We always remember those from whom we have learned …

I just read every character, word, line, and graphic of The Marketer’s Guide to the Learning Economy. I enjoyed it because it is always reassuring to hear people that are significantly smarter and more experienced than you are validate your market perceptions and understandings. You see, in a world full of advertising designed to stealthily interrupt us, learning is what we instead seek out.

Marketer Gudie to the Learning EconomyThe guide was produced by The Big Know, a Minneapolis-based learning solutions company, which espouses to “transform consumer curiosity into brand love.” They also have a platform that makes learning pretty damn sexy. Obviously, I’m not the only one running around heralding this learning content makes great marketing content thing. The Big Know has made the idea even cooler using the vernacular “branded education”.

The guide is packed with innovative ideas from experts and actionable data. In the document’s preamble, written by Mark Addicks, former CMO of General Mills, the premise that everyone remembers their favorite teacher is introduced.


“For most of us, we met our favorite teachers in school. But with the rise of YouTube and massively open online courses (MOOCs), great teachers (and lousy ones) are being sought out by hundreds of millions of consumers who spend good time and money to keep learning as adults—to the tune of $91B annually..”

Mark Addicks – Former CMO, General Mills

Learning behemoth Skillsoft is also driving innovation that may well intersect with branded educational content in the near future. Percipio is designed to enable learners to find content they want, and create their own unique learning paths. Percipio already has content curated into 450 unique learning channels with more on the runway. Eventually, solutions like Percipio will provide new ways for branded educational content to become an even more powerful tool for marketers, directing additional ears and eyeballs to what their audiences want to learn.

Indeed, things in the marketing world are changing. The economic cost of lost ad revenues to ad blocking increased 90% from 2015-2016, to $41 billion worth of ‘ads that now reach thin air’. And the trend continues, as it appears that more people will have ad blocking technology on their mobile devices next year than those who don’t.

Is creating great learning content that flies your brand flag the answer?

My Favorite Teacher

I will always remember my favorite teacher. His name is Al Martin. He played football in college, which I respected, and he engaged me.

I have ADD, so the irony of my becoming a learning expert is not lost on, well, me. When I was in school most people didn’t know what ADD was, but they knew how to discipline it out of you. It took special skills to “pull” me to learn.

Al Martin taught Biology and Anatomy. He intimidated all my peers in Catholic high school. His classes were tough. He was tough. On the second day of Biology, I was engaged in my own ‘controlled experiment’. I had captured a fly with a sweeping hand motion that took months to perfect (I was a master); stunned it by throwing it on my desk top; carefully extracted a single strand of Pam Sperry’s long brown hair (Pam sat in front of me); tied a slip knot in it; and delicately cinched the knot tight around the fly’s thorax being sure not to impede the motion of the wings.

When the fly recovered from the shock of his meeting with my desk he took flight. Mesmerized, I watched the fly … well, fly. He flew in a circle with a radius exactly the length of Pam’s hair minus the length required for the knot, plus the length of the knot that was recovered when it was cinched around the fly. Hey, I’m applying math theory. Right? Look at me learn!

Anyway, I was so wrapped up in watching the fly I had failed to notice Mr. Martin’s deliberate walk to the side of my desk. He was intimidating at 6-4 and almost an eighth of ton. As I sheepishly looked up, the volume and tone of his words crashed down upon me. To this day I remember them:

“Nycz. PUT THE FLY DOWN. PAY ATTENTION. See me after class.”

I immediately released my fly. Yet, even with the gravity of the ‘see me after class directive setting in, I couldn’t help but watch the insect tail to the left for 10-12 feet before being dragged down near the radiator by the weight of his hair tether. Mr. Martin must have missed that, because when I glanced back up the steely stare of a large, very unhappy, former D-1 collegiate tight-end was still locked directly on me. As he walked back to the front of the classroom, Pam Sperry turned and gave me a combination smile and eye roll that clearly communicated I was an idiot, but that she still liked me.

The rather one-sided conversation that Al Martin had with me after class was apparently both inspiring and motivational. He encouraged me and then set the goal posts. He told me he knew I was smart. But, he also made it crystal clear that if I thought I was going to waste my gifts in his class, it would be the longest year of my life. At least I was astute enough to know he wasn’t kidding. I pulled a 4.0 in Biology, then repeated the feat the following year in Anatomy. I even went on to present an experiment at the local community college, in which I induced hypo and hyperthyroidism in lab rats, with thyroglobulin and anti-thyroglobulin, to drive metabolic changes.

Still, when I submit challenge questions for authentication into server-side software systems, I will try to select the question, “Who is your favorite teacher?” The answer: Al Martin.

Morale of the Story

Learning content is ‘sticky content’ that audiences want to have. That is why the $91 billion global learning economy is garnering more and more spend from marketers. If you want a fleeting impression; buy an ad. If you want your brand to be remembered, sought out, and advocated; teach somebody something. People remember who they learn from.

“Becoming a teacher is a core piece of a great content marketing strategy.”

ROBERT ROSE – Chief Strategy Advisor, Content Marketing Institute

If you are a marketer, a CEO, a sales leader, or a business owner that wants to deploy a strategy that might actually result in the creation of ardent brand evangelists – download the guide: The Marketer’s Guide to the Learning Economy.

About the guy who caught the fly: John Nycz is the founder of TTV Solutions, a marketing consultancy. He has been engaged in sales, marketing, learning strategy, and their requisite solution deployment activities. Best described as a “creative technologist”, John’s core competencies are selling stuff, and helping businesses implement and actualize the systems and assets required to be effective content marketers. Staying aligned with his ADD label, he also has deep experience with copywriting, instructional design, video production, print production, graphic design, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), MA (Marketing Automation), CMS (Content Management Systems), LMS (Learning Management Systems) software solutions, kitchen remodeling, and diesel truck engine top-end rebuilds.