4 Reasons why you should start a certification program for your membership site.

Does your membership site need a certification program? Depending on the courses you’re offering, it might. For years, membership organizations of all stripes have offered lessons, workshops, and live events as ways to build their community and delight their members. Certification programs, whether online or in person, can therefore create a great opportunity for organizations and members alike. Here’s how.

1. Increase value of membership.

A good certification program creates a valuable opportunity for your members to grow personally and professionally. And the value this brings your members is an opportunity for you to grow your revenue.

Once you launch your new certification program, you have a few options for pricing models. First, you can develop the course specifically for your members and charge them accordingly. If your certification course is valuable enough, making it members-only can be an incentive for some people to join your organization.

You can also offer the certification program for free to all members, but use it as a justification for increasing membership dues. This works best if you already had plans to increase dues, but wanted a way to sweeten the deal for current members who may resent the rising fees.

Finally, you can offer your certification program to non-members, but with a discount for members. While this takes away from the exclusivity of your program, it will also increase your reach. Some of your program attendees will be happy to take your course without becoming members, while others may become so impressed by your material that they decide to join your organization. And, of course, your members will enjoy the discount as one of their perks.

Obviously, you can combine these models by making some programs members-only, or free to members but not to others. But whatever solution you choose, the added value to both your organization and your members will be sure to make both sides happy.

2. Challenge your competition.

Not every membership site has strong competition. You may be the one of the few professional organizations in your field, or you may be based in a local region without many other clubs. But if you do have competition, then you’ll want to take advantage of every differentiator you can find to prove that your organization is the best choice.

For many organizations, these differentiators come down to facilities, events, or access to resources. And, of course, certification programs fit right in as an excellent resource for many members. This can help draw new members to your organization, and also help retain current members.

Hopefully, your competition won’t have caught on to the idea yet. But if they have, take a peek at what they’re offering. You don’t want to fall behind, and you may be able to improve on their idea.

3. Cultivate your community.

Membership sites thrive on their ability to foster community. Whether it’s through social events, networking opportunities, or peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing, a healthy organization grows because of the personal commitments of its members. With that in mind, is there any way that a certification program could help build community among your members?

It turns out it can. Not only can certification programs be offered as part of a live workshop, they can also provide the backbone of a mentorship program. Furthermore, many online programs succeed by creating a community space for attendees to discuss course content together.

A certification program offered by your organization has a unique ability to bring these online and in-person communities together. You can offer the course online but provide in-person opportunities for attendees to meet and learn from each other. They can even benefit from an ongoing connection with other certificate recipients after their course is finished, including those who took the course before or after they did.

4. Build the prestige of your membership site.

Certification is good for professional growth because it helps verify a person’s credentials. Many people also appreciate receiving certification as a way of personal validation, even if they have no intention of using it in their careers.

This is because certification offers the recipients a certain level of prestige. But it also provides prestige to the organizations which offer it. Which, of course, reflects well on the members who are part of the organization, and so on and so forth. Think of how universities gain their reputations: they provide an excellent degree program, their graduates go on to become famous, and that attracts more people want to come to the institution.

By offering a certification program, you not only provide your members with a new avenue for improvement, you demonstrate your own commitment to advancing your organization. And prestige can carry your organization a long way. It can make you valued institution within your community, and it will attract the kind of members who want to be associated with it.

Offering certification has never been easier.

If the above reasons appeal to you, we have good news: LearnDash’s new Certificate Builder offers new drag-and-drop functionality within the WordPress’s Gutenberg blog editor to create and publish custom certificates using your brand and style guides. We even offer a live preview mode so that you can be sure your certificate matches your vision. This makes it easier for organizations of all sizes to offer exactly the kind of credentialed certification they and their learners want.

So, no matter your current situation, a certification program is an idea worth exploring. After all, if it can bring in additional revenue, set you apart from your competition, and solidify your community, what’s not to like?

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