We work with a lot of advertising agencies on their social media and digital training, and one thing that I have found consistently is that ad agencies struggle with developing the initial training plan. A report on the Wall Street Journal showed that the biggest advertising agencies are planning to spend millions of dollars on digital training this year.
Before you invest this kind of money it is important to build a solid plan. Below are the steps that we follow with our clients to really understand their training needs and develop a quality training plan.
1. Know What You Want to Achieve
What do you actually want to achieve as a result of the training. Is it an improvement in general fluency? Is it strategic thinking? Is it hands on execution? Is it the ability to sell social media? Is it creative social media? The list could go on and on.
The key to success here is to really understand what it is that you want to achieve from the training. Many times I talk to companies who know that they need training but they don’t really know specifically what their end goal is.
We have created training questionnaires that help companies figure out what it is that they want to achieve from a program.
2. Consider WHO needs to be Trained
If you are a large and diverse organization, it is important to consider who you want to be trained and how customized the training should be. Do all departments need to be trained?
The next question is how customized should the training be? Do you want slightly different training for sales vs. creative vs. strategy? This is really a question of depth – the more in-deoth the training is the more specific it should be. Consider if you need different training programs for different functions.
3. Survey Your Organization to Understand the Current Level of Knowledge
When we work with clients we start with a short survey that helps us understand the digital fluency level of the organization and how conceptually bought in they are to digital.
This helps us understand how to best create the training program and organize the training. In some agencies we’ve done basic and advanced training where we had broad ranges.
Many companies say that their staff is “basic” in understanding digital, but really they are more advanced.
4. Determine your TIME and MONEY budgets
How long do you want the training to last? Should it be a one-shot deal or are you looking for going curriculum. This should be based on your goals and objectives. Spend some time upfront thinking about the time commitment that your staff can really make to attend the training. Again, the time commitment should be based on your goals, but keep in mind that the best programs last over a long time period to keep things fresh vs. a one-shot training.
Think about your budget financially. It is good to have an idea of what you can spend and be realistic about costs. Keep in mind that trainers spend a LOT of time before the live class preparing materials and customizing content (or at least the good ones do). Most trainers should be able to create a plan within your budget, so it can be helpful to share this upfront.
5. Look for training partners
Depending on your training goals and objectives you may need multiple training partners to help you achieve your goals. Consider who might be the best training partners to deliver the training.
Look for trainers that specialize in your area and have trained similar organizations. Some companies make the mistake of hiring consultants to run training – consulting and training are very different. Look for a trainer that is seasoned and knows how to communicate clearly and effectively.
Also, ask your training partners about the level of customization that you can expect in the training. Will you be getting a generic training program or will it be customized for your agency and your client type?
6. Get Your Company EXCITED!
Let your organization know that you are investing in them and their skills by offering the training. Get your organization excited about the training by sharing details upfront. When you promote the training internally think about selling it. Create interesting and thought provoking headlines for the training programs to get people pumped.