New Money: Custom Learning

Use your LMS for a new-revenue boost. Here’s how the International Association of Plastics Distribution did just that.

When the International Association of Plastics Distribution implemented a new learning management system in 2017, it came with a new way for the group to generate nondues revenue.

In addition to providing expanded learning opportunities to members, the LMS allows IAPD member companies to create their own customized training subportals, giving them the ability to host their own courses and manage online training for their employees, says IAPD CEO Susan Avery, CAE. Participating companies can publish company information, select their own library of courses from IAPD’s current offerings, and even post custom courses to their subportal.

It’s not just having those educational products and services available, but [members] seeing the association as an education service provider.

To qualify for a subportal, organizational members are required to make a minimum investment in IAPD courses upfront based on their size, according to Avery. They must also pay a nominal startup fee and an annual maintenance fee.

“From our perspective, it’s not a win if a bunch of companies create a bunch of subportals, and then they sit there,” Avery says. “And so we incentivize—we put that minimum expectation on them to qualify, and then if they continually meet their minimum, we waive the maintenance fee on the portal.”

Although IAPD has offered educational courses for years, this new of way of organizing and offering them has generated more nondues revenue—primarily through the purchase of seats for training, as well as bulk or enterprise licensing of custom online training, Avery says.

“Companies that were using our education pretty seriously are now methodically thinking through, ‘OK, we’re going to have 25 salespeople start this year. We want them, in the first six months, to have taken these six courses and be certified in these three things—and then when they come up on the year, then they’re ready for level two,’” she says. “Now they’re really thinking through that in a different way, and it’s resulting in higher revenue on the course purchases.”

The idea for the customized subportals emerged after IAPD dug into data to determine which members were using its education offerings and surveyed and talked with member company CEOs about how the association could better serve their educational needs.

“For us, it’s not just having those educational products and services available, but [members] seeing the association as an education service provider,” Avery says. “If they have the resources and wherewithal to hire internal resources to develop content and manage that, great—but a lot of our members don’t or won’t, so we want them to think of us as an outsource provider.”

(Blackred/Getty Images)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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