Professional associations are always looking for new ways to keep their members engaged and interested. The most popular way to do this is with large conventions and events, but these only boost engagement for attendees around the time the event is held. For long-term and year-round engagement techniques, you’ll need to find new ways to add value and interest your members. One very effective approach is to offer a combination of lessons and certificate courses through your association. The material for these can be hosted on your website for virtual learning or you can host them in your headquarters so that local members can come in and learn in a classroom setting.
That said, it does take a reasonable amount of effort to put together a high-quality lessons program which is why many associations balk at the idea. Gathering or writing the lesson material, making the material available to your members, and enacting quality control on the courses is a big commitment, but it’s one that is well worth your while.
When implementing your own association lessons program, the key is to ensure that the lessons are beneficial to your members and worthy of your association reputation. There are many benefits to running your own lessons program and we’d like to highlight just a few very good reasons to get started.
1) Members Join to Further Their Careers
The first powerful argument for association-hosted courses is the core motivation of your members. Most associations are made up of professionals who share a career or industry. The association serves as an influential way to meet other members of the industry, make connections, and trade best practices for furthering their careers in the future. The association’s purpose is usually to serve as a catalyst for career advancements and networking among members.
When members join, they’re almost always hoping that the association can help them not just to meet others at conventions, but also to further their careers in little ways throughout the year. Coursework is the perfect way to meet and exceed this expectation. When members see that their association is offering lessons, they will know that these lessons were hand-picked and designed to further the cause or goal shared by all members. Coursework allows your members to pursue something highly valuable for themselves: Professional development.
2) Lessons Keep Members Engaged
Conventions and association events are a wonderful way to bring everyone together and build a large stockpile of non-dues revenue. However, conventions only occur once a year and they only engage your members for maybe a month before and after the event. Without year-round events and engagement activities, your members can easily forget they are even part of your association until the invitation for this year’s convention comes through or the invoice for their dues. Lessons are the perfect solution for continuous member engagement.
Lessons take time to complete and, because they are career-oriented and paid for, your students are going to be eager and involved in the learning process. These will be voluntary courses that members take because they want to, and sign-up can occur all year long. In fact, for online courses you don’t even need definitive begin and end times for each course because members learn and interact at their own speed. If you want members logging into your website and checking your mobile app on a regular basis, offering lessons is a great way to make this happen.
3) Members Taking Lessons Renew Their Memberships
Membership renewal time can be very touchy for an association with engagement problems. If your members only ever hear from you once a year around the convention, they’re far more likely to balk when the monthly or annual dues invoice comes through. More memberships are lost to bordom than to lodged complaints. Offering lessons is a perfect way to get your members involved all year long.
The key is the fact that members become students who log in every day or several times a week to continue the next section of their coursework. They are not disaffected members who show up every few years. Instead, they are engaged students who wouldn’t dream of canceling their membership when your association is their learning platform of choice.
4) Lessons are a Great Source of Non-Dues Income
We’ve mentioned non-dues income once or twice so far but it’s truly worth exploring just how much your business can make with paid lessons and coursework. With the right learning platform, your material is practically free. Whether you buy premade coursework or task your company experts to write a few lessons, lessons keep members enaged and invested in the association and, you can bet, they’re also investing money.
Non-dues income is vital for expanding your operation, services and annual convention without bothering your members. Lessons are ideal because after a member signs up for one, they will be taking it for the next few days, weeks, or months. A member who is actively pursuing a course is going to renew their membership without even thinking about it because obviously, it’s a service they’re using. Happy members who successfully completed a course are also more likely to stick with your association because you helped them advance their careers and new opportunities are likely to arise again.
5) Association Courses Make Life Easier for Your Members
Finally, one of the best reasons to offer lessons and coursework through the association is because it fills a need shared by members of your association. The association is supposed to help people become more focused, turning their limited free time into professional development and networking. They want to meet new people nearby and learn tricks of the trade that will make them better at being industry professionals.
The entire purpose of the association is to make life easier for a specific group of people. Members join because of the benefits you can add to their life and careers. Lessons are the perfect addition because they follow this principle to a T. When members come to browse your website for a way to renew their interest at work or earn a new promotion, your coursework will be the first place they navigate to. Members will enjoy the opportunity to teach themselves how to be a better industry professional through your lessons.