6 best practices for associations to enhance virtual offerings
As the pandemic continues, many organizations are looking for ways to replace lost event revenue, attract and retain more members, and better serve their base from afar. New technology seems like the perfect solution, and the possibilities are endless. You could do more on social media, revamp your website, create an interactive content library, or launch a series of Zoom events. You could even add artificial intelligence or virtual reality event environments.
But not so fast. While you have a golden opportunity to better serve your members during a time of disruption, you also have the potential to fail miserably. If your brand is a hodgepodge of messages and images, moving everything to a new platform means you will now have a high-tech hodgepodge of the same messages and images. New tech solutions only work when you have a solid foundation based on your audience’s needs and your organization’s core competencies.
In short, new tech won’t save your crappy marketing, but these six best practices can help you enhance your virtual offerings strategically to drive revenues, engagement, and retention.
1. Examine your audience
Be specific about who you serve. Know their job titles, years in the business, pain points, demographics, level of familiarity with your subject matter, preferred communication channels, and more. Define your audience’s primary archetype—that’s their universal character type—to help you further understand your base and how best to interact with them.
2. Articulate your value proposition
Once you know who you serve, take some time to define how you serve them. Be specific with tangible benefits. This is not your mission or vision statement. It tells your audience what’s in it for them. Here are a few real-world examples:
- American Staffing Association: Create better lives, better businesses, and a better economy.
- Intuit: Simplify the business of life. Ladders: Move up in your career.
- Bitly: Shorten. Share. Measure
3. Develop standard messaging
Messaging includes two parts: how you talk (voice) and what you say (message).
- Voice—If your brand were a person, how would that person speak? Conversational vs. academic, casual vs. formal, technical vs. accessible, funny vs. straightforward, edgy vs. conservative, etc.
- Message—What information will you convey? Ex: Who you are, product/event descriptions, key member benefits, why join, etc.
First, define your voice. Next, develop a messaging tree with standardized language in that voice. A message tree can help unify your internal team so you can better convey your organization’s value to your audience.
4. Craft unified visuals
A solid brand has a unified look and feel. Be fresh and modern. Focus on people. Show you’re committed to diversity and inclusion. Avoid mixing cartoons with photographic images. Choose a limited number of fonts and colors. Take a minimalist approach. Your brand visuals should contribute to your credibility as an organization and reassure people that they’ve come to the right place.
5. Define your strategy
Sketch out a plan for attracting leads and nurturing them over the long term. Include key dates, your budget, formats, content, and offers. Know your goals and KPIs. Determine how you will score leads and follow up based on each score. Don’t launch a single promotion without knowing how it fits into the bigger picture.
6. Choose your tech
A wise woman once said, “Don’t doubt you can, just wonder why you want to.” There are lots of tech solutions out there with tons of features, but if your audience doesn’t need or want them you’re just wasting your time and money. A few considerations:
- ROI—Does the solution generate measurable value (ex: increased traffic, clicks, likes, shares, lead forms completed, etc.)? Would a simpler solution generate just as much value?
- Ease of implementation and use—Is it relatively quick to implement? Is it easy for your internal team to use? Is it quick and easy for members to take full advantage of?
- Potential for bugs and problems—Aim for simple over complex. If your virtual reality event platform goes down the day of your event, do you have a backup plan? (This happened to one of our clients!)
You’ll notice that choosing your tech should be the LAST step. Don’t just jump on the latest high-tech trend. Solidify your value prop and branding first. Create a detailed strategy. Then make an informed decision on which solution will best help you achieve your goals.