Using Learning Styles in Your Content Marketing to Reach Consumers
Eight Ways to For Your Content to Reach Your Customers
The Power of Multiple Intelligences and Content Marketing
What are multiple intelligences and how do they affect learning?
Over the past few decades, research in the field of learning has led to the discovery of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In short, this theory states that each person has different ways of learning and different bits of intelligence they use in their daily lives.
While some can learn very well in a linguistically-based environment (reading and writing), others are better taught through mathematical-logic based learning. Still others benefit most from body-kinesthetic intelligence (learning by doing with the hands).
Each person possesses each intelligence to an extent, but there is always a primary, or more dominant, intelligence.
The work on multiple intelligences began in the early 1980s with Howard Gardner, and the research continues.
HOWARD GARDNER'S THEORY OF MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCE
Howard Gardner of Harvard University originally identified seven distinct bits of intelligence. According to Gardner, this theory, which emerged from the cognitive research, "documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways."
In greater detail, the theory proposes that "we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences and the ways in which such learning preferences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems and progress in various domains." Hani Morgan (2014) supports Gardner's theory. Morgan's research indicated that differentiated instruction benefits all students, but must be presented by well-prepared, experience and knowledgeable teachers.
This diversity, according to Gardner, should impact the way people are educated. He stated that these differences "challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning." Joan Hanifin, an Irish researcher, determined in a 2014 publication that the outdated system of education in Ireland was adversely affecting students in the long-term. By not embracing multiple methods of teaching based on different intelligences, students often left school feeling "under-valued."
Gardner goes on to say that, "Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well."
Gardner argues that "a contrasting set of assumptions is more likely to be educationally effective. Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students—and perhaps the society as a whole—would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a number of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means." In 2010, Bas and Beyhan presented findings based on their study of using Multiple Intelligences theory in learning English. They determined that MI-based learning is more effective in terms of student achievement levels and their attitudes toward learning. Their research supports Gardner's assertion that MI-based learning will serve students well.
THE 9 MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES
Gardner claims that all human beings have multiple intelligences. These multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened or ignored and weakened. His research from 1991 identified seven bits of intelligence; however, he added two which now includes nine to the total number. for our purposes of content marketing, many of these can be integrated carefully into content curation so that we will stress four major areas of learning with the emphasis on the totality of content curation.
Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence: Well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings, and rhythms of words.
Mathematical-Logical Intelligence: The ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and the capacity to discern logical or numerical patterns.
Musical Intelligence: The ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timbre.
Visual-Spatial Intelligence: The capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly.
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: The ability to control one's body movements and to handle objects skillfully.
Interpersonal Intelligence: The capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations, and desires of others.
Intrapersonal Intelligence: The capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes.
Naturalist Intelligence: The ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature.
Existential Intelligence: The sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why we die and how we got here.
While all people possess some level of each intelligence, most will experience more dominant bits of intelligence which impact the way they learn and interact with the world around them.
MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES AND LEARNING STYLES
A customer responding to a call to action by sharing on social media targets implementing content strategies stressing visual, aural, and kinesthetic content. For example, let consumers title a new product through video responses with a contest to win a new digital sound system.
Digital Marketers may find it an impossible task to use digital content to reach to all learning styles. However, digital marketers are using multimedia, so it is becoming easier. As content writers begin to understand learning styles more effectively, it is clear why multimedia is good for all consumers and why a variety of media is more effective. Multimedia inherently speaks to the different types of learning preferences that one person has and has the potential to impart knowledge to a diverse group.
There are specific modes of multimedia and content techniques, which include the following:
Visuals: Visual media help acquire your followers and customers concrete concepts, such as object identification, spatial relationship, or motor skills.
Printed words: While the printed word is the most common method of dispensing information, some argue that audio is superior. Too much-printed text overwhelms the eye and people consciously choose to avoid reading the text which is too dense. This mistake is the Number 1 Digital Marketing mistake. Too much dense text. We all are guilty of it! I am sure we all can come up with multiple examples.
Sound: Sound media offer a stimulus for sound recognition or recall. Audio content is a useful tool for listening to podcasts, lectures, and books. Podcasting brings a significant amount of flexibility for consumers to use aural content at their leisure. Twitter now offers video voice over without visual imagery. This is a more of a subtler approach but it can pique a consumer's natural curiosity and compel them to click for more information.
Motion: Motion depicts human performance so that followers and customers can copy the movement. This kinesthetic method can be essential for understanding some subject matter. Think about how frequently brands use dancing in their commercials. Content curators need to think about using demonstration in the form of movement for video and animation. Again, you don't need a performance artist, however; ask yourself is there an action I can take to put more movement into my visual content to reach more consumers.
Color: Psychographics is the whole field of how color affects visual learners. I recommend googling the subject because there are a wealth of resources expounding on the latest research on the subject.
Realia: Realia teaches cognitive and motor skills with objects. Realia can be used with individuals or groups, depending on the situation. Realia may be used to present information realistically, or with the way learners internalize information.
Design and Backdrops: Design must include what materials are being used, as well as the environment in which it is delivered or featured. Printed materials be developed with visual imagery which reinforces brand values and custom visually pleasant stimuli to compel the most interaction with the consumer.
Customer Characteristics: Content strategies must consider typical consumer characteristics, as media may be interpreted in various ways by different recipients. Research has provided some definitive methods of visual imagery in matching the media most suitable for types of learners.
Reading Level: Pictures aid learning for poor readers who understand spoken words rather than printed words; good readers can control the pace, and print allows for easier review.
Digital Marketers need to account for learning outcomes when creating their digital content: Categories ranged from three to eleven and most include some or all of Gagne's (1977) learning categories: intellectual skills, motor skills, verbal information, overall attitudes and use of cognitive strategies.
User-Generated Content: Content Marketers have to choose the external events which support internal learning with events of various forms of information. This occurs in the brainstorming stage, and the visual planning stage and before the selection of appropriate media.
Performance: It is important for marketers to perform tasks that demonstrate learning and retention. The elicited performances can be categorized by type: covert, overt, motor, verbal, constructed and select. Media should be selected to correspond with the desired outcome. If you are selling cars, then a performance of how the engine is constructed would match your content learning objectives.
VARK Learning Styles
Understanding How Consumers Learn
Explore these three learning styles to deliver strategic content marketing more effectively.
The fact that you're reading this blog post demonstrates that you have an appetite for learning and improving your skill set. But even if you're happy to scroll through words on a screen, is that the best learning style for you?
Would you get more out of it if we were to present this information visually or aurally, perhaps through an infographic or flow chart, or with a podcast or vlog?
In this section, we'll look at the VAK Learning Styles model and explore the importance to you and your team of understanding people's different styles of learning.
What Is the VARK Learning Styles Model?
The VARK Learning Styles Model was developed by psychologists in the 1920s to classify the most common ways that people learn. According to the model, most of us prefer to learn in one of three ways: visual, auditory or kinesthetic (although, in practice, we generally "mix and match" these three styles).
- Visual: a visually-dominant learner absorbs and retains information better when it is presented in, for example, pictures, diagrams, and charts.
- Auditory: an auditory-dominant learner prefers listening to what is being presented. He or she responds best to voices, for example, in a lecture or group discussion. Hearing his own voice repeating something back to a tutor or trainer is also helpful.
- Kinesthetic: a kinesthetic-dominant learner prefers a physical experience. She likes a "hands-on" approach and responds well to being able to touch or feel an object or learning prop.
- Reading/Writing: a reading- or writing-dominant learner uses repetition of words and writing. Clearly, there is an overlap with visual and auditory styles, as words and writing can be both, but, commonly, a person who prefers to learn this way remembers or organizes things best in his mind by taking down notes.
Understanding Learning Preferences
You'll probably already have a good sense of what your learning preference is, as this will have been present from your earliest days at school. For example, is your default response to a problem or challenge to sketch something out on a piece of paper (visual), talk about it (auditory), or build a model or tangible representation of the problem (kinesthetic)?
If you are still unsure of your learning style, you may be able to identify it by considering these scenarios:
- Think about how you complain. When you complain about something, chances are your emotions are running high and you'll revert to the communication style you feel most comfortable with. Do you want to see the whites of someone's eyes (visual), harangue someone over the phone (auditory), hammer your fists on the table (kinesthetic), or fire off a curt email (reading/writing)?
- Imagine yourself in an uncomfortable situation. If you were lost in a strange city at night, how would you find your way to your destination? Would you use a map (visual), ask someone for directions (auditory), or just keep walking until you worked out where you were (kinesthetic)?
- What style of presentation do you prefer? Think back to the last presentation you attended. What was it that most stuck in your mind? Was it the charts or visual aids (visual), the words the presenter used (auditory), or any audience participation (kinesthetic)?
Strategies for Improving Learning
Formal training for your team is likely the responsibility of your organization's L&D department. But, as a manager, there may also be occasions when you have to deliver basic training or coaching sessions, brief your people or do team-building exercises. Understanding the three VARK learning styles will help you do all these things more effectively.
The simplicity and intuitive usefulness of the VARK model have contributed to its enduring popularity with teachers and trainers, but it's important to remember that your people will have a different mix of strengths and preferences. So, when you have to deliver training or a presentation, ensure that you include a mixture of aids and methods that will engage your team members, whatever their preferred learning style.
One criticism of the model is that, while it is pretty self-evident that we all learn and retain information in different ways, there is little hard evidence to show that, in general, you learn better if your training is tailored to one particular learning preference. As this blog post demonstrates, other factors also play their parts, such as natural learning ability, technical skill level, interest in the subject, and the learning environment. Training needs to be flexible and responsive to circumstance and context, as well as to learning preference.
The table below offers some strategies you can employ to appeal to people's different learning styles:
These learners will respond to and use phrases such as:
- I see what you mean.
- I get the picture.
- What's your view?
These learners will respond to and use phrases such as:
- That rings a bell.
- I hear what you're saying.
- That sounds OK to me.
These learners will respond to and use phrases such as:
- That feels right.
- How does that grab you?
- Let me try.
Engage visual learners by using diagrams, charts, and pictures.
Engage auditory learners by stressing keywords, and telling stories and anecdotes.
Engage kinesthetic learners by including physical activities and "hands-on" tasks.
We have numerous tools and resources to help you provide training sessions or prepare briefs for your team, which take into account the VAK learning styles.
Visual (and reading/writing) learners, as we have seen, respond to visual stimulus. They may find it easier to take notes if they use Mind Maps. Mind Mapping breaks down complex subjects into manageable chunks, making it easier to digest and remember information. And they can be made even more effective with color and additional images.
The adage "a picture is a worth a thousand words," Absolutely, so don't give up on the obvious
Auditory learners enjoy the back-and-forth of group discussion and verbal explanation, so it can be useful to include brainstorming, debates, and storytelling in your training sessions.
Kinesthetic learners thrive on activity, so a good technique is to incorporate group work or into role play learning. Getting team members out of the training room and into an environment where they can try things out, such as team building exercises, can be helpful too.
Understanding your own learning preferences, and those of your team can help you develop more effective strategies for delivering learning and training at work, and embedding knowledge.
You can use the VARK Learning Styles model to classify some of the most common ways people learn. VAK stands for visual, auditory and kinesthetic:
- Visual: learners respond to images and graphics.
- Auditory: learners prefer verbal presentations.
- Reading Writing - Text based reading.
- Kinesthetic: learners prefer a physical, hands-on approach.
These factors have positively responded to Gardner's theory. It has been embraced by a range of educational theorists and, significantly, applied by teachers and policymakers to the problems of schooling and training.
Many digital marketers in North America have sought to structure advertising according to learning styles reflect the understandings that Howard Gardner developed.
All bits of intelligence is needed to live life well. Great content writers and digital marketers, therefore, need to attend to all intelligence and learning styles, not just the first two of verbal-linguistic or mathematical-logical intelligence, which has historically taken precedence.
Content Marketing Strategies and Activities
One of the most significant results of the theory of multiple intelligences is how it has provided eight different potential pathways to learning. If a teacher is having difficulty reaching a student in the more traditional linguistic or logical ways of instruction, the theory of multiple intelligences suggests several other ways in which the material might be presented to facilitate effective learning:
Words (linguistic intelligence).
Numbers or logic (logical-mathematical intelligence).
Pictures (spatial intelligence).
Music, Creating an atmospheric song such as a football cheer. (musical intelligence).
Self-reflection from a brand using a social call to action. (intrapersonal intelligence).
A physical experience in the manner of orienting a consumer journey (bodily-kinesthetic intelligence).
A social experience of interaction with other consumers (interpersonal intelligence).
An experience in the natural world (naturalist intelligence). Brands participating in social activism such as Tervis Tumblr requesting customers donate to help the oceans by purchasing a bracelet.
You don't have to teach or learn something in all eight ways. However, simply knowing the possibilities available can enable you to decide which particular pathways of interest seem to be the most effective marketing strategies and learning tools.
The theory of multiple intelligences is so intriguing because it expands our horizon of available training and content curation tools beyond the conventional linguistic and logical methods used in most of the traditional marketing.
MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES: NEW HORIZONS
Having an understanding of different digital marketing approaches from which we all can learn, as well as a toolbox with a variety of ways to present content to customers, is valuable for increasing the accessibility to reach your ideal customer.
We want to continue to develop this toolbox, so it is especially important to gather ongoing information about content strategy strengths and challenges, as well as their developing interests and dislikes. Providing different learning contexts for consumers and engaging a variety of their senses is supported by current research. Studies done by Hamari et al (2016) suggest that engaging in learning games has a positive effect on learning: ". . . educational video games, as well as virtual reality, may be an effective means of posing customer experience challenges that are perceived as interesting and enjoyable, resulting in engagement and immersion in the game-based learning task."
As our insatiable curiosity about the learning process persists and studies continue to evolve, additional scientific research may emerge that further elaborates on multiple intelligences and learning styles.
HOW DO WE BENEFIT FROM UNDERSTANDING MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCE
Emerging entrepreneurs know there will be many roadblocks, speed bumps, and learning curbs on the winding road to startup success. Each failure is a learning experience and each learning experience is a strategic investment in your company's productivity and profitability. The business strategies you develop will not only be unique to your business goals but also your vision for the company and its mission.
Throughout your education, you may have discovered your unique learning styles and how to best approach information and data. Many people blend these modalities together to form their own unique approaches to learning in the boardroom.
But, what if you applied the way you learn to the way you approach your developing business? Since creating a new business is partially about maximizing brain power, new entrepreneurs can enhance their business propositions by utilizing the learning modalities that fit them.