By diversifying into certifications, micro-credentials, and innovative content packaging, you can generate streams of resilient eLearning revenue. An evergreen model focuses on scalable automated systems, flexible incremental learning, and promoting loyalty—key to weathering any downturn.
In this blog, we’ll explore strategies for making your education offerings recession-proof by transforming them into always-on, self-sustaining products. You’ll learn how to shelter your association from declining dues and keep the lights on through recurring non-dues eLearning income.
If you’ve worked in the business world, you’ve likely already heard of an evergreen business model. An evergreen business model is built to sustain itself and continue generating revenue year after year, without large amounts of ongoing efforts. This allows the business to be profitable and productive sustainably over the long-term.
The key tenets of an evergreen business model are that it:
During uncertain economic times, building out an evergreen business model to generate non-dues revenue is essential. Associations can easily apply the principles of an evergreen business model to their learning and education programs to generate sustainable non-dues revenue streams—and we’ll share how!
The first step is developing learning content and courses that focus on building essential, in-demand skills for their membership base. Evergreen subject matter that will remain relevant over an extended period. For example, foundational skills like leadership, communication, and team management tend to have enduring utility across roles and industries.
You likely already have some of this content already created or accessible, and if not, Blue Sky eLearn has the resources to help you create engaging, evergreen content specific to your industry (click here to learn more!)—but creating content? That’s just the beginning.
Where many associations struggle is packaging the learning content they create in a sustainable, scalable, revenue-generating way. It goes without saying that having a learning management system (LMS) as the home base for all your learning content is a must.
To support an evergreen business model your LMS must:
Once your content and content delivery system (your LMS) are in place, it’s time to package your content and create learning products.
The good, better, best model is traditionally a tiered pricing strategy that offers customers multiple levels of a product or service at different price points. The main components of this model are:
Many businesses across a wide range of industries adopt the Good-Better-Best model to appeal to a wide range of customer needs and budgets. The Good-Better-Best model can:
Associations can leverage it effectively for packaging educational offerings to their members or non-members. For example:
Another possibility is using the Good-Better-Best model to package educational offerings from a conference or event:
As we mentioned earlier, the evergreen business model includes products or services that customers want to purchase repeatedly over time, creating predictable recurring revenue. They continually address essential needs of their target market, and sales remain resilient in the face of economic challenges.
When it comes to education, certifications and industry-recognized certificates are two great examples of valuable evergreen products that associations can offer. Here’s the difference between the two:
Certifications typically signify that you successfully passed an exam, and a certificate was issued upon demonstrating mastery or competency. Standards for certification may be set through a defensible industry-wide practice which can result in a designation and may require ongoing continuing education or maintenance.
Industry recognized certificates typically represent that someone completed training or education or obtained new knowledge or a skill. They may not comply with any sort of standard at all. Industry-recognized certificates may be listed on a resume but is not a designation and there are no ongoing requirements.
Here are some strategies associations can use to turn certifications and industry-recognized certificates into profitable learning products:
The Three x Three Model refers to an approach for creating a series of short learning courses bundled together into credential packages. It involves:
The Three x Three Model creates learning pathways within each domain, leading to domain-specific credentials, as well as an overarching credential for completing all domains. The model allows associations to quickly develop stacks of aligned educational content. Learners can take customized paths focused on domains of interest and receive incremental credentials along the way. It's an agile approach for rapidly creating credentials of value that serve both learners looking for flexibility and those seeking an end-to-end program. The model provides associations a template for ongoing revenue from credential packages.
As we navigate uncertain seas ahead, future-proofing your association through an evergreen business model is key to stability and sustainability. With the strategies outlined today—diverse revenue streams, retention focus, flexible packaging and pricing, leveraging certifications and credentials—you can transform your educational offerings into products and services that provide recurring value.
The economic tides will always shift, sometimes unpredictably. But by looking to the horizon and laying the right foundations today, your association can flourish sustainably no matter what tomorrow brings.
Medical associations have an unparalleled opportunity to enhance the accessibility, personalization, and efficacy of their educational programs by going digital.
For associations that are juggling diverse knowledge bases, federated search offers a game-changing solution.
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