Common Challenges for Associations

Have you ever wondered if, within your own association, your conference team and your continuing education team face similar challenges? According to the results of our two industry reports, they do!

Watch Dan Loomis discuss the most common challenges that appear on both the 2018 Training Trends Report and 2018 State of the Conference Industry Report. In the video, Dan also details a way to bring the conference and training groups together to find solutions to their shared challenges.

 


Video Transcript

Dan Loomis: “Within your own association, do you ever wonder if your conference team and your continuing education team have similar challenges? We looked at two industry reports and we found some interesting trends.

 

“What we found interesting is across conference and training, there’s challenges around managing content changes and how to deliver the mix of content that needs to be delivered for the learner. It’s not surprising that that’s a focus, because it actually helps with the strategic focus and the relevancy of an association. But, what I find interesting looking at these reports side-by-side, there’s a lot of associations that are still challenged with managing costs, deciding what quantities to produce and even order fulfillment and shipping.

 

“If you think about these things that are consuming their time and deciding what quantities to produce is taking up about 30% of their time, where they would prefer to spend 0% on that type of task.

 

“So, what if you outsourced to a third-party that could handle that stuff and still support your brand and all the things you would like to represent when that material goes out, and you could put that time towards some of those higher end, higher level strategic objectives of really focusing on the mix of the formats and managing those content changes.

 

“So, like we say in life, it’s not always about the big changes, it’s about the little changes and maybe it’s time we apply that to our own associations.

 

“Here’s a suggestion: Grab some members from your conference team, grab a few from your continuing education, have a little lunch and learn, do a little team bonding. It will be interesting to see what kind of common challenges they have in your association and see what kind of solutions they can come up with.”

 

Now Available: 2018 Training Trends Report

Educational programs provide a tremendous source of value for associations and other training-based organizations. That’s the takeaway from our 2018 Training Trends survey. The majority of respondents in this year’s survey (67%) look to capitalize on this fact by increasing the number of programs they offer. The focus on core strategic initiatives in the coming year, including program and content development, however, may need to come at the expense of other tasks.

How will this outlook impact those responsible for developing and implementing educational programs? We conducted an online survey of 111 continuing education (CE) and training professionals to understand their challenges, opportunities and priorities in the coming year.

Download the 2018 Training Trends report to learn:

  • How much time do CE professionals devote to program development tasks?
  • How effective are these programs in helping organizations reach their goals?
  • What percentage of the budget will be allocated to on-site training vs. online training in 2018?
  • What is the most common way for educational content to be re-purposed?

Takeaway #1: Continuing education takes place in a variety of formats.

Eighty-four percent of survey respondents indicated they offer multiple options for learners to participate in seminars, courses and workshops.

Offering learners choice on how they receive their training means CE professionals must also provide their course materials in a variety of formats. Print retains its lead as the most common format for course books and study guides, with online training materials coming in a close second. Mobile resources for training saw limited use in 2017, but with trends like microlearning on the rise, it will be interesting to see how these numbers evolve in the next few years.

Read the full report to learn how CE professionals balance developing new course content with other top training priorities.

How the Best Conference Presentations Educate Attendees

 

Education is the primary reason attendees come to your annual conference. This is why your association puts such a focus on selecting the best content for your event. However, content is only half of the equation. How the information is presented and packaged is critical to educating your attendees.

Help ensure your conference provides the educational experience that your attendees seek by following these tips to make sure your speakers deliver engaging conference presentations. And, be sure to provide the opportunity for attendees to revisit the material afterward in order to help the information really stick.

Delivering engaging presentations

In order to help your presenters create a relatable conference presentation, ask them to frame the “story” of their presentation. People relate and react to stories with a beginning, middle and end. Nobody wants to listen to someone recite a list of facts or statistics.

Discussing case studies can help your speakers present specific information in a relevant and engaging way, while at the same time creating this story. Good case studies provide an example of the existing problem, the solution that was implemented and the outcomes that the solution provided.

By creating a story and delivering it personally and uniquely, your conference speakers will be able to more effectively share information. The attendees will appreciate the presentations more and retain more of the content.

When it comes to presentation slides, few things are worse than seeing a speaker’s entire speech pasted in small text. If text is necessary, encourage speakers to limit the number of words on each slide and to use large, easy-to-read font styles and colors. The strategic use of imagery can also vastly improve a presentation, and most conference presentations should include at least one visual or imagery device.

Additionally, encourage your speakers to go out of the box with their presentation, whether that is with organization, media or delivery techniques. The presentation should be unique and interesting, not just a cookie cutter 10-slide powerpoint presentation. Encourage speakers to add interactive elements to their presentations to keep attendees engaged, such as Q&A sessions, audience suggestions and short audience activities.

Your association itself can help speakers create unique conference presentations, too. Avoid forcing speakers to use the same powerpoint template. Although providing a template makes it easy to review the submitted presentations, it also stifles creativity and makes them repetitive and far less interesting to attendees.

Give attendees options to revisit the materials

After your speakers deliver their fantastic presentations, you’ll want to help reinforce that content by giving attendees the option to revisit the materials. Ongoing engagement is critical for attendees to master concepts presented at your event.

To help ensure this happens, make sure your association’s content strategy involves providing resources your attendees can use when they return to their offices. These methods can include sharing content on social media or providing them with a take-home piece like a USB drive.

One of the best ways to help attendees revisit your conference materials, though, is through an online conference library. Here, you can archive your conference materials, including presentations, allowing attendees to return to this information on their own time.

Put your attendees’ educational needs first by helping provide them with engaging conference presentations, then help them retain that content by giving them a tool to revisit it as often as they’d like.

 

Now is the Time to Start Using Your Educational Content for Marketing

 

Regular readers of this blog know we believe content marketing is a great fit for associations. The reason is simple: We’ve seen how well it can work to engage members and generate interest in an association’s events. So it was surprising to see that only about half (55%) of the respondents in our 2017 State of the Conference Industry survey said they are re-using their content. That means many associations are missing out on a great way to connect with their membership.

If your association is still not using your educational content for marketing, now is the time to start!

As with any organizational undertaking, it’s best to start your planning with a clear goal in mind. Content marketing is no different. Here are three questions to keep in mind as you assemble a team to begin this project. These questions will help you focus your efforts and provide a framework to measure the success of your work:

Question #1: What outcome does my association want to achieve?

Developing your content plan with your end goal in mind is a great way to begin your planning. Content strategy outcomes typically involve generating interest, awareness or revenue. Some common objectives that are well suited for content marketing include:

  • Promoting you conference
  • Building awareness for your association
  • Keeping members or attendees engaged throughout the year
  • Generating non-dues revenue for your association

Question #2: Which materials are of most interest to my attendees/members?

Another important question to answer early in your planning process is to determine which topics interest your audience. Talk with some of your members to find out their preferences. Doing this before you begin will save you a tremendous amount of time and effort later. Every industry is different, so there is no single type of content that works best. Some popular types of content to consider include:

  • Promoting innovative research
  • Becoming a resource for industry best practices
  • Offering commentary on industry trends or other types of thought leadership

Bonus: Having a conversation with your members about their interests on a regular basis can help you offer in-demand conference sessions!

Question #3: How will we use our educational content for marketing?

With a goal in mind and an understanding of what interests your members, the next step is to think about putting your content to work. One common pitfall to content marketing is trying to do too many things. Answering this question will help your team stay focused. Again, let your goals drive the answer to this question.

For example, if your goal is to raise the awareness of your conference, you may choose to promote your online conference materials on social media to gain a wide audience. If your goal is to generate revenue for your association, however, a subscription-based site would make more sense.

A third option would let a visitor access your materials only after they provide their email address. You could then use this information to keep them up-to-date year round on important association news.

Conclusion

If your association is one of the 45% only using your educational materials at the conference, make this the year you do more with that content! The good news is you can start small and see how it works for your association. Every industry is different and what works for one group may not work for yours. Experimenting is key. So determine your goal, find out what material interests your members and put your content to work!

How to Take Your Association’s Branding to the Next Level

 

You work hard to create courses that provide learners with the best education. Make sure your materials reinforce your association’s role as a trusted resource! Follow the 5 tips in this infographic to create training materials that help your learner and your association.

 

Infographic Association Branding

 

 

 

 

Book Binding 101 for Conference Materials and Educational Publications

Lesson number one: Saddle stitch has nothing to do with horses or needlework. If you were surprised, please continue.

Whether you’re designing a conference program or syllabus for your next meeting or even a new training manual, there are many different bindings you can choose from. Selecting the best one starts with knowing what they are and when they work best.

 

Plastic Coil Bindingplasticoil-binding

Looks like: Remember the silver coil notebooks we bought as kids at the beginning of each school year? That’s plastic coil binding… Except the only difference is instead of the metal coil, the coils are now plastic.

Why we love it: It lays flat making it perfect for those seminars and training sessions. It allows the user to flip the book in half for easy note taking. They also ship well as the plastic coil is more forgiving than the metal coil. Additionally, plastic coil comes in a variety of colors and has the option to accommodate tabs and dividers.

When to use it: When note taking is key or the book must lay flat on the table. Also, if your room configuration does not have tables, or has theater-style seats with the pull-up half desks. It’s great for those cool conference learning journals that combine the program and pages for note taking.

 

Perfect Bindingperfect-bound-binding

Looks like: Perfect bound books are the soft-cover books from our college days, or the ones we find at our favorite bookstore.

Why we love it: They have the professional look for an affordable price. With the text on the spine, they are easy to find amongst all the other books on a bookcase. Like plastic coil, perfect binding also allows the option for tabs and dividers.

When to use it: Best for proceedings, reference manuals, and educational publications.

 

Saddle Stitchsaddle-stitch-binding

Looks like: Saddle stitch resembles a magazine with two center staples on the spine.

Why we love it: It’s great for lower page counts under 88 pages, and it also lays flat.

When to use it: Conference programs, journals, conference marketing brochures, or other titles that have a limited number of pages. If you desire text for publication on the spine, this isn’t for you.

 

Case Bindingcase-binding

Looks like: The hardcover textbooks we lugged around in college.

Why we love it: Very professional in appearance which normally lends itself to higher retail pricing. It’s ideal for high page counts.

When to use it: Textbooks, manuals.

 

 

Other Binding Types (we don’t favor):

Tape Binding: It’s a lower quality version of perfect binding with a high risk for pages falling out.

Plastic Comb Binding: This is the lower end version of plastic coil spiral binding. Maybe it’s perfect for a college paper, but when it comes to your educational and conference books… It’s “cheap.”

Which binding have you found works the best?

Spin This “ALBUM” – Five Must-Haves for Publishing Content Online

Moving more content online is on every association’s strategy plan. And who isn’t trying to find new revenue sources, improve membership experience and be more findable?

Most associations have online Content Management Systems (CMS) for their main websites or conference sites, and try to push as much content into these systems as possible. Unfortunately, most CMS’ are not designed to act as publishing engines for large collections of content, nor do they allow for
controlling access to content.

So what do you need to put your content online? … ALBUM! (No, I’m not talking about vinyl.)

Publishing Your Content Online with ALBUM:

A – Access Control: This could be the most costly aspect of managing content, but it’s crucial. You need to ensure you have a system than can expose your rich content to the world, yet still offer you the ability to control access. This opens up opportunities to increase revenue and protect member benefits. Additionally, this allows you to create offers and sell your content in the ways users want to consume it.

L – Large Collections of Content: You need a system that allows you to quickly load and manage hundreds if not thousands of files… AND in a cost-effective way.

B – Branding: Content is YOUR asset… and the world should know. Bringing valuable assets to the members and non-members under your brand strengthens your organization as the place to go for information.

U – User and Staff Experience: For the reader, it’s important to make your content easy-to-use and accessible on different devices such as tablets, smartphones as well as desktop computers. For your staff, make sure you’re hosting a solution that isn’t a burden to support. If you need your IT Manager to support the site, then your system is too complex. And if your system frustrates your visitors, they’ll leave!

M – Measure: Measuring performance is the key to success… And doing so in a way that is understandable and actionable is key.

Bottom Line: There is no greater opportunity for associations to grow than to better leverage and extract value from their educational content! Just remember: When publishing content online, make sure you have your “ALBUM” because the right tool at the right time (and with the right components) can make all the difference.

A Time of Change – Big Ideas People for Educational Content

“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” (Japanese Proverb)

Organizations who have deep roots and flexibility are likely the best to withstand challenges sure to come their way. Successful businesses are willing to take risks and evolve, not only to survive, but to get ahead. It’s those who stand firm in their culture and unwilling to change who are unlikely to move forward.

July 20, 2011 marks another official change for Omnipress.

For decades, we’ve focused on collecting and producing educational conference materials in digital and print formats. And moving forward, the distribution of educational content will still remain in print or some form of electronic delivery, but the change this time comes in the way we help associations view their educational content.

That’s where the big ideas come in!

Yes, our customers choose us for printing workbooks, proceeding binders, programs, as well as collecting abstracts online and putting content on CD or flash drive. But they find value in our expertise to help them transform their educational content into a valuable asset.

Working with 900 associations each year, we get the opportunity to learn the deep challenges our customers are faced with. They too, know that standing firm like an oak and resisting change weakens them over time. It’s this experience and understanding that has motivated Omnipress to bend. To be more about new ways and practical solutions to take on those challenges… Helping those who work with us bend too.

A Change in Culture Brings With It a New Look

With the change comes a new look… Something fresh! And, we’re excited to share our ideas with you through our new web site. Here are some newer things you’ll find at omnipress.com:

  1. Expansion into training events and educational publications
  2. A Big Ideas section packed full of helpful ideas, tips and real-life examples
  3. Knowledge center solutions that helps turn educational content into valuable assets
  4. A portfolio of our team, who is at the root of our big ideas

You can read the full press release here: “Omnipress Expands Services Beyond Conferences

Archiving Educational Content with a Digital Publishing Platform to Spark Association Growth

The speakers have spoken. The attendees have gone home. And as a meeting planner, you are left alone with the conference proceedings you worked so hard to collect, organize and create. While the knowledge that lies within these materials could stimulate association growth, often times after a conference has ended, these materials get lost in file cabinets
and book shelves.

Unleash the Value of your Educational Content

Many associations are failing to recognize that this same content can be archived, repurposed, and monetized to bring ongoing value to your association. Now more than ever, technology has made it simple and cost effective to take conference content and repurpose it to enhance membership value and attract new members. Think of the value in having multiple years of content in a single location that is searchable by members and discoverable by nonmembers. Having an digital publishing platform with archived conference content can extend the life of your conference and leverage the value of your association’s knowledge.

Once your educational content is organized in a single location, it opens up an array of opportunities to market and monetize your educational content. A knowledge center allows you to sell subscription access to content, share content on social media sites such as Facebook and Digg, enrich content using metadata and makes content more discoverable by exposing it to search engines. This all greatly enhances the value of your content for both members and potential members.

You don’t want to miss this opportunity to extend the life of your conference and your conference content, do you?