The Challenge

We have been working with The CIPD for approx. 6 years to support their commercial partnership development programme, when CIPD asked us to explore how a potential strategic partnership could support the community growth and profile of their industry leading Learning & Development Show (L&D Show).

The CIPD L&D Show was previously known as HRD and is the UK’s leading event for HR and learning and development professionals.  Incorporating both a conference and exhibition over two days, the CIPD L&D Show is designed to address the key challenges facing organisations and delivers learning and development solutions.

The Learning & Development (L&D) community represent a core sector of the membership, and the L&D Show forms a key service and offering to the L&D community. CIPD were keen to explore securing a strategic leading partner for the L&D Show though this represented significant challenges particularly in regards to the sensitivities of have the right brand/organisation partner. The CIPD had previously secured leading partners for its other flagship Annual Conference & Exhibition (ACE) and major events.

What we did and how we did it

We worked closely with the CIPD events, marketing and management teams to scope out a partnership offering for the L&D Show, and determining the niche nature of organisations which would represent appropriate and would drive strategic value in partnering on the L&D Show.

We worked closely with CIPD to determine the potential brand sensitivities for the L&D Show and along with the CIPD created a proposal to take to market.

Simultaneously we worked in opening discussions with both existing and new contacts in organisation which would want to engage with the L&D community.  In particularly we had a number of previous conversations with the Open University (OU) which we felt had an extremely strong alignment to the CIPD, and understood to have a direct need to forge closer relationships with HR professions and the L&D community.

The OU has an unprecedented brand within the B2C sector providing flexible part-time study, supported distance and open learning for undergraduate and postgraduate courses and qualification.  Since the incorporation by Royal Charter in 1969 OU have taught more than two million students worldwide.

Alongside its B2C market, the OU has a growing B2B offering, providing contextualised and tailored learning programmes (included tailored qualifications and degrees) for both the public and private sector.  The OU had an objective to raise the profile of its B2B offering directly with HR and L&D Community as a key target audience.

We worked with both the CIPD and OU to develop a long term partnership on the L&D Show which would enable the OU to demonstrate expertise and build brand profile across the high profile L&D Show alongside CIPD.

The partnership enables the OU to host on the floor showcases, conference session showcase latest research, build brand profile though the extensive CIPD marketing programme and on the day.

CIPD were delighted to be working in partnership with the OU and felt there was a powerful brand alignment with both organisation having well aligned values and objectives.  The OU extend the promotion of the L&D Show through their own channels and have exactly the right brand which CIPD wished to associate with the L&D Show.

The CIPD/Open University L&D Show partnership is now in its 3rd year and has proved to be an extremely successful partnership for both the CIPD and OU.  The OU have now extended their relationship with CIPD, partnering on CIPD’s Annual Conference & Exhibition and we are exploring how to strengthen this relationship across both businesses to support long-term business priorities.