Reflections on: Intersections between L&D and Marketing

It’s interesting- there’s so many professionals who shy away from sales and marketing, but somehow training is seen as totally separate.

Over the past few years, it has become very clear to me that sales and marketing skills form the basis of many things we do in business, but especially L&D.  It’s all sales really!

Marketing promotes products and services- raising awareness, the same way we might raise awareness in a wellness program or other training program. In sales, the key task is convincing someone to do something- buy a product, try a service, upgrade a subscription, etc.

At the core is influencing behaviour- the very same thing we do as learning and development professionals.  It’s the basis of learning, the basis of leadership, and the basis of overall human performance improvement.  Many of my colleagues are well tuned-in to this similarity and have been incorporating tips and tricks from marketing for a long time (and vice versa- many marketing departments are adding more instructional material to their content marketing strategies!)

Even with these clear similarities, L&D seems to rely a bit on “captive audiences”- they way you would with a mandatory compliance course.  If everyone is required to complete training, no need to influence them to do so.  Good luck if you want any of those new skills and behaviours to see the light of day though- your influence ends with that mandatory multiple choice quiz (80% or higher, please!).  This approach undermines the learning culture of entire organizations.

If as and L&D professional, you’re not paying attention to developments in marketing and sales, you’re missing out on huge growth potential.

Just like marketing and sales, learning and continuous improvement require ongoing strategy, analysis and engagement. We can all learn from each other and benefit our customers, organizations, and employees.  Start now- try the Marketing Foundations course on LinkedIn Learning, or check out great resources from the American Marketing Association!