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Internal marketing with non-vocational software


Due to low take up of our e-learning academy, we are looking to add non-vocational software ( i.e. languages, soft skills, cookery??) to our existing Knowledge Pathways system. ( We currently have only MS office courses). The hope is to increase awareness and interest, which can then be channelled towards job-relevant courses.
Links for software providers or any past experiences in internal marketing would be a great help.
Louise Volsen

Recommendations only please!

8 Responses

  1. Use of Promotional Material
    I have to admit to have mixed views about using non-work related courses to attract learners to visit a learning centre or turn to e-learning. In my experience, the use of these courses has only ever produced short-term benefits.

    Work I have done before has been to focus on why the current portfolio of courses was not attracting the expected usage. Was it relevant to people’s jobs; was the content up-to-date; were there problems in staff finding the time to take the courses, even though they wanted to, etc.?

    Talking to other trainers, many are now pruning back the range of titles they offer, focusing on those that have proved their worth and consulting again with their businesses as to what the key needs are.

  2. Other ideas

    I would also recommend putting your energy into encouraging the use of your existing courses, rather than trying non-vocational courses.

    One of the most effective ways to encourage take up is through word-of-mouth. One employee recommending a course to another can help overcome much of the hesitation learners feel when deliberating taking their first online course. Sometimes word-of-mouth needs a bit of a push to get started.

    Perhaps you could select a small group to be ‘early adopters’ of the courses. If they have positive experiences, they could then spread the word to others. This can be done through formal means, like an employee saying a few words at a training. However, it will be most effective if you can identify influential employees who will have reason to talk of their experience in the course of their day-to-day job.

    You can’t, of course, assure that the early adopters will have a positive experience. They may not feel the course was worth the time or relevant to their job. If so, it is a good chance to reposition your courses as Tim mentions below.

    Good luck!

  3. Using E-Learning
    Hi Louise,

    is your content within Knowledge Pathways coming from On Demand Personal Navigator or another source or e-learning? If it is coming from On Demand, are your audience fully aware of its 3 modes of show me, teach me and coach me? The MS Office training within On Demand is both powerful and tailorable so there is no reason why your users should not find it totally relevant to their jobs. If you’d like to talk this through please give me a call. I don’t sell or support KP or On Demand but am very aware of both product sets so you can get an independent view.


    [email protected]
    0788 079 0815

  4. More of the same is a mistake
    Hi Louise

    I really have my doubts about offering more courses in the hope that staff will do more of the original courses. My experience is that when staff doesn’t do the courses it is supposed to it is because of (one or more of) the following reasons:
    1). The courses are not deemed relevant
    2). The organisation does not seem to recognise/reward effort spent on the courses. Worse, even, managers might punish learning on the job, for example by demanding phones to picked up etc
    3). The content is boring or otherwise off-putting
    4). They have not been told properly what is being offered, why it is good for them, and how the organisation expects people to integrate it with other duties
    5). Technical constraints or inabilities

    You will need to identify which of the above are valid in your company, and then address them. Usually this takes the form of visible management commitment, and a roadshow type of event to familiarise staff with the concept of eLearning and address any fears or nagative reastions.

    You are not alone in finding that library courses do not bring the expected uptake. In fact, this is eLearning’s biggest secret. That is why a comprehensive approach is needed that includes these change management issues. We have done several of those; let me know if you need more information on those.

    Good luck!

  5. The ‘WIIFM’ Factor
    Louise, I feel that the adoption of both ‘Push’ & ‘Pull’ strategies is required here. Contrary to some of the other comments, I believe that you can encourage greater use of e-learning if you address the ‘whats in it for me’ factor,and align your content to tangible business problems, and engage/get buy-in from line managers.
    In today’s knowledge economy it is imperative that employees have ‘on demand’ access to business/softskills content to help them rapidly and continuously increase their knowledge and learning.
    An e-Learning initiative is unlike an ordinary project, because the launch is the end of the beginning. This is where the hard work starts.This is where hearts and minds must be captured and mindsets changed to learn how to learn in a different way and to ‘legitimise’ informal or desktop learning.
    You my need to create some extrinsic motivational techniques to encourage those that are not naturally ‘good-e-learners or do not have experience of self-managed learning. I can highly recommend ‘SkillSoft International’ They are recognised as the industry leader for business skills and soft skills content. Their UK library includes almost 700 on-line course titles including,
    leadership/management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, customer service, team building, consulting, sales, marketing etc. etc. I have used SkillSoft’s content for 3 years and it is a highly efffective e-learning solution.They can be contacted on 01483 795200 or please feel free to call me if you would like to share my experiences.

    Good Luck

  6. Less is more – overcome inertia with a focused mass activity
    I am not sure that adding more choices will encourage more usage if the problem is not relevance of content but reluctance to use the medium.

    To those new to it, e-learning is a daunting experience, inducing anxiety akin to the fear of a first-time parachute jumper about to leap out of an aircraft. You don’t make that first jump any easier by providing a bewildering choice of aircraft from which to leap. But it may be easier if everyone jumps at once.

    I’d recommend that you look for or create a good company-wide course or curriculum that everybody in the company can/should take, market it and launch it, and then leverage the resulting buzz into increased uptake of additional courses. (We have had great success in getting people to love e-learning with the MindRise Insights curriculum – specifically the three courses that deal with the Internet, e-business, and e-writing. They are designed to get people sharing their experiences and perceptions of the “new economy” with each other in safe company-specific forums, as well as to build competence, confidence, and enthusiasm for the real-time world that we now live in.)

    This shameless piece of self-promotion notwithstanding, I have found that the best way to overcome e-learning inertia is focused mass activity, not the passive provision of highly dispersed individual opportunities. A bigger library will not make TV-watchers more willing to read, but one good book that everybody is talking about may do the trick. The library can come later, once your people are enthusiastic about the medium.

    Godfrey Parkin
    [email protected]

  7. Internal marketing for an e-Learning Academy
    I doubt that providing more variety and less work related content will solve your problem and engage learners.

    More directly relevant content offering meaningful interactivity and eye-catching media might be a good starting point but to guarantee success you will need to take a structured package of measures.

    Here are some initial recommendations from The Training Foundation:

    -Provide learners with uninterrupted work time when they can learn. In a research study conducted by Corporate University Xchange, corporate e-learners said that their top reason for dropping out was lack of time. According to research by ASTD and The MASIE Center, 76% of e-learners said they preferred to take courses during working hours.

    -Provide learners with methods for collaboration and peer support. As any trainer knows, peer group support/pressure is a very powerful tool in learning.

    -Provide learners with tutorial support: Many e-learners have reported just how much difference it makes to know that there is a human being somewhere that they can call on for advice, clarification and support. Sun Microsystems found that only 25% of employees finished courses that were pure self-study, whereas the figure rose to 75% when access was provided to tutors and to means for online discussion.

    -Provide incentives for completion. Unless end-users feel that their investment is going to repay some dividend (e.g. a recognised qualification)then they are unlikely to prioritise participation over other job based activities.

    -And of course if the carrot does not work, you may even have to consider using the stick!

    Feel free to get in touch if you would like some more detailed advice.

    Best wishes

  8. What’s in it for me?
    You have low take up, assuming the delivery technology is fine, because your potential learners either don’t know what’s on offer or if they do, they don’t know why they should use the provided e-learning.
    You could use either the carrot (explain the benefits effectively and cross your fingers) or the stick (management edict that all MS training will be done online ). I would suggest the former with a hint of the latter. You need to create an internal commmunications plan (which needn’t be complicated nor costly) and ensure that the next course meet the needs of your learners by conducting an effective Training Needs Analysis. Yours, Jason Woodford, Chartered Marketer


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