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

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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Part 6: Grit


6 Ways to Help your Association Thrive

Part 5: Events and Programs


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Part 4: Prospecting