School is out, the days are getting longer, and the temperatures are rising … all signs that summer is on its way. Summer can be a slow time for continuing education offerings, with end-of-year deadlines months away and spring deadlines having just wrapped. In the season of BBQs, pool parties, and vacations, many learners want to just sit back and relax. While association professionals should enjoy some much deserved down time, you should also take advantage of this slower period by doing some retrospection and maybe even trying something new.
Here are a few ways to make the most out of the dog days of summer:
See where you stack up: According to Abila’s Member Professional Development Study, 60 percent of members, across all generations, rely on the association to which they belong as their “go-to” source for continuing education. Take the time to review your data and see if your members are taking advantage of your learning offerings. If fewer than 60 percent of your members are coming to you for education, then it may be time to overhaul your strategy. Ask yourself why your current programs may not be meeting the needs of your members. Are the courses too long? Are you not offering the programs in the right formats? Is the content not useful?
Clean up your courses: Time to dust off the old course catalog and see if there’s content that’s past its prime or that can be repurposed. We have learned that 84 percent of members rank the education they receive from their professional member organizations as either excellent or very good. With that in mind, pull your program surveys and see if there are any courses that are underperforming, and consider sunsetting them. If the content is a must-have and fulfills a mandatory requirement for your learners, make a plan to redo the program in a way that’s more engaging to your members. If there’s a program with great numbers, brainstorm how to get more bang for your buck with that content. Schedule a rebroadcast or break up the program into smaller parts so customers can buy the program as a whole or by section.
Reorganize your catalog: Your members are on the hunt for practical content that gives them the just-in-time learning they can apply right away. Having an easy-to-navigate catalog with categorization and robust search capabilities can help your members to get the knowledge they’re after in an efficient way. Take a look at your online learning catalog from the member’s perspective and see how easy it is to locate programs based on topic, format, length, and other criteria. Are there ways the process can be improved? Perhaps you can add additional tags to your courses, so members can search on a variety of factors.
Offer hot topics: The weather doesn’t have to be the only thing that’s hot. Look for opportunities to hold a live, online event, based on a trending topic or change within your industry. Even if members are not actively pursuing education in the summer, it will be difficult for them to ignore information that they can start using immediately. If you’re lucky enough to have the appropriate topic come along, these can be big revenue generators. Don’t forget to offer these hot topic events to non-members, as well!
Promote a summertime sale: Organizations may not hold as many live online events in the summer, so pushing the on-demand content is a good way to keep money coming in the door. Offer a site-wide discount on all your on-demand courses to continue to push people to your programming. Advertise that the sale is for a limited time, so your members are sure to take advantage.
Try something new: Our research tells us that nearly 50 percent of members prefer an all-inclusive membership fee that encompasses their education. However, only a third of organizations currently offer this option. It may be time to re-examine your pricing model, and begin a new offering for your members that makes it easier than ever for them to get the learning they need. If you aren’t ready to couple education with membership, look at ways to just bundle your online learning content to give them the all-in-one option. Start by offering course bundles for on-demand programming. With this option learners pay a flat fee, up front, and then pick and choose their content as they go.