Continuing education for many associations is at the center of who they are. It’s a way they provide their training and publication materials to their members, so truly, it allows that organization to provide the most value they can. It’s also an avenue for delivering non-dues revenue, which is important to any association. If it weren’t for continuing education, many associations wouldn’t be able to separate themselves from the other organizations like them out there.
Unfortunately, print and fulfillment of continuing education materials is typically one of the biggest pain points for organizations that take part in it. Most organizations are simply not set up to handle the amount of materials required to support the volume of courses they offer. Not to mention the task of packing them into boxes, and send them out in a timely fashion. They quickly find that they’re wasting valuable resources that should be focused on what they were truly hired for. Some of the people we have worked with have described it as “a necessary evil,” or something they must do in order to satisfy the student and/or instructor, but something that they know negatively effects the daily work of their staff.
I’m a firm believer that organizations have a great opportunity to be able to continue to offer their high value materials to their members, but also eliminate the hassle and utter discontent within the organization that print and fulfillment may be causing. The approach that we take, isn’t to simply complete a proposal and sent it their way. That’s simply an order taker, not a partner.
The best way is to start a conversation, and not just about your print and fulfillment process, but about your organization and its goals. If we can get a better idea of what your organization sees as a future path of success, and what the fundamental values that you uphold, it quickly turns into a true partnership. Those values that you hold true are absolutely important in the print and fulfillment process, and without knowing that, we’d be doing you an injustice.
A print and fulfillment partner that you’re considering should do three things when you first reach out:
- Ask questions: This is one of the most important parts of the process. The print and fulfillment vendor should be asking you questions. So many questions that you feel like they know your process better than you do; because they should!
- Challenge your current process: If a potential partner you’re considering simply duplicates your current process, what good are they really doing you? During the question asking process, they should discover inefficiencies or areas where best practices could be applied. They should be the expert and once they learn about your needs, they should provide a cost-conscious plan of attack.
- Get to understand your intentions: Without understanding the real purpose of why you are printing and fulfilling materials, they have no idea the value you hold in those materials. For most organizations, their training and publication materials are some of their most valuable assets. It’s important that your new partner fully understands that value.
So what do you think? Is it time for a conversation about your continuing education materials? If so, let’s chat now!