Premier Meeting Services collaborates with Athena Education Group, LLC, as the continuing medical education provider to plan, develop, and implement live CME conferences, meetings, and symposia at the local, regional, national, and international levels. Over the years, our main challenge has been to keep medical education meetings up-to-date and attractive to an often repeating but ever-evolving audience of medical professionals.
- The Baby-Boomers in the audience who have been to many CME programs are “old-pros” who attend for very different reasons than their younger millennial colleagues. Often senior practitioners come to network with old friends, recruit employees, and find out “what’s new”.
- The Millennials, on the other hand, come not only to learn but often to find a job, make new friends, and develop a feeling of belonging to their professional practice group.
- Differences in motivation are not only generational. Attendees at CME conferences also have a unique personality profile. Medical professionals are often scientists who tend to be more introverted than the typical attendees at a national sales meeting. It is becoming almost mandatory for planners to design networking opportunities that ease the uncomfortable face-to-face component that natural introverts tend to avoid, otherwise they will continue to lose attendance to online learning.
Diverse attendee motivations are the medical meeting planner’s marketing challenge. Make no mistake, attendees expect a customized experience. They will go to the expense and inconvenience of attending a CME program only if they feel it answers their unique needs. What, then, can planners do to uncover these preferential differences in CME audiences from year to year and from seminar to seminar?
5 Steps of Effective Research
Premier Meeting Services follows a step-by-step program when planning each CME program.
- Collect available client data – Most clients have attendee preference data gathered from previous trainings. Premier planners analyze available data to extract preferential differences from varying stakeholders. Clients rarely take the time to analyze the data they already have and often aren’t sure what they are looking for. Planners can collect and analyze already collected data.
- Interview internal stakeholders – Every member of the organization has a slightly different objective for each CME program. To design effective trainings planners must understand the needs of both young and old, journeymen and rookies, national and international participants, teachers, students, experts, medical media, and medical organization principals.
- Design new exit questionnaires for each training – keeping data up-to-date is essential for an accurate knowledge base going forward. If you want to know why people choose your CME offering, the best way to find out is to ask them.
- Refine data points to discern – net satisfaction levels – segmented attendance statistics – social media response reports – participation levels – negative elimination reports. These segmentation studies can be converted into action plans for designing the next CME program.
- Macro-market research –Refined data points must be viewed in the context of overall market research to truly understand who your target client is and what he wants from your training. Recent market research, for example, reveals that content is no longer king. Contact is king. Attendees are motivated more by making face-to-face contact with colleagues and experts in their field than they are by whatever specific content is being offered.
Not the Same Old Thing
One of the dangers in planning CME programs is to rely solely on content to attract an audience. While it is true that the learning experience is at times compulsory, the choices of where and when a medical professional can get the required continuing education certificate are multiplying algebraically. Planners must be prepared to answer the question, “Why would I attend an event rather than learn online?” When you can answer that question for a varied constituency, you are on the road to success at your next CME event.