LeadEarnLearnA while back, I was speaking with a training and communications expert in the DC area who impressed me with her concept concerning the similarities between marketing and training. Her position was that the best training programs save an organization time and money through changing team member behaviors in the most effective and efficient means possible. The best marketing increases revenues (as opposed to reducing costs) through changing customer behaviors (i.e. purchases!) in the least amount of time possible for these same organizations. So, she postured, both training and marketing are about changing immediate behaviors in the recipient of the message – whether it is customers or internal team members – in a way that is monetarily beneficial to the organization. 

If you are building the skills that matter most for your team, your instructional designers must understand that knowledge transfer and behavior modification are the desired outcomes of the effort. The most highly effective and meaningful instructional experiences engage the student. Likewise, if you are marketing your products or services, your marketing specialists must understand that knowledge transfer (from building awareness of your product and services to communicating relevance and/or need) and behavior modification (read that: purchase!) are the desired outcomes of their efforts.

A long time ago, we recognized at Orgwide that the lines between “corporate training” and “corporate communications” were beginning to blur. Now, less than 10 years later, those same lines have all but disappeared. In these times of exploding social media, could the same be true of marketing? It might sound like a simple observation, but training and marketing seem to have this in common: Start, Stop, or Continue. Whether you’re training someone or marketing to them – you want more effective business outcomes through modifying their behaviors. 

Start: If you are a trainer, you may want your target market (e.g., students) to start doing something they haven’t done before. It may be serving customers in a new way or simply following a new procedure. Your training is designed to engage the student and build the desire and the confidence necessary to start these new behaviors. If you are a marketer, you may want your target market (e.g., customers) to start doing something new. You engage the prospective customer and try to build a desire and the confidence necessary to start the new behavior – quite simply to begin consuming your product!

Stop: In other cases, your training may be designed to convince your students to stop doing something they do today. This may include ceasing tasks that get in the way of customer service. In marketing, you may also be trying to convince your prospective customers to stop doing something they are doing today – namely buying a competitor’s product. In both cases, you must engage your audience and convince them that the way they are behaving today is detrimental to their continued success…whether that’s on the job or in what they buy.

Continue: Finally, you may be training team members to continue doing something, but in a different way. This might include using an existing tool or system in a new way. For marketing, you may be targeting current customers with a message to continue buying your products, but with a premium add-on to improve their satisfaction. 

In either case, whether you’re in marketing or training – if you are going to be successful, you must recognize that your role is really selling. Selling an idea. Selling a change in behavior. Selling the need for your target audience (whether student or customer) to Start, Stop, or Continue. When you focus on the outcome, the method becomes much clearer. As do the similarities between marketing and training pointed out by my DC friend.  Until next time remember – Take care of the customer, take care of each other, and take care of yourself.

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