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Key Benefits of Expanding Your Certification Offerings
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Expand Your Certification Offerings to Boost Revenue and Engagement Expanding certification offerings can add significant value for trade associations and their members. This article explores the benefits as well as the challenges of certification, before providing valuable insights into best practices for setting up successful certification programmes.

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Expand Your Certification Offerings to Boost Revenue and Engagement

Pressure is growing on trade associations (TAs) to defend their members' interests and add value to their memberships. As a result, TAs are rapidly changing their engagement models by holding more events and meetings, in addition to setting up community platforms.

However, the expenses associated with frequent online meetings and increased member communications have led to rising cost pressures on TAs. While costs have increased, TA revenues have stagnated because membership fees have remained the same. This has presented ongoing challenges for associations.

Some TAs have sought to address these difficulties by funnelling more money and resources into their certification and credentialing programs to add value to their offerings, while others are exploring their options.

In this article, we look at the key benefits of certification programs and the advantages for TAs and industry members.

Key Benefits of Expanding Your Certification Offerings

Expanding certification and credentialing offerings has a number of benefits for TAs and their members. By setting industry-leading standards and educational programs, TAs add significant value for their members.

Certification also builds upon the industry credibility of TAs. Other companies and prospective business partners are more likely to collaborate with TAs that implement rigorously tested industry best practices. Providing certification also helps benchmark quality in the sector by accelerating business strength and sustainability through enhanced professionalism, performance, and service delivery.

Below, we break down the other key benefits of certification for both members and trade associations.

Value to Associations

Certification can help drive new revenue streams, which are particularly important during a time when TAs increasingly need year-round engagement since the pandemic. Certification can drive brand awareness and increase engagement for associations.

It also helps TAs set new industry standards that improve their reputation and

appeal to members and other organisations. As a consequence, TAs that offer these programs could become the leading certification bodies of an entire industry.

Value to Members

Members benefit significantly from certification. It reduces risk and liability for them by validating their people and organisation. Certification does this by demonstrating their commitment to a standard of quality. This helps to prevent over-regulation.

Certification may also help members gain more bargaining power with legislators. Additionally, TA members gain recognised expertise within the industry, which can potentially open up new opportunities further down the line.

Challenges for Trade Associations

While certification provides many advantages to trade associations and members, it is not without its challenges. The challenges of certification broadly fit into two main categories, organisational and financial.

Organisational Challenges

Trade associations are typically small organisations that include a large number of members. This makes it difficult to implement the systems needed to track members and keep them engaged. However, technology can help alleviate some of the challenges inherent in maintaining up-to-date member records and keeping members in the loop.

Another challenge for TAs when setting up certification programs is staying ahead of industry changes with a small team of staff and limited resources.

Financial Challenges

TAs also face a number of financial hurdles when creating industry standards. Funding continues to be a challenge due to the uncertain economic climate, making organisations more risk-averse than usual.

Before creating any certification program, organisations should ask themselves questions such as:

  • Who will pay for the certification?
  • How should certifications and renewals be managed?
  • Who will conduct the training?

Many associations have limited staff, making it more difficult to create a viable

financial model for establishing a sustainable educational program. Organisations should therefore consider whether collaborating with training organisations, other associations, or their key members can help provide the resources and finances needed to create a certification program.

Other considerations might include deciding what to certify, understanding where content should come from, and deciding how certificates will be delivered.

Models for Successful Certification Implementation

So what are the most cost-effective ways for trade associations to address these challenges?

We have outlined two of the main models that can help associations implement certification programs successfully. These include direct online training and hybrid training.

Direct Online Training

This model involves creating online content for certification. It usually requires members to sign up via a registration page on the TA's website and pay for the program. Members can then participate in the course online. Upon completion, participants receive a certificate once they have passed their examination.

This model of training is easy and simple for TAs to set up and gives them full control over the delivery of the content. However, it may not be suitable for all demographics—such as older people, for example. There are also often fewer stakeholders involved.

Hybrid Training

This model of certification involves creating content with members and may be delivered using various methods, including online training, classroom participation, or video. With this type of training, members sign up via a website registration page and select the format of their training. Offering multiple delivery formats in this way is not only more convenient for members, but it also opens the door to multiple revenue streams. This is because it involves more stakeholders, venues, and trainers, paving the way for potential partnerships.

Some methods may be more suited to specific industries, so it creates opportunities to sell certifications based on the method. For example, a study published by McKinsey revealed that online learning and IT were the most suited to remote, online training. On the other hand, industries involving sales and measuring products were less suited to fully remote work and thus, by inference, are more suited to hybrid training.

However, it is also important to note that hybrid training programs can be more complex to set up and involve a lot of moving parts, which gives associations less control over the process.

Using Tech to Expand Certification

Establishing an expanded certification program can help associations better engage members, add value to the membership, and increase revenue. It sets TAs apart as industry leaders committed to providing excellence within the industry.

In addition, offering more certification options and delivery methods to members will not only help increase participation but will also help generate additional, much-needed revenue streams.

But how can organisations start offering flexible training that's suitable for all of their members?

One way is to use technology and take advantage of industry-leading software such as idloom's. The idloom.passport software allows associations to easily create an education system and set up courses and modules with an online learning management system (LMS). TAs can also create and manage certificates and segment their database.

Idloom's certification offerings allow TA executives to stay ahead of the changes in their industry and establish a more efficient credentialing process. Contact them to find out more.