3-Pronged Approach to Association Marketing

3-Pronged Approach to Association Marketing

When I interviewed for my first job out of college, I had a strong resume and a few good references. But so did many other candidates. During the conversation, the interviewer and I discovered we were from the same small town. We spent the rest of the hour sharing stories about growing up there. The next day, he called to say I got the job.

I believe my success was due to three factors. I had a professional resume and a reference list of other humans willing to vouch for me. But what sealed the deal was my personal connection with the interviewer.

The same professional, human, and personal touches that got me my job can help your organization achieve your goals too. Apply this three-pronged approach to your marketing to get attention, engage your audience, and generate outcomes.


Prong 1: Professionalize

Professional marketing content includes whitepapers, surveys, reports, industry publications, and webinars. These pieces focus on facts and information. They contribute to your credibility while educating and assisting your target audience.

Professional content is a great tool for prospecting. For example, one of our clients, the Association of Corporate Council, has a collection of high-quality surveys and benchmarking reports. We use these pieces as lead magnets for ACC’s social media ad campaigns. Users can download the reports once they provide an email address. Our efforts so far have increased ACC’s prospect pool by 600 email addresses, gained 400 new members, and grown award nominations by 66%.

While this professional content has been an effective marketing tool for ACC, neuroscience tells us not to stop there. Aside from professional, logical information, people need an emotional reason to engage with your brand. For this, you’ll need stories.


Prong 2: Humanize

Stories humanize your brand by putting real names and faces to your association. They take your organization beyond facts and figures to show actual member benefits and ROI.

Our work with the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association is a great example of humanized marketing. To promote ASTRA’s annual conference, Marketplace & Academy, we crafted attendee stories and promoted them through digital marketing, email automation, landing pages, and other collateral materials. The result was a 23% boost in attendance each year for three years.

Professional, human marketing is effective. But if you want to go for the gold, you’ll need to personalize your efforts for each individual you’re trying to engage.


Prong 3: Personalize

Personalized marketing goes beyond “Dear <>” variable data and includes tailoring your messaging and offers based on what you know about your audience.

One way to achieve personalization is to create several defined communication strategies, called workflows, with if/then statements. Once you set workflows in motion, your audience behaviors trigger next steps. For example, if a user enters their email address to download your whitepaper, the action will trigger a series of follow-up emails with related content and offers.

In addition to the workflows we used to promote ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy, we added further personalization by creating a quiz-style assessment called “What Kind of Specialty Toy Are You?” After each user answered a series of multiple-choice questions, they received a toy-themed personality profile based on their answers. The assessment encouraged interaction with ASTRA’s brand and reassured interested prospects that they had found a group of like-minded peers.


How to use all 3 prongs

Lots of associations offer plenty of professional, logical reasons why people should join their organization. Their communications are filled with facts and figures about member benefits. But if they don’t take steps to humanize and personalize their marketing, they could be missing out on new members, event attendees, and non-dues revenues. Much like my job prospects, you can’t reach your full potential without a human touch and a personal, emotionally engaging connection to your audience.

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