Monday, 10 August 2015

How to Match the Right Type of Content to Your Team’s Training Needs

The start of a new school year is just around the corner, but continuing education shouldn’t be left exclusively to young people and college students. In fact, professional development should be an important part of your brand’s mission. Glued-in teams are on the same page about their past, their purpose and their objectives for the future.

Once your management team has agreed that training is important, the next step is to decide how to approach it. Specifically, we’re talking about content: What delivery system is best suited to giving team members the skills and experiences they need to engage your audience for the long term? Experts recently have noted here and here that there are plenty of qualified content creators out there; the need is to equip them with the knowledge base they need to be successful.

In this post, we’ll explore a few principles content marketing teams can follow to prioritize internal training, thus taking their marketing efforts to the next level.

Create a framework.

The only way to be truly successful in your educational efforts is to develop a structure for your training. It’s natural to expect your team members to be self-starters, but you can’t expect professional development to be their top priority when your clients are expecting great content on a regular basis.

That’s the message of this post from Smashing Magazine geared toward web developers. Writer James Miller suggests creating structure with a series of brown bag sessions where workers can learn as a team. He’s also got some good advice on ranking skills, tracking performance and confirming knowledge acquisition over time.

If your management team needs a little more convincing that training pays off, consider data shared in this IBM report on the value of training. Vignettes such as, “Objectives will be met 90% more often by increasing team skills,” can convince even the most hesitant manager to invest in training through boot camps and skills gap analysis.

Finally, brands with international workforces should remember that even cultural training can be done in a strategic way. This post from the Society for Human Resource Management explains how Boeing, software company SAP and others have helped sensitize team members and their families to the nuances of living around the globe to support their respective brands.

Plan your strategy.

Next, realize that the best approach to internal training for content teams is one that fosters a strong sense of brand loyalty. If your workers don’t understand the impact of your mission, it will be difficult to communicate those values in the outside world.

Take for example Apple’s secretive yet comprehensive training regimen known as Apple University. The program was designed to “inculcate employees into Apple’s business culture and educate them about its history, particularly as the company grew and the tech business changed,” The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen notes.

Align your training strategy around your customers’ needs. Why is it important for customers to continue buying into our brand? What makes us different from everyone else? How to we continue to provide extraordinary value? Build educational modules around questions such as these to help team members understand where you’ve been, what you’re doing currently and how you’ll step up your game going forward.

Some great charts about internal brand education can be found at Brand Tool Box’s website.

Consider content options.

Not surprisingly, the good news for content marketing managers is that educational content can be delivered across multiple channels for maximum impact. This great chart from Melcrum breaks down the pros and cons of intranets, print magazines, web-casting and more to help managers identify which suite of tools best fits their needs.

We’ve also focused previously on the value of internal video, and you can find best practices on creating those reels here.

Build a program.

As Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi has noted, brands must develop a “blue mission statement” to communicate vision internally. This foundation will serve you well as you create a lasting educational program for your team.

For inspiration, be sure to reference this post from contributor On Marketing, which notes the perils of not getting your brand team’s buy-in on new messaging strategies. It points out how Starbucks’ training program helps employees embrace brand change before it becomes reality for coffee consumers.

Review and improve.

Once your internal training program begins to take root, you’ll soon identify opportunities to improve and expand. Yet don’t overcomplicate the effort. Remember the purpose of any internal training is to bring team members up to speed and inspire excellence, as this post from the Harvard Business Review points out

“Inspiration is one of the most underused drivers of effective marketing—and one of the most powerful,” authors Marc de Swaan Arons et al. write. “Our research shows that high-performing marketers are more likely to engage customers and employees with their brand purpose—and that employees in those organizations are more likely to express pride in the brand.”

Technological innovation means there are literally dozens of software solutions capable of helping you plan, host and evaluate internal training.

When it comes to training your content marketing team, leave the chalkboard behind and explore how your expert knowledge of content creation and strategy can be used to build a lasting legacy of marketing education inside the confines of your office.

Nate Birt is a multimedia journalist, social media enthusiast and copy editor with experience at a variety of print and digital publications, and a Certified Journalist at the Visually Marketplace. Follow him on Twitter at @natebirt.

The post How to Match the Right Type of Content to Your Team’s Training Needs appeared first on Visually Blog.

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