What a Difference a Couple of Years Makes – Conference Lessons Learned

By June 5, 2018March 3rd, 2020No Comments

Over the last several years, the leadership team at Remote Learner has invested in a deep dive to reexamine the role we play with our clients and how we want to engage with our markets. We restricted the number of new clients we accepted in 2017 so that we could focus on our work with existing clients and truly understand how we were making a difference and where we could improve. Making the shift from being an LMS hosting vendor to a true digital learning innovation partner can take some time – kind of like turning a cruise ship. With that said, we and our clients are seeing the benefits of those efforts and we are getting the ship up to speed, as is evidenced by the successes seen at this year’s ATD International Conference & Exposition. This annual event, organized by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), is the world’s largest of its kind. Remote-Learner sent a team of five to ATD and enjoyed an excellent level of engagement, both on the trade show floor and in a joint session presentation with technology partner Totara and our client, Indeed.

“What I really got out of this year’s conference, much more than in past years, is that people stayed and talked. It wasn’t just a quick drive-by, we were having deeper conversations,” said Remote Learner President, Dr. Page Chen. “People would stand and talk for 15 or 20 minutes. And, across the board, visitors wanted more information after the show. Beyond just badge scanning, they were asking for business cards so they could follow-up with us directly.”

When asked why this year’s conference created so many fruitful connections, the conference team identified a few factors related to how we talk about ourselves and the role we desire to play with current and new clients alike that really made an impact.

Definitive Differentiation

Though it may seem obvious, one thing we previously failed to appreciate is the necessity of establishing our brand and differentiation before heading to a trade show or convention. At an event on ATD’s scale, we are certain to be surrounded by dozens of perceived competitors providing seemingly comparable products in the same market space. According to Remote-Learner CEO Ron Olsen, having great products and services is just one part in the battle to stand out.

“It’s more about the strategy and the vision and not necessarily about the tools,” he said. “There’s a calmness and confidence in knowing your place in the world. There are over 700 LMS providers out there creating noise in the market, but thankfully we are not one of them. While we may provide a hosted LMS as part of an overall digital learning environment, we provide solutions and experiences to address real-world problems and needs. That is what is behind our messaging, and that is where the conversations went.”

A Booth Experience that Builds on the Message

Redefining who we are gave us the opportunity to retool our booth display. While our previous display was attractive and highly visible, the new display is more eye-catching and, more importantly, more engaging. The display presents a stylized flowchart which describes how we move from a client’s vision to a solution and the impact that solution realizes. It also reflects the continued support Remote Learner offers once a solution is built and deployed. Courtney Berg, Remote Learner’s Accountability Officer, said that display was a valuable conversation starter.

“The booth display pulled in people and prompted a lot of questions – Explain this to me? Can I take a picture? How does this fit into what you do? This inevitably led to deeper discussions of the problems they were having and how we would use our expertise, tools and solutions to help. It started the dialog,” she said.

Adding to the display itself were colorful postcards that highlight inspirational, fun quotes related to eLearning on one side and a related problem that we have worked with clients to solve on the other. The postcards provided a tangible takeaway for visitors to remember us by once they returned home from the conference. The entire experience tied together the problems to be solved with our expertise and approach, creating lasting impressions.

Holistic Event Engagement

Being an innovation partner is about being a thought leader in your space as well as a solution provider. So while great solutions and a great booth experience are important, we have come to realize that it’s also important to engage with the event and the industry at large whenever possible. At conferences we attend, you’re sure to meet various members from our leadership, solution, design and account management teams. We do this to give participants access to a broad range of thought and expertise, much like you would experience working directly with Remote-Learner. Throughout the year, we also participate on panels, host focus groups, lead industry sessions, and work with clients to present case studies that connect the great work we do to the broader problems facing the industry.

At ADT, we  presented a case study with technology partner Totara and our client, Indeed.

“We received great feedback from people in the room and had attendees waiting in line to speak to us after the session,” shared Dr. Chen. “We co-presented in the session with fellow Totara partners and it was nice to demonstrate the collaborative spirit we all share about supporting our clients in achieving greatness in their digital learning endeavors.”

What’s Next

We are thrilled to engage at a deeper level with our clients and the industry. We are also  participating in more and more events throughout the year. Dr. Page Chen recently spoke at the US-Sino Online Higher Education Conference in Shanghai, China at the invitation of our partners at the Online Learning Consortium and we regularly receive invitations from clients about opportunities to co-present or speak at their industry events in support of the good work we are doing together on their digital learning solutions.

Do you have an event, large or small, where you’d like us to share the value of having a strong innovation partner providing your digital learning solutions? Or maybe co-present with you at an industry event on the digital training solutions your organization has put in place with Remote-Learner by your side? We are happy to assist our clients in achieving their goals, and are always willing to shout it from the rooftops with them in celebration of our shared success. We look forward to talking more about it all at our next event – see you there.

Remote Learner has a full slate of conventions and trade shows ahead for 2018.