Your LMS onboarding deserves a go-to-market plan

How Kry's Maria Laxell increased adoption by thinking like a marketer.

Rita Azevedo
Strategic Learning Partner Manager

You’ve found the perfect LMS (learning management system) vendor. You align on vision, roadmap, and talent. You’ve cleared the budget and secured the partnership. After all that work, are you really going to launch your LMS with one small simple Slack message?

Of course not. You’re going to work strategically. You’re going to create a go-to-market plan that excites and intrigues your audience. And, here’s a friendly tip – never expect anyone to be excited by the term 'LMS'.

Why do I believe this? I’ve watched these tactics used to runaway success. Maria Laxell, Head of L&D at Kry, combines her deep curiosity in marketing with a drive to inspire a love of learning. Her strategy for onboarding Kry to Sana was a masterclass in intriguing and exciting a workforce ahead of an LMS rollout.

Here’s what she did.

Plan for success - get strategic

Rita: Let’s start with the basics. Why does an L&D team need a strategy for onboarding employees to their LMS? And why do you refuse to use the term 'LMS'?

Maria: Who hears ‘Hey! We have a new LMS!’ and gets excited? No-one! To successfully launch Sana at Kry, I needed a strategy that would communicate why learning matters, and how much easier learning was going to be with a new tool.

L&D has got to be humble to the fact that people are busy. One Slack message announcing a new LMS might just get lost. It’s our job to communicate why and how learning matters. We can’t just expect everyone to be excited because we are. Being strategic helps us to consider what people need to hear, where, and how.

It reminds us that people need to know why learning should be important to them. It’s our job to excite them. Plus, even within HR, lots of people don’t know what LMS or LXP stands for. So that’s why I never say 'LMS'!

Think like a product marketer

Rita: Why do communications and marketing inspire you?

Maria: Product Marketers know their audience and how to make them curious. I thought, ‘Let’s think about our new LMS as though it’s the newest product. How would I launch it? How would I intrigue and entice my audience?’.

That’s where a go-to-market (GTM) strategy comes in. A GTM strategy is the action-plan Product Marketers create to launch their products successfully. The who, what, why, when, and how.

I applied this framework to onboarding Kry to Sana. Take ‘the how’. Rather than saying 'Hey everyone, here’s a fun way to complete assignments!', we teased employees with a snappy 15 second video of Sana. It allowed learners a little glimpse of how the tech would feel, how it will work. Like good marketing, it helped them to understand how different their life will be once they’re using the tool. A sneak-peek into their new home of learning.

The result? Our people were like, 'Oh, what is that?’ They were so intrigued! We knew we were on the right track.

Rita: The video was such a great idea. Did all of your learners love it?

Maria: Naturally, different groups of people needed other types of information. We realized that all our potential learners fell into three groups: Sana ambassadors and general learning fans, people managers, and remaining employees.

We created different types of information for each group. This allowed, for example, people managers to know that we’d thought through the implications of a new LMS, and how it would impact their team members, and their daily work.

By anticipating people’s questions and worries in advance, we were able to increase trust. Higher trust, in turn, makes people more willing to engage with the changes you’re asking them to make.

So intrigue is important, yes. But that’s just the first step. What’s more important is demonstrating that L&D is supporting the core needs of the business and every learner’s development.

Real words for real learners

Rita: What other marketing assets did you create? I hear you made some amazing posters!

Maria: Posters are a great way to add interest to an internal marketing strategy. I needed to build on the curiosity we’d created with the 15 second video. I asked our art department to create posters that we could share throughout the company.

Our learning ambassadors gave us great phrases like 'Make learning a habit – you are unique and so are your experiences'. We used these along with inspirational growth mindset phrases. Together, they helped our employees to understand that their new home for learning has been created for them.

Say you work in Engineering. If you see a poster with words from your friend in Engineering, it’s easier to understand that HR is trying to help you learn. It’s for you!

Find your power learners, let them spread the word

Rita: You’ve just mentioned the importance of learning ambassadors. How did you find your first group?

Maria: Simple: I found my most engaged learners! It’s quite easy to spot the people who approach you for more information about learning, and people who join lots of sessions.

To start with, I reached out to about eight people across the business. I asked if they’d like to be involved in our new home for learning, simple as that. I invited them to early access sessions, to ask them their views on learning, and a private Slack channel. That way, we could demo features with our most engaged people.

After that, the interest snowballed to people I had never thought of. Our ambassadors would ping me and say, for example, ‘My friend loves hosting, can she join the Slack channel?’. So my first eight ambassadors found the rest!

True partners collaborate

Sana helped you to launch the internal marketing campaign. How would the launch have looked if we hadn’t got involved?

Maria: ​​If Sana hadn’t been so involved, the campaign would not have worked. Sana shared some marketing videos. I edited these, creating snappy, short videos for our teaser and launch day. Branded assets helped me to communicate the product and its benefits to our learners.

Second — and more importantly – Sana took feedback from our learning ambassadors, and improved the product. For example, some of our ambassadors told me that it wasn’t possible to narrate their courses, and that it was frustrating them. I brought that feedback straight to Sana. Not too long after, I was able to go back to the group and say, 'Hey, do you remember that narration feature you were asking about? It’s live now!'

Through the Narration feature, and with other suggestions, my learners experienced that they really are part of the journey with Sana. They have seen that their feedback informs the development of a brilliant product. That is powerful.

When you're used to traditional tools, this two-way communication is unusual. Seeing that Sana took in their feedback and built a whole new feature showed people that this learning platform is truly theirs. And that was one of my goals.

Higher adoption rates await

Maria’s inspiring journey tells an important lesson: embrace and learn from other disciplines.

One of L&D’s core jobs is to inspire a love of learning. That can be hard — we’re working against people’s negative emotions, attitudes, and past memories of education. What discipline is better at navigating human emotions and changing minds than Marketing?

So before you launch your LMS internally, take a step back and craft your internal go-to-market plan. You’ll intrigue your audience, build trust, and increase your chances of success.

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