Engaging Education Sessions

The following is a guest post from Tom Morrison, an association CEO, professional speaker, and recipient of The Florida Society of Association Executives’ Association Executive Member of the Year Award for 2012. He is passionate about helping associations achieve true transformation for the future and build a REVOLUTION!


Materials for Education SessionsOver the last six years, if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s all content, if relevant, can be repurposed for new use. Our organization lives in the world of materials and science where the content that was developed years ago is still relevant today. The question for any association in this situation is, “how are you changing its delivery and purpose to engage your members in new learning styles?”

These new learning styles are incredible opportunities for your association to create new income streams.

Many associations have printed content, some in book format, a lot in electronic format just lying around. They have videos sitting in a closet. They have PowerPoints that have been used in prior general sessions. They are hosting conferences with no video camera in the room capturing what could be an incredible income stream for their association.

All of the above are pieces to a new revenue model called, “Repurpose, Repackage, Reuse,” to selling knowledge to your members.

Let me give you an example of how this looks in the real world. Our association had a five module course that included a thick 3-ring bound Instructor’s Guide, five student handbooks and written tests. The thick Instructor Guide was OVERHEADS! Yes, overheads.

This program sat dormant for 2 years with none sold. Then, one day the light clicked on. We began to ask the famous… “What if we….?” The “what if we” was, what if we converted the overheads to PowerPoint? What if we partnered with one of our industry professionals to create 2 hours of video for each module to take the teaching out of the member’s hand? What if we also gave an option for members to take the course online and call it the Qualified Furnace Operator Program?

One thing led to another and within a few weeks, we had everything we asked for: A totally repackaged product that started selling like crazy in both print and online. The print version sold for $1,200 while the online version sold for $1,000. Within just a couple of weeks, we sold $20,000 of the printed version with many others taking the course online through our subscription program.

The key to the whole innovation was inventorying our content and then starting to ask… “What if we….?”

The next bit of innovation was purchasing a $300 HD camera and a tri-pod. We began to take it with us to all of our regional conferences and videotaped our sessions with the approval of our speakers in our agreements. Most speakers were industry professionals and wanted the exposure. We then began to build our online content, one live meeting at a time. Now we have over 200 hours of content and over 350 courses being taken each month. This has led to an annual income stream of over $100,000 in just seven years.

And that content makes us money for as long as we can deliver it effectively.

“Small firms” like Boeing, Eaton Corporation, and FedEx are all clients to our online learning center. We finally found the golden nugget that pulled the big companies into our membership space.

By repurposing, repackaging, and reusing content, it has enhanced our member engagement and increased our revenue per member from $1,500 in 2006 to $2,200 in 2013. With our size membership, that was another $180,000 a year. That is 100 new members we did not have to recruit! That was huge!

Remember this… it is more cost effective to convince your current members to spend their money on meaningful programs than it is to recruit new members.

In closing, I would encourage anyone reading this post to do the following:

1) Inventory your current content of print, electronic, Power Point presentations, and videos
2) Inventory your meetings of all types and determine which you could record
3) Seek out industry professionals who could put video to your printed content and PowerPoints
4) Brainstorm an industry certificate program that members receive when they complete “x” number of training hours
5) Most importantly… get your team together with all this information and then start asking the question: “What if we…(insert idea)?”

Education and training, done right, can be like printing money for any association.

Join me and Digitec Interactive President and Creative Director, Jack McGrath, for 6 Steps to Printing Money at Your Association with eLearning, a free Webinar October 15, 2013 2:00-3:00 PM EST. Start your printing press today.


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