Monthly Archives: March 2013

Think Like the Marketers


We’re not selling you anything. It’s your dreams, your aspirations, and your game. We can just enable things for you. If a commercially driven product like Nike can say this to me, why not a course that has been created for my benefit and is being offered to me for free? Are people sold out to your learning offerings and HR interventions? Do they love them, await them, and can’t wait to see them play out in their lives? To achieve this, you could:

  • Follow the success criteria of online retailers
  • Promote learning as a brand

Follow the Success Criteria of Online Retailers

Picking up a cue from and we can change the learning ecosystem of an organization to look like an online retail store where each course (online or offline) is vying for learner’s attention.  Here are some of the ways in which you can allow learners to choose and rate their courses:

  • Ratings and Views

How many times do you visit and check the ratings that books have received? Ratings correspond with the perceived value of a product, and they can help learners to assess the worth of the courses they intend to take. Also, viewing how others have rated a course can motivate learners to “look inside” the course.

  • Recommendations

If learners find your courses invigorating and useful, they will automatically make time to write about them and to recommend them to peers. Showing favorable and critical reviews adds authenticity to your offerings. It also makes learners interact with each other in a positive way through the means of a course.

  • Learners Who Took this Course Also Viewed

If in your organization most learners who took a Selling Skills course also took a course on Communication Skills, then this information will most likely benefit others too. These “affinity recommendations” make it easier for learners to reach beneficial content. When used appropriately, it can be a revolutionary way to replace a fixed curriculum with a loosely coupled set of learner centric courses or learning objects.

  • About the Subject Matter Expert

Giving out information about industry subject matter experts, their Twitter address, blogs, and so on can help an enthusiastic learner to dig out more information on the subject. If you can get learners to connect with experts you will have turned them into life-long learners.

Additionally you could look at the criteria that marketers use at the back end. These include:

  • Average Time on Page: This is the amount of time that learners spend on each page of the course.
  • Exit Rate: This indicates the percentage of people that drop out of a page having spent less than 10 seconds on it.
  • Page Per View: This shows the number of pages viewed by each learner in every session.
  • Goal Conversion: Goal conversion is the current traditional course success criteria, such as “course completion rates” and “assessment passing rates.”

Promote Learning as a Brand

With the success criteria redefined, you know that it is critical to be able to sell your courses to learners. Once again, put yourselves in the shoes of marketers and follow these steps:

  1. Identify the Positioning of Your Courses
  2. Create Awareness
  3. Live Up to the Image
  4. Generate Talk
  1. Identify the Positioning of Your Course

There are many shoes in a retail store, but what sets Nike apart? Nike, doesn’t sell shoes, it sells “winning,” it sells “hope.” Similarly, don’t sell a course on “product knowledge,” sell “fun” and sell “the end of ignorance.”

Also, ensure that the course delivers what it claims to deliver. Nothing damages reputation like building expectations and then not delivering up to them.

  1. Create Awareness

Like the advertisers, be present at the right time, at the right place, and get noticed often. Plan the media you will use, the messages you’ll send out, and the number of times you’ll reach your audience (the learners). For example a poster in an elevator can get you a captive audience.

  1. Live Up to the Image

If your communication promises fun and end of ignorance, then deliver just that. For online courses, opening up opportunities to learn from a group of people and experts online, to solve real life problems, and to merge learning and work will most likely make learning fun and relevant. Silo-like, SCORM compliant courses won’t be required if the success criteria for the courses have been redefined (as described above). With the new criteria you can create an experience that learners will cherish.

  1. Generate Talk

Do the learners who take your courses (online or live) talk about the courses in their life or while at work? This is an immeasurable test of the success of your course. Like famous advertisements, the characters, the examples, the situations, the activities from your courses should become a part of the day-to-day vocabulary of your learners. They should motivate the learners to participate in and to contribute to what you offer. Your courses need to generate reviews (appreciation or criticism) and you will know that you’ve done your job well, and reached out to the audience the way the marketers do. You’ve sold change.

Reference for the image on the Home Page:

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