5 mins read

What LnD can learn from the marketing world

The fear of flawless learning no one attends

What’s the problem we are trying to solve?

During my last couple of gigs, I’ve been asked by clients to help them with the design of ‘great, engaging’ learning. I’d like to think this is my bread and butter, something I could do all day. It’s something I love, and I continually strive to learn more about. The ‘Science of Learning’ and its application to ‘Learning Design/Delivery’ is a growing field of play.

However….. you can have the best, most flawless learning experience (in terms of design and delivery), be that face to face, online live, recorded (synchronous/asynchronous) etc. It could align with all the common good practice principles of, being bite sized, accessible in multiple formats, free (or affordable), on-demand etc… but the big issue we haven’t maybe paid appropriate attention to is..

“How do we get them there in the first place?”

It doesn’t matter how good your learning is, or what awards its one for design/delivery. If people don’t turn up its just a good book gathering dust in a library no one visits.

So this is where my thoughts take me… these 3 questions:

  1. How do we get people to turn up (notice and attend to the opportunity)?
  2. How do we get people to stay (remain attentive within the experience)?
  3. How do we get people to come back (loyalty to learning with you)?

I turned to the world of marketing and sales for ideas I think may be relevant – these are not dirty words by the way, these are important acknowledgments we should make, in order to better understand human behaviour and utilise the expertise of these fields to draw people to your experience.

Getting people to notice your learning (get them there)?

Marketers employ various strategies and tactics to capture consumers’ attention and promote their products effectively. Here are some of the main ways marketers grab attention:

Advertising and Creative Branding: this might seem like a no-brainer, but this is not simply about telling people that a product exists. This is about how you tell them and where you present this. If the advertisement isn’t in the right voice or place you will just be noise in the world of your audience. Use different channels such as print, online platforms, and social media to showcase products through captivating (and persuasive) advertisements. The aim is to create compelling visuals, engaging stories, and memorable slogans to grab attention.

Influencer Marketing and Story: who are your influencers… who do your customers listen to (who will they believe, trust and follow). Leveraging the credibility and influence of these individuals along with well-crafted narratives that resonate with consumers can create an emotional connection.  Making your products more relatable and compelling. Capturing attention through endorsements and the power of storytelling is an untapped area for the LnD world in my opinion.

Targeting and Personal Appeal: do you even know who your client base is. Pushing courses out to ‘everyone’ is ok, but marketing for a particular audience is important. If something is designed for everyone, its meaningless to most, but if it’s designed for a specific population group its now meaningful to them. Personalise your marketing messages. Tailor your content to match individual interests, needs, or demographics. By doing this you increase the chances of capturing attention and driving conversions. Tap into these consumers’ emotions – evoke emotions such as joy, nostalgia, fear, or empathy, to establish a deeper connection with the audience and make your products more memorable.

Keeping people motivated and attentive while in your learning (get them to stay)?

In sales workshops or events, marketers employ various techniques to keep attendees engaged and maintain their attention. Here are some common strategies used:

Interactive Activities and Audience Participation: no one likes to be talked at for hours. Again a no-brainer but one we need to point out. Incorporate group discussions and hands-on demonstrations to actively involve participants in the learning (and any tools they will be using). Don’t just tell them about it. Let them experiment with it. Incorporate Q&A sessions, polls, surveys. Giving attendees the opportunity to contribute, creates a sense of involvement, fosters connection to the learning and creates a dynamic environment that keeps attendees attentive.

Engaging Speakers and Personal Meaning: your presenters/deliverers need to be both engaging and knowledgeable, able to captivate the audience through their delivery style, storytelling and subject matter expertise. This includes the use of multimedia in delivery (combining visuals, videos, audio clips, and interactive elements). The icing on the cake here is, making space for learners to create ‘personal meaning’ for the content being shared – “what does this mean for me in my world”. Engaging attendees in sense making and personal story, makes the content more memorable. By getting them to share their real-life examples, you engage participants on an emotional level and create a connection between the content and their personal experiences.

Clear Objectives and Structure: have clear objectives and structure from the outset. Adult learners are notorious for needing to know ‘why are we here’ and ‘how will the day play out’. Set expectations and provide a roadmap for your event/session. This will help attendees stay focused and understand the value they will gain. Within this structure don’t underestimate the importance of breaks and networking opportunities in maintaining attention and preventing mental fatigue. Make space for ‘decompression’ and watercooler chats. Breaks, allow participants to relax, recharge, and interact with fellow attendees, exchange ideas, and discuss the content, keeping them engaged and motivated.

Building loyalty to learning with you (get them to come back)?

Marketers employ several tactics to encourage repeat purchases and foster customer loyalty. Here are some strategies they use to get customers to come back and buy again or attend another workshop/event:

Exceptional Customer Experience and Feedback: focus on providing a positive and memorable customer experience throughout the entire buyer’s journey. This includes prompt and helpful customer support, personalised interactions and seamless transaction. Actively seek customer feedback and opinions showing a genuine interest in their satisfaction. Incorporate their input into product improvements or event enhancements. By exceeding customer expectations and demonstrating that you value the customers’ opinions you can create a strong impression and foster customer loyalty, increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases or event attendance.

Follow-up Communication and Personalised Recommendations: don’t forget me, learn about me and connect with me. Good marketers not only maintain regular communication with customers they leverage customer data and preferences (analysing purchase history, browsing behaviour) to provide personalised product recommendations. By staying in touch and nurturing the relationship, offering tailored suggestions that align with the customer’s interests marketers remind customers of their brand and encourage them to return. Personalization increases the chances of repeat purchase.

Loyalty Programmes and Community Building: create loyalty programmes that reward customers for their repeat business and connect them with likeminded individuals. Offer exclusive benefits such as discounts, points accumulation, freebies, or VIP access – this incentivising of repeat purchases creates a sense of value, customer appreciation, encouraging them to come back. Connecting this with communities where customers can share experiences and interact provides a platform for customers to discuss products or events, fostering a sense of belonging and loyalty. By nurturing a community, marketers encourage customers to return and engage with their brand.

This is not an exhaustive list, and even in this list we are just scratching the surface.


At times we may need to get off our high horse of ‘designing great learning’, applying all the theories to our practice and focus more on the fact that if they don’t turn up it doesn’t matter how good our product is.

So when you get chance, perhaps explore further the marketing and sales world to better understand how:

“We get them there, keep them there and keep them coming back…”

I can design the most flawless learning experience and still no one may attend!!

Happy reflecting…

Kurt Ewald Lindley – learning to be more humble about my own views on learning design and delivery

get in touch – kurt@bemorelnd.co.uk or Contacts Form