What Can You Learn From CMEpalooza?

Earlier this summer, I was invited to give a presentation via webinar to the Colorado Alliance for CME (CACME) entitled, “The CMEpalooza Experience: What Can CME Providers Learn From It?” For now, we’ll ignore the fact that at least 15 people likely turned down an invitation before the meeting planners were forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel and invite me (I’m not offended). Instead, we’ll choose to focus on the presentation itself.

I must admit that when they chose this topic from a list of possible ones I sent to them, it was somewhat daunting. It’s just not something I had ever thought about. CMEpalooza is just something that Derek and I do – we don’t spend hours thinking about how we do it or why we do it, and that’s probably a good thing. Neither of us has enough brain cells to waste on that sort of advanced level thinking, and we’d probably just gum up the works even more than we usually do anyway.

But since I didn’t want to disappoint what were surely hundreds of rabid CME/CE professionals (I couldn’t see them so let’s just pretend there were more than 5 people in the audience), I spent a few hours trying to come up with something worthwhile. And, well, since I spent a few hours coming up with something for those hundreds of folks, I thought I’d share some of the highlights with the thousands of you reading this today. It’s called “repurposing content.”

So without further ado, here are the lessons you can learn from CMEpalooza and apply to your day-to-day:

  1. Throw things against the wall. Most won’t stick. But some of them will!
    CMEpalooza as a whole is one of those things that Derek threw against the wall that stuck. Things like CMEpalooza Spotlight didn’t. It happens. Take chances with your CME programming – there is nothing that makes our job duller than trotting out the same formats over and over. Some of my most rewarding successes – and yes, abysmal failures – have been in trying something different.
  2. Utilize online platforms to the best of their capabilities
    There are a lot of online delivery platforms with fancy bells and whistles available to us these days. It’s important to understand what each one offers and tailor your activity based on the capabilities of each individual platform. For instance, we use Google Hangouts for our CMEpalooza broadcasts – it’s a video-based platform where you can bring multiple people together in the same “room” to talk through things. Showing slides can be a bit clunky. Therefore, we emphasize panel discussions in lieu of heavy slide decks. That’s a very basic example, but I’m hoping get what I mean.
  3. Partner with the right people
    There is nothing worse than being stuck on a project for months with people who you don’t like, who don’t pull their weight, or offer excuses when things don’t get done on time. Sometimes, you are stuck working with people due to circumstances you cannot control, but there are times when you enter into a partnership willingly that quickly goes south for various reasons. Just be careful. As much as I poke fun at Derek through our blog, he’s actually pretty good to work with once you get past his Philadelphia 76ers fanboi qualities and his strange infatuation with Justine Bateman. Just don’t tell him I told you that (note from Derek: Wait a minute…did Scott just say something nice about me?? Wow! I will be writing about this in my diary tonight…).
  4. Develop a consistent marketing strategy
    This is one I’ll chalk up to pure luck. I certainly don’t ever remember sitting down with Derek and saying, “I think we should try to market CMEpalooza as a fun, come-as-you-are kind of meeting that covers serious topics without taking ourselves too seriously.” It just kind of happened that way, probably in part due to our personalities. But hey, it works for us, and we’ve just kind of gone along with it. Listen, marketing CME activities is difficult. VERY difficult. You are trying to reach an audience that probably considers a lot of what we offer to be ambient noise that they’d rather ignore. Nonetheless, there are many CME providers who have created a unique “personality” that they use to drive their marketing. I think it’s a good strategy.
  5. Build your professional network in a way that makes you comfortable
    Derek and I aren’t the most socially outgoing people in the world, and it’s probably gotten worse for both of us since we started working from home. We’re not to the point where we need to talk to a volleyball to keep us company (at least I’m not [Derek: no comment]), but we’re also not the people who are going to walk into a room and suddenly grab everyone’s attention. For me at least, CMEpalooza is the way I meet a lot of people in our industry. It’s partially why we include so many new faces in each iteration of our event – not only do we get to present different viewpoints to our audience, but it also broadens our personal professional network. Building relationships outside of your day-to-day walls is crucial to a rewarding career. There is no downside to getting to know good people who may become educational partners in the future (see item #3). Figure out a way to get to know them can be tricky and will depend upon your personality, but it’s not something you should ignore.
  6. Don’t take yourself too seriously – it’s just a job people
    Q: Why can’t your nose be 12 inches long?
    A: Because then it would be a foot


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