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3 Marketing Skills that All Great Learning Designers Use

🤔 Do you struggle to come up with creative ideas for your learning solutions? 

🤩 Are your learners engaged and excited to participate in your solutions? 

Our team has been learning from the award-winning Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein about advertising and creativity on MasterClass. ‘...the pair have won just about every advertising award imaginable’ (Masterclass, 2023). 

A significant part of learning design is how you market it. After all, if your learning is not engaging and memorable, how do you expect your learners to don their superhero capes and embrace change?  

Here are some of our lessons from their advertising world that you can use for your learning solutions. 

1. Create Learning that does not look like Learning

Goodby and Silverstein spill the beans on the secret sauce: crafting ads that sneakily avoid looking like ads—something that interests people and that they want to share with others. Why not do the same for your learning solutions?

How might you create a solution that sets off fireworks of interest and have your learners jumping with excitement to share it with others?  

There are many ways that you can deliver learning that looks different and will attract curiosity from your learners. 

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  • Memes
  • Podcasts
  • Card games 
  • Board games
  • Discussion cubes
  • Team meeting kits
  • Bathroom mirror stickers
  • Tik Tok style short videos
  • Interactive posters with QR codes.  

To help you brainstorm more ideas, take a moment to dive into the depths of your personal interests. Whether it is a catchy online video, snazzy product packaging or your favourite podcast. Let your passions be the rocket fuel for crafting your solutions. 

2. Understand Your Audience 

Speaking to your audience about the topic that you are training on will enable you to discover quirky insights about it. You can use these insights in your solution to connect with your audience. 

For example, your learners may have inside jokes or relatable situations relevant to your solution that you can utilise to gain their buy-in. 

Here are some examples of how Goodby and Silverstein achieved this in their advertising. 

The ‘got milk?’ campaign

(Smith, n.d.).

⚠️ Problem to solve: Milk sales were on the decline and Goodby and Silverstein had to figure out how to get consumers to re-engage with it. 

👤 Understanding the audience:

  1. Focus groups were held to gauge the public’s perception of milk. 
  2. One woman said that she only noticed milk when she was out of it. 
  3. This stuck with them and they discovered that the absence of the product was actually the thing that sold the product. The idea was so unique that it became the strategy of the campaign. 


  1. This led to the tagline ‘got milk?’, which became one of the most famous taglines of all time (MasterClass, 2023). 
  2. 📺 Watch the ad here (ejmusk, 2009). 

‘Nike SB’ campaign

(Coles, 2021). 

⚠️ Problem to solve: ‘Nike had to prove that it not only made high quality skate shoes but that it deeply understood the world of skateboarding’ (MasterClass, 2023). 

👤 Understanding the audience: 

  1. The skateboarding community was seen as rebellious and not highly respected across athletic communities. 


  1. The campaign sought to relate to skateboarders with the idea, ‘What if every athlete were treated the way skateboarders are treated?’ (MasterClass, 2023).
  2. This enabled Nike to connect with skateboarders and gain their trust, ultimately winning them over. 
  3. 📺 Watch the ad here (Shredz Shop, 2019). 

3. Be Observant

Goodby and Silverstein talk about using what you see and hear around you for your ideas. In your case, this does not mean only observing the learning and development world but observing everything you come into contact with and using it for inspiration.

Here are some examples: 

  1. TV shows/movies
  2. Podcasts
  3. Songs
  4. What people around you say and do (e.g. what you hear discussed in a meeting)
  5. Buildings
  6. Magazines
  7. Books
  8. Websites/apps
  9. YouTube videos
  10. Product packaging
  11. Emails
  12. Tangible things (e.g. the design of a computer mouse, lipstick or car)
  13. Nature.

Using insights from the world of advertising helps your learning solutions to stand out from the rest and most importantly engage your learners. If you can engage and connect with your learners, they are much more likely to change their behaviour and help you to meet your training goal. 

What memorable advertising have you been exposed to? What made it memorable? How might you apply that to your next learning solution? 

Want to be inspired by Goodby and Silverstein's best work? Check it out (Goodby Silverstein & Partners, 2023). 

If you liked this blog, you will love our creator hub. There are heaps of resources for instructional designers and learning and development practitioners that you will find valuable, including many resources that help you achieve the strategies in this blog.





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Coles, A. (2021). VIDEO ESSAY: THE STORY BEHIND NIKE’S “WHAT IF” CAMPAIGN [Image]. Retrieved from  

ejmusk. (2009, February 22). Got Milk? Commercial [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from 

Goodby Silverstein & Partners. (2023). WORK. Retrieved from 

MasterClass.(2023). Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein Teach Advertising and Creativity Class Resources [PDF]. Retrieved from 

Shredz Shop. (2019, February 14). Nike Skateboarding (1998) - Tennis - What If We Treated All Athletes Like Skateboarders [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from 

Smith. (n.d.). Dairy Industry’s ‘Got Milk?’ Campaign Returns Because People Are Buying Vegan Milk Instead [Image]. Retrieved from 

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