Marketing Your Association's Courses
Marketing an association’s training courses is not an easy task. In fact, according to our 2016 State of the Continuing Education Industry report, 31% of respondents listed it as their greatest challenge. So it’s important to use every opportunity to help members—and future members—see the value in the courses you offer.

Associations generally focus on the “direct” value their training provides. Direct value refers to the skills or knowledge that the student receives from taking your course. These skills are the most tangible result of your training, so it makes sense to promote this value to get your students’ interest.

But there is another level of value that your training provides. One that can be effective in turning a potential learner into a registered learner. The “end” value is the result of your learner putting their direct value to work. Here’s an example: A chef that is the member of a restaurant association may receive the direct value of learning safe food-handling techniques. When the chef returns to work, the training she received creates an end value of a good dining experience for a family.

Each of these values can appeal to different audiences. A restaurant employee may see the benefit in learning the direct value, while the end value may be more appealing to a restaurant owner. By incorporating both the direct value and the end value into your training and marketing materials, you can appeal to a wider audience.

Take a look at your existing course and marketing materials. You may need to update these assets if you have traditionally focused on the direct value. This will give you an opportunity to send a new message to students, one that also includes the end value. Here are a couple of questions to ask as you audit your existing course materials.

Do your course materials reflect both the direct and end values that your training provides?

As you read through your course materials, do you get a clear sense of the end value your learner will be providing after completing your course? Citing the end value of a new skill can add context to what the student is learning. It also helps emphasize the importance of certain skills by demonstrating how they are used in real life.

The end value that your training provides is a source of pride for your association and your learner. Do you have a similar sense of pride when you look at your course materials? Or is there something lost in translation? Don’t discount your assessment of the physical appearance of your materials. While you know the content well enough to look past an outdated design or a layout that creates a less-than-ideal user experience, a potential student that is new to your training may not be able to see beyond the cover.

Do your marketing materials promote the end value that your training provides?

When you are promoting your training courses, use the end value to generate interest in the student. A great way to engage a prospective student is to get them to imagine their future after having completed your course. What better way to inspire them to register for your course than to have them understand the value they will be able to provide to their community?

 

When marketing your association’s training courses, there is more than one message at your disposal. It’s important to focus on the direct value that the learners will gain after taking your course. But that is only half of the story. Don’t lose sight of the end value that your training provides. Including both will build enthusiasm in the learner, and also expand the appeal of your offerings.

As your focus broadens, make sure your course materials and your marketing materials are in sync with your message. You may need to refresh your materials to include the big picture appeal that your course offers.