Dan's Corner with Director of Training and Publications Dan LoomisOf all the places I travel to see clients, Washington D.C. is one of my favorite. The history of the area is something you can see from the plane at 10,000 feet, and after being on the ground a few hours, the energy of the city itself becomes contagious.

It’s no surprise that D.C. is home to many associations. After all, the early roots of associations are intertwined with the history of the country, and a lot of the challenges being discussed in the Capitol today reflect the mission of the associations.

It was not this sense of history that was different for me on this trip, that’s always been apparent. What was new this time (or at least new in recent memory) was the feeling of excited energy that was back in the air at the associations.

That was then…

Since the recession in 2008, many of my conversations with customers have revolved around how the rich history of associations can remain relevant in the “new realities” of the future. Sure, we talked about things like engaging membership and taking materials online, but these conversations were typically coming from a place of worry. A defensive posture. “There’s no room in this year’s budget for a content redesign” or “More of our training is going to have to be online-only to save money”

(If you remember having this conversation with me, don’t worry, I’m not spilling any secrets here. These were very common themes not that long ago.)

…This is now

Don’t get me wrong, these same topics came up on my recent trip. But they were being approached from a different place. Today for the first time in years, these conversations are coming from a place of opportunity, not fear.

This renewed future-forward thinking is giving associations the opportunity to focus on how they can best position themselves to fulfill the organization’s mission. A big part of this is making sure the enthusiasm they feel is matched by the individual members, as well. A strong mission and engaged membership are keys to a strong association.

The “burden” of having to redesign the cover on this year’s training materials is now an “opportunity” to present a renewed image to members. A reminder that the association they are a part of is a vibrant community of industry leaders. And professional-looking courseware makes a great first impression to those that are not yet members.

There is a renewed enthusiasm in creating a better all-around educational experience, too. Cost-cutting measures are no longer limiting continuing education materials to be online-only. Associations are finding these existing resources can be used in the classroom to enhance their instructor-led training courses.

Looking Forward

A positive outlook is providing associations with the energy to engage their members in new ways. And ultimately, that is how we grow membership and remain relevant in the future.

As you look at your current continuing education materials, is your association ready to refresh your existing courseware? We’d be happy to talk with you about some different options to update the look and feel of your content. Sometimes a simple change to the binding and cover design can make a dramatic difference in the way your association’s materials—and brand—are perceived.