
Get support from whoever is in charge of your organisation, for example your Chief Executive or Managing Director. Make sure they know why you are doing the training in the first place – for example what changes or improvements to behaviour you are going to achieve as a result of the e-learning. Get them to lead by example by being the first to complete the e-learning programme, and show everyone that this is something the company is seriously committed to.
3. Secure buy-in from your managers
Inform and involve your managers and team leaders about the e-learning programme from the very beginning. Sell the benefits of the training and of e-learning as this will help you get early buy-in and support from the people who work closest to front line staff.
4. Get buy-in from your learners
No-one likes being the last to know what’s going on. If you start raising awareness from the very start of the project, you’re more likely to get support from your learners. Tell them what’s going on and why. Use internal communications such as staff briefings, posters, staff magazine etc. to inform staff that the project is underway, and let them know when it will be rolled out across the company. Give regular progress updates.
5. Don’t stop
Remember – the marketing communications campaign doesn’t come to a stop when you roll-out the e-learning. It’s important to have sustained communications to remind everyone of why and when they should complete the training – and to chase up late completers. Some organisations publish completion statistics on a departmental basis – to encourage late completers to finish the training. Provide real feedback on how the training has been received by individuals in the organisation. This will convince others of the benefits of the learning. Most importantly of all – make sure you inform everyone of success stories – improved competence, cost savings, change in behaviour, return in investment etc.