By Gordon Johnson, VP Marketing, Expertus
The moment has arrived! Excitement is in the air, as the learning and development community comes together for the biggest meet-up of the year — ASTD International Conference and Expo (aka ICE), this week in Washington, D.C.
ASTD Exhibitor: To Be, Or Not To Be?
industry reunions like this are always a cause for celebration. But for learning technology vendors like Expertus, it also sparks varying degrees of existential angst. Should we stay, or should we go? Tricky question.
On one hand, this event attracts thousands of participants — all interested in exchanging ideas on hot topics, sharing best practices and discovering new/improved technologies that support the learning process. A captive audience roams the exposition floor each day. In this kind of environment, calling attention to an innovative product or service should be like shooting fish in a barrel. Right?
On the other hand, this massive venue may not be the most effective or efficient way to connect with training professionals seeking better solutions to complex business problems. Of course, I’m not suggesting anything negative about ASTD. The organization has created a wildly popular event that is invaluable to members of the learning community. However, there are good reasons to wrestle with a “go/no go” expo decision.
- This year, more than 9000 people will attend ASTD ICE.
- About 20 of the world’s 500+ LMS vendors are expected to exhibit their products.
So, the real question is this: If you’re one of the 9000 attendees, will it matter to you if we’re LMS vendor 21, 22 or 23 on the show floor? Will our presence make a meaningful difference in your ASTD experience? Or, is there a better way for us to help you decide if our next-generation LMS is a good fit for your company?
That’s a tough question. But this week, I found clues to the answer.
Solutions vs. “Shiny Stuff”
Last week, four well-known learning community experts came together to create an excellent “ASTD Preview” hangout, now available on demand. (See the replay below.) The discussion doesn’t turn to learning technology until late in the session, when participants share some candid observations.
Consultants Wayne Turmel and Charles Jennings suggested a way to filter the noise — first analyze the challenges you’re facing, then look at how others are solving similar problems, so you can focus on relevant technologies.
As Charles notes, “Too often, we’ve seen bad decisions because people become enamored of shiny things. Don’t think about the tool first. Think about the problem you’re trying to solve. What should it look like when it’s all fixed? Then you can start to think about what bricks you might want to put in the wall — and what technologies might help you get it fixed faster, and be sure it stays fixed.”
Smart Strategy for Everyone
Assuming attendees base their pre-screening decisions on accurate information, LMS vendors should support this approach. After all, any mismatch between a customer’s expectations and a product’s reality will eventually reveal itself — and that disconnect damages the LMS brand.
Our industry has seen its share of mismatches in the past. But times have changed. New vendors are emerging. There’s a growing commitment to sustainable business models, built on service-based relationships. And that can happen only if tools deliver on their promise.
So, why is there discomfort on the expo floor?
Wayne explains, “People will go way out of their way to avoid talking to a vendor because they don’t want to get caught in the tractor beams. It’s really quite funny.”
Awkward. Why would we want to invest a large chunk of our marketing budget to create moments like that with potential customers? The truth is — we don’t.
Does a Next-Gen LMS Deserve Next-Gen Marketing?
All this leads me to the conclusion that it’s best to look beyond conventional expo strategies. After all, ExpertusONE is a next-generation LMS. — designed to put learners’ needs first. So it makes sense for us to champion “next-generation” marketing, as well.
For example, you can easily find us engaging in conversations on social media channels — Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, Facebook. It’s an ideal way to create and cultivate business relationships across the global learning community. And it reflects the kind of continuous learning experience that ExpertusONE supports in today’s connected workplace:
- Accessible anywhere, from any device.
- Easy for administrators and learners use.
- In short, a remarkably adaptable, engaging learning environment.
Want a Demo? We’re Always Open
As you can imagine, we’re pretty proud of our “shiny stuff.” We’re eager to show-off ExpertusONE capabilities to anyone who can benefit from its power and simplicity.
But we don’t need “tractor beams” to draw attention.
The ExpertusONE cloud LMS is already the solution of choice for some of the world’s most innovative learning organizations. It’s designed to fit easily into any enterprise learning environment. And it’s flexible enough to address the most challenging business requirements we’ve seen in 15+ years a learning technology services provider.
If you attend ASTD ICE, I hope it’s a productive educational and networking experience. And when the dust settles, I hope you’ll have a better sense of how to approach your organization’s next-generation learning initiatives. That’s when I hope you’ll invite us to talk with you.
In the meantime, take a look at results of the “Future State of the LMS” survey we recently conducted. Nearly 400 learning technology leaders shared their concerns about existing LMS platforms, and their goals for future technology. Their answers may inform your decisions, or spark new topics to investigate at ASTD.
Enjoy the show!
Image Credit: FreeImages