When Training Really Needs To Be Marketing

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When Training Really Needs To Be Marketing

(Written by Nathan Pena)

Every now and then, when clients come to us for training development, it becomes clear that what they really want and need is a marketing piece. That is, in some cases, they are NOT trying to build in-depth knowledge or skill. They are simply introducing a concept to their audience, and they want to build excitement, interest, and enthusiasm for it. Often, these clients don’t realize it themselves, but in those situations, they need more than a document to read or a Web-based course to click through. They need a compelling experience for their end-users. In those cases, C2‘s designers bring in the bells and whistles: the cool interfaces, flashy surprises, and compelling stories that capture learners’ attention and engage them in a compelling experience.

A Different Set of Strategies

Here are some of the strategies we use to create these kinds of compelling user experiences:

  • Tell a story. There’s a reason that people would rather read a novel or watch a movie than read a text book. Stories reach us on multiple levels, engaging us emotionally as well as intellectually. They instantly capture our attention and keep us interested enough to stay with the content until the end. They keep us thinking about the concept long after the story is over.
  • Make visuals the centerpiece. In hard-skills training, text may be the default for conveying information. Factors such as reading experience, line length, contrast on page are very important. In marketing pieces, however, getting the user engrossed is the most important goal. It’s time to use those bells and whistles. Your story will be even more vivid if it’s supported with compelling visuals. And that means it’s time to get your graphic designers involved to create a rich visual environment that will support your story.
  • Surprise the learners. For a training product, consistency and formal structure are important for ensuring that learning occurs. But in a marketing piece, when you want to grab learners’ attention and generate excitement, you need to build in some surprises that keep learners interested. Use sound effects and video to create a richer experience. Make learners active participants in the piece, rather than passive observers. Introduce some twists and turns into your storyline.
  • Make navigation intuitive, but also make it interesting and fun. Using non-traditional navigation can create a puzzle-like experience, keeping learners interested. Remember to keep the navigation simple enough, though, so learners don’t lose interest or—worse—get frustrated and angry with the experience.

TellTale Signs

You may ask: How do I recognize the need to propose a marketing approach as opposed to a training approach? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • The client doesn’t have a lot of information to convey and is more concerned with creating a sense of excitement about the topic.
  • Information retention is not the most important goal. Getting the student engaged and excited about the subject is what the client really wants.
  • The actual size of the course is relatively small. This allows you to break out of standard Next and Back click navigation, and explore more advanced and immersive ways to navigate.
  • The course covers just the high points of a subject. Unlike hard-skills training, there is no need to immerse learners in the subject. The focus is on highlighting the broader points of a subject.

In Summary

Multiple studies have shown that learners absorb more information when learning is fun, immersive, and engaging. While engaging the learners’ interest is always an important goal for training, in some cases, engaging learners emotionally and creating certain attitudes become the primary goals. In those cases, designers should consider a more marketing-type approach to the course design. This approach will engage learners with a compelling story that is carried by a rich visual environment.

For Inspiration

For more ideas about how to create compelling experiences for learners, check out Favourite Website Awards, a portal showcasing award-winning digital projects.


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