How Free AIA CE Courses Help Selling in Tough Times

Posted On: 
Jan 22, 2018
How Free AIA CE Courses Help Selling in Tough Times

“Perhaps nothing distinguishes the fierce competitors from the handwringers more than their overall approach to selling in tough times. And like shrewd blackjack players showing two aces, they double-down their bets on training,” says Jeffery Fox in his book How to Be a Fierce Competitor. Timid companies reduce education budgets while bold companies increase their education efforts. Let’s review how free AIA continuing education can help building product manufacturers.

Getting Your Products Specified

Building product manufacturers primary mission is to get their products specified. It can be a difficult task and made even more difficult without the proper resources and in a tough economy. Education = Specifications. As we noted in a previous previous blog, brand awareness is the first step for a product manufacturer. Out of sight is out of mind and if the architect is not familiar with your brand, they are less likely to specify your product. An architect must understand the benefits, applications, and costs associated with your building product to specify it.

Free AIA Online Courses

There are over 90,000 AIA members who are required to fulfill their 18 hours of continuing education every year. That’s over 1.6 million hours of AIA continuing education that is needed by design professionals! Building product manufacturers can help architects meet these mandatory requirements by offering free AIA CE courses. In addition, most states require continuing education for licensed architects which provides further opportunities for manufacturers.

GBCI Online Course

In addition to AIA registration, submitting the course to the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) can increase participation. The GBCI provides third party verification services for certification and LEED. There are over 200,000 LEED professionals. Developing an AIA course that can also be registered with the GBCI for LEED APs to take is a no-brainer to reach as many decision makers as possible.

CE Course Format

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again- choose the best AIA CE course format. The worst format in the industry is PDF. The PDF format is despised by architects, antiquated, and limits interaction and engagement with decision makers. A PDF can be useful as an additional resource (white paper, case study, etc.) but as the primary delivery format, it fails miserably on many fronts.

Video, a narrated Powerpoint presentation, and Prezi are better delivery formats for AIA CE courses. AIA Video courses outperform PDF and conventional courses three to five times in user participation. Architects want to participate in a well written and visually appealing course, not a 60-page PDF overflowing with mountains of text and bad clip art.

The Benefits of Video Education

There are multiple benefits of video education. Architects, engineers, interior designers, and contractors prefer video education over reading PDFs, Word documents, and manuals. Let’s review several benefits of AIA video courses.

  • Comprehension--Architects can view a course at their own pace and stop, rewind, or forward the video to review information.
  • Retention--Video education has higher levels of retention compared to traditional forms.
  • Effectiveness--Videos can help architects move from knowing to understanding. Video AIA courses increase their confidence that they are carrying out your instructions correctly. A video of a product installation is more effective than a PDF with mountains of text describing the same process.


In tough times, educating architects about your products can be a game-changer. Instead of cutting AIA online courses, decreasing AIA lunch and learns, and ceasing webinars, building product manufacturers should increase their bandwidth for all of these programs. Education equals specifications. Getting specified isn’t rocket science, it just takes hard work. How does your company increase product specifications in a bad economy? What are successful stories you can share about your education efforts?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank