One of the many negative consequences of the current pandemic for associations and other organizations has been the decrease of revenue due to the cancellation or scaling-back of events, industry layoffs affecting membership renewals, and decreased fundraising.
More than ever, organizations are focusing their efforts on how they can generate revenue from existing programs by attracting new participants and increasing sponsorship opportunities to offset some of this shortfall. Here are just a few of the strategies that are proving to be successful.
Increased focus on optimizing training program content for greater search engine visibility
An online survey by The Pew Research Center indicates that, based on their research behaviors in the classroom, young professionals in the workforce will continue to turn to search engines like Google more than any other source when they are looking for answers, guidance, and resources. When they do, it’s important that they find your organization’s educational content—including available training and educational programs.
Many associations are currently being overshadowed in search results by other industry organizations, which means that potential new participants and new members may never become aware of the opportunities and resources you provide.
In response, associations are spending more time optimizing existing online training program content so that it’s served up in search results—including gated content reserved for members or paid participants.
Our webinar Simple SEO Strategies for Associations not only makes the case for why search engine optimization (SEO) is so important for associations but how to address the most critical steps using existing resources, including:
• Optimizing the metadata on webpages where your educational content resides
• Adding the right metadata to your Word documents, PDFs, and PowerPoint presentations
• Creating keyword-rich content and descriptions that live “in front of the gate”
• Ensuring the technical performance of your website meet’s Google’s standards
Providing more sample training content to persuade sign-ups
Today’s internet shopper is accustomed to having access to a significant amount of data before deciding to make a purchase—from sample chapters of a book, to more realistic, user-generated product photos and customer reviews.
Taking a cue from these online retailers, some associations are spending more time creating sample content for existing training programs, designed to make a more compelling case to invest by allowing prospective participants to see the value of your course first hand.
Some of the more commonly used tactics include:
- Offering free access to a full or partial chapter of your training manual or course book
- Posting an online practice exam that provides immediate performance feedback and points to areas of improvement that align with your course topics
- Publishing reviews of the course from past participants
Generate revenue by leveraging the power of cross-promotion
Current course participants are perhaps the most valuable—and sometimes the most under-leveraged audience you have. They have already recognized the value of your program and made the necessary investment. Many associations wait until a learner completes a course to promote other content and programs. But this may be too late. Instead, leverage the power of cross-promotion earlier in the process when they are most engaged.
Some examples include:
- Wrap the training manual or course book with a bellyband that features a promotional discount code for a follow-up course, conference, workshop, or publication
- Include QR codes in your printed training materials that link to other resources on a related topic, or to your conference sign-up page
- Bundle a promotional flyer or postcard with your printed learning materials that are delivered to in-person or virtual learners
- Just as you would feature a sponsor ad in your conference program book, include an ad for related, relevant resources in your course book or workbook
Allow sponsors to provide follow-up learning opportunities
One of the easiest ways to create additional value for your sponsors, and generate revenue for your association, is to provide more opportunities to get sponsored content in front of your members or participants.
Depending upon your industry or the nature of your course, it may not be appropriate to connect course content with a particular sponsor. Which means that advertising, promotional flyers, or other sponsor messaging within course materials may not be possible. However, there could be opportunities to work with your sponsors to create follow-up content such as webinars, or to lead post-course discussion groups that focus on how to put this learning into practice.