Summary: When it looks like the Corporate University is ready to go, it’s time to think about marketing and promotion. The University must be promoted like any other part of a business, so let’s look at some of the aspects of making this happen.

One of the first considerations to make in advertising and promotion for the University is the “nuts and bolts” of marketing: logos, branding, and color palettes. This is another time when you’ll need the assistance of the internal marketing department or the external consultant. Think about branding in general. Your organization probably has a “look and feel” that is both internal and external. For example, when you walk into a popular chain restaurant you usually know where you are just because of that “look and feel”. Is this something you want the University to reflect? Many Corporate Universities, just like traditional universities, create a logo that goes on all materials, both online and in print. This furthers the look and feel and ensures that when someone in the organization uses an online reference, a quick reference card, or a course manual, they know they are accessing the University’s knowledge base. Logos can also be used on business casual clothing for instructors. Along with branding comes a color palette, a definition of the colors and color combinations that can be used in all University materials, both online and print. The marketing department can help you come up with all of these great tools.

After the “nuts and bolts”, think about the overall marketing plan for the University. Is the budget sufficient to produce constant marketing and promotion, or does it need to be confined to the ramp-up and general start of University programs? What methods can you use for promotion? Some state-of-the-art organizations use closed-circuit flat screen TV’s to keep associates in the loop, while some organizations are still effective with paper memos and emails. What will work for your organization’s population? Are there alternative information sources you can use, such as internal communications or “intranet” websites that can create a page just for the University? When it comes to the overall marketing of locations, consider “grand openings” where key people can give tours, answer questions, and “talk up” the great programming that is planned by the University. Are there any regular or special events coming up within the organization that may give the opportunity for promotion? You should sketch out your marketing plan, along with your marketing department or consultant, well in advance of any grand openings or new promotions for the University.

Within your marketing plan, think about creative ways to use the organization’s existing advertising and promotion to your advantage. Does the organization have an overall advertising “feeling” that is used with external customers? If so, there are great ways that the Corporate University can capitalize on that theme. Think about all of the great advertising campaigns you see every day on the Internet and television – and consider how a Corporate University internal to that organization could use those campaigns. Also, your promotion certainly doesn’t have to be limited. Think about the possibility of “road shows” that take the new University and its benefits out to the organization’s population. Use the University staff to give talks to managers and supervisor groups, sales meetings, and even smaller staff meetings to let people know what’s coming. This type of personal promotion also ensures that the University doesn’t get the reputation of being out of touch. After your rollout, start collecting testimonials from satisfied participants to use in future promotions.

The final consideration is your actual “go live”. Can you phase this activity, i.e. go live with major areas and market them while phasing in other program areas as you go along? Also, you must “define” your go live: will it be through online courses, classroom courses, new quick reference guides, or a combination of all three items? In addition, how are you going to “cover” your go live? Is there an internal communication or Intranet website that can create news about the University’s first day or days in operation? Think about all of the media you may use to promote the University and be sure to use it to make the go live a real organizational news event. Be sure to have the development and delivery groups survey every participant, whether they take courses online, in a classroom, or access new learning aids via the Learning Management System. This can be a great way of measuring success in the short and long runs.

Now that the University is “live”, it’s time to think about how to maintain it.

Copyright  Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.