Updated: Sep 30, 2021
Phase 3: Marketing Your Digital Learning Program:
The 4 “Ps”- Plan, Price, Package, Promote
A Phased Approach
In this blog series we have been sharing recommendations and tips on how to prepare for the new normal and take your learning strategy digital with a 3 phased approach:
Phase 1 – Move your Existing Training to Virtual Delivery
Phase 2 – Transforming your Content
Phase 3 – Marketing Your Digital Learning Program (focus for this blog)
Through our years of experience, we at LearnExperts have found that this approach allows you to pivot quickly and buys you the time needed to build a great modern, digital, and scalable learning program. In our last blog I shared insights into the second phase of transforming your content into a digital learning format. In this post we will focus on the third and last phase of the process: marketing your new digital learning program.
As you work through phase 2 of this process and transform your content to a digital format, begin planning how you will drive awareness of it. You want to make sure that you are ready to launch your new program as soon as it is completed. I recommend starting to plan the launch well before your content transformation is complete, this way you will have any necessary marketing materials in place and enough time to run some awareness campaigns before you launch.
There are some key differences when bringing a digital learning program to market, either virtual instructor-led, self-paced, or webinar style workshops, compared to the traditional instructor-led or in person. If you miss these, your program may not work smoothly.
When it comes to making pricing decisions there are many factors to consider, while you may already have a model that you are using today, it is a perfect time to review if that model is the right fit going forward in a digital version.
Training programs typically fall into one of three models:
Cost center model - no cost for training, so the company funds the development, maintenance, and delivery on behalf of the learners.
Cost recovery model – training is priced to recover the costs for development, maintenance, and delivery. In this case the department breaks even.
Profit center model – training is priced to make a profit. The department makes money for the organization above what it costs to run the department.
When considering a digital learning strategy, you will want to consider cost recovery and profit center models. This is because digital learning requires different (and often more) technology, and if you decide to get fancy with a learning management system, there is also the admin overhead of managing the technology (not just the cost of the subject matter expert or trainer to travel to a location to deliver the training based on what they know in their heads).
A cost center model will always necessitate keeping costs low, and therefore can lack investing in the right technology and people to create and maintain a high quality and modern training program.
If you don’t charge for your training today, it’s OK, you can still transition to a digital program with a low cost model in place and start by running virtual instructor-led sessions or simple recorded sessions for self-paced (see past blogs for tips and tricks!), but then as you think about enhancing your program to include self-paced courses that may be hosted in a learning management system you will want to carefully understand the ongoing costs of running this type of digital program and think about what to charge for it.
If your organization has traditionally had an event-based instructor-led training program it was likely being sold or delivered via one-time transactions at or around the time customers purchased your solution or services.
Going digital better facilitates continuous learning (especially when learners have the flexibility to do the learning anywhere / anytime) which is proven to drive higher adoption of your solution. Users continue to deepen their knowledge of your solution, onboard any new users they may add, re-skill, and access learning whenever and wherever they need it.
If you charge for your learning program, you may want to take advantage of “going digital” and create a subscription pricing model. If your solution is already being sold using a SAAS model this can translate into a really good fit.
Some additional items you should think about are:
1. Will you package your program by role? Or will they get all the content?
Programs with a variety of users may require different content and packaging depending on the type of user. Consider a user that has very limited tasks in the product, it may not make sense to provide them with the entire learning path when all they need is a small subset.
2. Who will position your program?
Will your department require business development personnel to speak to and sell to your customers? Or will your existing sales team take on this responsibility? With either option, they need to be well versed speaking about the value of learning and the various options.
3. Is it easy to understand what you are offering?
Keep it as simple as possible. When you consider how you will package and present your training options, I really recommend making them simple to understand. You want your customers, internal employees, and partners to easily understand your offerings.
Critical to the success of your new program is promoting it well both internally and externally. You can make the best program ever created; however, if no one knows about it, it will not get used. If you can, leverage your marketing team’s expertise for your launch; they can help you with planning, branding, and messaging. They are experts at these types of tasks. I had great collaborations with marketing while launching learning programs in the past and learned so much from working with them.
I see time and again organizations underestimate the importance of communicating changes to major programs inside the organization, which is why I chose to address it first. Do not let this important task be forgotten in your program launch.
Benefits of promoting your new digital learning program internally:
Customer and Partner-facing employees can speak to customers at a high level about the program and point them to where they can get additional information.
Internal managers leverage the learning available for new hires as they join their team.
Internal employees who want to brush up on the latest or acquire additional in-depth knowledge on your company’s solution know how to obtain it.
You create advocates for your program when internal employees take the learning you create and have a great experience.
Your marketing team will be particularly helpful promoting your new program to external stakeholders. They are familiar with your organization’s company vision and brand promise and have existing customer marketing channels that you can leverage. I recommend working with your marketing team to create a launch plan that includes:
1. Appropriate copy: Getting your message across concisely is critical when promoting externally. Ensure your copy includes:
What the program is – a concise description of the offering
The value to the learner – what is in it for them
A call to action - where to go for more information
2. Web presence: If you are converting an existing program you likely already have an area on your company’s website, you should ensure that it is updated to reflect the new program for your launch.
3. Company branding: Ensure that anything you are creating that is external facing is branded to your marketing standards. If you can, have someone from your marketing department review or brand these materials for you.
Ask for Help
I was fortunate to have the support of some fantastic folks with backgrounds in marketing who helped me launch the programs my teams built, and I learned so much from them along the way. Do not be shy to ask for help from those that have the experience necessary for your learning program to gain wide adoption.
The tips and tricks I shared in this blog series come from launching many programs during my career and are just the tip of the iceberg of what to think about to get started.
Need assistance going digital? We bring over 100+ years of combined knowledge, hands-on experience, and best practices in the learning industry, driving adoption and customer success strategies that can help you grow and scale your organization.
Director, Center of Excellence