Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 12 2015

Should You Be Selling Subscriptions To Your Attendees?

By David McMillin



Your audience is growing accustomed to subscriptions. They watch movies via Netflix. They listen to music via Spotify. The men might get their razors from Dollar Shave Club. The women might receive cosmetics from Birchbox. Is it time for them to start regularly receiving content from your organization’s subscription service, too?

Will Thalheimer, President, Work-Learning Research, Inc. and a speaker at the PCMA 2015 Education Conference, makes a good case for why the answer should be yes. Thalheimer is a champion of subscription learning. It’s an educational model that relies on bite-sized chunks of learning to create a consistent flow of information rather than one big virtual presentation. For example, a 90-minute online panel discussion might be broken into 18 five-minute chunks.

“It’s really important that we design our learning interventions to minimize forgetting and support remembering,” Thalheimer says.

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As many organizations begin to offer webinars and e-learning opportunities for attendees, forgetting can be a serious issue. How many times have you participated in a lengthy virtual learning event only to disconnect at the end without the knowledge you wanted to retain? While you might take notes, it’s impossible to remember all the key takeaways. If you’re like me, there’s a lot of head-scratching and thinking, “Now, what was it I was planning to do with the insights from that expert?”

To make e-learning more useful, Thalheimer’s subscription model uses “nuggets” to create a stronger connection with virtual attendees. Using push technology such as email, text messages and desktop notifications, anyone enrolled in the course receives a pre-scheduled prompt to complete a short module. Think of it like an Outlook reminder — except it’s for an appointment that won’t involve listening to a conference call.

I see a lot of value in this approach to virtual learning. Everyone in the meetings industry focuses on creating the elusive 365-day connection with each member of the audience, but it’s challenging. When those attendees return home, they get busy with personal and professional obligations. An invitation to a 60-minute online session may sound overwhelming, but five-minute tutorials spread across three months can feel much easier to fit into a calendar.

Would a subscription learning model work for your organization? Go to Catalyst to weigh in with your thoughts on recurring content to support your face-to-face meeting versus lengthy webinars.

Be sure to register for the 2015 Education Conference to hear Thalheimer’s perspective in-person and connect with your colleagues in Fort Lauderdale!

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