The business of education is more competitive than ever. With the rise of online platforms and increasing demand for accessible, affordable, “drive thru” education offerings, associations are competing with an increasing number of companies offering professional education, including industry vendors and for-profit organizations. The number of options available to consumers today can be overwhelming. In today’s market, where technology enables quicker and cheaper access to information, consumers expect their online education to mirror the best-in-class user experiences they can access in other technology-enabled exchanges.
Where does that leave associations? We’ve heard from a number of our clients recently who are looking to assess their education portfolios and take a more strategic approach to developing and delivering content to their members. If you’re wondering whether your association can compete with the expanding education market, consider these key questions:
- What is the primary goal of your education programs? While many organizations view their education programs as a way to deliver member value or support the field/profession, associations are increasingly looking to their education programs to generate significant non-dues revenue. This changes the game in terms of how education offerings are being packaged and marketed. What are the goals of your education programs? Are you driving member value, or diversifying revenue streams?
- Who should the target audience be? Professional organizations have traditionally marketed education offerings to individuals, but more associations are exploring opportunities to partner with employers and other industry organizations as an education provider to quickly scale up their education programs. Targeting educational programs to companies also allows associations to engage leading employers to help identify key competencies and gaps in the market.
- What programs are essential in your education portfolio? Understanding what your members need and assessing any gaps in available offerings today is important to ensure there will be consistent demand for your association’s education programs. It is also a growing and best practice to leverage participation data to mine behavioral trends and purchasing patterns to spot key trends in consumer demand.
- How will your association develop and deliver education programs? As consumer expectations increase, some associations are hiring instructional designers and tapping renowned subject matter experts to develop content. Making sure that your association has the dedicated staff, resources and technology to develop and deliver education programs is essential to meeting consumer expectations, and ensuring a competitive position in the market.
- How are your education programs performing? Measuring success is a key component of any strategy. Leveraging analytics and conducting survey research to assess current programs and identify future needs will help make sure your programs are delivering the results you need.
Contact Liz Williamson at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk more about your association’s education portfolio and how McKinley can help you refine your strategy.