The marketing world has always featured an above-average level of adaptation pressure.
While it certainly relies on foundational principles that never go out of style (fear of missing out, for instance), the practical tactics and the strategies they comprise shift with the times.
One social media platform loses popularity while another rises.
A meme that everyone loves for a week or two swiftly becomes a cringeworthy indication that the user has lost touch with the zeitgeist.
And since training should be a core pursuit for every discipline (if you’re not moving ahead, you’re slipping behind), it’s abundantly clear that a modern marketing team needs its skills sharpened and its horizons broadened.
Complicating matters, though, there’s no shortage of terrible training schemes out there: they bore participants, teach nothing, and waste time and money.
You’ve likely experienced them before.
So if you’re running a marketing team and eager to maximise its morale and productivity, you’ll want to know how to deliver training that actually yields results.
That’s what we’re going to look at in this post as we set out the core steps you need to take.
Once you’re clear on the process, the onus will be on you to follow through.
Let’s get things started, shall we?
Decide how you’ll deliver the materials
The first question you need to answer is how you intend to provide your training resources, because there are various possible routes (you can take one, or you can take several).
It all depends on your capabilities, preferences, and budget.
- You could create an intranet knowledge base. The bigger a company grows, the more valuable a high-quality internal knowledge base becomes. You can use it as a repository for anything you think could help your employees: articles you’ve spotted, guides you’ve assembled, or even third-party courses worth taking. This is a solid option for ambitious professionals willing to chart their own paths to improvement.
- You could use a digital course platform. There are various services out there (Thinkific being a common example) that make it relatively straightforward to create digital courses. This is often done to make money, but you can create a course through such a service and make it available to your workers for free. The strength of this approach is that it’s easy to set trackable steps through a training platform.
- You could provide virtual training sessions. If you want to play a more active role in your training programs, you can run virtual training sessions (yes, virtual events are here to stay). This is good for supporting more freeform training paths because you can address queries on the fly, but it takes up a lot of time and doesn’t suit everyone (many people would rather learn by doing).
Outline your key operational processes
However much you want to get to advanced techniques that may take your marketers to the next level, you need to cover the essentials of your business first.
It’s best to have an intranet portal of the kind we just pointed out to make this optimally convenient.
If nothing else, this project is vital for onboarding (and the marketing world has a fair amount of employee turnover, so that’s something you need to plan for).
To save time and maximise clarity, you should have your most trusted employees record and document their regular activities: how they log into systems, how they use certain tools, how your brand guidelines fit into everything.
Note it all, regardless of how obvious it may seem to you: there’s no sense in going for high-level Twitter hacks if there are basic knowledge gaps.
If you don’t have any yet, you’ll need to define central policies for matters such as security and support.
What security software do you use, and how can it be configured? How can people get assistance when they’re uncertain about things? What’s your operational hierarchy?
All the key information should be there and ready to access at a moment’s notice.
Cover the security demands of remote working
Now that remote working is standard practice for many industries, there’s an excellent likelihood that some or all of your marketing professionals are working from home — so you need to cover the unique security demands posed for that arrangement.
You don’t need everyone to know exactly how a secure web server operates, but you do need them to have some basic insight.
Take a commonplace tool like a VPN, for instance.
Each of your employees should know what a VPN is, roughly how it functions, how they can effectively use one (whether professionally or personally for privacy reasons), and how they can choose one.
Notably, there’s a big difference between the best VPN for affordability (there are free VPNs, but there are catches), the best VPN for torrenting (not all VPNs are good choices for torrenting due to the speed demand), and the best VPN for security (password-recovery processes are sticking points).
You’ll have your VPN chosen for security reasons, but the threat of social engineering makes it worth your while to help your marketers make good decisions about the security measures they take outside of work.
Whether it’s selecting a VPN, picking a password manager, or even choosing a secure chat system, each move they make will have the potential to impact you.
Identify the core goals for each employee
Past basic competencies, every employee needs a unique plan to help their development, and you need to speak with each individual to determine what interests them.
Ideally, you’ll find a path that suits everyone involved: if someone wants to become an interviewer, for instance, you can get them to work on a podcast for your business and start interviewing industry figures.
Once you know what each person wants to achieve, you can work with them to identify worthwhile training resources.
There may be some clashes along the way, but that’s just part of the process: keep going, and you’ll eventually find a suitable accord.
With those goals defined, though, you can start setting out some SMART targets.
After all, it’s tough to make progress with a daily workload, so appropriate targets are key.
In this context, SMART means specific, measurable (particularly important), achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Each target you set out should be every one of these things: it’s all too common for people to set targets that aren’t achievable, for example, leading up to inevitable failure from which nothing useful can be learned.
Don’t make that mistake.
Request and act upon employee feedback
All training requires tracking, so you’ll need to set a review structure that allows enough time to get things done but doesn’t let a target fall by the wayside: a check every three months might be sensible.
After a year, see where things stand. How has the process worked? How could it be improved?
It bears noting, though, that your view isn’t the only one that matters.
Suppose that it’s become clear that a training program isn’t getting results, for instance. If you’re going to do something useful in response to that problem, you need to know why it isn’t getting results, and you can’t discern that without getting extensive insight from the employees using it.
Encourage your employees to tell you how things are going, and stress that you need them to be honest: if things aren’t working, you’ll overhaul things to make them better.
This is only a barebones outline of the process of developing training programs for your marketing team, but it should give you the structure you need to make progress.
Invest your time, money and effort into helping your employees grow. It’ll surely pay off.