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Content strategy is a term you will often hear in the marketing world. By definition, a content strategy is simply a plan for using content (audio, visual, or written) to achieve business objectives and goals.
Any successful marketing professional recognizes the importance of establishing a content strategy to maximize the impact of their content for their target audience. Does that sound familiar to what we do in Learning and Development? Every day, we aim to ensure we deliver the right content to engage our learners.
So, why wouldn’t Learning and Development professionals utilize these same content marketing strategies to maximize the impact of our content for learners? The short answer is that you should take cues from the marketing world to help guide and refine your approach to content. Let’s look at a few things marketers focus on when deriving a content strategy and see how they can help inform your learning content strategy.
Understanding your target audience – specifically your target learner – is crucial to delivering relevant content. In the marketing world, they create buyer or customer personas that clearly define the essential things to consider about the target audience. In the learning world, learner personas are the foundation for connecting your learners to content that matters to them – defining and understanding what they truly need. What problem are we solving for our audience?
Marketing professionals are tasked with communicating how their product or service solves a problem or meets a target audience's needs. In training, we refer to this as that good ol’ WIIFM – What’s in it for me. As we design and develop, connecting with learners by providing more profound meaning to the “why” for training can make all the difference in truly getting them engaged, committed, and finding meaning in their work.
For marketers, it’s about selecting the right platforms to tell a story. But more importantly, how to connect the different pieces and media to create brand cohesion. That comprehensive, cohesive aspect is also important for us to remember in our learning strategy. There’s so much focus on putting together a blended approach to learning, utilizing different modalities and mixing it up to keep the learner engaged. But in deciding which channels you’ll use for training, don’t forget the big picture and the story you’re trying to tell.
A content schedule is established in marketing using a content or an editorial calendar. This is more than just a simple schedule; it aligns content with the organization’s broader goals and is very intentional about content structure and delivery. This kind of purposeful content schedule is essential for us as learning professionals to think about when we develop a training program schedule that returns to the learners’ needs. Learning is more than just one event; our training schedules and content delivery should reflect that. Considering learners’ Five Moments of Need is an effective way to ensure your content schedule makes sense.
You can track several metrics in marketing (e.g., Twitter followers and website tracking). But often, many of these metrics are not as insightful as tracking conversions for things like email subscriptions or registrations that indicate piqued interest and engagement from the content. It’s also important to think about our learning content strategy. If the content isn’t serving its purpose of engaging and teaching the learner, it’s okay to let it go. To get extremely cliché – learning content should follow that old rule of “quality over quantity.”
At its core, the content strategy looks similar whether you’re in the marketing world or L&D. Ultimately, a smart content strategy sets you up for success by letting your expertise and value shine through content creation and curation that truly engages your audience.
If you want to learn how Ardent can help you make the most out of your learning content, reach out to one of our Ardent Experts today.
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