Competition in the continuing education space is stiff! With the growing amount of learning options available, remaining your members’ go-to source for education can be a tall order.
But, don’t just take my word for it. In a recent interview with Mahmood Sheikh, Deputy Executive Director for the Idaho State Bar, he stated, “We face a lot of competition from nonprofits, for-profits, national and state bar associations, and law schools. So, we have to think and act like them to gain market share.”
So, what can an organization do to differentiate itself and stand apart in a sea of professional development offerings? Let’s break down some of the best practices we learned in our conversation with Idaho State Bar.
Spend your time on what matters: As a continuing education professional you should be spending your time on what matters most to your learners … developing compelling content. Instead, many association staff members waste their time dealing with multiple systems and cumbersome processes.
ISB used to use one system for their webcasts, another for on-demand programs and yet another for in-person courses, which required jumping from system to system all day. Finding a system that handles all their education needs allowed their staff members to be a lot more efficient in managing their programming. Not to mention, it’s way easier on their members!
Make it scalable: In previous years ISB allowed members to rent DVDs and CDs to consume self-study content. A very limited inventory and check-in/check-out mailing system made it difficult to scale this option and really meet the needs of their members. With the transition to online on-demand courses, they were able to better serve their learners as their inventory became essentially limitless. By bringing its content online, ISB’s on-demand sales have grown from 2,800 on-demand orders to 3,400 in the last year, alone.
Bundle it up: ISB has utilized the bundling functionality of its learning management system (LMS) to give members a batch of content with just one order. “Attending a series of seminars in bundled packages is a convenient and cost-effective way for our practitioners to earn their credits,” say Sheikh. Your members are influenced by outside technology, like Amazon and Netflix, that have gotten them accustomed to subscription-based models, so match that expectation by offering creative pricing options like bundles.
Bring the experts to your members: While in-person seminars remain a popular choice for members, not everyone can conveniently travel to your location to get their training. Think of ways you can innovate your content delivery and offer a variety of methods for your learners to meet their education requirements. Take a page from ISB’s book. Back in 2011 they started a “Mobile Monday Teleseminar Series” with audio seminars every Monday in November leading up to their end-of-year deadline. In the years they have been running the series, they have seen the number of registrants quadruple.
To learn more about how you can stay competitive in today’s continuing education landscape, take a look at Idaho State Bar’s story.