January 16, 2020

Workforce Development Digital Marketing Strategies

Though unemployment is at the lowest levels it has been in years, workforce development is a key focus area in nearly every state in 2020. The challenge of providing better careers and giving workers skills for the future has brought together government groups, local colleges and training centers, and employers. 

As the concept of workforce development has grown, so has the need to advertise it in the same way that colleges advertise their programs. Workforce development can only work if the right, qualified prospects are finding out about it in each state and taking the right actions to get involved, apply, and follow through – that is where digital tactics come in. If you’re looking to expand your workforce development program’s impact, whether as a participating college or an organization running the program, there are some key digital tactics worth incorporating in your marketing strategy.

What is workforce development?

In general, workforce development refers to a program spanning a region that works to find specifically qualified people and help put them into training and jobs that advance their careers. These days, most of these programs exist on the state level. Statwax’s home state of Indiana does workforce development through its Next Level Jobs initiative, for which Statwax executes all digital marketing.

Government groups, such as education commissions, will typically partner with higher education institutions in the area to run these programs. Specific employers may join as well. Together, they work to find, train, and hire people, thereby increasing employment rates, income levels, and skillsets in the area. Areas of focus tend to be on high-growth, high-potential jobs in sectors where workers, or workers with the right skills, are hard to find.

Get segmented with target audiences

The key to marketing workforce development through digital channels is to approach it as a college would. You have to segment down your strategies and audiences, and then segment them more. A university wouldn’t advertise every single program the exact same way and a workforce development initiative can’t either. While the goal may simply be to get prospects to receive more training and better jobs, those prospects come from all walks of life. Focus entire campaigns on each key audience individually, and you’ll avoid mixing messages and confusing prospects. For workforce development, there are a few major audiences always worth tapping into:

Adult learners

Most workforce development programs will require prospects to attend at least some college as part of the process, in order to get training. Any marketing needs to address obstacles that come with that, and nowhere are the obstacles greater than with adult learners. Older prospects are often cautious of going back to college, not knowing whether the technology or student base has passed them by. Many aren’t aware of flexible schedules and dismiss any college as being a poor fit for them. Yet adult learners account for as much as 60% of college enrollment right now. Any successful workforce development marketing strategy must speak to the adult population first and foremost, providing answers and comfort about a return to college.

Underemployed and unaware

This is a specific but powerful audience for workforce development. These are the prospects who are happily employed right now, but unaware that bigger opportunities are possible. This is typically a person in something like manufacturing or other industrial jobs, where technology is starting to provide more opportunities but perhaps training hasn’t been as available. These users actively look for new training on their own. But awareness-building tactics can get the idea in front of them, and messaging about advancing their career and earning more money can be a powerful push.

Underserved communities

Oftentimes, entire communities are simply missing out on the awareness that better education and careers are available. Rural areas, lower-income neighborhoods, or places strongly tied to industries like manufacturing or agriculture may not see as much marketing from traditional higher ed. Much like the underemployed audience, building initial awareness here can make all the difference. Using publicly available information such as datasets on income, internet connectivity, and demographics can help you target campaigns to specific zip codes and start building the message.

Leverage LinkedIn advertising

LinkedIn is not typically used heavily when marketing higher education. Most colleges would avoid it looking for new undergrads because most users of LinkedIn are professionals with careers already. But that makes it perfect for workforce development marketing strategies, especially for reaching the underemployed and adult learner audiences. 

The biggest challenge with these demographics is that most of them don’t realize bigger opportunities are out there with just a little extra training. LinkedIn’s ad targeting helps solve that. Run campaigns that target specific industries such as agriculture and manufacturing. Then narrow the audience based on things like level of education, filtering for users who haven’t completed college. This can identify those users who are likely limited in opportunities because of their level of past training or education.

Build awareness through geofencing

Many users who would be perfect for workforce development programs are already taking actions to better their careers. Identifying those actions and reaching the prospects in that moment can help make them aware of the workforce development opportunities. 

Display geofencing is a great way to reach users in a specific place and time. Geofencing platforms let you set display banners to only show to users physically located somewhere. Use this feature to hone in on places like staffing centers, temp agencies, or employment offices. Leverage a more powerful geofencing platform, like Centro Basis, to layer on additional targeting such as income level or age. This will help ensure your awareness-building banners hit just the right users at the moment they are actively looking for career opportunities.

Want to learn more about boosting workforce development efforts through digital tactics? Let’s talk.

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