Mad Men Meets Enspire Learning

Cross-posted from

Enspire determines corporate clients’ business needs for training very early in the development process. Occasionally that business need sounds much like advertising. That is, the client asks us to create a course that promotes a product, program, or organization. However, Enspire is a learning company, not an advertising firm. We have a different focus than Sterling Cooper. The line between advertising and adult education can be blurry, however. Here is my attempt at defining both:

  • Advertising is the process of persuading others to take some action.
  • Educating is the process of teaching others new knowledge or skills.

I’m sure that many people may find issues with those definitions. If so, please correct me in the comments. But, for the sake of this post, let’s break those two definitions down.

  • Advertising = process + persuading + others
  • Education = process + teaching + others

As you can see, the main difference between the two is the verbs. Does that mean that our projects’ goals should be to teach, not to persuade? Not always. In some cases, a good course can persuade and teach. Let’s look at an example. Recently, AMD asked Enspire to create a short course about their new Accelerated Processing Unit, a concept that salespeople, customers, and partners knew little about. We decided on three learning objectives:

  1. Describe the AMD APU platform to others.
  2. List the key features and benefits of the AMD APU.
  3. Compare AMD APU solutions to the competition

Objectives 1 and 2 are teaching objectives. They ensure that learners understand exactly what an APU is and why it matters. Objective 3 is a persuading objective. That is, we want to persuade the learner that the APU has advantages over the competition. The result is a short course/advertisement for the new AMD Accelerated Processing Unit that achieved all three objectives. Since AMD needed to teachand persuade their learners, an instructional designer was needed. Had they only needed to persuade, Don Draper would be their man. At the risk of seeming like a one-trick pony when it comes to diagrams (see my last post), here’s what I mean:


GSD&M shouldn’t worry about Enspire Learning just yet. We’re not going to move into the business of creating pure advertisements. Learning is still our thing. However, instructional design expertise is occasionally just what the marketing department needs.

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