Over the last year, we’ve seen associations struggle to generate revenue with traditional learning models, especially as online learning ramps up. With more associations taking steps to implement and enhance digital strategies, it’s crucial to think about how your association can differentiate itself and become a leader in the industry.
How do you build a digital learning strategy to drive new revenue for your organization and meet the needs of your members?
We had the opportunity to talk with Gabriele Janes, Senior Advisor, Learning at the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), about how they’re generating new revenue and reaching thousands of learners around the world by offering an online professional designation program.
1) Start with a Plan and Do Your Research
To survive as an association today, you must be ready for anything. Creating a growth plan and doing your research now can help you prepare for rapid change, make more informed decisions, and accelerate overall success.
When planning, Gabriele explains, “A key stage was to ensure that the industry was ready for it, that we had the support of our senior leaders and that we had the support of the board.”
Do research on the industry and your members:
- Is your industry ready for change?
- What are your competitors doing?
- Do you have the support of senior leaders?
- Are your members showing interest?
Having a big, bold vision can help embolden the market to drive lasting transformation. And it’s okay to invest in a plan over time. Everything doesn’t have to happen all at once.
Starting with a road map to give your association momentum and research to gauge interest, you’ll have insight into what competitors are doing and how you’re going to use that information to differentiate yourself in order to drive growth.
2) Consider Your Member and Learner Needs
Connecting with your members is a key part in engaging them. Yet, how can you do that if you’re unsure what they need? What topics are of interest to your members? What motivates them in their learning? What type of content do they prefer?
“You have to take all of your stakeholders and do a deep dive into what your association has right now,” Gabriele explains. “What are you offering and where are you potentially underserving?”
Having a solid understanding of what your members want and need—and then being able to deliver on that—can be the key to unlocking new revenue-generation streams. Forward-looking associations are the ones that invest in those strategies for their success.
3) Adopt a Digital-First Strategy for Your Association
The impact that a digital-first strategy can have shouldn’t be underestimated. It can offer so much flexibility, open avenues to more revenue streams, and help your association reach more people than with traditional learning methods. Digitization strategies could involve:
- Migrating some or all face-to-face content to digital formats
- Launching new programs or courses specifically designed to be delivered virtually
- Transitioning in-person events online in whole or in part
- Creating on-demand opportunities that complement your events
Whatever it looks like, a digital strategy is ultimately about “structuring your offerings in a very flexible and a very relevant way,” says Gabriele. “Your audience, your members, and your nonmembers are expecting a certain level of flexibility and ease of use.”
Our world is an undeniably digital place, and with a digital learning strategy at the forefront, your association can have at its fingertips what it needs to be successful. Your association will be setting the standard for learning—not just following along.
Develop a New Revenue Model for Your Association
Developing new growth strategies plays a critical role in driving revenue and increasing engagement in your association. In this on-demand webinar, Gabriele Janes from the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) outlines how the CMA built its professional designation program to generate new revenue and reach thousands of learners around the world.
In this webinar, we discuss:
- How CMA developed and executed its strategy
- The impact of the program on business growth
- What learners are looking for in a modern online experience
- The components of a modern online experience and the next phase of CMA’s digital transformation strategy
Check out our webinar for more tips from Gabriele regarding how your association can generate revenue.