aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

More Justification — For Your Members

Posted by Ellen on January 19, 2010

There’s more than just explaining why paying $XX to attend an educational program will be worth it to your members and to your members’ bosses… you have to convince them it will be worth it more than once.

That’s if you want your members to return to the same event (your national conference, for example) again and again.

After all, you’re asking that member and the member’s boss to shell out (okay, invest) $XX x1 for the first time they attend, but $XX x 2 or x3 or x4 to come back over and over.  

They’ll need to know how the program is different each time:

  • What new topics will be covered?
  • What new approaches will be taught?
  • Who are the new content leaders and other experts?

Answer the question your members’ boss is likely to ask: “Didn’t I just send you to that program/conference? What will you get this time you didn’t get then? Why should I pay for it a second (or third or fourth…etc.) time?”

Go ahead and distribute the smile sheets if you must, but follow up later to find out how your attendees benefited from the program:

  • What one thing have they implemented or done differently as a result of attending your program?
  • What specifically has resulted from that implementation or change? (For example, have they reduced employee turnover because of more effective orientation materials? Have they reduced the time it takes to process an application or other transaction?)
  • How much time or money have they saved their organization by implementing that change?  Over what period of time?
  • Have they informed their boss of the savings or other improvements that resulted from their attendance at your event?

Give your  members and attendees what they need to make their case to attend more than once. Here are just a few ideas for doing that:

  • Collect individual responses and summarize them, then send them back to the respondents with an encouragement that they share the results of their training with their boss.
  • Aggregate all the responses you receive and create promotional materials that describe the average or total savings your members have experienced as a result of the program.
  • Provide dollars and cents whenever possible: include overall savings (“Our attendees were able to save their organizations an average of $X as the result of attending this program.”) or other data that will help make the case for continued improvement as the result of attending.

The bottom line is this: Dollars and good data speak louder than words! Don’t assume members will return because the smile sheets gave the program high ratings — make your case.

Again and again. So they’ll return — again and again.

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