What is the silo mentality?
The silo mentality in the workplace is a phenomenon where departments or groups within one organization do not cooperate, withhold information, and even develop animosity due to a sense of competitiveness and independence from one department to another. This attitude causes inefficiencies and missed opportunities for collaboration, resulting in scattered and ineffective actions that don’t come together as one united and focused effort.
Consider: Are you guilty of...
Are you guilty of creating silos when it comes to your eLearning programs? Is your education team the only one responsible for the planning and marketing of your webinars, webcasts, and online courses? Are individuals from other functions completely unaware and uninvolved? Worse, do you and your team think of eLearning as a side project?
We’re a small association. We don’t even have departments!
Even smaller associations without separate “departments” per se can be just as guilty of creating silos by separating the eLearning conversation from the association’s other initiatives, such as its in-person events or website. Creating one cohesive front when it comes to your eLearning is critical to demonstrating value and establishing consistency in your communication to your learners. After all, learners will have no reason to value your eLearning programs if it appears that your association does not either.
Education, events, professional development, marketing, sales, IT, and of course executive level functions should all be involved in (or at least informed of) the decision making, planning, and execution of your eLearning programs.
Guilty as charged? How to minimize the silo mentality in elearning:
Each person in your association, regardless of their formal function or title, is an ambassador and representative of your eLearning programs. Make sure you have informed brand ambassadors! They don’t necessarily have to understand the technology inside out, but they should be able to answer basic questions. Sit down with your colleagues to demonstrate the learning system, explain the content, and address questions they may have. Test them on these six questions members will ask about your eLearning programs, as previously covered on the ScholarLab Research Desk.
2. Thoroughly incorporate eLearning into your in-person events.
- Conference packages (e.g. offer a "complete experience" conference package - attendees can purchase the in-person and online experience together at a discounted price)
- Incentives (e.g. early bird registrants for the in-person event receive 20% off on the online event)
- Prizes (e.g. host an interactive activity at the in-person event and reward participants with access passes to the online event)
Just because your in-person event is over, it doesn't mean that your marketing is done—keep your members engaged and excited. Constantly remind your members about your eLearning through email blasts, newsletters, in-person announcements, website advertising, and social media. Tell them why your programs are important and where they can be accessed.
3. Work closely with your IT and marketing team to optimize your website’s marketing power.
In a previous post we discussed the importance of setting up your association’s website to maximize its marketing power. Your association has full control of the website’s content and doesn't have to pay advertising fees to an external vendor. Best of all, you have potential learners at a computer, receptive to information about your programs. If you haven’t already, check out our piece on how to revamp your website to convert wandering website visitors into valuable online learners.
4. Coordinate with other timelines within your association and industry.
If your association has an annual membership renewal season, use this as an opportunity to promote your eLearning programs. For example, members who renew their membership by a certain date may receive a free access pass to an online course.
If there is a deadline coming up for members to submit their continuing education credits for the year, they will definitely be looking for quick and convenient education opportunities in the few weeks leading up to the deadline. Online courses are the perfect solution for these members, so make sure to increase your marketing efforts around this time.
Remember to keep conflicting industry-wide deadlines or events in mind. Members can only handle so many marketing blasts at once, and they won’t react positively to yours if they have other priorities. For example, avoid sending emails when there is an industry-wide annual conference approaching (unless of course, you are co-marketing with the conference).
5. Consolidate your library.
Minimize the amount of work your members have to do to access your complete eLearning library. If your content is spread out over various platforms and systems, your members have to figure out where to find the specific information they are looking for. They will also have to memorize and keep track of several usernames and passwords. This inconvenience discourages them from going online more often, and ultimately makes it difficult for you to build a powerful, memorable presence in one go-to place.