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5 Recession Myths that Hurt Your Association

5 Recession Myths that Hurt Your Association

Rumblings of the next global recession make headlines almost daily. If the predictions are true, associations could be headed for difficult times when it comes to member engagement and event attendance. To make matters worse, most association leaders use flawed logic when navigating an economic downturn. But not all the news is negative. An impending recession or other crisis is an opportunity to strengthen your association so you can thrive no matter what the future brings.

Here are five recession myths that hurt your association plus advice on how to shift your thinking to ensure resilience into the future.


MYTH 1: Your value proposition must change for a down market.

REALITY: Your association needs a strong value proposition always. “Things” like events, content, and thought leadership are easy for your audience to cut. However, it’s tougher to cut a cause and a community they are passionate about. That’s why you need a solid value proposition that answers the question: “What am I paying for?” Lead with your cause and prove you offer real, tangible value. Show you are a resource people can depend on. Emphasize the value of your network. Be so helpful that your base can’t imagine getting through a recession—or an average work week—without you.


MYTH 2: Associations should reduce programs that don’t produce revenues.

REALITY: Your members rely on your association for resources that enhance their careers and make their lives better. Some of these resources don’t generate measurable ROI for your association, yet they are invaluable to building trust with members, driving engagement, and creating loyal brand ambassadors. It’s a bad idea to cut programs based on revenues alone. It’s a great idea, on the other hand, to cut anything that doesn’t generate some sort of value for your members. A recession is an opportunity to examine your programs, services, publications, events, and other resources. Cut anything that could distract members from your core value.


MYTH 3: Low engagement is a red flag for a recession.

REALITY: Low engagement is a red flag that your value proposition is broken and your strategy is flawed. Many associations already see a drop in engagement, and a recession isn’t here yet. If one does arrive, engagement will get even worse and event attendance will decline along with it. Recession or not, now is the time to be proactive with modern digital marketing that differentiates your association, builds trust with members and prospects, and delivers value over time.


MYTH 4: It’s a good idea to decrease staff and marketing.

REALITY: Many associations think they need to lay off staff, eliminate outsourcing, decrease marketing funds, and review vendor contracts to cut potential excess from the budget. All of these are terrible ideas. Laying off staff means you will be less capable of serving your members’ needs. That can only lead to a drop in engagement and retention. Instead of decreasing marketing funds, you should increase them. Even if you see a lull in membership during the recession itself, you’ll be that much farther ahead when it’s over if you invest in marketing now. More people will know about you vs. competitors, and they’ll come to you first when they have money to spend.


MYTH 5: You should wait to see how bad things get.

REALITY: Don’t wait for disaster to strike before you take deliberate steps to strengthen your association. People don’t make the best choices amid chaos. Reactive mode is never as effective as being proactive. Right now is a great time to examine your value proposition, strategy, and prospecting efforts to make sure they all serve the needs of your current and future members.

The best way to survive a recession is to strengthen and improve your association before one hits. Know and articulate your solid value proposition, invest in marketing and prospecting—especially to find the next generation of leaders, and focus your efforts on resources that deliver real, tangible value. These are best practices for success regardless of current events.

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4 Steps to Prepare Your Association for the Ripple Effects of the Coronavirus or Any Crisis

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4 Steps to Prepare Your Association for the Ripple Effects of the Coronavirus or Any Crisis

What Does the Coronavirus Have to Do with Association Marketing?
Answer: It’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst.

Today’s major crisis is the coronavirus. Companies around the world are implementing travel restrictions. Events are being cancelled. Chaos and fear are driving decision-making. Maybe the next cause for panic will be an economic downturn. Or perhaps something else will impact your membership, events, and revenue. Maybe it’s the cultural and generational shift happening among your members and prospects.

Whether it’s a global pandemic or something else keeping people away from your association and events, now is the time to be proactive. You must adapt and act to ensure your organization can thrive no matter what the future brings. Here are four steps to help you prepare for the worst:

1. Fix your value proposition

If you can’t prove your value, people will find it easy to cut your membership and events in uncertain times. They need to understand what they’re paying for and why they should care—regardless of what’s happening in the world. A solid value proposition must be based on your association’s cause, not on “stuff” like products or programs. Use our Value Proposition Checklist below to help you articulate your real, tangible value.


2. Amend your strategy

Crisis or no crisis, your audience is constantly bombarded with marketing and media noise. It’s totally unrealistic to assume people will find your association on their own. Even if you manage to get their attention, younger members and prospects generally mistrust companies and traditional advertising. They need time to do research and ask for advice before making a purchase. Your strategy has to include modern digital marketing based on delivering value, nurturing prospects through the customer journey, and building trust over time.


3. Ramp up your prospecting

Fight uncertainty with sheer numbers. When a crisis blows over, the associations who already invested in marketing and prospecting will come out ahead. When people aren’t scared anymore and they have more money to spend on travel and professional development, they’ll be back in force. And they’ll knock on your door instead of a competitor’s if you invest in prospecting now. Plus, with so many in-person events being cancelled, now is an especially good time to find and engage people digitally.


4. Be the solution to the crisis

In the case of the coronavirus, your members are probably suffering too. Travel restrictions and uncertainty affect their businesses as well. How can your association help? What resources can you provide to ensure they weather the storm? If in-person events are no longer feasible, consider hosting virtual events. If any sort of event isn’t serving your membership, find out what is. Be a resource to your members during difficult times so they’ll trust you to serve their best interests all the time.


Don’t hunker down

You might think it’s a good idea to hunker down in the face of uncertainty, to cut spending to the bare essentials. In fact, the opposite is true. Taking action now can assure your success for years to come. Fail to act, and you’ll face even more uncertainty ahead.


Complete the Value Proposition Checklist

Would you like your association to be resilient in the face of whatever the future brings? The first step is to articulate a solid value proposition based on your cause. Complete this Value Proposition Checklist to help you think through this process.

  1. What is your cause, the reason your association exists?
  2. Whom do you serve?
  3. What is your audience trying to achieve in their careers and businesses?
  4. What are their pain points, obstacles, or challenges?
  5. How do you help them overcome obstacles or achieve their goals?
  6. What are people paying for when they join your association?
  7. If your association didn’t have a face-to-face event, what’s the most valuable thing you offer? (Hint: It’s not content or thought leadership.)
  8. What does your association offer that can’t be found on Google?

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6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 6: Grit

READ MORE>

6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 5: Events and Programs

READ MORE>

6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 4: Prospecting

READ MORE>

NOT ANOTHER SNOOZELETTER.

SIGN UP. BE INSPIRED.