For marketers, memory has been long relied on to persuade the buying public to purchase their products. We use images and music to make the consumer remember their past and experience a level of nostalgia that is pleasant to anchor that pleasant memory to the product.

As it was just the holiday season, we can look to holiday ads as a perfect example of nostalgia. The Christmas songs, the images of family and baked goods, taking us back to our own childhood holiday experiences. If any one company does this well it is Coca Cola. It is that sense of nostalgia, that emotional response based on previous experience we want to evoke in your learners. Whether you’re trying to get your employees to take mandatory training, or you’re an association marketing your continuing education courses to members and prospective members, you can use nostalgia to help excite your learners about what you’re offering.

It starts with knowing your audience. For those of us in our 30’s and 40’s right now, we recall the late 80’s early 90’s with joy as these were our formative years when music and pop culture helped shape who we are. When Nintendo and Sega were our game systems, and sometimes the games didn’t have save points. When rap was new and neon was everywhere, and cordless phones were just coming out. When playlists were mix tapes, and the only boy band worth knowing was New Kids on the Block. Can you feel how magical those experiences are to me, this 34-year-old female marketing director?

So how do you use that? Use images that draw upon the childlike sense of joy at achievement. Suppose, since I’m a marketer that you run a marketing association, and you’d like me to take courses from you. Remember how I talked about Nintendo? What if you use an image that reminds me of the Mario games, with a tagline that says, “I’m sorry, but your next promotion is in another castle. Warp to the next level with this course on SEO, and power up your career.”? What if you create a YouTube ad that shows me images of successful people in my industry, with “The Right Stuff” playing in the back ground? Now you have me jamming to a tune I know, I associate you with something positive, and I smile at what you’re showing me I could be.

Let’s go a little older. Let’s go with the people in their 50’s. Can you draw upon their positive experiences with learning from childhood? Can you use nostalgia to get their attention? Ask anyone in this age group if they recall School House Rock. If they can recite the Preamble to the Constitution in song, chances are they positively associate this medium with learning. You can create visual ads in a similar animation style. You can show them images of people having fun learning. You can ask them to remember these things. “Remember “The Electric Company?” Remember “School House Rock?” Remember, when learning was groovy? Learn something groovy today, with our organization.” Draw upon their positive experiences.

But what if I run the training department and I want to motivate my staff to take mandatory training? This is where you would use elements of gamification, leaderboards, badges, achievements “unlocked”. That sense of competition, we all had that experience as children. Use rewards based on points earned. Every child remembers stickers for a job well done, the charts we used to track our good behavior vs bad behavior. Whether you’re 25 or 55, you respond to that, you remember the sense of accomplishment and pride.

Motivate your learners and prospective learners to take action with nostalgia. Use the positive experiences they remember to connect them with your content. Use the feeling of college graduation, the first house, the great job, the achievements, and their inner child, to market your learning. Use images and songs that connect to those feelings, and you’ll have a successful marketing campaign, with learners who feel a connection to your organization, and are eager to consume your educational content.


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