Member Needs Assessment as a Marketing Resource
This article is part of a series of articles that will dissect the Member Needs Assessment, focusing on key areas that will enable providers to meet the particular needs and preferences of specific demographics of AIA members. CES Providers can apply the research in this survey in a variety of useful ways. These articles will guide providers towards getting the most out of the research and information provided in the survey. CES Providers are familiar on some level with the needs of AIA members. After all, having a comprehensive understanding of member needs is a necessary ingredient in order to offer continuing education that is relevant and desirable. However, understanding AIA member needs at a deeper level can give CES Providers the competitive edge necessary to develop educational courses that maximize demand and truly meet member needs.
The Member Needs Assessment survey delves into the fundamental interests and incentives which drive AIA member’s pursuit of continuing education, and offers insights into member preferences and attitudes on a variety of topics: course content, course format, technology, etc. This information will allow CES providers to develop course content that provides members with information they really need and want. The survey conducted an attitudinal segmentation, which breaks down the various types of learners surveyed and hones in on their specific preferences and attitudes towards learning formats, technology and educational content. Familiarity with the types of learners and their attitudes toward learning, combined with knowledge on the preferences of educational format and content that categorize a specific demographic of members can position CES providers to better determine how to formulate the content of courses, the technology to integrate and the educational format to use. The research in the Member Needs Assessment will help providers maximize the value and relevance of educational courses.
Emerging professionals are practicing architects who have been in the profession for 10 years or less. They are an vital demographic that CES Providers must market to and meet the needs of, as emerging professionals offer the longest, most sustained engagement in continuing education courses. 4 in 10 are currently licensed architects and a majority are pursuing their license. Over one-third of emerging professionals (35%) are interns, 22% are Designers; another 22% are Managers. Overall, emerging professionals have a greater interest in design. A shift towards greater demand in educational content covering facets of design is on the horizon, as the emerging professionals demographic grow and become experienced architects.
Furthermore, emerging professionals are more likely to use social media. CES providers should develop ways to leverage social media as a resource to market and connect with emerging professionals. Providers should develop avenues for sustained contact, long after the course is presented, with the emerging professional demographic through the use of social media. Also, emerging professionals are more inclined to use technology for their classes and want to interact with other students and teachers. Developing courses that integrate technology and emphasize group interaction is an advantageous way to connect and appeal to the emerging professional. However it is also important for providers to recognize that emerging professionals are the most open to podcasts with audio and video content from a handheld device. As the technology to disseminate continuing education and knowledge rapidly advances, CES Providers should consider offering educational courses through tablets and smart-phones.
One of the most important characteristics to note of emerging professional is that they are more likely to be paying for continuing education themselves. On average, an emerging professional has 69% of continuing education paid for by the employer, compared to 76% for experienced professionals. Emerging professionals expect to spend less on continuing education, but demand courses that integrate technology and interactive educational formats. Also, they prefer continuing education classes geared toward a beginner level. When developing courses, CES providers should consider the unique needs and preferences of emerging professionals, such as cost, course content, difficulty level, course format and technology. Emerging professionals are an incredibly diverse and dynamic group of architects. Implementing a strategy to meet their arising needs will strengthen the AIA Continuing Education System in better serving emerging professionals, by educating them on important emerging trends and knowledge necessary to grow into experienced architects and to expand their practice and better service their own clientele. It will also give CES providers the competitive edge to capitalize on the dynamic needs and interests of emerging professionals.