How to Reduce Your Risk When Creating a New Training Program

 

When your association implements a new continuing education course, one of the major challenges you’ll face is deciding how many copies of training materials you need to print. You may be tempted to use the same length print runs as your existing courses, but this might not be the best decision. Common challenges with new training programs can leave you with too many copies of outdated or ineffective course books, forcing you to use less-than-stellar materials or waste a lot of money.

A print-on-demand solution for new course materials is a great way to minimize the risk of being left with a lot of waste or incurring major costs to re-print. Here are three common challenges associations face when implementing new training programs and how print-on-demand helps solve them.

3 Challenges That Print-On-Demand Can Solve:

You can’t predict the course’s popularity

When you initially offer a course, you know that there will be some interest, but you can’t predict how many people will actually sign up. You don’t want to invest in a long print run only to have a fraction of the enrollment you printed for. Use print-on-demand to generate a small number of course books to start, then have more printed as more people enroll.

Your content changes

After you run the course once or twice, the content you include might change, which means your old course books won’t be useful. Instead of printing 500 copies of the course book right off the bat, print-on-demand lets you order smaller quantities, giving you the flexibility to change your content as much as you need to provide the maximum amount of value.

You want feedback after the course

Once the first course is completed, you’re going to want to get feedback from your instructors and students. This feedback matters—and so does having the ability to act on it. If you receive feedback on the usability of your training materials, print-on-demand can help you minimize waste while you make changes, like switching up the order of the information or changing the binding type.

 

Establishing a new training program is already difficult without the anxiety over wasting hundreds of old course books from a long print run. Your established continuing education courses are the workhorse, and if the new course isn’t proven yet, print-on-demand is a good solution to minimizing waste and spending. Once the new program is set in stone, you can go with a longer print run. If your association is implementing new courses, consider working with a print-on-demand provider to save money in the long run.

What kinds of challenges does your association face when implementing a new training program?

 

Marketing with Conference Content: Part 1 – The Event Planner’s Advantage

 

When it comes to planning a conference, how often are you asked to do more with less? More food and beverage options, but for less money. More speakers, but in less rental space. More information, but in less time. (OK, I get the hint! I’ll get to the point…)

Marketing for your conference is no different. The web creates many opportunities to promote your event, but creating new marketing materials can be a time-consuming task.

As an event planner, you have a secret weapon.

You are sitting on a gold mine of information that can cut through the clutter, allowing you to:

  • Connect with professionals looking for industry-specific information
  • Remind members of the value your association provides year-round
  • Build awareness of your conference and other events
  • Extend the life of the materials you worked hard to collect

These shiny knowledge-nuggets aren’t something you have to go mining for; they are already at your fingertips.

Repurpose your conference content

You know that the secret to attracting people to your conference is having the educational content they want. Let this valuable information take on a second life! There is no reason it should sit dormant for 51 weeks each year. You worked hard to collect this material, it’s time to put it to work promoting your conference.

Existing conference content is effective as a promotional tool. Images of last year’s event can only go so far in conveying the value your conference provides. Using actual event content gives potential attendees a glimpse of the kind of material at your conference. This allows attendees the opportunity to see for themselves why yours is a “can’t miss” event.

Recent shifts in the perception of advertising also make a strong case for content marketing. Think about how you respond to the advertisements you see online. When was the last time that “celebrity secret” actually turned out to be “shocking”? The result of this quick-click obsession is a skeptical consumer. Your content inspires confidence by providing a tangible example of what your conference has to offer.

The event planner advantage

Content marketing has become one of the most popular ways for corporations to promote themselves online. In fact, according to a 2016 Content Marketing Institute survey, 88% of businesses use content marketing. You may even have given it a shot yourself, and for good reason! Association conference planners have some unique advantages when it comes to content marketing:

  • You have existing material: The biggest barrier to content marketing is creating new material. Your existing library of content gives you a head start.
  • Your review process provides authority: You can be confident that your peer-reviewed materials are insightful. This can be especially handy if you are not a subject matter expert.
  • You have access to the latest thinking: Your conference is an industry leader in providing timely, relevant information. Continue your role as a thought leader throughout the year.
  • You get feedback from the industry: Your conference feedback can provide insight into which topics are most in demand. Think of this as “focus group” input on the material in your collection.

Putting a plan in place

The first step in launching a content marketing campaign is assessing your existing materials. Determine what kind of content you have available and decide where it will be located. Your association’s website may seem like a good idea at first, but as time goes on, content can get lost or buried as the site gets updated. It’s best to create a standalone site that will contain all of your current and past event content. This will give visitors an idea of the broad range of information they can rely on your conference for.

A dedicated digital publishing platform is a well-suited home for storing your existing conference content. In addition to housing all your current and past content, it provides a flexible viewing experience for any kind of content. Its easy navigation, search capabilities and modern design will reinforce the positive impression attendees have about your conference.

It’s also important to determine a schedule that you will be able to follow. Be realistic. Will you be able to consistently post two pieces of content each week? Or is one piece of content every two weeks more likely? The rate that you choose is less important than your ability to stay on schedule. Readers stay engaged with a blog or social media profile that is updated on a regular basis.

A look ahead

So now that you’ve identified the most relevant material on your online content and thought long and hard about how much time you can devote to posting content online, now what? What are the best ways to get this great material in front of people?

Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at some tools and tips to make your content contagiously-clickable by those on your social networks. We’ll explore creative ways to use your existing conference content before–and after– the event. Stay tuned for tricks that will help generate interest in your event and attract new members.

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss any valuable tips!

Interested in learning more about promoting an event with your existing conference materials?

Check out the other entries in our Marketing with Conference Content series for more ideas:

Part 2: 3 Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd by Using Images

Part 3: How to Learn From Your Own Content [Infographic]

Part 4: Promoting Your Conference with Twitter

Create Your Association’s Version of Discovery’s “Shark Week”

Massive size, stunning speed, and a mouth full of razor blades are just a few reasons why millions of viewers tune in each year to the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week each year. It has become somewhat of a religion for shark fanatics to tune in to the week-long programming block that has been on TV since 1988. That’s an incredibly long-lasting programming block that the channel can rely on to drive their numbers and increase sponsorship.

Can you imagine if you were able to create something similar for your association, that you could rely on each year to drive membership or increase non-dues revenue? Most association meeting planners and executives would hope that their annual conferences are their “Shark Weeks”, but frankly, is your event that compelling? Does it push past attendees to keep coming back, and bring their friends and colleagues as well?

Here are 5 Way to Make Your Annual Conference Your Association’s “Shark Week”:

1. Create Original Content & Topics Every Year

Each year, Discovery does a great job of creating new showcases that are very interesting. Whether it’s the story of the ‘Ninja Sharks’ who are the Bruce Lee’s of the ocean, or the ‘Super Predator’ that details how six sharks have developed adaptations that make them effective predators, the topics are unique and interesting, yet still focus on their cash cow, sharks. This is something you need to do regularly as well at your annual conferences.

You need to create the expectancy that your conference will be interesting and fresh, yet still focus on your association’s core values. You don’t always have to talk about boring, 50 year-old standards and policies. Maybe focus on how an association member was able adapt those standards and policies to further their career. Give your content some relevancy and some interest by creating new topics that maybe your attendees and members would have never thought of. Sometimes it’s the thing we least expect that interests us the most, like the thresher shark karate chopping prey with their long tails.

2. Be a Great Storyteller

One of the best things that The Discovery Channel does is telling great stories. They are able to captivate an audience with unique story lines (factual or not) and play on their interests. The great thing is that if someone is a member of your association, you already know that your content is typically going to be of interest to them. Now it’s up to you to create a great story around your content to really show them value.

Something to try: Don’t just tell your attendees about the benefits of being part of your association, give them real-life examples. Have a session full of actual members sharing their successes because of their membership with your association.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Create a Difference of Opinion

Each episode or topic that is aired on Shark Week has shark and sea experts giving their input. A lot of the time, it’s a lot of back patting and shared viewpoints. Once in a while however, it’s great that they use two experts who don’t agree on certain topics and show how they go about proving their viewpoint. That’s truly interesting. Two experts challenging each other and letting the audience make their own conclusions.

One thing I’d love to see is an association bring two though-leaders on a topic together who have different view points. Let them create some thought provoking discussions that the audience can truly see “both sides of the coin” and make their own judgement. Of course, choosing panelists that disagree, but respect the other panelists is key here.

4. Bring in New Speakers

Each year, there seems to be a group of shark experts that make appearances that have appeared before. Obviously, Discovery has good relationships with these experts, because they’re the best in their field, but I love to see when they bring in the younger shark enthusiasts that have their own inventions. During one episode, a local shark wrangler creates a shark decoy named “Parthenope,” and then RIDES it while real sharks take swipes and bites at it. Now that’s enthralling!

We all know most association conferences have familiar faces when it comes to speakers, but never be afraid to give others in the industry a try. Even if they’re younger and maybe newer to the industry. They could have viewpoints that are extremely valuable to your members. Let their fresh look at old topics freshen things up a bit.

5. Make Sharing & Promotion Easy for Attendees

Shark Week has been around since 1988, so the content itself has a compelling reason for people to keep coming back. However, since the introduction of social media and “easy sharing”, it has since become somewhat of a pop culture phenom (for better or worse, depending on who you ask).So why not do the same with your event. Make it as easy as possible for attendees and industry members to share and promote your conference.

  • Create a conference hashtag to help organize and measure all of the social media activity
  • Enable social bookmarking on your conference website
  • Include share buttons on all pre and post show communications

How to Convince Your Boss You Need to Take Your Educational Content Online

A few days ago, I accomplished the impossible. I was finally successful at something I’ve tried to do for years. The feeling of elation was unbelievable. I had finally convinced my dad to get a smartphone!

Now this may not seem like a landmark occasion for most people, but to me it should have been a national holiday. If you know my dad, he’s a man’s man. You know, the outdoorsy type that would spend every waking second hunting or fishing if he could. The type that rides his Harley every chance he gets to nowhere in particular, just to be on his bike. So to him, smartphones were unnecessary and an unneeded distraction from the simpler things in life.

Taking Your Educational Content Online

To me, he’d constantly ask, “Hey, look this up for me,” or “What’s the weather going to be like?” So I’d tread on, time and time again doing his dirty work and spending (what seemed like) hours doing research for him when it could have taken him 30 seconds to do on his own. The frustration was unbearable so I begged and pleaded with him. I even made him a deal that if I caught a bigger fish than him one weekend that he’d have to get a smartphone to catch up with the times and reap the benefits of new technology. (By the way, I don’t think I’ve EVER caught a bigger fish than my Dad; ever.)

Then I finally broke him down. He was through with the days of not having the technology to look up the weather or look for parts for his Harley on his own. My life was easier, and my time spent with him was spent asking how to be a better outdoorsmen rather than being stuck to my phone looking things up for him.

So what does this have to do with your association? It’s simple. This story is about the majority of the associations out there. The kids (employees and content managers) beg and plead with dad (association executives) to get a new smartphone (digital publishing platform) to make life easier on everyone and distribute their valuable content.

There seems to be a good number of associations that seem to be stuck in the past and are missing out on leveraging their valuable content and offering it online, because a “higher-up” is stuck in their ways and doesn’t see value in offering their content online. So how do you convince dad to get that new smartphone? Here are 4 ways to convince your association leaders to take your content online:

  1. Show Them What Your Competitors are Up To
    It may sound odd, but one of the most effective ways of convincing your boss to invest in something, is to show them that your competitors are already doing it. Nothing makes any executive back a new tool faster than seeing their competitors are beating you to it.
  2. Inform Them of All of the Features and Benefits
    Sometimes, it’s just the pure lack of information that warrants the disregard of the advancement of your assocation’s content. Give them all the information they need on how it will grow your association’s membership, and probably more important to them, how it will provide another source of revenue. Start here for the Information You’ll Need
  3. Train Them on How Easy It Is to Use
    Actually taking them into the Digital Publishing Platform and allowing them to see how easy it is to use will immediately take away the fears of paying for something they don’t understand. It’s important that they feel comfortable with a system that they are going to invest money into. If you’re in the market, invite them to join you for a demo of the system. Even if they don’t say a word, it’ll make a world of difference for them to see it in action.
  4. Put the Numbers in Front of Them
    One of the most common deterrents association executives cite is the cost. Get the numbers square, directly in front of them. And this doesn’t only include the cost of the platform. Make sure to include projections of the revenue that a Digital Publishing Platform can create. You can charge for any of your content, or charge membership fees. Show them they’re investing in a system that is creating a new revenue stream.If you have any additional challenges, please don’t hesitate to contact Omnipress to discuss other ways you can show the value of a Digital Publishing Platform to your executives, and get them to take your content online.

    *As I finished writing this blog, I received a picture from my dad of a nice largemouth bass he caught. It’s funny how sometimes things you see as successes can come back to bite you!

Content Marketing in Disguise: Leverage your Association’s Events

Your association thrives at events, providing a forum for thought leadership in your field and networking among your members. But there’s a way to make your events even more successful: Change the way you think about them. Treat your events like content.

 

In reading Mykel Nahorniak’s 8 Ways to Transform Events into Powerful Content Marketing, published on the Content Marketing Institute’s site, I was struck by the elegant simplicity of his idea. Nahorniak posited that organizations can optimize an event’s impact by strategizing and leveraging it, as they would any other piece of content. Promote it relentlessly, push it out to social media frequently, send email announcements and reminders periodically, and keep SEO in mind when event listings are written.

People remember in-person events they attended much more than they remember online content they simply skimmed. Once. Two years ago. Transform your events into consumable, memorable content your members will use, retain, and reflect on fondly for years to come.

Pinterest for Associations – Visual Content is Key

With travel budget cuts affecting your meeting attendance, engaging members year round with your association content is more important than ever.

Finding the right way to deliver educational content is critical, and more and more associations are taking advantage of social media sites to reach their members and attract new membership. Chances are if your association is doing this, Pinterest is already on your radar.

Pinterest is a popular virtual pinboard where users can bookmark all the fun and inspiring content they find on the Internet. But just because it’s popular, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your association.

3 Questions: Is Pinterest Right for Your Association?

  1. Do you have visually appealing content?
    Does your association have fun infographics, engaging eBooks and free on-demand webcasts to share? It may be the perfect time to consider making over the first page of your association eBooks, or the cover page of your white papers. If your content is extremely text heavy, stick to Twitter and LinkedIn. Pinterest is all about creating a visual representation of your association content.
  2. Do you have somewhere to link out to that makes sense?
    Remember… You’re dealing with visual learners, so you don’t want to send them to a page with long paragraphs and little white space. Make sure you’re linking your “pinned” content out to visually appealing websites.
  3. Are your members using Pinterest?
    If your current members aren’t using the new social platform, chances are your target market isn’t either. Make sure the social sites you are choosing to present your association on are the ones where new membership can find you. But remember, just because your members aren’t using Pinterest or other social media sites today, doesn’t mean they won’t be using them in the future. Keep these social sites on your radar.

If you’re still not sure if Pinterest is the right social media platform for you (or maybe you’re a visual learner who needs an infographic rather than a blog article to decide), check out this decision tree by Column Five Media and published by Intuit : Should Your Business Be On Pinterest?

3 Content Marketing Lessons Associations Should Learn From The Hunger Games

Have you heard about that movie,
The Hunger Games
?

Judging by the grossed $68.2 million on opening day alone,
I’m guessing you have.

But, I’m also willing to bet you heard about the movie long before it hit theaters either on Facebook or Twitter. The Hunger Games took on social media by storm!

But what made Lionsgate’s marketing such a success (on such a small budget nonetheless)?

Social Media Marketing with a Content Strategy

Most major film studios follow the same approach to social media where they use inexpensive content (i.e. a still photo of a gorgeous actress), post it on Facebook and Twitter, and rely on a viral marketing strategy where fans get excited, and amplify the buzz by liking and retweeting.

So what was different about Lionsgate’s social media marketing approach with The Hunger Games?

Lionsgate actually created valuable content that went far beyond a photo or video clip. For example, they created an interactive tour of the Capitol where fans were able to register as citizens by connecting to their Facebook or Twitter accounts and providing their email addresses. Once a citizen, fans can gain access to tour different areas of the Capitol as seen in the movie.

Lionsgate didn’t just create another movie advertisement; they created an interactive experience sparking fan engagement before and after they watched the movie in packed theaters. They also didn’t rely on viral marketing. They clearly planned out how they were going to promote their content across multiple social media platforms.

The Bonus: Lionsgate was operating on a promotion budget HALF the normal block buster movie.

What Associations Can Learn About Content From The Hunger Games

Social media marketing is very powerful in combination with a solid content strategy.

You shouldn’t need to create a social buzz for your content. Your content should create a social buzz for you. Here’s how:

  1. Create Engaging Content. Of course it’s a good idea to look at what other associations are doing with their content, but don’t be afraid to take it one step farther. For example, if you want to create a webinar series for members, try incorporating live polling or interactive gaming to keep them engaged. Also, when creating content, always consider what will keep members engaged before and after the content as well. For the webinar example, gain momentum ahead of time with social media sites, and make sure your recorded webinars are made available to share with friends after the series has ended.
  2. Allow Access and Make Your Association Found. Don’t be afraid to share content with non-members to entice them to join your association. Stake out where your members are hanging out… are they on Twitter? LinkedIn? That’s where you should be promoting your content because where there are members you will find your future members. Marketing across several social media platforms, as seen in the tweet above (where you promote access to exclusive video content on Twitter for playing a game on Facebook), also helps extend your association’s reach.
  3. Be a Baller on a Budget. Be conscious of your budget. Creativity doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money. As an association, you naturally have tons of archived content from annual meetings and publications, so all you need to do is repurpose it in a fun way for your members and non-members.

What are some creative ways you are engaging members with content?

Tell us about it on Twitter: #omnipress

Does Google Recognize Your Association?

Google the definition of “google.” (I know- it’s pretty much the ultimate google.)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary does not list “google” as a verb for no reason. Chances are when members are looking for answers they aren’t going to go to your association’s website to find them. What do they do? They google it.

Google is recognized and liked by your members, but is your association recognized and liked by Google?

If Google doesn’t recognize your association, neither will your members.

Using Educational Content to be “Google Relevant”

I’m willing to bet your association has a large amount of educational content from years of conference proceedings and training manuals to educational publications. Your valuable educational content is one of the main reasons your association exists. But to survive today in the highly-competitive playing field of the Internet – online existence goes hand in hand with being recognized by Google.

So how can you increase the likelihood of Google finding your association’s brand?

Hint: Google loves content.

Association Digital Publishing Platforms Have A Lot of Content

Many associations are now archiving their educational content in a branded digital publishing platform. Exposing your association’s education content from meetings, publications and more in an online archive is like a pot of gold to Google. You can then interlink your digital publishing platform to your association website so those googling content know who’s behind it. (You!)

Google especially loves content that is continuously updated and changed. This means as you continue to update your digital publishing platform with more educational publications and future speaker presentations from various meetings and training seminars hosted throughout the year (while utilizing various search engine optimization techniques), the likelihood of being found by Google and your members is greatly increased.

Unleashing your association’s content to this powerful search engine helps make your association more discoverable and relevant to your members. So the next time someone googles something relevant to your industry, you can rest assured knowing your chances of being found are a hundred (or maybe even a thousand) times better.

Regarding Your Content Strategy, Think One Word: Data, Data, Data – Measure 3

Whether you sell your content or give it away, you need to measure and evaluate how your audience uses your content.

Almost everything you offer to your members, books, CDs, downloadable content, emails or just web pages can easily be tracked (open rates, visits, how long the reader spends on your site and if your audience shares the resources). You can even monitor your social web presence to see how your audience responds to your content.

  • Do you know what content is important to members?
  • Do you know the hot topics they are talking about?

Having a content distribution strategy is important, but having a process for measuring the data and making decisions is even more important.

How will you measure the use of your content? And, are you using that information to make decisions?

This is an article series based on the book that established the criteria to measure an association’s success,
7 Measures of Success: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Do Not

Take Our2022 Conference
Industry Survey

Each year, Omnipress collects data from meeting planners to benchmark event content trends. The results will be published in our annual State of the Conference Industry Report in March.

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