As the UK has spent the first few months of 2021 in lockdown, access to remote and online continuing professional development (CPD) material has continued to be vital to architects, specifiers and designers so they can continue their professional development.
Even with lockdown, CPD remains an opportunity for manufacturers to raise awareness of their brand and products with specifiers even when they aren't working on construction projects. Last month, we hosted a live panel discussion explaining how you can do that.
Here are five of the most effective ways to deliver your CPD content and ultimately helping you to get your products specified further down the line.
1. Highlight your expertise
Delivering CPD is a great opportunity to position your business as thought leaders within your specialist area. By educating your audience and sharing your expertise, you’re helping them to improve their understanding of your sector and your products. This could lead to your audience identifying your business as the go-to brand for a particular type of product in the future.
Eva Woode, Founder of Edify Content Studio, suggests that effective thought leadership is about producing the type of content and answering the sort of questions that your audience would find the most useful.
"Thought leadership is less about looking inwards at your own products and more about looking outwards and understanding the wider context of where your offering fits in and to then own that specific area."
2. Think laterally
The most engaging CPD content doesn’t just focus on selling your products. The best and most effective content explains the wider context around your sector so that specifiers end up with a deeper understanding of your specialism and how your products can act as a solution to any issues they may face.
"Think about what the biggest issues are that you can tie your brand or product into. This could be CPD content that addresses wider issues relating to a product without the product even being mentioned. For example, a tile company doing a seminar on colour psychology or a paving company who have a blog on issues of the urban realm. Neither of them would necessarily directly reference a product but would still make important points about how the product is used." - Joni Tyler, Head of CPD, RIBA
3. Stay current
CPD doesn’t have to be delivered in a classroom or even in person. If you choose to deliver your CPD content online, there’s a wide range of formats you can utilise including webinars, videos, blog posts and even podcasts. By making your materials available digitally, it also means that your audience can access them in their own time.
"Before lockdown, we were having demand for traditional CPD presentations and it was a hard sell to move to digital platforms. The balance has gone completely the other way now." – Kay Porter, Managing Director, Smart Marketing Works
Choosing to deliver your materials digitally also gives you the freedom to get creative with the types of content that you can share with your audience.
A great example of this comes from the Roca London Gallery, an award-winning exhibition space designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Roca developed a RIBA-accredited virtual tour of the space, which Joni described as “a little piece of thought leadership as well as being enjoyable, fun and out of the ordinary.”
By using video to showcase the museum, Roca were also able to bring the space to life for their audience as well as provide them with a deeper understanding of the materials and processes that were involved in the design and construction of the building.
"For brands that aren’t familiar with content marketing, CPD can be a good place to start.” – Eva Woode, Founder, Edify Content Studio
4. Tell people about itOnce you’ve got your content ready, it’s time to let everybody know about it. There are a lot of ways you can point your audience towards your learning materials, including social media, your own website and by joining initiatives such as the RIBA CPD Providers Network.
"Make sure that you’re creating a buzz around your content and linking to it after the fact as well as beforehand."” - Joanna Wilmot, PR Director, The Think Tank
Creating engaging CPD materials can take time – but they can also always be reused later on in a number of different ways such as articles on your website, by posting highlights on your social media channels or through additional webinars. Having the material available to be used repeatedly in the future could prove to be an invaluable asset as part of your integrated marketing campaigns.
“"Once you’ve actually created the content, the amount of ‘bang for your buck’ you’ll get depends on how effectively you then repurpose it across your digital channels."” – Kay Porter, Managing Director, Smart Marketing Works
5. Join the RIBA CPD Providers NetworkThe RIBA CPD Providers Network supports manufacturers who want to engage directly with specifiers through bespoke CPD content. Members of the RIBA must achieve 100 learning points (approximately 35 hours of CPD) every year in order to keep their membership. RIBA-approved CPD materials count for double the amount of points of non-accredited materials, meaning that RIBA-approved content carries more weight, helping to make it more appealing to specifiers.
"The use of the logo also comes with significant brand recognition. The RIBA is the one of the world’s oldest professional bodies and the RIBA CPD Providers Network logo is recognisable to over 85% of RIBA Chartered members and 75% of non-members.” – Joni Tyler, Head of CPD, RIBA
As well as the all-important accreditation and credibility, the Providers Network provides members with a wider range of benefits including use of the RIBA CPD logo and inclusion in RIBA CPD marketing materials as well as opportunities to present at RIBA CPD Roadshows and other exclusive events. Providers also have access to priority support from teams both at the RIBA and NBS.
"Make sure that you really celebrate being part of the Providers Network, underline that you’re investing in the community and have links with the RIBA through content that reaches their high standards.” - Joanna Wilmot, PR Director, The Think Tank