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Why should you consider marketing courses to employees?

“Change is the only constant.”

I don't know who said this, in what year, or in which context, but I feel it is a general truth. You know, like the Sun rises in the morning and the boiling temperature of water is 100°C.

Things change and companies need to adapt to change if they want to survive in today's darwinist business world.

With hoards of millennials and their younger followers (who don't have a general accepted generation nickname yet) threatening to conquer each and every workplace in a few years' time, there's one change that is particularly important to e-learning professionals: young generations of employees demand personalized learning experiences at work and consider professional learning and development opportunities inside companies as an increasingly important factor in attracting and retaining their talent.

But there is a gap between what employees want and what employers can offer in terms of learning and development opportunities. While there are plenty of good examples and success stories, there are also plenty of not so good examples and truly sad stories about business training in general and e-learning in particular.

From bad design and terrible user experience of an LMS, to bulky or irrelevant content, there could be millions of reasons why e-learning courses and training have poor and unconvincing results.

One such reason often goes unnoticed: the failure to convince employees to attend online training courses.

Why should L&D professionals consider marketing courses to employees?

Instructional designers need to focus not only on creating compelling courses, they also need to do some internal marketing to attract attendees in the first place.

Some might argue that this is nonsense, since a lot of training is compulsory, like fire safety, new hires, new software or machinery training. The ones that are not compulsory are less important, so why bother with marketing any training course to employees anyway?

Well, because there's a big difference between

“If you don’t do this, you’ll not get that promotion
/ you’ll get fired.”


“If you do this — and do it well — you’ll develop your personal and professionals skills and your company might reward you.”

don't you agree?

The main reason L&D departments exist is to efficiently train people. Marketing courses to employees will raise awareness among them about the benefits that will follow after completing the training. This will trigger their interest, which will lead not only to higher participation rates, but also to higher engagement rates. The more people get the best training, the better results their company will have.

Simple strategies to market courses to employees

L&D professionals are just that: L&D professionals. They're not marketing professionals. Am I suggesting they should invest time and resources to become marketing professionals as well?

Not at all! There's no need for that. Some marketing tactics are already available and easy to use. Here are three simple marketing strategies that instructional designers could turn to when they want to market their courses to employees:

1. Know your USP

The marketing USP — Unique Selling Point — is something that makes you different from and better than the competition.

Most likely, you don't really need to worry about competition, as companies usually have just one L&D department or consultant. But knowing why your courses are great and promoting the reasons with every opportunity will make employees more aware of what you're doing.

Your USP needs to answer their WIIFM - What's In It For Me? If they say they are just too busy for learning, tell them they can go through a learning module in just 10 minutes. If they say they can't focus when they have to read more than three pages, tell them your course has short videos as well. If they say their open office is too loud and distracting from learning, tell them your course design is mobile friendly, so they can take their tablets in quiet places and learn.

These are only a very few examples of possible USPs. You need to learn as much as possible about your target audience and adapt your USP accordingly.

2. Find influencers

Influencer marketing focuses on a few niche experts that may not have a great pool of followers, but certainly have great engagement rates within their niche.

Spread your antennas and look for those charismatic people that have a good image inside the company and seem to attract everyone's attention effortlessly. They could be managers or team leaders, but they could also be simple employees who never eat alone in the cafeteria and have something more than Hello! to say to everyone they meet on hallways or in elevators.

Find these influencers, tell them about your USP, convince them to attend your courses, and let them do their influencing thing to others.

3. Use email

Email marketing is one of the most successful strategies. People may not have a Facebook or a SnapChat account, but they sure have a company email and they sure use it every day at work. And since you're on the same server and host, you might never have to worry about your emails getting into employees' spam folders.

Use email to reach out personally to each employee, present your USP, make announcements about courses, or make surveys. Also — and this is probably the most important thing you can do with emails — you can send reminders about course assignments and deadlines.

People tend to forget about, or simply postpone training until the very last minute. Send the reminders a month, a week, three days, two days before, or on the same day an employee needs to finish a course. You'll might get a very pleasant surprise when checking the number of attendees and completed courses.


The job of instructional designers was never simple, but as change is the only constant in the workplace and in the e-learning industry, they need to adapt to new challenges. Internal marketing of courses to employees is a tangent to developing engaging business training courses.


What's your opinion about marketing courses to employees? Please use the comments section.