Last week I dropped in on mLearnCon (a mobile learning conference). It was held in Austin, I had friends attending and speaking, and I love keeping my edu chops up to date. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. The discussions that were happening sounded exactly like the things we were talking about 7 years ago.
I left education (I was a course developer) because I wanted to use social media tools to interact with everyone who touched the products for which I was writing training: internal people, customers, analysts, even competitors. I wanted to be connected to the larger community of practice, and as a training developer I was just not allowed to do that. Sound familiar to anyone? 😉
I came to a product marketing team via social media, then I became a product marketer. I learned about funnels, SQLs and MQLs (and nurturing and hand-off..). I also learned that product marketers in most organizations are responsible for making sure that the sales teams are trained and ready for product launches. But to my surprise, marketing didn’t really have a handle on how to use social media tools to talk with people.
This sums up the problem that I see:
Educators are trained to go through instructional development constructs (think ADDIE), even if it is too slow to keep up with the business.
Marketers are trained to be mass communicators, even if connecting 1:1 makes more sense for the business’ market
And guess what y’all? Customers/learners do not need us for the things we used to provide! Current social tools make it much easier for them to educate themselves about products. They don’t need us to stick to the slow, methodical, educational theorems we were taught in grad school. They don’t want us to broadcast to them the same way we’ve been doing it for decades, with a finely crafted and vetted message. Customers want:
- to learn all they can about a product on their own.
- to talk to someone they feel comfortable with to validate what they learned.
- to use the same social tools we use educate themselves, and others, about your product.
The expensive, hard to use tools our orgs were built on have collapsed and given way to simple tools that are available to the masses. This is causing the activities of disparate communication disciplines within companies to merge. I believe one result of this is what marketing is calling “content marketing”, but they are doing it without the input of education. Not smart, IMO.
If we don’t want to be irrelevant, we need to accept the fact that the simplification of the tools is causing our disciplines to merge. Stop fighting it, start working together!
I want to talk more about this social/training/marketing thing that I’ve been immersed in for the last seven years. I delivered this presentation last year at the FSU Instructional System reunion/conference. It shows how someone with an educational background can be a product marketer:
And the team at the Learning Circles podcast let me join them on a podcast to dive deeper into this idea of blending marketing and education last week:
What do you think? Do you see these disciplines merging? What can we do to make sure we get the best of both practices?