It is baseball time in America and one of the best quotes from a baseball movie is from Field of Dreams: “If you build it he will come.” Some have used the quote changing “he” to “they.” In the movie there was a bit of doubt and a little risk taking in the building of a baseball field, but “they did come.”
Building and launching a successful online continuing education catalog is not unlike the efforts taken in building the baseball field in the movie. If you want to guarantee that “they will come” all it takes is a plan to build and a plan to promote. Borrowing from the movie again, the CE organization and its online partner must implement those plans, working together to “go the distance.”
A great product is a necessary part to a great product launch. At the most basic level, an online catalog is great when it delivers education that your member needs in the format that the member wants to consume it. Members should be provided lots of choices. The catalog should be comprehensive and should serve as the “go to place” for your members.
An online CE catalog is launched by more than linking your new catalog to your website—a marketing plan is a must. Otherwise, you will have built it, and they won’t come! Also, association professionals know that you just can’t tell a member something once—messages have to be sent over and over to best reach members.
Marketing the launch of a new CE catalog should include use of all existing marketing tools. Here’s a lineup of some suggested ways to market your catalog launch:
- Use banners and stories on your home page to announce the new catalog.
- Provide clear and prominent navigation from your home page to your CE catalog.
- Use all merchandizing opportunities in your catalog: featured products, short/long descriptions, photos, etc.
- Publish an article in your organization’s professional journal to promote the new member benefit.
- Use existing e-newsletters to announce the catalog, providing links. Repeat.
- Send monthly e-newsletters to promote the online catalog by highlighting specific courses, including links.
- Identify specific content to forward to specialty groups within your organization—push the relevant content to them through email. Repeat.
- Change everyone’s email signature block within your organization to provide a link to the catalog.
- Use your in-person events to promote your online catalog by featuring online programs that are on the same topic as the in-person event.
- Provide follow up online programming to those that attend an in-person event. Bundle the in-person event and the online opportunity.
- Exhibit at your annual meeting. Show how to access and use the online catalog.
- Make your speaker base aware of the online catalog, give them opportunities to provide some online content, but most importantly, make them excited about the new opportunity so they will tell others.
These are just a few ideas to consider, and there are many other creative ways to promote the launch of your online CE catalog. Here is a link to our recent webinar and the accompanying slides on this very topic. If you and your team “go the distance,” hitting it out of the park will come easy.