Use different learning styles in marketing

Contributors

@paul-boag


Business Benefits

Improve the impact of your marketing content.


Create content in different formats to suit different learning styles.

Fleming and Mills offered a simple model, known as VARK, to describe different sensory preferences among learners:

  • Visual. “Preference for graphical and symbolic ways of representing information.”
  • Aural. “Preference for ‘heard’ information.”
  • Read/write. “Preferences for information printed as words.”
  • Kinesthetic. “Preference related to the use of experience and practice (simulated or real).”

Choose a format for a piece of content based on the message you’re trying to get across or the lesson you want to teach.

Learning styles should try to match the unit of content to the best way to create meaning for most students, or, in a marketer’s case, the most prospects. For example, online game marketing requires video to give consumers a sense of the gameplay and graphics. Teaching a language, on the other hand, needs an audio component.

Reduce the cognitive load on potential customers and make your content more appealing by using their preferred learning styles.

If your target audience doesn’t like the way you present information, they won’t learn from it. Not because they can’t but because they’d rather not.

Ask these questions before designing a piece of content:

  • What type of information does your buyer persona consume on a day-to-day basis? If they’re C-Suite members looking at one-page summaries all day, you’d better accommodate that preference. If they’re in-the-weeds practitioners who stare at spreadsheets, they may engage with detailed comparisons displayed in tables.
  • Which questions does your style of information delivery answer? Which are left unanswered? Catering to your audience may mean that, initially, you can deliver only a fraction of the total information you’d like to deliver. Catalog the information you’ll need to convey at a later stage.
  • If you sell a complicated product, what is the shortest path to engagement? The most persuasive element say, a spec sheet that compares your product to competitors, may not be the best starting point, even if it’s critical information and the ideal way to format it. Build interest and motivation with a preferred format first.

Speak to multiple stakeholders simultaneously by producing critical information in multiple formats.

Most companies will have multiple decision-makers, each with their own preferred learning style:

  • The practitioner may read the guide.
  • The manager may read the executive summary.
  • The executive may view a single graph or comparison chart.

Reach all of them in a way that they’re comfortable with by providing a guide, executive summary, and charts and graphs.

Where the barrier is low, recycle content in multiple formats.

For example, it is relatively easy to record an audio version of a blog post or take the audio from a video and repost it as a podcast. Equally, you can take longer content and break it down into shorter chunks. A long report can become a series of blog posts, and a blog post can become a series of social media posts.

Audit your existing content to see which learning styles you’re accommodating and for which content.

For each piece of content on your site, ask:

  • How was the content type selected?
  • Which learning style does it serve?
  • Does that style align with the preferred style of your buyer persona?
  • Does it help that buyer persona make a case to other stakeholders?