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How To Unlock The Benefits Of Content Marketing For L&D Pros

Marketing, marketing, MARKETING! That’s what we as modern L&D Pros hear daily.

It’s been an industry topic for nearly a decade.

I love marketing. I talk about it a lot. Marketing frameworks have helped me accelerate my L&D career. The thing is marketing is not the cure to all our problems in the vast world of learning.

You don’t need to be a marketer.

Yet, learning a few frameworks from our friends here can help you in the world of L&D. We live in an attention economy. If a piece of content doesn’t pass the instant gratification test, we throw it into a black hole.

So, building awareness of all those learning products into which we pour our soul is a benefit, really.

You don’t want to spend time building an amazing learning experience just for it to get no engagement, right? If you build it, no one will come.

Unless you know how to build awareness.

Let’s focus on how you can build awareness to drive the value of your products.

Marketing Is HUGE

The problem with a lot of the “L&D needs to do marketing” advice I see online can be broken down into 2 areas:

  1. Saying “L&D needs to do marketing” is a captain obvious statement. We all know this. How about providing some direction?
  2. It’s not specific enough. The world of marketing is huge. So, for the modern L&D pro, what are the most useful areas for you?

Some areas of marketing include:

  • Outbound marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Brand marketing
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Stealth marketing (Ok, I might have made that one up)

You get the picture, right?

Not everything under the umbrella of marketing is right for you.

I want to be specific and break down one type of marketing that I believe works for our industry.

Content Marketing.

Content Marketing Explained

Our friends at Hubspot (an all-knowing and cool marketing company) summarise content marketing as:

“Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, distributing, sharing, and publishing content via channels such as social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, apps, press releases, print publications, and more.

The goal is to reach your target audience and increase brand awareness, sales, engagement, and loyalty.”


Does any of this sound familiar?

Now, some of you might be thinking “But. I’m a learning designer. I don’t need to know how to raise awareness of my work”. What are you…crazy? You do!

You might not realise it, but we’re marketing all the time.

  • We market our skills to potential employers.
  • We market our careers when building a case for promotion.
  • We market our compatibility when convincing our crush to go on a date.

Each of these is a piece of marketing.

L&D is no longer about design alone. You need to know how to position a product.

No matter if that product is you or what you’ve created.

Now, content marketing is best placed for L&D because it focuses on maximising awareness of your current assets to deliver value to users.

The important word here is value.

You can use all the marketing tactics you want. But if your experience or product sucks. It will still suck, no matter how many keywords or fancy visuals you used to promote it.

In summary, content marketing does what it says on the tin.

Market your content. Simple.

Content Marketing: How to use it in L&D

Ok, let’s get into the good stuff!

At its core, content marketing focuses on providing people with information that educates, inspires, informs and empowers.

Not much to ask for, right?

We can use this in both digital and physical experiences. Like content from your local learning platform or hyping up your next live workshop.

Content marketing can be both educational and entertaining. The best content marketing is a mix of both.

Types Of Content Marketing

We have a lot at our disposal with CM.

This commonly includes:

  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • Toolkits
  • Infographics (are these still a thing?)
  • Video
  • Audio

Plenty for you to sink your teeth into.

Don’t be limited by picking one or two. Try them all out and find what works for your context.

Content Marketing Benefits

So many, my friends.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • Build L&D brand awareness
  • Surface value-add content that would otherwise be lost
  • Build trust within your company
  • Convert more people to accessing useful stuff
  • Maximise ROI on your learning content and experiences

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m sure you’ll discover more in your own journey.

Getting started with content marketing

Right, you’ve had your crash course in content marketing.

Now it’s time to put what you’ve learnt into practice. Lucky for me (and you), I’ve compiled a bunch of resources on bringing CM into the L&D world already.

Check out my in-depth breakdown of 3 Steps To Better Content Marketing For Learning Teams. Complete with examples and templates for you to steal.

Plus, you can check out my step-by-step video tutorial on content marketing best practices for L&D pros below.

Happy learning, friends.

Build your content marketing skills

Some of my favourite places to keep learning include:

  1. Content Marketing Institute
  2. Hubspot
  3. Copyblogger


  • Get specific on how marketing can help you.
  • Test and learn. Find what works for you.
  • Keep learning.
Deep Thoughts Tools

How To Position Your L&D Product for Success: 3 Proven Strategies You Need to Know

Like you, I recognise that a lot of the world is run on how well you can sell a product to end users. 

This is no different in the L&D world.

Your work doesn’t end with designing a solution. You have to convince people to use it. So, we must learn how to position our fabulous learning products and experiences to succeed.

What’s the number #1 thing you need to do when launching your L&D product?

You need to sell the outcome, not the product.

Not doing this can quickly condemn your product to the graveyard.

I’ve seen several L&D products fail not because they sucked, but because users weren’t aware of the outcome and how it will transform them for the better.

It’s useful to find your best position with your end users. It’s helpful to consider:

  • Why is this thing useful for them?
  • How will it improve their life?

These are the questions that we have to answer as L&D pros.

April Dunford, seasoned product positioning consultant and author of “Obviously Awesome“, perfectly frames what we need to do, sharing:

“It is the concept which defines how your product is best in the world at providing some sort of value to a special set or segment of customers who care about that specific value you provide them with.” 

Here’s how I learnt from positioning mistakes earlier in my career 👇 

1/Sell less, Solve Problems

No one cares about the product you’ve built. 

They care about how it will solve their problem and improve their life. It’s wise to get clear on the answers to these early in your design phase.

They’ll pay dividends when you reach the time to market.

I’ve fallen into this black hole earlier in my career. Build stuff and expect people to organically be excited about it because it helps them, right?

❌ Wrong.

I hit brick walls because I was trying to sell the L&D solution, not the problems it solved. Consider this next time you’re getting buy-in from stakeholders and end users.

What problem are you solving?

2/ Less Robot, More Human

In the visual example, we get real on how feedback is hard.

We must relate to our audience.

Talking like a robot and saying “Improve your feedback” is boringly flat. It doesn’t spark as an aspirational statement, right?

I find it helpful to meet people as a fellow learner because we all are. Calling out that the activity of feedback is hard and you find that too, helps set a co-partnering context.

3/ Talk Skills, Not Features

Share the benefits your audience will get by engaging with your product. 

Don’t share a feature list of what it contains. Yes, that means those huge bullet lists that feature on too many course pages.

Tell the story of how it will transform them.

The visual above works because we make a promise to build the desired outcome. We’re positioning our product to the audience which will get the most value from it. Just like April Dunford advises.

  1. We’re sharing 3 tips on FB to use immediately.
  2. You’ll learn how to share feedback like a pro (tactical promise)
  3. You’ll understand how to improve and feel better about the process (outcome).

And, all in one sentence. 

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Don’t Panic! Slow Growth Is The Key To Long Term Success

“Build a 6-figure business in 60 days with my obvious framework that I copy and pasted from the other 100 people posting the same thing for too much money here!” – is what I’m greeted with on doom-scrolling trips on LinkedIn in particular over the last year.

I’m not here to moan about the ethics of such posts (I hope that’s obvious), but rather about the meaning behind the words. 

These posts are part of a wider movement trying to suggest we can all create huge wealth and knowledge in x days by doing x obvious things which those who spent 40 years building a successful career didn’t know. 

Hmm, really?

I don’t like the vibe of that. It’s too black and white thinking in a world that isn’t (what world is?). Outliers exist in life but come on, let’s leave the matrix for a few minutes.

I’ve talked about not everyone needing or wanting to ditch the path of traditional “9-5” careers before.

And I think this connects with the whole movement of messages like I shared above and other narratives like “escape the rat race” and “do what you love and you’ll never work a day”.

It’s clickbaity.

When I see those clickbaity posts and headlines

A lot of content promotes urgency, speed and so much hyperbole about an impending apocalypse if you don’t achieve something in the next x days that you’re left on a heap of mental failure.

(Phew! I’m getting nervous just reading that back).

In the real world, everything takes time. That’s the kicker. The one thing we can never replenish is the exact thing we need to invest more in. 

Whether it’s money, careers or our families – they need time.

Yes, I know we want everything right now, but it’s a fantasy we try to tell ourselves while doing the hard work. The good thing is a lot of success is found in the slow game.

Slow growth is highly underrated

When I first heard the term Slow Growth, I thought it was crazy. 

I learnt about this from the aptly named Slow Growth Academy which focuses on the power of slow growth (obvs!). I instantly fell in love with the concept, especially with its connection to careers, skill-building and amassing experience.

In a world of instant gratification, people want results in 5 minutes, not 5 years. That’s not how life works, sadly.

Things take time to build.

You plant seeds, nurture them and harvest the rewards in the future.

Deciding whether or not to invest in something for 5 years matters not because those 5 years are going to come and go whether you do or you don’t.

We all look for hacks or secrets when in reality there isn’t one. Do the work, embrace slow growth and you’ll be better in the next 5yrs than you’re now.

That’s the non-obvious ‘secret’.

I share this as I believe it’s of value not just to my fellow L&D and Marketing friends, but to anyone. We’ve had this strange movement of productivity gurus peddling the “hustle” culture of quick results with low-quality outputs.

If you research some of the most successful businesses and people in traditional careers, you’ll find their growth was slow.

Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, has spent her entire career at the company, starting as an engineer and working her way up to CEO over 43 years.

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, has worked at the company for over 25 years, starting as a member of the technical staff and working his way up to CEO.

Ginni Rometty, the former CEO of IBM, worked at the company for over 30 years, starting as a systems engineer and eventually becoming CEO.

These people are products of slow growth.

They consistently show up, do the work and acquire new experiences. They don’t preach any secret hacks to achieve this.

Patience, I find, is the most underrated thing with growth. We’re playing an infinite game, not a finite one.

I look at slow growth like a board game. There are times when you’re on a roll and accelerate, and others when you’ve hit a blocker and get pushed back 3 places (I’m looking at you Monopoly).

We’ll all get there eventually. We just have to play our game.

Slow growth in action

Let’s be clear, I’m not against the “move fast and break things” movement at the micro level. As long as we learn from those experiences.

But applying that to the macro level with an overarching strategy is dangerous.

An example of slow growth in action is Apple.

They’re mainstream now, yet we’re once the outliers of their industry. It’s hard to imagine, but Apple was not the industry’s de-faction leader; only a hardcore set of consumers purchased their products.

Apple blew up once the iPhone landed.

However, a lot of people only think about them from that time in 2007. In reality, they’ve been around since the 70s – scaling, falling and scaling again.

They grew slowly and now own the market.

Apple’s growth has been a 40-year-plus journey. It’s 30 years if we were to stop at the launch of the first iPhone. Think about it, they’ve been working 3 decades to have their best decade ever!

We just assume it’s always been that way. So, why do we think that we need to get there any quicker?

The concept of slow growth does not apply to just the working world. It applies to all areas. It strikes a chord with me as an L&D nerd. Learning to be a better human is the ultimate example of slow growth.

Continual development in an ever-changing world never ends. No one just gets the answers one day or figures it all out. It comes in time and with experience.

So, don’t panic if you don’t know everything, don’t have the skills or your business is not in the exact place you want it to be right now.

The power of career compounding 

People want everything now. But, the overnight success story is BS.

The smart ones focus on decades not days. We often look at the end product, not the long journey that paved the way for the current success.

Compounding small changes over time leads to HUGE results.

This is true for many aspects of life. Most certainly for our skills and careers. I tell people to invest in their career currency as much as they can in the early phase of their careers.

Your career currency is made up of your knowledge and credibility in a subject. And guess what that needs? Yes, you know it – time.

This is a slow game too. None of us can cheat time.

I’m pretty sure James Clear would like slow growth

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Forget money, be of service

“How much money are you making?”

That is the question I’m getting asked more often since I’ve been growing my platform and building lots of content on a semi-regular basis.