Tuesday, 16 November 2010

How do we help Associations market, brand, and bring in new members?

Part I - Getting the Association Leadership on Board

The Marketing Think Tank call recently hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications, facilitated this month by Andrea Lamarsaude of BrightBlue, focused on the topic of: “How do we help Associations market & brand themselves and bring in new members?”

The group discussed creative ways that an association can stand out and attract new members.

Some of the topics discussed included:

~ What are some of the key components of a successful association marketing strategy?
~ What are some specific marketing tools that you have used that were successful in marketing an association?
~ What are some creative ways or marketing tactics to drive membership up in an association -possibly tied to a membership drive?
~ What are some ways to involve the Board in building membership?
~ How do you gain media and PR exposure for an association? What are creative ways to do this if you have a limited budget?

There were some great ideas that came from this Think Tank and we will be doing a small series of blogs to cover them all more in depth.

This first blog of the series focuses on - Getting the Association Leadership on Board.

All of the leadership of an association must be on board with the marketing strategy and be sending out a consistent marketing message throughout the association, especially the Board of Directors and key members.

However, the general nature of Board members is that they are very busy people because they get involved. This can create a bit of a challenge when trying to get them to be a part of your marketing plans. Our Think Tank came up with several ideas to help overcome these challenges.

1. The Association must have a formal communications plan that the Board and Key Members have had the chance to contribute to and have all had the opportunity to become familiar with the final version. The communications plan is a step-by-step plan of what you want accomplished each week/month, etc. It helps ensure that there is a consistent mission statement and message that everyone participating is clear about. Also, the plan must have some flexibility to adjust to any unforeseen changes.

2. Don’t forget member retention while in the midst of a membership drive. You should include some ideas in the marketing plan on how to retain the new members once they come on board.

3. Create a contest to pit Board members against each other to bring in new members - a friendly competition for a nice prize, but be sure you make it fresh by only doing it every year or bi-annually and not every month in order to make it possible to put more planning into it.

Generally speaking, because Board members are usually business people they compete for business every day and are competitive people. Fostering that feeling with a friendly competition amongst your Board members can be a huge benefit to your Association. The prizes that they are competing for can be as simple as a plaque in your Association’s lobby with their name under Top Producer of the 2010 Spring Membership Drive or perhaps a weekend golf get-away or any number of things in between. The main idea is to give them something to compete against each other for and really light their competitive fires!

4. Another great way to get your Board and key members involved in marketing your Association is to build a speakers bureau within the association by using the Board and other key members as speakers for other organizations’ events. These Board member speakers would then be able to promote your association as well as their own company or organization. This option is a win-win for both your association and your key members company at the same time. You are basically incentivizing your Board and key members to promote your association and at the same time they are promoting their own company or organization.

We would love to hear from you if you have had success with some creative membership drives and/or Association marketing plans!

Next in our series of helping Associations market and brand themselves we will discuss some creative marketing techniques that Associations can use. Stay tuned!!

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