What can Learning & Development professionals learn from Coke’s “Share a Coke with ___” Campaign?

On Friday I needed some fresh air, so I got up from my desk and took a walk. I ended up at a drug store. Ok, fine, I confess that in addition to some fresh air, I also needed some candy.

As I stood waiting in line to pay, I walked by the refrigerated beverages and this one caught my eye.

Coke

I wasn’t even thirsty, but it resonated with me so I bought it. I was a mascot in college (go Colonials!!) and this little message on this bottle of soda instantly brought me back to the glory days of crowd surfing and getting thousands of people to do the wave during games televised on ESPN.

I wonder what lessons this has for L&D professionals. How can we get people who aren’t even thirsty to buy-in to what we’re selling? Compliance training. Diversity training. New employee orientation. 

Coke wasn’t selling me sugary, empty calorie-laden carbonated water as I stood there in line at the drug store. They sold me an experience, a memory. And I was all too happy to plunk down a few extra bucks on their beverage.

How many times do we, in the business world, just sit our learners down and say the equivalent of: here, take some sugary, empty calorie-laden carbonated water and drink it. Now.

A while back I wrote this post on 5 ways to open a presentation. It offers some ideas for activities that can immediately help you connect with your audience. When we connect with our audience, our content is more likely to resonate and more people will be likely to buy in to what we’re offering.

I think it goes further than that, however. Please come back on Thursday when I’ll expand my thoughts using a specific case example. Over the past several months, Facebook has been getting a lot of press for it’s recently updated and publicly released anti-bias training. Take a look for yourself and let’s compare notes on whether this initiative seems to be more on the side of empty calorie-laden sugar water or if it’s more of an experience designed for people to buy in.

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