A while back, I was speaking with a training and communications expert in the Washington, D.C., area who impressed me with her concept concerning the similarities between marketing and training. Her position was the best training programs save organizations, such as hotels, time and money by changing team member’s behaviors in the most effective and efficient means possible. The best marketing increases revenues (as opposed to reducing costs) through changing customer behaviors (including purchases) in the least amount of time possible for these same organizations.
She posited that training and marketing are about changing immediate behaviors in the recipient of the message—whether they are customers or internal team members—in a way that is financially beneficial to the organization.
If you are building the skills that matter most for your team, your instructional designers must understand 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 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.
The lines between “corporate training” and “corporate communications” 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 might want the people you’re training to start doing something they haven’t done before. It might be serving customers in a new way or simply following a new procedure. Your training is designed to engage the student, building the desire and confidence necessary to start these new behaviors. If you are a marketer, you might want your target market (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 might be designed to convince your students to stop doing something they do today. This might include ceasing tasks that get in the way of customer service. In marketing, you might 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 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 might 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 might be targeting customers with a message to continue buying your products, but with a premium add-on to improve their satisfaction.
Whether you’re in marketing or training, to be successful, you must recognize your role is selling. You’re either selling an idea, a change in behavior or 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 clearer, as do the similarities between marketing and training pointed out by my D.C. friend.
Until next time, remember: Take care of the customer, take care of each other and take care of yourself.
Jim Hartigan, chief business development Officer and partner joined OrgWide Services, a learning, communications, surveys and consulting firm in April 2010 after nearly 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, including the last 18 as a senior executive with Hilton Worldwide. Jim brings to OrgWide a reputation for driving change through improved business processes and developing comprehensive strategies that streamline operations, drive brand awareness and preference, and increase customer satisfaction.
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